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The Cazalets
updated 11.5.2003

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Thank you for the production of The Cazalets. It was really great and I enjoyed every minute of it, especially the music and the accurate depiction of people living in wartime, cigarettes and all. Smoking was very acceptable for everyone living in the 40s when no one had heard about how bad smoke is for the lungs! Thanks again -- hope you will continue the series. It is gripping!

Diane Zumwalt
Laughlin, AZ

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Isn't it odd how many women have written in to complain about the love scene between Sid and Rachael? I say to them: "Get over it!" Gay people are here and real (I'm one of them), and we don't go around being disgusted when we watch heterosexual sex scenes.

The relationship between the characters was not unexpected, and the scene was sensitive, not graphic -- and well acted, besides.

It's lovely to have realistic, good quality British drama airing over here. Well done, and keep the episodes coming, please!

Claire Pitham

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I agree with both the ayes and the nays regarding the production of The Cazalets. I loved the books and was really looking forward to the Masterpiece Theatre production. I was bitterly disappointed. It seemed to jump around between scenes with little or no continuity. The characters were shallow -- certainly in comparison to the books. The sex in the books was made much too central an issue in the TV production and I found myself exasperated by it. Can't TV leave a little to our imaginations? I did enjoy the scenery and the episodes that included the little girls. I'd look forward to a later series that included Archie and better developed characters. Even in a miniseries, you could do better!

Frances Gillett
South Woodstock, VT

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I enjoyed The Cazalets and have now read all four books. I am glad I hadn't before I saw the series -- I don't always agree with the choices you made. In reading early reader comments I see there is a lot of hysteria about the lesbian scenes. Ironic, since in the books that affair isn't consummated until the very end. It completely changes the tension in the relationship of Rachel and Sid.

Frances Mallary
West Newbury, VT

Warning! Plot revealed here!
Yes, the story continues! For those of you who don't want to read the complete quartet of Elizabeth Jane Howard's Cazalet Chronicles -- The Light Years, Marking Time, Confusion and Casting Off -- we offer here a summary of the storyline:

Louise marries Michael, but soon fears that she only thinks she loves him. They have a son, Sebastian, in 1943. While Michael is away at war, his cousin Hugo is stationed in London and comes often to visit Louise, Polly, and Clary. Louise and Hugo fall in love, although they do not consummate the relationship. Hugo tells Michael of their feelings for each other; Michael orders him out of the house and forbids communication between the two. He brings Louise with him back to the coast, where she stays in a hotel and he spends his nights on land with her. Louise ends up having a brief affair with another man. In the spring of 1947, she spends three weeks in New York with Michael, where his portrait show is very successful. Soon after their return to London, she asks him for a divorce.

In early 1945, Rupert returns home to England -- to his wife, Zoe, and Juliet, the daughter he's never met. Their reunion was a cautious one, marked by the tensions of unspoken infidelities. Rupert had stayed on in France because of a woman, Michele, but ended all communication with her when he left. Zoe, as we know, had an affair with Roddey. (In the book, Roddey is Jack, an American officer and Army photographer -- and Jewish. After photographing one of the concentration camps, Jack was overwhelmed by what he had seen. He told Zoe that he would be away for a long time, and committed suicide.) All is set straight, however, in January 1947. Zoe comes clean about her first child and the wartime affair, and Rupert tells his side of the story. All is forgiven.

Polly and Clary share a flat in London. Polly works for an interior decorator and Clary for a literary agent. At a party in September 1946, Polly is introduced to Gerald Lisle and the two fall in love. When Gerald's mother dies later that year, he becomes the Lord Fakenham and asks Polly to marry him. They are wed the following summer.

Christopher lives a reclusive life in a caravan with his dog, working on a farm. He ultimately hears a religious calling, and leaves for a retreat after Polly's wedding.

Diana has Edward's child, prompting him to leave Villy in favor of his mistress, but she is not readily accepted into the family.

Sid and Rachel have some stops and starts, but when Sid suffers from jaundice, Rachel is there to nurse her back to health. They admit their love for each other.

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Do you have plans to continue the series with the third and fourth books? I have read all the comments submitted by other viewers to the recent series. The acting is splendid -- and it's a very enjoyable program.

Please, the next two books, soon!

Joan Goldberg
Redondo Beach, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Tonight, I recorded the first installment of The Cazalets, since I try to record promising series for my personal video collection. Some time ago, in the wake of a virtually steady diet of violence and sex in movies and on television, I started collecting quality material for my own viewing. I assumed that the time might come when there would be nothing on the movie or TV screens fit to watch, and I wanted to have a collection. Masterpiece Theatre and Hallmark Hall of Fame were the last bastions of decency and high quality left.

Wow, was I wrong! This first episode contained half a dozen or so scenes of graphic sex, a scene which foreshadows a coming lesbian scene (probably in a later episode), and a scene about father-daughter incest. I was thunderstruck! In fact, it seems that there is only one portion of the Cazalet family which is traditional or "normal." I was born in 1927, have been married for 52 years, have grandchildren and even a great-grandchild. I've lived in Europe, in the South, in New England, the Southwest, in the Midwest, and now on the West Coast, and my life has been far from sheltered. But this story depicts more gruesome misfits than I have encountered in an entire lifetime. Are we supposed to really believe these nuts are all in one family? This is no more than trashy pulp fiction, meant to appeal to voyeurs or people who are fascinated by studies of the weird! Masterpiece Theatre has just arrived at the television trash basket. What a shame!

I will continue to treasure my collection of videos of the Masterpiece Theatre series of the past. I feel, tonight, as though I have just witnessed the beginning fall of a great PBS program, and I am very sad. Needless to say, I will just back up this tape and tape over it. You should all be ashamed of yourselves!

Lea Frey
Los Gatos, CA

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