When The Affair started running on Showtime in the Fall of 2014, I got hooked. The series had an all-star cast with Dominic West (The Wire), Ruth Wilson (Luther), Maura Tierney (Newsradio & ER) and Joshua Jackson (Dawson’s Creek). The show was so intriguing that I didn’t want to ruin it by going online and getting too much background. The show was split so each half was told from the perspective of Dominic’s Noah Solloway and Ruth’s Alison Bailey. How did these two sides of the affair see things develop. Somehow in the midst of my self-imposed media blackout, I thought it was a miniseries. How could they keep such a great cast together? So it was a complete shock during the final episode when I realized at the end that this was not the end. There would be more to the saga of lust on Montauk. Turns out there were four more seasons and now they’ve been brought together in The Affair: The Complete Series.
The first season starts off with Noah, Helen (Tierney) packing up to spend part of the summer at the beach. But there’s a bit of pressure from the start. Turns out they’re staying at the Montauk estate owned by Helen’s father. He’s a bestselling novelist. Sure Noah has published a book, but it wasn’t close to a bestseller which is why he’s stuck teaching school during the rest of the year. He’s in-laws think Helen could have done better. Noah’s a bit overwhelmed. During a visit to The Lobster Roll, one of the kid begins to choke. Waitress Alison Lockhart srings into action and saves the kid. This leads Noah into getting close to Alison at first because of gratitude, but there’s also an attraction. Turns out Alison is also married to Cole (Joshua). He’s a rather rough character who is the local dealer along with his brother. They’re involved in odd businesses. The relationship between Noah and Alison is a complicated mess as the rift between socio-economic class emerges. There’s also an issue because Noah and Helen’s marriage isn’t a complete disaster. They are not that toxic together, but Noah can’t back off the desires to be with Alison. Will he destroy his family and Alison’s life.
Not to spoil the series, but unlike certain shows that would have been great if they’d been one season miniseries, The Affair builds over the next four season and even changes directions. Season 2 has them dealing with an extreme mess and a massive surprise between Noah and Alison. Season 3 deals with the shocker at the end of season 2. A surprise happens when Brendan Fraser (Gods and Monsters) appears as someone from Noah’s past that shows up when he really needs a friend. Except he might not be a great blast from the past. Season 4 does a major shift when Noah heads west to Los Angeles to be near Helen and the kids. She’s moved because her significant other Vik (Omar Metwally) has accepted a position at a hospital. Alison and Cole struggle over the future of the Lobster Pot and their child. The focus of the season is the disappearance of a major character. The fifth and final season is about Noah and Helen in the present tense while in the future Joanie (True Blood‘s Anna Paquin) is trying to find out more about her past.
The Affair is a prime primetime soap opera that digs deep into the main characters as they make rather self-destructive life choices. The opulence of a Dynasty and Dallas get replaced by the gritty nature of the lives that swirl out of Noah and Alison’s forbidden relationship. Nothing plays out smoothly for anyone which keeps the show constantly guessing. The emotions flow with the confusion of hearing stories from both sides. There’s a whole season where you realize that one of the character’s version of events is a total lie. And yet you don’t feel cheated like the dream season on Dallas. When you get The Affair: The Complete Series, you’ll easily find yourself seduced to neglect your family and sneak off to indulge in the 53 episodes.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the colors and textures of beach life. You’ll want a lobster roll before the series is through. The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 so you can hear the ocean. The episodes are subtitled.
Character Profiles gives a bit of background on the four main characters and the town on Long Island.
Tale of Two Costumes (2:51) has a piece on the slight changes in outfits.
Memory Lane (9:48) deals with how the characters remember these key scenes in their lives.
Tour of Montauk (7:18) has creator Sarah Treem speak about why she chose the beach community.
Sink Back Into the Ocean (11:17) gives away the big moment from Season 4. Don’t want until you’ve seen all the episodes.
Character Profiles include Ben, Helen, Noah, Cole, Vik and Alison from season 4. Each is about two minutes.
Where Does It End? (13:38) wraps up the series. You better watch this after it’s all over.
Storytelling With Sarah Treem (1:58) has the creator discuss the dark side of the characters and how it relates with the third season. Once again, there’s a shock when you hear West’s Australian accent.
Playing Both Sides (2:13) has Ruth Wilson discuss playing the same character with different perspectives. What is the true version of the character?
Dressing the Part (12:54) has Caroline Duncan, the costume designer describe how they would alter the wardrobe depending which character was telling the show. Duncan goes deep into the way Noah sees Alison versus Alison sees herself.
CBS DVD and Showtime present The Affair: The Complete Series. Starring: Dominic West, Ruth Wilson, Maura Tierney, Joshua Jackson & Anna Paquin. Rated: Unrated. Boxset Contents: 53 episodes on 19 DVDs. Released: March 10, 2020.
Tags: CBS DVD, Showtime, The Affair, The Wire