Show of the week
Every remake has to compete with a memory. This eight-hour Masterpiece Theatre miniseries, adapted from the fiction of John Galsworthy, follows in the footsteps of a 26-part dramatization that enthralled British and American viewers in the late '60s. But for those who like to curl up with a rich period piece, The Forsyte Saga is definitely worth another go.
Set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this is the multilayered tale of an English family obsessed with property and propriety. There are many Forsytes to meet, but the most fascinating is Soames (Damian Lewis from Band of Brothers), a priggish solicitor who gains the hand of the aloof and alluring Irene Heron (Gina McKee) by—to put it crudely—greasing her mother's palm. Soames learns that money can buy a wife but not her love, and he struggles unsuccessfully to contain his rising fury as Irene frustrates his desire for a son and heir. The story slows a bit as Irene enchants Soames's uncle (Corin Redgrave) and cousin (Rupert Graves), while younger Forsytes get bogged down in the Boer War. Lewis's performance, though, is a constant marvel. The actor makes Soames's emotional repression so palpable that it's hard to hate him even at his most heartless. When his humanity finally breaks through, you'll feel a surge of hope.
Bottom Line: A family treasure