DVD Review: THE COLLECTION (Season 1 on PBS)

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by Dale Reynolds on January 6, 2018

in CD-DVD,Film


What is it about the fashion world that is such a turn-on, and also allows for compelling drama? Why do some of us kvell when new and ancient clothing designs enter into our psychic systems, but others turn away, bored and bewildered?

Well, some of those questions may be answered by the PBS-shown three-disc, eight-episode drama, The Collection, vividly written by Oliver Goldstick, Maya Goldsmith, and Francesca Rollins, and sensibly directed by Dearbhla Walsh and Dan Zeff.

The year is 1947, in a Paris just recovering after the end of the most devastating war humanity had ever seen. Two brothers, both individually gifted — one in finance, Paul Sabine (Richard Coyle), and the other in the creative side, Claude Sabine (Tom Riley); the former married with kids, the younger, a self-destructive gay man.

But both brothers were raised by their hideous mother, Yvette, now old, ugly, manipulative, and not beyond murder (played by the brilliant Francis de la Tour). Paul is married to American money, Helen (Mamie Gummer), and has the flair that encourages the rich Parisian socialites to allow his House of Sabine to design The New Look for them.

(It was the House of Dior that successfully invented a post-war haute couture that allowed women a softer, decisively elegant line, which led the way, copied skillfully by this fictional House of Sabine. The desired look was a small waist, fuller hips, and a splendiferous bust. Shoulders were more natural. Skirts were mid-calf in length, with layers of synthetic petticoats, allowing for an altogether more feminine look that belayed the wartime masculine style.)

The show is beguilingly sophisticated, ruthless and handsome. Secondary characters include an American journalist — the unscrupulous and jaded elder Victor (Alexandre Brasseur) who gives the House a needed public boost — and the younger, rather more talented photojournalist, Billy Novak (handsome Max Deacon), who is in love with Nina (Jenna Thiam), the daughter of Paul’s mistress, Marianne (Irène Jacob), who oversees the all-female worker staff.

Not for every taste, this show is as delicious as a fresh mint canapé and boldly sexual for as many varied desires. It’s intelligent, sensual, urbane and gorgeous to look at. The success of the show lies in how all these characters interact, rise, fall, rise again and hate/love each other. The stories are all compelling and elegant, with the kind of meaningful acting one always longs for. Coyle, for instance, starred in a series now on Netflix, AD: Kingdom and Empire, about Jesus and his followers; Riley played Leonardo Da Vinci in Da Vinci’s Demons; and de la Tour was splendid in The History Boys and as the man-eating Mrs. Crosby in the hilariously wretched show, Vicious.

photos courtesy of Lookout Point and MASTERPIECE

The Collection — Season 1
Amazon Studios/BBC
MASTERPIECE on PBS Distribution
2016 | 3 discs | 480 minutes
released October 17, 2017
available on Blu-ray, DVD and streaming on PBS and Amazon


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Cris Franco January 10, 2018 at 8:55 pm

Mr. Reynolds — once again, thanks for covering the many hidden jewels now available to a global audience. This series sounds terrific! Thanks.


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