The phrase 'they don't make em like this any more' is very over used, but I'm afriad is true in this case. Every episode, even though shot on video and sadly now looking flat and of poor quality, is like a mini-movie - beautiful and extensive costumes and sets all perfectly realised. The scope is quite astounding - you never see the same dress or location twice! Even Paris in 1924 complete with posters for the Olympics! The soundtrack (also available) is full of pithy jazz numbers and lovely melodies, again, the care that has gone in is fantastic. However, this attention to detail and style is not at the expense of the drama itself, it merely serves to draw you in to the House of Eliott and the 1920's world commpletely so the writing and acting can do their thing.
They don't make em like this any more, becuase it seems to me that modern drama is afraid to ask you to care about flawed characters, and flawed they all are. Bea is passionate to the point of obsession - prickly, rude and difficult to be with. Jack can be selfish and demanding. Evie can be short sighted and self obsessed. But they are all wonderful none the less, you love them becuase they are real people. All the characters are brilliant, Tilly, Madge and Agnes the seamstresses, Lydia and Arthur in the first series and wonderufl, wonderful Penelope who is gone all too quickly but burns very brightly. Everyone even the guest stars are multi-layered, flawed, wonderful characters allowed time to grow slowly so you truly care about them. The relationship between Jack and Bea in particular is a tour de force, one of the very best depictions of love(and hate) you'll see, I promise you. Everyone plays their part as if their life depended on it and whilst yes, this can perhpas be argued to give the appearance of the characters taking themselves a little too seriously, why not? The passion on screen is infectious.
The show has great heart too. It's an ode to the power of women, to passion, to fairness, to hard work and postivism, for social justice and the changing 20th Century. The themes at play go far, far beyond dresses. Underestimate the House of Eliott at your peril! *g*
If there is a downside to becoming immersed in this series, it's the ending, or lack thereof. The third and final series transmitted appears to be missing two episodes and ends, at episode 10, abruptly with an 'end of episode' cliffhanger and with clearly more to tell. Charaters are left in limbo and this will frustrate you very, very much becuase you'll give a damn by Series 3, episode 10 and it's a bit of a tragedy for the series. So no, they don't make em like this any more, and in my humblest opinion, this is about as perfect as television can get, even with a non-ending.
The boxset itself is nicely presented with a slipcase and cover art, but the menu's themselves are very simple and uninspiring and there are very few extras, which is a damn shame. Oh, for a cast interview! Still, it's amazing to have this seires complete on DVD so don't waste any more time...go and buy it! Buy it now!