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White Teeth
updated 6.2.2003

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
While the series was great, and the acting wonderful, I would have enjoyed it more had the author bothered to get even the smallest detail about Jehovah's Witnesses correct. There were so many inaccuracies, that I doubt she did any research.

First of all, a Jehovah's Witness would never have a cross in the home. Crosses are pagan relics that have no place in a witnesses' worship. Second, witnesses do not believe in burning hell, nor do they believe in everyone going to heaven. The belief is that while 144,000 will go to heaven, others will live forever on Earth. Third, even in 1974, when some witnesses did believe the end was near, they did not believe they would be taken up to heaven in rapture.

Verna Leep
Thoreau, NM

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
White Teeth was a great show! Lovely! It's a wonderful adaptation of the book and just wonderful as a stand-alone movie for those who have not read the book. Very well done, and keep up the great work! Thank you.

Denzil Cuddy
Easley, SC

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Why does Christopher Simpson, who played the roles of both Millat and Magid, have a white name?

"asian black"
New York, NY

According to actor Christopher Simpson:
"My name is Christopher Crawford Gatsinzi Simpson. I was born in Dublin to a Rwandan Greek mother and an Irish father. I lived in Dublin until I was six when I moved to London, where I have been ever since. Imagine, if you will, the difficulty I have responding to the question 'Where are you from?'"

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
"Sigh!" Episode one was weak in its reliance on sexual realism and now I wish for more of it after seeing episode two. A clashing noise passed for the soundtrack. Was it really that horrid in those days? If so, I'm glad they're past (smile). Anyway, I have never seen a Masterpiece Theatre production I didn't like until now. So, I guess I can't complain too much. All in all, I look forward to the programs. My anticipation was just a bit spoiled by so many "hits" in a row, so I was shocked at the "miss" this time. I'm looking forward to a return of the earlier quality.

M. M. Sidwell
El Segundo, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I understand that PBS is renowned for it's program selections, so imagine my surprise, or should I say shock, at the content of this movie. Granted, it was 9pm and my children should have been in bed, but I was appalled at the open display of sexual content in this movie. I suggest airing this sort of film a little later than 9pm, because we all know that some children go to bed at 9pm but go to sleep at 10pm. Thank you.

Therri Foster-Fritsch
Jacksonville, FL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I really enjoyed the first part of White Teeth, and am waiting to see the next episode. I thought it was funny, sad and wonderfully strange. However, I found Russell Baker's commentary to be intrusive. The program is not that complex that it needs an introduction. Also, the previews that PBS shows two times before the program starts almost ruin the show by giving away the wonderful scenes and rearranging them for a "greater" thrill. Despite all these commercial disincentives, it works. It is real, and the acting and the dialogue are great. Thank you.

Mario Pinot
New York, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I have to admit that, though I enjoyed the movie, I was appalled to view the sexual content on PBS. I think that there should have been more editing of the sexual content. Although the movie had a good story line, the point could have been made without the HBO content. Daytime soap opera's have more tasteful depictions of sex than White Teeth. PBS was a station that I never had a fear of my children watching. Until last night, if they could not sleep, I would turn to PBS because I believed they would be viewing safe and educational material.

Jamal Jones
Florence, SC

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I think the film was great. I haven't read the book but my mother loved it. It really is a good example of how multicultural England has become. It does a good job in educating Americans about diversity in England, which is something that I can attest to, having been born in England to an English father and a Jamaican mother, just like Zadie Smith.

Alicia Delisser-Nuttall
Lauderhill, FL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
If only Esso UK (a unit of ExxonMobil) knew the great British humor they are supporting here in the flagship colony. I lived and worked in the UK from 1982-94, and enjoyed a visit home with White Teeth. And we all thought Blade Runner showed us the future! The future is now in White Teeth. Rainy polyglot England is now so rich in ethnic cocktails, that the only result is tragicomedy of the first order. Too bad the United States' short-lived experience with colonialism failed to produce such a rich substrate. Perhaps in the next thirty-fifty years Hollywood can do what the Brits do so well: laugh at themselves (Muslims, genetic mice, schoolteachers and losers). Only Cheers came close and John Cleese was a guest once. Watch and enjoy.

Larry Sullivan
St. Paul, MN

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
This program was terrible! I gave it forty-five minutes in the hopes that it would have some redeeming value but there was none. This is not what I expect of Masterpiece Theatre. I have to say that this is the first program that I have felt strongly enough to write about, and I'm afraid that I feel strongly in the negative. Let's not go the way of commercial television. I pledge so that I have an alternative! Thank you.

Susan Stillman
Vienna, VA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I read a review about Zadie Smith's new book in The New York Times recently. The review also mentioned the success of her previous book White Teeth. Then, last night, I saw the movie drama White Teeth on PBS. Thanks to PBS for bringing this excellent program to us. Thanks to British television for making this movie.

Since I am Bangladeshi, I could relate to a lot in White Teeth including feeling trapped, the constant battle between right and wrong, confusion and frustration about discrimination and racism. My parent's philosophy is similar to that of Samad. I feel trapped all the time; don't we all feel trapped in one way or another? I love the way Samad has to keep reminding everyone that he's from Bangladesh, not from India or Pakistan. Yes, Bangladesh is a country! We got independence in 1971. I have to do the same as Samad when explaining my own geographical origins. It felt great to hear the name of my country in the movie. I thought it must have been somebody from Bangladesh who wrote the screenplay, and was surprised that it was Zadie Smith. I felt that I should be the one writing or making a movie like this!

I think that a lot of Bengali writers address the same universal issues in their novels and stories. I grew up reading those. Religious absurdity is a reality all over the world. Within the family, feelings are parallel, no matter what our origins are. We disagree with our parents and with their beliefs, but at the same time, some conservatism has been rooted in our blood. It's the same way in every culture. Thanks to Zadie Smith for writing such a nice story.

Sumon De Frenchie
New York, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Smashing! Masterpiece Theatre has moved beyond the Edwardian era again!

I loved this novel; it moved me in its breadth of scope as well as its love for place and the people who populate it. It is no surprise that some of it is, as Zadie Smith said, a "bastardized" version of real events in her life. Her multicultural wonder of a work is just brilliant! Kudos to her and the producers!

Dayo Moon
Nashville, TN

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The first episode of White Teeth rocked! I had never watched Masterpiece Theatre before this. Keep it up!

Jules Burton
Miami, FL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I thought White Teeth was great and hilarious. It was the best show I've seen in a really long time. It showed real characters and feelings that demonstrate how the world (not just England) really is.

Juan Vargas
West Columbia, TX

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
An excellent job was done turning this novel into installments for Masterpiece Theatre. It's almost as good as reading the book. It's wonderful that you've chosen this fresh new novelist for your series!

Cat Smith
Washington, DC

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
What has happened to your programming? Who is responsible for this garbage, (no other word fits)? Please get back to the great shows that you do better than anyone else. I cannot watch programs like this "Second Marriage Of Archie Jones". What a waste of money!

Wanda Ross
Naples, FL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I tuned in tonight to find White Teeth was airing, and I love it. I gave up cable television over a week ago, but I can still pick up the PBS station for free! Thank you for providing wonderful entertainment and informative programming. I've enjoyed watching.

Pamela Herring
Conover, NC

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I realize that you will hide behind your right to free speech in response to my comments, but I must make clear my dislike of your "humorous" references to Jehovah's Witnesses. Yes, for many years we were still learning (in fact we are still learning) and researching all portions of the bible (which we live by and therefore take very seriously), and along the way we made a few assumptions that turned out to be wrong. But that is nothing to mock us about, as you do in your current movie White Teeth. Perhaps if we were Catholic or Protestant, and had made a wrong assumption, you wouldn't be so quick to make fun of us. I feel somewhat morally obligated to no longer watch your show, but I wished to inform you of my opinion.

Veronica Burget
Virginia Beach, VA

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