DVD review: “The Forsyte Saga Collection” (2002)
Fans of “Upstairs, Downstairs,” “Downton Abbey” and other high-toned British costume productions of that ilk, have one widely acknowledged 1967 BBC series to thank for paving the way and setting the standard for all multi-character, serial melodramas to follow.
That would be “The Forsyte Saga,” a landmark, black-and-white TV series starring Eric Porter and Sir Kenneth More that was a smash hit in England and virtually invented the “Masterpiece Theater” template when it came to America on public television in 1970.
So when the series was resurrected in lush color in 2002 with a vigorous new cast of British thespians (including the hot “Homeland” star Damien Lewis), many “Masterpiece” fans were a bit nonplussed.
Far more visually lavish than the original adaptation of John Galsworthy’s celebrated novels, this new series was handsomely mounted and respectfully decorous but somehow less surprising and compelling than the 1967 production. By comparison, the Emmy Award-winning original version still retains its iconic status.
Nevertheless, “The Forsyte Saga Collection,” a two-volume, five-disc, 10-episode compilation of Granada Television’s polished remake is out in a posh DVD package, complete with a series sequel, “The Forsyte Saga: To Let” from 2003. And both long-time “Masterpiece” devotees and newcomers to the genre will find much to admire here.
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