Foyle's War: Set Four
DVD | Box Set
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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.
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 GrahamSee all Editorial Reviews
- Complete UK broadcast edition
- Making-of documentary
- Production notes
- Historical truth behind each episode
- Cast filmographies
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The ambiance is an important one: the city of Hastings on the SE coast of England. This is the site of the invasion of the Normans in 1066. It is that part of Great Britian settled, first by invitation, by the Angles and Saxons and where they took over by force of arms when they were much less welcome. Here is where the Romano-Britians merged with the Anglo-Saxons and then the Norman French (and therefore Vikings) to create the Britian that has emerged at the present time. For those interested in the history of the island, WWII can be seen as part of the on-going parre and thrust between the European mainland and the British Isles, which makes the war activity and the individual responses to it so vivid.
Also for the historian is the very accurate presentation of British culture, attitudes, and relationships during the 1930s and 1940s. The creators of the series have paid close attention to detail, giving the audience a true experience of what it was like during the time. Clothing, housing, vehicals, the loss of privacy, the loss of common commodoties, the rise of a black market, etc. More importantly it shows the very real effect of secrecy and fear of invasion on justice, truth, education, and relationships. Probably no other series captures the individual human costs of that war--or any war.
The murder mysteries themselves are almost a bonus. Done in a more classic style, or perhaps more properly a transitional style that links the manor house mysteries to the police procedural, the series is at once as fun as the old movies like The Thin Man and the Charlie Chan mysteries, and yet as complex and dramatic as the more modern series like Law and Order or Midsommer Murders. In short the series has a little for each of us, and a lot for all of us.
The inspector, Foyle, is a taciturn individual. Like a good poker player he gives nothing away until he lays down his cards to take the "pot." His associates are delightful characters: An attractive young detective injured in the war and returned to the police force, a pretty driver who has a all the drive and determination one would expect from this generation when they were young.
The mysteries themselves allow the viewer to see the difficulty of finding the purpetrator of a murder--or any serious crime--during a period of secrecy, suspicion, almost paranoia. It also shows some of the frustrations attendant upon bringing individuals to justice who are considered "invaluable to the war effort." It presents the viewer with an important but unspoken question: when is our willingness to suspend the law, to make exceptions, to tolerate crime, to condone the supression of the rights of the individual make us as bad as the enemy and oppression we are fighting against.
A wonderful series. Good mysteries, good characters, good ambiance, good history. Stellar.
Michael Kitchen has the starring role as Christopher Foyle, a detective chief superintendent in the English town of Hastings. Michael Kitchen always portrays Christopher Foyle with a reserved wit. The story's setting is true to the era. In spite of Foyle's strong desire to join the war as a combatant, he is chosen to squelch conflict, prejudice, malice, and greed the war brings to this small English community.
Regulars include Anthony Howell, Honeysuckle Weeks, and Julian Ovenden as Foyle's son Andrew (who joins the war as a British fighter pilot) - they exceed in doing an excellent job of support - and help to make the story cohesive.