History meets mystery in this award-winning PBS series, with four all-new feature-length episodes set at the height of World War II. Michael Kitchen (Out of Africa) returns as the laconic Christopher Foyle, detective chief superintendent in the English town of Hastings. War has torn the social fabric of this once-quiet coastal community, and Foyles investigations explore the violence and opportunism that the conflict has fostered on the home front.
Also starring Anthony Howell and Honeysuckle Weeks, and featuring Kenneth Colley, Dermot Crowley, Liz Fraser, Philip Jackson, Michael Jayston, Corey Johnson, Jonah Lotan, and Roy Marsden.
THE MYSTERIES: INVASIONAs the first American GIs arrive to build an airbase near Hastings, the murder of a barmaid further strains already-tense relations between the locals and the Yanks. BAD BLOODA top-secret experiment in biological warfare goes horribly wrong, complicating a murder investigation and threatening the life of Foyles faithful driver, Sam. BLEAK MIDWINTERThe death of a young munitions worker and the murder of Paul Milners wife seem linked, and Foyle strives to clear his sergeant from suspicion. CASUALTIES OF WARWhile investigating gambling and sabotage, Foyle takes in his troubled goddaughter and her severely traumatized son, who refuses to speak.
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE making-of documentary, production notes, the historical truth behind each episode, and cast filmographies.
The excellent Foyle's War
returns with four episodes (each on its own disc) that first appeared on television in 2006 and '07. As before, the show's "history meets mystery" tagline pretty much sums it up, as Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle solves murders and various other heinous crimes in and around bucolic Hastings, England, while World War II rages on at home and abroad. "Invasion," the first episode, marks the arrival of American forces in 1942, not long after Pearl Harbor. Not all the locals are thrilled to see them; disparaging remarks about the G.I.s showing up "late" are common, and many a stiff upper lip curls at the Yanks' brash, boisterous behavior. Thus when a Hastings barmaid turns up strangled at a dance arranged by the Americans to get to know their hosts, fingers are quickly pointed at the "invaders." But Foyle and his assistants, Sgt. Paul Milner (Anthony Howell) and driver Samantha "Sam" Stewart (the delightfully named Honeysuckle Weeks), have other suspects, and the detective, who comes on a bit like Columbo without the trench coat and other idiosyncrasies, manages to sort through them while somehow keeping the Brit-Yank enmity from festering and
dealing with the deadly effects of the illegal "hooch" the barmaid and her employer were brewing.
This balance of deftly intertwined elements typifies a series in which each installment is essentially a 90-minute movie; in "Bad Blood," murder, romance both illicit and international, and the appalling specter of Britain's experiments with biological weapons like anthrax are all on the bill, while gambling, sabotage, personal tragedy, and yet more murder feature in "Bleak Midwinter" and "Casualties of War." The mysteries aren't especially confounding; what the quietly persistent Foyle does is less interesting than how he does it. And while it's set in wartime, the war and its impact on the English (who endure the death and injuries visited upon their young men, along with shortages of gas, electricity, and such) is more often a backdrop than a central focus. Each disc includes a several pages of often fascinating text about the "historical truth" behind a given episode, while other bonus features include cast filmographies and a brief "making of" documentary on disc 1. All in all, while it may not appeal to fans of the fast-paced, effects-laden cop procedurals popular on American TV, Foyle's War is a classy production, well written (by creator Anthony Horowitz), nicely photographed, and well worth the investment of both time and money. --Sam Graham