Upstairs Downstairs: A Secondhand Life

30092Previously on Upstairs Downstairs: Sarah joined the household and posed for a douchy artist, almost getting herself and Rose fired.

So, you remember how I was super confused during the last episode because Sarah had mysteriously reappeared, despite having quit in episode one? Turns out, there’s an explanation for all that weirdness. The black and white episodes never aired in the US, presumably because the powers that be figured American audiences had just as little patience for black and white then as they do today. Instead, the re-shot colourised first episode was aired overseas with the ending showing Sarah quitting, and then the black and white episodes were all skipped and they went right to the next colour episode, which Sarah does not feature in. The first episode that aired in the UK had a different ending, with Sarah not quitting. I just caught the wrong episode (thanks a lot, ITV). Also, that must have resulted in a bit of confusion for American audiences, because things happen later in the series that hark back to events from those black and white episodes, so there must have been a bit of headscratching going on.

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Upstairs Downstairs: The Mistress and the Maids

mistressmaidsPreviously on Upstairs Downstairs: A new under-housemaid arrived at the Bellamy household, received the name Sarah, and soon proved to be both a compulsive liar and a thief with a seriously bad attitude. And after about a day, she realised service wasn’t for her and hit the road.

Quick history note: during the filming of the show, there was an industrial dispute over payment for using colour filming equipment (which was fairly new for television shows at the time), so broadcasting unions refused to allow their members to use it. The first episode was later refilmed in colour, but the others completed during the dispute remain black and white, including this one.

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Upstairs Downstairs: The New Girl

s1n01Before we get started here, I’m going to give you all a fair warning: I haven’t seen all the episodes of the original Upstairs Downstairs, but from what I’ve seen, I can tell you that I don’t love it. And I know it’s a very beloved show to many people, so if you’re seriously defensive about it, you may not want to read these recaps. I don’t hate it (well, there are a couple of episodes that I can’t believe actually exist, and some characters I just want to see continually punched in the face), but there are some serious issues. And they’re not issues that can be put down to the way things were in the period it’s set in. They’re issues utterly embedded in the show itself. I will be mentioning them. Consider yourselves warned.

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Mr Selfridge: Overworked and Overwhelmed

MR_SELFRIDGE_SERIES_2_EP3_05Previously on Mr Selfridge: Mae’s husband turned abusive, Agnes and Grove struggled to keep their heads above water, and Rose tracked down Henri.

Late at night, Agnes puts together some kind of safari-themed display in fashion, complete with stuffed tiger. She looks exhausted.

The next morning, Victor arrives at the store for work, passing by signs announcing the opening of the empire exhibition the following week.

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Mr Selfridge: I Just Wanted to Come Home

44743Previously on Mr Selfridge: Harry Selfridge and his crazed smile moved to London so he could open his eponymous store. Almost immediately afterwards, his personal life started imploding, thanks to his affair with the unstable Ellen Love, which led to a humiliating play that sent his wife, Rose, into the arms of a stalker, and then rushing back overseas to America. Shopgirl Agnes Towler was apparently some sort of window dressing genius and became first the protégé, then the lover of Henri Leclair before he, too, took off for the new world. Mr Grove, the store manager, turned out to be a major douchebag and dumped his long-time lover, Miss Mardle, so he could marry former employee Doris and turn her into a baby machine.

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The Bookshelf: Summer Reading Edition

Mr Selfridge is done, and Downton’s next season is a long way off, leaving us all with a long summer ahead before we can get our fix of pre-war glamour. As it’s now summer holiday season, when at least some of us will either be sitting on beaches or waiting on flights, it’s a good time to start thinking books. Histories don’t often make good beach reading, … Continue reading The Bookshelf: Summer Reading Edition

The Making of a Lady

makingladyweb_2419227bBack when I was a wee anglophile, my favourite book was definitely A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The Secret Garden was definitely in the top ten as well. Later, when I grew up, I was delighted to discover that she wrote a number of books for adults as well, including the two books this telefilm is based on: The Making of a Marchioness and The Methods of Lady Walderhurst. I read Marchioness, but I’ll confess, I didn’t even know a sequel to it existed until a couple of years ago, and I never read it. Marchioness is, from what I recall (it’s been several years since I read it), just an ok book. It’s a Cinderella story, but not a particularly romantic one. Instead of falling instantly in love with her prince, the Cinderella in this story (a rather Mary Sue-esque woman who’s pretty unbelieveably innocent) accepts his proposal for purely pragmatic reasons: she’s broke, has few prospects in the world, and is 34 years old, which definitely put her in the old maid category at the time the book was published (1901). A woman that age, with no family or independent fortune to fall back on, was facing a pretty grim old age of complete poverty. If you’re looking at it purely from the angle of women’s roles at the time, it does have some merit and can be interesting. Burnett, who suffered an unhappy, abusive marriage, was speaking from experience on these issues, and she had some rather pointed things to say. What a shame, then, that when the books were adapted for ITV, everything that happens in the first one is basically mashed into the first few minutes, so we can linger on the potboiler that was The Methods of Lady Walderhurst. But we’ll discuss all that later. Here’s how it all happened:

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Mr Selfridge: All the World’s a Stage

26361 Previously on Mr Selfridge: All the spurned people on the show got together to work on a play, which I’m sure won’t be disastrous at all. Rose got a creepy stalker in Roddy, who insists she’s in love with him, and she seems to agree with that, which is gross. Grove started getting a bit closer to Doris, while freezing out Mardle, and Agnes decided to end her nonsensical fling with Henri.

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Mr Selfridge: The Competition

Mr Selfridge episode 8Previously on Mr Selfridge: Bunting turned up, clearly in a bad way, prompting Doris to show her softer side. Agnes got switched over to fashion and started making out with Henri, and Ellen decided to become a Serious Actress.

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Mr Selfridge: Let Me Call You Sweetheart

John Sessions as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Mr SelfridgePreviously on Mr Selfridge: Harry drunk drove himself into a coma and was haunted by his douchbag, deadbeat dad. Grove lost his wife and let his misogynist flag fly while he was briefly in charge of the store, giving Crabb, of all people, a chance to step up and be kind of awesome. Henri revealed an inexplicable crush on Agnes.

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