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This Upstairs Downstairs spinoff doesn't quite capture its source series' brashly inspired social commentary....
Acorn Media / 1979 / 653 Minutes / Unrated / Street Date: October 2, 2012
Upstairs Downstairs was so popular that it's no surprise that it inspired spin-offs, but what is shocking about said offshoot Thomas & Sarah is how it eschews so much of the intelligent cultural skewering that the original show offered. Thomas & Sarah is by all means a serious show - at times, heartbreakingly so - but it's rampantly clear why the thing only lasted one season.
The setup of Thomas & Sarah involves a reunion of sorts - after leaving the house that so much of Upstairs Downstairs revolved around, maid Sarah Moffat (Pauline Collins) has taken on a job in Surrey, and one day she is shocked to see her old flamed Thomas Watkins (John Alderton) appear as a chauffeur at the same locale. Their tempestuous love affair resumes, and complications pop up all over the place.
But there's a disconnect here. These two characters were husband and wife in Upstairs Downstairs, and here they are courting young lovers - their very dynamic (while often scintillating) is off. For Anglophile viewers who remember being lost in the wonders of Upstairs Downstairs, a set like Thomas & Sarah will likely inspire grand curiosity, but it would have been better suited as a slate of bonus features on an Upstairs Downstairs megaset: on its own, it doesn't hold much water.