Top positive review
71 people found this helpful
Two Parts United: A Great Cast (And An Unforgettable Damian Lewis) Bring This Multigenerational Saga To Life
on June 22, 2012
Note: This production has been and is available seperately as The Forsyte Saga, Series One and Two. If you already own them, this is not an upgrade with new content and there is no reason to repurchase. This is for those new to the show, you can buy both parts together.
Previously released in two installments, "The Forsyte Saga" is finally being compiled in its entirety. The first six-part Masterpiece Theater miniseries was presented in 2002 with the second story arc of four episodes airing in 2003. Based on the works of John Galsworthy, this isn't the first time British TV tackled this epic family drama. A BBC production of the same name debuted in 1967, ran for 26 episodes, and figured in both the 1968 BAFTA and the 1970 Emmy races (after it premiered stateside). Some will contend that this original presentation is better or more complete and with a considerably longer running time, I'd be hard pressed to disagree with this assessment. Be that as it may, I think this interpretation of "The Forsyte Saga" fully stands on its own as a top-notch entertainment. A great cast (led by the tremendous Damian Lewis) brings this multigenerational story to life, and it is an absolute must-own for lovers of sophisticated adult drama. While I've seen Lewis excel in everything from "Band of Brothers" to the current "Homeland," this is ultimately the role and character that I most quickly associate him with. He's truly that memorable!
The tale initially centers around Lewis (as Soames Forsyte) and his cousin Jolyon played by Rupert Graves near the end of the 1800s (the story is set over several decades). The two cousins are left to carry on the Forsyte legacy, but the two men couldn't be more different. Lewis plays Soames as a tight wire act, upright and controlling, while Graves is given a more impulsive and carefree nature. But it is Gina McKee, playing the woman that catches Lewis's eye, that serves as the primary driving force for the early episodes. In fact, it is the relationship between these two that really stands out. Convinced he loves her, the two are wed before he can realize he doesn't really know her. And I'm not convinced he wants to know her, he just wants to possess her. Their tumultuous marriage becomes a virtual battleground and Lewis becomes increasingly brutal and petty. In a finely nuanced performance, though, Lewis never alienates the audience with his villainy. You fully understand him even as he crosses all lines of propriety. Eventually the two will be pushed further apart and she will befriend Graves, but even apart--the story of these two is the catalyst to almost everything that happens.
I absolutely loved the first six episode miniseries. McGee and Lewis are incredible. However, as the second series of four episodes takes center stage, another generation of Forsytes arrive. Centered principally around the children in the 1920s, the tale has Lewis's daughter taking a liking to Grave's son (I won't divulge where McKee stands at this point). It appears that mistakes from the past seem destined to plague Lewis, once again, as his precious daughter starts to distance herself. Although a worthy successor, I wasn't as captivated by this series as the previous one. The emotional highpoints still come from when McKee and Lewis intersect, but this set of episodes lacks the pair being front and center. All in all, though, this is terrific entertainment. About 4 1/2 stars for Part One and 4 stars for Part Two, I'll still round up for the massive 12 hour epic scope of this total production. KGHarris, 6/12.