UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS PBS Masterpiece Theater, Sunday, 9 p.m. E.D.T. If the family ever dies, as radical social psychologists keep predicting, Public Broadcasting may go out of business as well. Among its best and most popular offerings have been series that examine that institution. First there were the Forsytes, then the Louds. Now there are the Bellamys, masters of an Edwardian town house in London and, to their way of thinking, masters of the world as well.
Originally created by British commercial television, the series brings the household serving staff in from the cold periphery of drama to its center. All the episodes are self-contained, but there is a solid cotton thread tying them together, namely Rose, the head houseparlor-maid, played by Jean Marshwho is also one of the show's co-creators.
The scripts are expertly crafted and wittily written ("Not many valets be come prime ministers," the poet sniffs to his manservant. "Not many poets do either," is the retort). The shows are acted with the entertaining slickness that one relishes in Masterpiece Theater imports.