Tag Archives: movies

what i liked about “Upstairs, Downstairs” (TV Series) – review


upstairs-downstairs

A long time ago, somewhere in London there lived two families under one grand roof: one lived in downstairs, and the other upstairs, all behaving according to their modus vivendi that seemed only natural to accept without a shadow of doubt to contest. It was the time when a lady would require a parlor maid to groom her in her boudoir and a butler would act in the capacity of a superintendent of a household as well as a messenger incognito for his master. But to dismiss those “good old days” as an obsolete oppressive social institution is to deny the memories of those cherished in their everyday lives as portrayed unforgettably in a British television drama series, “Upstairs, Downstairs” (1971).

This is not like the overhyped “Downton Abbey” in the sense that the plot of the story involves these two opposite classes (the benevolent master and the content servant) in a very fashionable mansion. Contrarywise, this classic series of “Upstairs, Downstairs” is rich with feelings and thoughts that make the viewer empathetic to the characters and absorbed into each episode for the reason that they touch upon the heart of the viewer, let alone the fine performance of the cast and the elegant screenplay attuned to all.  On the point of purely subjective note, the character of Rose Buck, an excellent parlor maid who is beautiful both inside and outside is what gives to the ethos of the drama: she is all humanity, showing compassion toward the eccentric but tragic footman Alfred who was shunned from others. Notwithstanding her goodness and beauty, Rose is unlucky with her personal life, ever finding herself out of reach of love like the forlorn nymph Echo. Her character is universally appealing regardless of time, ethnicity, and class. And Butler Hudson may seem prejudiced and stuffy, but he has a heart, too. In fact, he’s a good father figure: stern but fair, strict but kind. No one in Downstairs is sacked coldly, come what may.

The residents of Upstairs are not your proverbial snobbish English aristocratic family whose haughtiness and zero regard for their subordinates are something to be enshrined in the temple of Marxism; the Bellamy family, headed by the magnanimous and highly respectful viscount Richard Bellamy, who was originally a son of a country parson, were all too human, woven into intricate relationships of love and loneliness, betrayal and misunderstanding. To put it in a nutshell, the Bellamys are a paradigm of noblesse oblige. No wonder Butler Hudson and his Downstairs family show such a high, heartfelt regard for the family like they are their real family.

If you are accustomed to the splendid British manor scenes that typify your image of the classic British class distinctions, then you might find this drama rather antiquated and boring as a period drama. But those of you who value stories and characters, not to mention fine scripts, this will feast your senses and sensibilities. What’s more, you don’t have to be British to enjoy this excellent drama that fuses historical backgrounds as factual grounds of each episode with interesting and empathetic characters with stories to tell which we could relate to one way or another. Good dramas are contemporaneous with any period of times, theirs and ours. 

Author’s Note: Since the acquisition of a Kindle Fire, I have been wallowing in the enjoyment of quality TV shows of the past. People ask me why I am hooked on the dramas or comedy shows of the bygone eras before my coming to the world. But as I firmly believe that pathos of humankind are transcendent of time and universal in every culture, my sensibilities channel me to the dramas that know no boundary of zeitgeists. I am open to all good TV shows so long as they are worth the viewing. 

‘Prince Brat and the Whipping Boy (TV Movie 1994)’ – review

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The Unlikely Duo in tandem

Tales of mistaken or traded identities between either by the irony of fate or whimsical voluntary submission bespeak our desire of realizing dreams and desires at one fell swoop without drudgery of going through rules and conformations of social norms and mores. From The Prince and the Pauper to Cinderella and to The Trading Places, the basic story lines contextualize the instant social mobility of improving one’s social status and the essence of human nature laid bare in dealing with new milieus. But forget the verbiage of latent sociological theory and academic analysis because after all, we all know that such wish for rapid social escalation is only father to the thought. So why not continue to enjoy the world of wishful thinking entertainingly translated on screen for the sake of art, such as this delightful movie Prince Brat and the Whipping Boy (AKA The Whipping Boy)?

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Guess who’s the prince?

The movie has a charm of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, giving it impression of a spin-off from the two stories in all likelihood. But what makes it worth the viewing are the characters whom you find difficult to dislike and the detailed background setting that conjure up the spirit of the time and bring out the personalities of the characters delightfully rendered on screen. The young prince is not really a brat but a lonely child who needs love and attention from his ever busy king father. The prince’s impudent pranks are signals for sending emotional SOS to the king who puts the security of his kingdom before the attention to his one and only child. And there’s a young rat-catcher about the same age as the prince who accidentally finds himself as a whipping boy for the unhappy prince. What happens next is the gem of this movie in their subconscious quest for their cherished ends, their treasures at heart, through their eventful journey together in the unlikely duo of the prince and his whipping boy.

All in all, it is a little cute feel-good movie intended for all ages about what’s really important in life. Yes, we all may know the answer to it, but it really touches us in the denouement of the movie, leaving us with a feeling of warmth, affection, and jolliness, chiming the emotional, sentimental bells of our childlike imagoes. That said, if you want a movie that takes you away from your worries and sadness arising out of living adult life for some time, this movie might do good for you as it did for me for the day.