You know, I think the presidents after Kennedy were so much different anyway.
Some years ago, I read a book by an ex-Secret Service man. I wish I could remember the name of it or remember his name, but I can't. If he was telling the truth, he worked starting with the Johnson or Kennedy administration, can't remember which, and ended with Ronald Reagan, I believe. (sorry, its hard to remember for sure now)
Anyway, he painted a picture of the presidents that was not so pretty. He said of all of them, Ronald Reagan was the only one who was as nice in private as he appeared to be in public. The others were not nice in private and were cold to their wives. Even Kennedy was not portrayed in a very flattering light.
"You can't tell me nothin' if you ain't had an 8-track." -Sinbad
I'm sorry to read that some people think that Backstairs is slow and the pacing is bad. I enjoy the entire mini-series and I have easily seen it at least 20 times. Luckily before the DVD was released, I had an off-the-air copy on videotape. These days television is very different from 1979. We don't see mini-series of high caliber such as this any more. Today, a program wants to tell you a story and move onto something else in 60 minutes or much often less time than that. I think the pacing is part of the way this series was meant to be viewed. If you want to fast-forward past large sections of this series you are missing the boat. This program is meant to be savored. You get to know the characters, many of them not just in a cursory way, but in depth. And you get to share their experiences as the series unfolds. The comment that this series could have been presented in three hours is just plain ridiculous. I guess this may be telling of how modern day TV has trained everyone to have short spans of attention. You need all of the time this program runs to take in all that is happening in the years that are covered. For my part, I wish it would have been longer in length and more in depth. However, I enjoy this series just as it was done. I always cry when Maggie passes away. It is a very moving scene and you get the sense that history is passing away. I believe that a better cast of actors could not have been had to play the various parts. It is wonderful that it was finally released on DVD and is now widely available. Next time you want to see this, allow yourself enough time to sit back and enjoy the whole thing. Make an evening of it, and see it as it was meant to be seen.
I think the DVD is in top rate condition. Considering it was made originally in 1979, the DVD set released in 2005 looks great color wise and sounds just as great. The only goof in it, is that (when you turn the captions on your tv) Leslie Uggams' voiceover (when the show is about to shift from Kennedy's inaguration to the night of Taft's when Emmett Sr comes home and Maggie comes home and announces her job at the White House) is credited to "Maggie" when it should be to "Lillian". But all and all, it is the same show I remember from when I was a teenager. The only thing missing was NBC's original announcement, that some characters' names were changed to expand the story, but that is no big deal. I recommend any history buff or at the least any fan of "West Wing" or "American President" to buy it.
I just watched part 1 on DVD (Taft, Wilson, and the very beginning of the Harding Administration). Overall, I like it. But some of the criticisms here do have some merit.
Some of the dialogue with the presidents and their wives just doesn't ring true. I understand the need for "exposition," to provide audiences with information about what was happening during each president's term of office. But it's not very subtle at times. Mrs. Wilson turned to her husband at one point and said something like, "You want us to join the League of Nations." That's for the audience's benefit, but it's TOO obvious.
Still, I'm enjoying the miniseries.