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The Jury
updated 5.2.2003

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I found The Jury fascinating, especially as I served on a murder trial jury several years ago. I was one of two alternate jurors, and I had mixed feelings about being dismissed before deliberations began. On one hand, I was relieved from the burden of participating in a difficult decision, yet I also felt "cheated" in a sense, having listened to all the testimony and evidence, but having no chance to discuss it with the others.

I found the acting and production values in The Jury top notch. I wish I had taped the final episode, as I was unclear about Peter's search of the tunnel or cave in which his father in law suggested the boy's school uniform might be found. My best guess is that the sequence is purposely ambiguous, that Peter is as angry with himself for, once again, allowing his overbearing father in law to control and influence his actions, to sow doubt in his mind, as he is with not finding any new evidence. Obviously, that doubt has grown stronger when we see peter at the funeral at the close of the final episode.

Jim Nelson
Tucson, AZ




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
What did Peter find in the water when he went back after the trial? Did he find the clothes that indicated guilt on the part of the defendant?

Thomas Atkin
Fairway, KS




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Just wanted to say how much I am enjoying The Jury, currently airing on our local PBS station. I absolutely refuse to answer the telephone or door while it is on. Thank you for a fine production.

Claudia Williamson
Blairsville, GA




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Regardless of host Russell Baker's personal feelings about the flaws inherent in our jury system, his comments following Episodes #2 and #4 of The Jury were inappropriate. How can PBS purport to share such an interesting movie with its viewers and allow Baker to sound off that way? His clear disdain and mistrust for juries -- while acceptable free speech -- is only one side of the story. As a social science researcher who studies jury decision making for a living, I can tell you that it is far too complex to be reduced to Baker's popular opinion sound bites; the majority of jurors take their job very seriously (as I think the series illustrates beautifully) and are asked to make critical decisions for people in every case. It is an important job that citizens of America have the privilege of doing; by contrast, Baker's complaints about juror decision-making do not serve our system in any way. We could have all learned some important lessons and enjoyed the drama of the series without Baker's personal views.

Charlotte Morris



Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I really enjoyed The Jury and watched every episode. At the conclusion of the series, I am unsure as to the reaction of the foreman at the cemetery. I am questioning his strange reaction to the questions of a fellow juror as to whether he (the foreman) had been "right" about the verdict. The foreman seemed disoriented and unsure how to respond. Does this mean that he DID find something while fishing for the backpack? Are we to believe he DID find evidence for or against the defendant? I would have liked a more definitive ending -- I would like to know for certain after one month and four episodes whether Singh was indeed guilty or not.

Alison Cohen
Boston, MA




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The Jury was spellbinding. But I'm not clear about the last episode. What did Peter's father-in-law say to him about his sleuthing? What did Peter find or not find? All I could tell by his face at the funeral was that he no longer felt his verdict was right. I guess I missed something and would like someone to fill in the missing piece. Thank you.

Linda Schiff
Bayside, NY




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The final scenes of The Jury are, as I suppose they should be, enigmatic.

Why, in the scene where the foreman is looking for the school uniform (his father-in-law assured him the boy had thrown into the water in the tunnel near the murder scene), did the foreman exhibit what seemed to be anger and frustration? Was it a blue piece of clothing he fished up out of the water and then threw back in?

Either one of two possible explanations fit: Either he found nothing and discarded rubbish which included a bit of nondescript blue cloth. He was irritated and angry that he had been forced, once again, by his father-in law to doubt his own decision and leadership in arriving at a not guilty verdict.

Or, was the bit of blue cloth, which we saw only peripherally for a split second actually the school uniform which the boy had thrown into the water (just as the father-in-law had said)? In that case the boy was probably guilty and the foreman knew he had led the jury to the wrong decision.

I favor the latter possibility because of the way the foreman reacted when one of the two dissenters in the 10-2 verdict came to him to apologize and to say that he thought now that the not guilty verdict was the right one and that he was sorry that he had voted the way he did. One would have expected the foreman to react with some sign of warmth, but he showed nothing but signs of distress, as if he realized he would never be able to tell anyone what he had discovered, nor would he ever be able to quiet his own conscience, especially since the victim's father had committed suicide.

Joseph Winokur
New York, NY




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Russell Baker's concluding remarks on The Jury were preposterously uninformed. He uses Reaganesque analysis -- an anecdote leading to a subjective conclusion -- to criticize all jury trials everywhere. Then, with that same brand of analysis, he concludes that trials without a jury are also unfair and unreliable. In the process, he reveals an alarming ignorance of both the theory and the practice of jury trials in criminal courts. From two decades of experience in the law, as a litigator and now as a judge, it is my conclusion that the jury system in America does exactly what it is intended to do: It combines the sense and experience of a group of citizens for the purpose of weighing the evidence in one case and reaching a just legal conclusion from that evidence. For every error by a jury -- and Mr. Baker's examples are not all erroneous -- there are thousands of just and proper jury verdicts. The American jury system is actually more foolproof than most human endeavors, even though anything involving mere people is subject to error. For Mr. Baker to imply that justice is not or cannot be done, however, as he clearly implied, is crass cynicism.

Rand Beacham
Santa Clara, UT




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
This is an excellent series. It's rare that I look forward to Sunday evenings with Masterpiece Theatre. (Exception: Foyle's War). This series is well-acted. Derek Jacobi is always a class act and the characters are well-drawn and interesting. The single mom is portrayed as such a good mother, concerned for her daughter above anyone or anything else. The obnoxious father-in-law is well-played. The young seminarian's friendship with the older lady who has the tumor is sensitively thought-out and acted. The window into the British legal system is informative without being didactic. And the racist and bullying sub-texts are timely and relevant. Thank you so much for bringing this to us, commercial-free and a good foil to American stuff.

Phillip Ayers
Portland, OR




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I loved The Jury and thought it excellent TV and theater. The stories of the boy and the jurors' lives were fun to piece out. However, I was very confused by the ending concerning the jury foreman. Did he find proof in the stream that implicated the boy or was he just disgusted with himself for a lack of faith in his own convictions? I was really puzzled by this scene. Thanks!

Christine Strebel
Canastota, NY




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am writing this to make sure that the audience knows a few more details about the gatka. Gatka is a Sikh martial art and, yes, it does use weapons which are dangerous, as with many other martial arts. However, there is a difference in the justification behind each act. No act using a "shastar" (or weapon) shall be in vain, in revenge or, for that matter, in anger. These three acts are a sin in the Sikh religion because they take us away from the beauty of the truthful Almighty. The only time this weapon is to be used is as a last resort in battle.

Yes, one can practice with the shastar. However, they must show their instructor full control of the "bamboo" shastar in order to use the three-foot kirpan which "Duvinder" in the movie did. This said, Duvinder's use of the weapon was a completely immoral act in Sikhi. His intentions were immoral (to kill another).

"Josh," which means to be ready for anything, does not mean to grab the first weapon you see and kill someone. It means to be ready to defend one's self. Sikhs do not wish to incite violence. We are a peaceful people, and want to remain this way. However, with systematic racism in place in the western world, it would not be surprising to see such anger displayed. I hope that viewers get a better picture of what Sikhs face in this day and age, especially after 9/11. Thanks for listening.

Gursevak Singh
ON




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
This is insulting to our religion and makes a very bad impression of the Sikh religion and our children, under the circumstances of the war, etc. This should be taken off the screen immediately. We will be sure to cancel our membership to this channel showing such violence. I was always under the impression that the PBS channel was a children's channel and we have, as a family, enjoyed the programs on it so far but that has now come to an end. My children will not be allowed to watch anything on this channel after the recent film showing. Looking forward to hearing your comments.

Tripat Singh
San Jose, CA




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
This film presents Sikhs in a manner that misrepresents religion and creates interracial disharmony.

It is a fact that "some provocative sentiments are expressed by some of the characters," and the producers of the drama unsuccessfully tried their best to balance some vague positive views of Sikh religion.

This drama is a disgrace to the film and TV industry. They should have courage to make a film depicting the fact of Christianity that "Christians wear crosses around their necks and the cross was used as a murder weapon."

White Australians celebrate ANZAC day on April 25th as a mark of respect to their armed forces who died in Gallipoli during WWI. But they are unaware of the fact that the total number of Sikhs killed (fighting for allied forces) at Gallipoli was more than the numbers of ANZAC forces (Australia & New Zealand).

In the two World Wars, 83,000 Sikhs lost their lives and a further 109,000 were injured whilst fighting for the British Army.

Kulbir Singh Malhotra
General Secretary
Sikh Kirtan Prachar Mission of Australia Inc.
Sydney, Australia




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
We are enjoying The Jury so much that it's hard to wait a week for the next installment! We think the photography is brilliant and we love the music. Will there be a cd of the soundtrack and how could we get one? The authors have given us just enough about the characters to feel we know them and to make us really care about them, especially Johnnie. (We're keeping our fingers crossed for him.) The casting is admirable. Yet another jewel in Masterpiece Theatre's crown. Thank you for your integrity and excellence in your productions.

Consuelo Larrabee
Friday Harbor, WA



The soundtrack to The Jury, by composer Rolfe Kent, is available on audio cd from amazon.co.uk (Polydor).



Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
It seems that racism rears its ugly head in the testimony in episode one. When there is more than one possible interpretation, all of the witnesses seem to doggedly stick to the prosecution side of things. For instance, blood on the boy's shirt rather than it being his red tie, a symbol of his academic standing. The witnesses lean toward the worst, based on the race of the defendant. As a juror twice myself I have seen this in living color. We all know it when we see it. If he is guilty, it is due to his behavior and nothing else.

Harry Shank
Albrightsville, PA




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I would like to know why Masterpiece Theatre chose to air this program now. In general, Americans know very little about who Sikhs are. After the September 11th attacks Sikhs were the biggest target of backlash hate crimes because of our distinctive appearance, which includes the wearing of turbans and beards by male Sikhs. With the current war, many Americans are again taking out their frustrations on people they perceive to be Muslim.

There are so few instances in which Americans view Sikhs in the media, and I would like to know why Masterpiece Theatre is choosing this particularly trying time to air a story about a Sikh on trial for murder?

Prabhu Khalsa
Española, NM




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
In my opinion, The Jury is one of the most thought-provoking and insightful portrayals of the British legal system. I want to commend the producers of The Jury and Masterpiece Theatre for this profound and superb presentation -- masterfully done! I was never a regular viewer of Masterpiece Theatre, but after watching The Jury, I intend to begin watching it as regularly as possible.

I hope that this movie will also encourage and stimulate thoughtful discussions on the issues raised and will also encourage many similar types of dramatic presentations on such significant topics. It really showed the psychological traumas and complexities of the experiences of jury members who are part of a highly publicized and controversial court case -- and led you to understand and feel empathy for all concerned, including families of victims and those falsely accused, and the jury members themselves.

Pamela Kukde
Mississauga, ON




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Well done! We were totally absorbed in this drama -- a complicated story, well told. And the characters were perfectly cast, as always in a British series. We miss Mystery! so when Masterpiece Theater is a mystery too we are doubly pleased! Thank you!

Leslie Anderson
Portland, OR




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The main aspect offense thus far has been the portrayal of Sikhism and the sword. From the start, there is a clear allusion to the "darkness" of the Sikh way and the virtue, peacefulness and righteousness of Christianity in its many variations. From the start, the camera zooms in to the defendant's kara. It does this several times at the beginning of the programme, when we see the defendant walking down the street, apparently on his way to commit some dastardly deed. These special "kara shots" occur with regularity. Then the defendant is shown in handcuffs in police custody. As usual, his face is in poor light. The zoom-in shots continue. This time going down to the handcuffs. Several times. The allusion is clear -- follow the Sikh path, and bad things will befall you.

We see a short clip of the childish defendant rather ineptly unsheathing a full-length kirpan, and swinging it around. Indication: turban-wearing Sikh schoolchild is immature, and certain aspects of his religion are obsolete (this impression of obsolescence is reinforced by a few shots of some Punjabi dhol players in a painting, and the normal type of paintings you find in some gurdwaras.

Then we see a good, hardworking family man, driving a milk-float, drive next to the defendant as the latter walks back from the apparent crime scene. Hanging from the driver's rearview mirror: a big, high-visibility Christian rosary, with a large cross attached. The good guy and the bad guy are (in) black and white. One: a suspicious-looking foreigner, glancing over his shoulder with guilty, dark looks; the other, a fine, upstanding, peace-loving citizen. One from a bad religion, one from a good. The allusion really is that blatant. Then we see the murder victim: a schoolboy covered from head to toe in streaks of blood. Next to him, the brass-handled kirpan.

Many times during the programme, various characters (jurors, lawyers, people eating dinner, etc.) refer to a "schoolchild" being "murdered" by "a Sikh." Why is this necessary? When someone is accused of murder do we normally identify his or her religion? The implication is clear: Sikhism is not a religion in the same way as Judaism, Christianity, etc. Rather, it's a type of person -- it's any turban wearer in the UK. This programme is a seriously offensive insult to the Sikh community and the Sikh religion.

Arvinderjit S Kang
Hamilton, ON




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Good, brief overviews of the Sikhs are available at the following Web sites:

Who are the Sikhs?
http://www.sikhmediawatch.org/pubs/smartpub1.htm

Introduction to Sikhism
http://www.sikhnet.com/s/SikhIntro

Navjeet Singh



Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Hooked I am. Simply didn't want the first episode of The Jury to end. Locations are magnificently filmed and the background music haunting and appealing. Courtroom dramas tend to be long- winded, but this one is a breath of fresh air. And the acting is superb.

Jim Hunt
Eastham, MA



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