The Forsyte Saga is often cited as the first television miniseries; it wasn't, but there's no question that it was a singular, powerful cultural phenomenon that deservedly got under the skin of European viewers in 1967. Today the 26-episode production, based on several novels and short stories by John Galsworthy, is a more timeless enterprise than many of the protracted British TV dramas that have followed. While it would be wrong to consider The Forsyte Saga high art, it's certainly a mesmerizing and inspired mix of theater, sprawling Victorian narrative, thinking... man's soap opera, and some finely tuned, 1960s black-and-white production values that (especially when shot outdoors) are strikingly handsome. Above all, Forsyte is driven by its characters--perhaps to an extreme, though the two-generation storyline makes no apologies for creating compelling people whose capacity for short-sighted blundering, bursts of grace, and slow-brewing redemption make them recognizably human. Eric Porter towers over everything as Soames Forsyte, a humorless attorney whose guiding principles of measurable value cause great heartache but slowly evolve, leaving him a graying, good father, arts patron, and sympathetic repository of memory. From the cast of 150 or so, other standouts include Susan Hampshire as Soames's troubled daughter, Nyree Dawn Porter as the wife of two very different Forsyte men, and Kenneth More as the family's artistic black sheep. --Tom Keogh [show more]
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