Peeking over Mrs. B’s shoulder last night, I caught a bit of the PBS fundraiser promo hyping 35 years’ worth of “The Best of Masterpiece Theatre”(link). I admit I’m only an indifferent Masterpiece Theatre fan. Way back in the Pleistocene, I enjoyed “Upstairs, Downstairs,” and “Jewel in the Crown,” Even in the early days, I was inconsistent: never saw “Poldark” or “First Churchills,” (though we’ve been watching the Churchill DVD’s just this month). Lately, MPT seems to have fallen victim to what you might call PBS disease—too much repetition, lost edge, sameold sameold, like Lawrence Welk or the Antiques Road Show.
On the off chance that any reader still wants to be surprised, I won’t tell the exact order of the winners, but my eyebrows went up at a, shall we say, “very high ranking” for (drumroll) “The Forsyte Saga.” Jump Cut to Damien Lewis as Soames Forsyte, which is to say the 2002 adaptation, which I did see a bit of, before I decided that it was vastly inferior to its 1967 predecessor.
Wha--? This didn’t seem right to me at all, but a moment’s Googling revealed to me that the 1967 show wasn’t actually in the running—it was a predecessor to Masterpiece Theatre; in some sense the show that the later series was founded upon.
All very well and I guess you can’t win if you’re not at the table. But I wonder. They say one reason the Readers’ Digest and the Auto Club make so much money is that their members are old and forget to cancel. I wonder how many voters in this time really thought they were voting for the old original.
For the Greer Garson film version, look here.