Reviewing last night’s television, CHRISTOPHER STEVENS notes that Catherine the Great’s ridiculous attire is superior.


Catherine the Great’s absurd attire is a cut above, according to Christopher Stevens’ review of last night’s television.

The Excellent

The Magnificent

The Grand Week by the Sea by Susan Calman (C5)

Susan Calman’s Grand Week By The Sea (C5)

The strange thing about old fashions is that their blatant weirdness wasn’t apparent at the time.

We don’t realize how ridiculous we appeared until we look back.

The BBC2 tribute to the amazing Kate Bush last Saturday demonstrated that while her music is timeless, her eccentric wardrobe is now as out-of-date as Victorian bustles.

It’s even more fun to research historical hairstyles if your favorite afternoon pastime is spotting half-remembered faces in old episodes of Emmerdale, Corrie, Casualty, and EastEnders on Freeview’s ITV3 or the Drama channel.

The blonde lacquer on Bet Lynch’s nails was tougher than hers.

Is it still possible to get the stiff beehive cut that made Julie Goodyear famous?

The main thing we’ll notice about early 2020s television when we look back on it in the future is social distance.

Serials that were produced during the pandemic and are now airing on our televisions had to come up with strategies to keep the actors apart.

This plays well in The Great (C4), a high-camp costume drama starring Elle Fanning as Catherine II, the Empress of all the Russias.

In the first season, there were too many actors competing for the audience’s attention while wearing outrageous costumes, which frequently created clutter and confusion.

However, a smaller cast this time around, with lots of space between them, evokes the splendor of a royal court.

In a protracted, frequently bloody scene that took place in a vast banqueting hall, Catherine received the respect of her noblemen one by one.

At two-meter intervals, she had her trusted advisor Orlo (Sacha Dhawan), her loyal but inebriated general Velementov (Douglas Hodge), and her scheming archbishop, “Archie” (Adam Godley).

Peter, the ousted tsar, is being guarded by two people while he is under house arrest (Nicholas Hoult).

The doll-like appearance of the characters in a toy palace lends credibility to their cartoonish behavior.

Archie ran around the Empress on the day of her coronation, begging for his life.

When, shortly after, he was hatching a plan to slit her throat at the conclusion of the ceremony, his fear was more convincing as a result, and his deceit was more shocking.

He laughed, saying, “Fun for the crowd.”

Catherine was crowned and lived, dressed in a golden gown that was a hybrid of a traditional peasant outfit and a flapper outfit from the 1920s.

Although this show isn’t known for its historical accuracy, it turns out that outfit was the inspiration for a Russian fashion in the 18th century.

Probably at the time, it didn’t strike them as absurd.

Clearly, Susan Calman captured her on camera.

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