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Daniel Deronda
updated 5.6.2003

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I just finished watching Daniel Deronda, and have been devouring the PBS website to learn more. What a wonderful production! I think I stopped breathing during the archery contest. I'll never forget the spectacle of the women trailing their taffeta through the woods. I called my mother today to make sure she'd watched the first episode. She had, and she agreed that this production was one of the most beautifully mounted of all the hundreds of Masterpiece Theatres our family has watched. We started with The First Churchills and went on from there.

Like so many viewers, I'm glad to see the program back on Sunday nights. I must admit that HBO can be a formidable competitor, especially during the lackluster American phase. However, Six Feet Under is rerun during prime viewing hours several times during the week, so that fixes that dilemma. With network TV in such a sad state, my husband and I have been watching our prized collection of PBS videos. We just completed all five seasons of Upstairs, Downstairs. It was even better than I remembered, except that I'm mourning the loss of Gordon Jackson all over again. Now we're on our third viewing of The Duchess of Duke Street, with Danger UXB -- or A Town Like Alice -- waiting in the wings.

I could go on all night. Yes, we've supported KCTS in Seattle since about 1979. To Rebecca Eaton and all of you responsible for bringing such intelligent, entertaining programs to our shores, my deepest thanks!

Linda McMichael
Seattle, WA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Your production of Daniel Deronda was brilliantly realized. The Victorian backdrop -- both of aristocratic and humble nature -- and the search for one's religious identity kept me wishing the days away until the next episode. The cast was superb. How Jodhi May and Romola Garai put to shame the so-called young female "stars" of today's American drama. All scenery and costumes were sumptuous and the performances were intelligent and memorably affecting. Thank you for this treat!

Barbara Keating
Sherman Oaks, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Thank you BBC and Masterpiece Theatre for Daniel Deronda! I loved it! You've come through with wonderful programming yet again. And thank you for introducing me to a fantastic, noble hearted literary character, Daniel Deronda.
An 18-year-old viewer,

Mercy Bell

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am only 19... most people my age are off watching the Osbournes on MTV, but I love all the stories on Masterpiece Theatre. I love reading the books and then watching the movies you make. Not only do they describe the author's intent, but also they really do bring the books to life. Thank you! Great job with Daniel Deronda!

Sara Johnson-Berz
Gorham, ME

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I'm trying to find out the name of the big orchestral waltz used several times in the ballroom scenes of Daniel Deronda. There are no clues in the credits. The tune is in the major key for the most part, but then has a sudden shift to minor for three to four bars, which makes the waltz a bit more dramatic. I would like to get a recording if I knew the composer and name of the waltz. It doesn't sound like a Strauss or other German composer. Perhaps French?

James Nimmo

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Having waited with bated breath, with advance reviews from England, and the topic of great interest to me though I'd never read the book (can't sit thru 19th C novels), I was of course overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of it, and the superlative acting.

But -- and I say this as one who's not read the original -- the adaptation on its own seemed to me soft and patronizing on the issues of outsiders in Victorian England, while very good on the nature of marriage in that society. All the good people were extremely good, the two bad people were extremely bad, and there was very little in between. This works for me in Nicholas Nickleby, but it was enormously disappointing here.

And I thought Gwendolyn's belated leap into the waters to save Grandcourt after all was meant to be a kind of redemption of her selfishness, yet the following scene with Daniel at the hotel was played in a way that made her loathsome. I guess I'd best read the book to see if I'm casting blame in the wrong place.

Michelle Frager

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I found this to an excellent depiction of Eliot's beautiful novel, filled with twists, romance, and confusion -- a wonderful blend of literary device and talent, a great classic. Cheers and bravo!

Bear Chaos
Tampa, FL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I was unfamiliar with Daniel Deronda and accidentally channel surfed on. I initially became fascinated with the character of Mirah. My name is Mira (pronounced long i). I sensed Daniel's background immediately and where the plot was going. It was refreshing to find Jewish themes and portrayals in a positive light, especially since the book was written so long ago. I once read that Judaism is the best-kept secret. Gentiles, and sometimes Jews themselves, are ignorant of its beauty and scope of its influence because of thousands of years of misinformation and prejudice. Anti-Semitism is still in the forefront today. I sometimes believe that Jewish children should be placed on the endangered species list. I would like to see more ways of educating people to the joys of being Jewish and the contributions of the Jews to our civilization. How many other novels or books are written by non-Jews that identify the hopes and dreams of Jews in a positive light? After all, "are we not human...?"

Mira Wiener
Boynton Beach, FL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am fan of Masterpiece Theatre and try to never miss a presentation. However, I have never been as moved as I was by the last two evenings of Daniel Deronda. What a powerful story and an extremely talented group of actors. For me, it was one of "the best" of Masterpiece Theatre. As a convert to Judaism, I know nothing of Jews in 19th-century England, yet the story seemed so contemporary. I can't say enough about the impact this presentation has left on me. I look forward to more of Andrew Davies's screenplays. Thank you for another excellent presentation from PBS.

Leslie Pearl
Palo Alto, DC

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Apart from its entertainment value, Daniel Deronda satisfied a personal curiosity. Just about the time that George Eliot was penning her novel, my great-grandfather -- a proper Protestant Englishman of middle class background -- married a Dutch Jewish immigrant many years his junior. This was definitely not the done-thing in mid-Victorian London, and although it appears that the marriage found some measure of acceptance in London's Jewish world, I suspect that my great-grandfather was considered a pariah and class-traitor in the world into which he was born.

I've often tried to picture the kind of universe they moved through as a forbidden couple with six sons and a daughter and a jangled sense of being both authentically Jewish and legitimately English. Your presentation of Daniel Deronda gave me some of the images I've always reached for.

Stu Woolley
Kingston, ON

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I love this movie and can't wait to read the book. I wish I could see it again. The actors acted very well and it was really cool.

Marty Youn
Orlando, FL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Daniel Deronda is one of the all-time best Masterpiece Theatre productions. The collection of characters was amazing -- I was booing the villain Grandcourt, loving and pitying Gwendolyn, admiring Deronda. Even the minor characters made big impressions with small airtime.

Andrew Brooks
Forest Hills, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I waited and waited to watch Daniel Deronda and I wasn't disappointed. The screenplay, the acting (especially Hugh Dancy) and photography were all wonderful. I will definitely be adding this to my DVD collection!

Kim Comeaux
Houma, LA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
This past weekend was my first exposure to Masterpiece Theater (Daniel Deronda). I regret I was not aware of this superb programming before. I keep my TV on one channel (news) because of the scarcity of worthwhile programs. Now I will have something to look forward to. Superb!

Jan Bitzer
St. Charles, MO

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
This hidden treasure of George Eliot is a blessing for the American small screen and the American public in general. It appears that in our haste to be politically correct, the masters of the past have all but been forgotten. Their messages, as we aptly see in Deronda are universal and timeless. My wife and I enjoyed this program. We shall talk about its symbolism for weeks on end. Another great classic.

Jerry Bello, Sr.
Wayne, NJ

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I wasn't much interested in Gwendolyn's problems. They seemed so insignificant compared to being separated from one's parents early in life, not knowing who or where they are. I got really interested in Daniel's story, especially when Mordecai supposed he was a Jew. This same thing happened to my grandmother who also thought she knew her heritage, but a Jewish lady was sure she was one of them. In tracing our family tree back to Europe it seems very likely they were full Jews who "converted" to Catholicism and gave up their Jewish identity in that mass emigration from Russia to America. It made me glad to see Daniel reclaim what his mother had tried to "save" him from.

Marie White
Randle, WA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I caught the end of Daniel Deronda last evening and it was grand. Masterpiece Theatre has been a source of great work for many years. I hope you continue to produce literature. By the way, Irene's character in The Forsyte Saga was well cast. Hated to read so many negative comments. Hope she (Gina McKee) does not take it to heart.

Charlotte Pate
Oakwood, TX

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