Friday, April 29, 2016

Foyle's War

Michael Kitchen as Foyle.
Premise:  Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) is a middle-aged Detective Chief Superintendent who solves crimes during and after World War II in Hastings on the south coast of England. Foyle is an introspective man and a brilliant detective who doesn't suffer fools easily, even if they are superior in rank. He typically introduces himself as simply: "My name's Foyle. I'm a police officer." His cases range from murder in a military hospital to black market schemes to espionage. Foyle is assisted by Samantha (Sam) Stewart, a military driver, and Detective Sergeant Paul Milner, who is later promoted to Inspector. Foyle is a widower; his son Christopher becomes a pilot for the RAF. After the war, Foyle and Samantha work for MI5 in London.

Running Time:  90-100 minutes (28 episodes).

Status:  There were eight seasons broadcast between 2002 and 2015. They’re available on DVD in the U.S.

Production Notes: Anthony Horowitz, a highly successful novelist and television script writer, created Foyle's War. Prior to Foyle, he penned episodes of the popular detective series Agatha Christie's Poirot and Midsomer Murders. ITV cancelled Foyle's War in 2007 after five seasons, but reversed the decision and eventually broadcast three more seasons. In a 2015 article about the final season, Horowitz said: "It feels a terrible wrench to say goodbye to characters I’ve lived with for more than fifteen years. But the truth is that I’m not sure there are any more stories to tell and anyway it was always my intention to end on a high note and I think this year’s episodes are the very best we’ve done."

Our Review: Foyle's War is a outstanding detective series that takes great advantage of its World War II backdrop. The mysteries are compelling and Horowitz offers the perfect amount of insight into his characters' personal lives. Michael Kitchen gives a masterful, nuanced performance as the title character. I love how Foyle will start to leave a witness, only to pause, tilt his head slightly, and ask that last killer question. It reminds me of Columbo and yet Kitchen makes the technique uniquely his own. Foyle's relationships with Sam, Milner, and Christopher reflect his high morals and the importance he places on loyalty and trust. During the final two seasons, which take place in London, Horowitz injects socially-relevant subplots involving Sam's husband, who becomes a member of Parliament. I felt these story lines detracted slightly from the central mystery, but that's a minor quibble.

Our Grade:  A+.

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