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The Forsyte Saga, Series II
updated 5.11.2004

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I very much enjoyed viewing The Forsyte Saga, Series I & II. I have already purchased the DVD set for Series I. I do want to say that I like Gina McKee's portrayal of Irene. Some have complained about her, but I think that as an actress she displays just the right combination of subtle vulnerability and strength that Irene needs to be a modern, independent woman in search of true love.

Dennis O'Brien
Reston, VA

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Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Damian Lewis portrays Soames so well, though in Series II I think his dancing is completely out of character. Soames's personality would not allow for that kind of freedom.

John Forstall
Pensacola, FL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Are there any plans for a continuation of The Forsyte Saga? I am currently reading Mr. Galsworthy's A Modern Comedy, which chronicles Fleur's marriage to Michael Mont. I'd love to see it adapted for the screen. Besides, I doubt we've seen the last of Fleur and Jon together!

Dennis Casey
Rindge, NH

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I feel emotionally charged by the ups and downs of the Forsyte characters and their stories. Watching each chapter unfold makes me want to personally know each and every Forsyte. Thank you for telling such a wonderfully tragic, yet enlightening tale.

Laura D'Antonio-Milo
Morganville, NJ

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I absolutely love The Forsyte Saga! I am really upset that there is not going to be a third series. I am hooked and will probably buy the DVD. I want to find out all I can about Fleur and Jon. Thanks for a wonderful series!

Stacey Long
Fountain Inn, SC

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I thoroughly enjoyed The Forsyte Saga. The actor who portrays Soames is magnificent. I don't see him as a villain, but rather as a man who loves too strongly. I believe Irene is a cold, conniving woman; she reminds me of Fleur. She marries Soames for money and prestige, and then falls for a different man. Soames doesn't change after he marries her. I enjoyed this program more than any I have seen in years. Thank you!

Audrey Williams
Washington, NC

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I have read most of the comments about Soames and Irene, and think my own view of this relationship may be influenced by the fact that I never saw the first version on television. I did read the book, however, about 15 years ago, and have never forgotten its message. My daughter (15 at the time) and I read it, and then searched out second-hand bookstores for an out of print copy of A Modern Comedy, which continues Fleur's story.

Galsworthy talks about the failures of Soames and Irene in his introduction. One either loves someone romantically, or one does not. Soames can't will romantic love from Irene; he cannot buy it, beg for it, or force it. He simply doesn't understand this and believes he can make Irene love him as he loves her. One dislikes and pities him for this. Being frustrated does not give him the right to hurt her and yet he does. He hurts her for failing to love him as he wants to be loved and he pays for this for the rest of his life.

Irene simply cannot love him and should not have married him, but I think she believed she might come to love him later. At that time, I think women married men whether they loved them romantically or not. Irene soon discovers her mistake; she too pays for this mistake with many years of loneliness. Towards the end of the series, the way Soames handles the circumstances and disappointments of his life is admirable, as is his loyalty and love for his father, mother, daughter and sister. In the end, he does learn that one cannot force romantic love.

My husband and I have watched this together and have enjoyed the series very much. Thank you!

Theodora Rezba
Winchester, VA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
In 1967, I was a young child living in England. From the first moment that I saw The Forsyte Saga, I was completely mesmerized by the beautiful story. I went on to read the six books of The Forsyte Saga (with the aid of a dictionary) over the next couple of years.

As I think back to the original production, which I saw many times, I remember Nyree Dawn Porter and Eric Porter portrayed Irene and Soames extremely well. Although I am really enjoying the new production of The Forsyte Saga, I find myself continually comparing the current actors and actresses with those in the 1967 version.

In my opinion, Nyree Dawn Porter's portrayal of Irene was superb. I am not sure that I would rate Gina McKee so highly. Is this because the new version of The Forsyte Saga is designed to appeal to the viewers of today? It seems as if the 2003 version of Irene is more modern; her use of the English language seems designed to help today's viewer relate to her and her situation. An example of this is Irene's line, "Even after all this time, he still makes my skin crawl", (in reference to Soames.) I don't remember reading this in Galsworthy's book, and I question whether Irene would have spoken in these terms.

I did notice after last night's episode (week two of Series II) that there had been changes made to the original story. I don't believe that Jon finds out at this stage in the story that his mother was once married to Soames. He only suspects that they had had a relationship, and that Irene had chosen to marry Jolyon over Soames.

Anyway, I am still looking forward very much to the next episodes. It is still a riveting story, and one that has enchanted me for over 30 years. I am so grateful that PBS has made this opportunity available to us. Thank you PBS!

Tampa, FL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Thank you for The Forsyte Saga. Damian Lewis's portrayal of such a complex character is marvelous, but Gina McKee is totally unsuited for the role of Irene. She is wooden, and I fail to see why men are attracted to her. I watched the original Forsyte Saga. No one can portray Fleur the way Susan Hampshire did, and the new Fleur seems older. However, it is still the best show on television and I wouldn't miss it. I only wish it could go on forever.

Harriott McNaughton
Penticton, British Columbia, Canada

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I read The Man of Property 40 years ago. In The Forsyte Saga Series I, Gina McKee is not the warm and beautiful Irene described in the book, desiring love with tenderness and warmth in marriage, (though I think McKee is better in Series II.) Damian Lewis, however, is the cold and materialistic Soames. He does a great job showing us that his love for Irene is real, and that his sexual coldness and controlling personality make it impossible for him to see what Irene truly desires. Damian Lewis manages to incite our sympathy for Soames, (even though he does that unspeakable and vile act,) because we know how badly Soames wants to be loved by Irene. Lewis's scene with baby Fleur at the end of The Forsyte Saga Series I was powerful. So far, Lee Williams and Emma Griffiths Malin are perfect as Jon and Fleur. I can't wait to see the rest of Series II and, of course, The Forsyte Saga III.

Judith Moore
Antioch, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I watched The Forsyte Saga Series I, and am enjoying Series II. Music from the opera Carmen has been used in both series and I've noticed other familiar music, but can't always place the composer or work. Is there a way to obtain a list of the music of the masters ("classical" music) used in each episode?

Harold Glenn
Corona, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I have loved The Forsyte Saga ever since the first episode of Series I. I hope they make a third series. I want to thank Masterpiece Theatre and their supporters for bringing such wonderful dramas to the screen.

Elise Kat
Troy, MI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am approaching my Forsyte experience like I do a lot of things -- backwards. I have not yet picked up John Galsworthy's book, so I'm soaking in Masterpiece Theatre's side of the story first. So far Soames comes off as a psychoanalyst's playground, not to mention Irene. Everyone seems to dislike Soames, but I dislike June the most. June is always focused on herself. Her mantra must be: "How does your death, marriage, birth, extra-marital affair, semi-incestuous relationship, or gambling addiction affect me?" Enough about Philip Bosinney already! She makes situations stressful, but I think that's why she's there: to add tension to the story. Look what happens when she brings Jon to Aunt Hester's birthday party! Anybody else would have known not to do that; Jon is the boy/heir that Soames always wanted from Irene. Fleur, conniving as she may be, is my favorite character. She is as ephemeral as she is real. I had just made the decision to buy both series when I spotted Oliver Milburn from Bright Hair and Tess of the D'Urbervilles. He can bring nothing but fun, even if he is on Soames's side. All my blathering must be taken with a grain of salt. I have only seen the first episode of Series II after all; I may change my mind as I often do.

Rachel Howard
Birmingham, AL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Not having sufficient time, I bypassed the re-run of The Forsyte Saga Series I, assuming my memory would serve. Silly me! Monty, the fool, is still recognizable; likewise the glorious Irene, and the now-feeble Young Jolyon. But I spent much of the first episode of Series II desperately trying to recall who was who, and how they were related. "Some sort of cousin," of course, was the mantra. Sufficient? I wonder.

John Hildebidle
Cambridge, MA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Bravo on a job well done! I watched Series I last fall, and was delighted to see that the story would be completed. I am currently reading the novels, and would like to congratulate Sita Williams and the writers on brilliantly catching the philosophy and subtext of Galsworthy's tale, while still making the program enjoyable to view on television. Damian Lewis, Rupert Graves and my personal favorite Gillian Kearney are again in top form. Keep up the good work!

Brandon Cassidy
Ann Arbor, MI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
We've come a long way since 1969. As I read through viewers' comments and the Web site's articles, I am dismayed at what is now considered an acceptable adaptation of literature to drama: re-written texts, gratuitous sex, bizarre character concepts, and above all, scenes that begin and end so quickly it is impossible to fathom how an unfamiliar viewer could have the slightest idea of what is happening. But we love to congratulate ourselves on how sophisticated we've become. Sophisticated? Shallow is probably more apt. The 1969 version, as faithful to its source as any dramatization ever has been, isn't vogue now because it requires too much concentration. It's wordy and static, but oh so rewarding intellectually and emotionally. Because today's audiences have such short attention spans, the BBC has opted to keep this one moving. There is nothing to concentrate on, nothing to think about. It is filled with lots of creative writing, (whose idea was that one about Fleur and Jon meeting as children, or Dartie casting aspersions at Soames's masculinity?) and opportunities to shock and/or titillate the viewer (the coming attractions promise all sorts of sex scenes.)

Yes, the 1969 version seems primitive and the current version is probably more physically accurate of the times it is portraying. But for those out there who wish to re-live the joy of the novels, and experience the psychology of the characters and the wit and depth of Galsworthy as a writer, the recent series provides no connection whatsoever.

Bruce Witkov
Chicago, IL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
There will be a Forsyte Saga Series III, won't there? You can't leave us hanging when we of a 'certain age' know there is so much more to the story of Fleur and Jon than thwarted first love.

Jackie Ribby
Spruce Creek, PA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Many thanks to Masterpiece for continuing the Forsyte story! I have not read the books, but I now intend to. I also want to comment on the criticism about Gina McKee: I think that she is fabulous. It is difficult when an actor doesn't look like the character we know from a novel.

I'd like to comment on all of the sympathy expressed for Soames. He's brutal! He promises Irene she would not have to stay in a loveless marriage, and later he forces himself on her. I find it difficult to feel sympathy for a man who rapes his wife.

I'm now watching Series II and can't wait for more. I'm in suspense over who will marry, and whether happiness awaits Fleur and Jon.

Pittsburgh, PA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I just watched the first installment of The Forsyte Saga Series II last night, and I can't wait to see more! I was once again impressed by Damian Lewis's portrayal of Soames, and am really enjoying the way the characters have matured (or, in Dartie's case, not matured.) I also especially enjoyed the performances of the actors playing Fleur, Michael Mont, and Jon; they were all wonderful (although, when I read Galsworthy's To Let, I pictured Jon possessing a much more brooding personality than he has up to this point.) Another wonderful Masterpiece Theatre production!

Emma Burris
Winside, NE

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