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Case Number 26690: Small Claims Court

Buy The House of Eliott: Complete Collection at Amazon

The House of Eliott: Complete Collection

Acorn Media // 1991 // 1750 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 14th, 2013

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The Charge

In stylish 1920s London, two beautiful sisters struggle to the top of the fashion world.

The Case

"It's a good story and a unique story. If you like fashion at all, it's interesting to see the dresses. I've recommended it to people who like Downton Abbey. My mom liked it. Her friends liked it. And my co-worker who saw it liked it. Everyone who's watched it liked it."

So says my wife, my go-to expert in matters of British period dramas. When Netflix was still carting around DVDs to our mailbox, she had tuned into the whole series this way, devouring each of the three seasons. Now, the set returns in a brand-new package, bringing all three seasons and 34 episodes into one collection, so that maybe you can be the next person to watch it and like it.

House of Eliott follows the Eliott sisters, Beatrice (Stella Gonet) and Evangeline (Louise Lombard), daughters of a well-to-do man who passes away, broke and debt-ridden. Now only each other to lean on, the sisters look to get into business for themselves, leveraging their considerable fashion skills into a burgeoning empire. Along the way there is love, loss, betrayal and success.

I'll be the first to admit this isn't necessarily in my wheelhouse as far a television entertainment goes, but from my vantage point, House of Eliott does many things very right and one thing very, very wrong.

What they got right:

Female protagonists
This obviously isn't the first show to be fronted by women, but it's a sterling example of one done right. Both characters are well-drawn out and superbly acted. They are strong women trying to make it in an industry hostile to women at the time; but thanks to the writing and the portrayals, the Eliott sisters never come across as anything less than confident, compelling creations.

I just barely learned to dress myself, but even a Neanderthal like me can recognize cool costume drama. If this is your sort of thing, then there is much to absorb and enjoy.

Fashion industry
It's not all gawking at lavish costuming; House of Eliott delivers an interesting look at the business side of things, tracing the sisters' meteoric rise and the decisions they make to maneuver their business to the top of the industry.

The dudes are cool, too
This is first and foremost a series all about the ladies, but there are a good amount of interesting male characters, some tagged as love interests, others as business partners, a few as impasses.

And what they got really wrong?

A brutal cliffhanger
I won't blow it for you, but you should go into this series knowing there won't be a tidy finale waiting for you at the end. Apparently, the showrunners were not anticipating cancellation and that means the last episode of the last season leaves you utterly hanging.

Regardless of the disappointing denouement, House of Eliott still earns a glowing recommendation. It's well-executed from top to bottom, and fashionistas will be in heaven.

Straightforward DVD presentation: full frame, 2.0 stereo production notes, a photo gallery, an archive interview with Louise Lombard and a booklet featuring an interview with series creator Jean Marsh. Wait…Jean Marsh. Could it be? Why yes, Jean Marsh not only co-created this show, she also starred as the evil queen Bavmorda in Willow. As a result, the score for this release rises another five points.

The Verdict

Not guilty. Snazzy!

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Acorn Media
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 1750 Minutes
Release Year: 1991
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Drama
• Foreign
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Interviews
• Photo Gallery
• Production Notes
• Booklet


• IMDb

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