Customer Reviews: Foyle's War, Set 5
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British television has certainly never been at a loss for quality entertainment. With a little care and sensitivity, the average American television viewer can assemble a superb DVD collection by concentrating on some of the splendid British programs exported to America over the years. Shows like Pride and Prejudice, Upstairs Downstairs, Brideshead Revisited and Civilization are just some of exemplary British programs that transcend the notion of mere entertainment. Occasionally, however, there are lesser-known television shows, as splendid as any of the more famous ones, that merit inclusion on that more exalted list but are excluded simply because they haven't had the proper exposure or because they are nominally considered representative of a genre, such as a mystery program. Foyle's War is illustrative of the latter reason for being excluded from the list of the finest British television.

Foyle's War is set in the English coastal town of Hastings, with its historical connotations, and covers what is generally considered by the British themselves as the second most glorious period in English history (following that glorious era of the destruction of the Spanish Armada under Elizabeth I in 1588), when England, essentially alone, withstood the Nazi onslaught of 1939-1940. Starring Michael Kitchen as Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle, through whose perceptive eyes private tragedy mirrors general calamity, and human passions function as a microcosm of the universal futility and immorality of war, what is nominally a mystery series becomes so much more. Each episode is really an epiphany of human frailty, and each of the dilemmas that Foyle faces becomes one more element in the elusive explanation for human self-destructiveness. The show's writer/creator Anthony Horowitz considers no ambition unattainable. The cast is uniformly excellent, with subtlety the most significant aspect of their acting technique. This splendid ensemble is never less than superb.

When the fourth season ended, there was some question as to whether the series had ended as well. Thankfully, here we have a fifth season with three new feature length episodes. The show is as brilliant as ever, for as the war begins to wind down, the secret dimensions of the troubled human psyche remain unchanged. It remains Foyle's task to shed light on the elusive human soul, regardless of how often he must remain aloof from the 'glamorous' history occuring all around him. His frustration is one of the ironies of these programs. Although Foyle regards his achievements as of little consequence to the war effort, they actually have a universal impact. In fact, they transcend the merely temporal and we, the audience, know that well. What Foyle achieves over the course of this superb series is an explanation for human frailty, a look at those hidden recesses that represent human weakness. He illuminates our private turmoil and secret fears from which spring all public crises. Foyle's War attempts to discover the roots of war. That it largely succeeds will be its ultimate testament. If you have never seen this show, you may be surprised by its scope, which is so much greater than merely a mystery program. Superlatives all around. Most strongly recommended.

Mike Birman
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"Foyle's War, Set 5" is now being released to coincide with its Public Broadcasting Service television debut. It is the last of a British historical drama/police procedural series, created and largely authored by Anthony Horowitz (Agatha Christie's Poirot: The Definitive Collection;Midsomer Murders Set 12, for which he deserves our unstinting praise and thanks. It's been just superb, as each episode has combined a mystery, most of them reasonably strong; and solid history, insights into the little-known problems and domestic scandals of the British homeland during the years of World War II. This set of three all new feature-length episodes brings the story to 1945, as the war finally winds down, and Foyle and his team do their best to prepare for uncertain futures. And, thank goodness, the set has been closed captioned.

Michael Kitchen (Out of Africa;Reckless) has played the title character, police detective Foyle, with distinction since its premier on PBS in February, 2003. It has been Foyle's burden, although he would have much preferred to be more actively involved in the war effort, to investigate civilian crimes in the small, historic English seaside town of Hastings; a town obviously directly in the German line of fire. Kitchen has been quoted as saying he could see no future for a series to be entitled "Foyle's Peace:" thus, the series comes to an end.

Kitchen has received strong support from Anthony Howell (Shadowlands) as detective Paul Milner, and Honeysuckle Weeks (Falling) as his driver Samantha Stewart. Julian Ovenden (Cashmere Mafia - The Complete Series) has played Foyle's son. The three, approximately 100 minute episodes are:

Episode 1, "Plan of Attack." set in April, 1944. Milner's unyielding investigation of a transportation fraud has far-reaching consequences. They are most noticeable at a nearby, secret mapping facility; and an ecumenical religious conference, held at Hastings, that is considering the historical question of the morality of the continued Allied bombing of Germany. Featuring Michael Jayston (Nicholas and Alexandra); this is an estimable episode.

Episode 2,"Broken Souls," set in October 1944. At a nearby psychiatric clinic treating troubled soldiers, a doctor's murder turns up a satisfying amount of skullduggery among patients and staff. It also complicates Foyle's friendship with Dr. Josef Novak, the Polish Jewish refugee who heads the clinic; illuminates the situation at homeland German prisoner of war camps, and considers the problems of soldiers returning home after years away. It features Phyllida Law (The Winter Guest; and Graham Crowden (Waiting for God - Season 1). Some may find this episode slow, but I found it very emotionally fulfilling.

Episode 3,"All Clear," set in May, 1945, as all Britain waits for formal announcement of war's end. Foyle is pressured into joining a high-level local committee to keep public order during the celebration to come. But that end comes too soon for two men; the one, a victim of a stabbing, the other, apparently a suicide. As has sometimes happened during this series, the villain is rather overt from the beginning. Still, a shameful, covered up wartime incident is exposed, and the problems of returning soldiers are considered, as are the problems of everyone wondering what they'll do in peacetime.

All good things must come to an end. Still, this series has been highly acclaimed and popular, on PBS and DVD. If you've been a loyal viewer, you might want to get your order in.
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Michael Kitchen returns for one final tour of duty as Inspector Christopher Foyle in 2007's "Foyle's War V." This three-episode set captures the essentials of an excellent mystery series set in the small town of Hastings in Southern England during the Second World War. Foyle is again assisted by Anthony Howell as Police Sergeant Paul Milner and Honeysuckle Weeks as "Sam" Stewart, Foyle's driver.

In the opening episode, "Plan of Attack", Foyle is dictating what promise to be very dry memoirs at Sam's painfully slow typing rate. Foyle's successor in Hastings is murdered while investigating the apparent suicide of a military photointerpreter who had issues with the targeting of German cities. Foyle is coaxed out of retirement to solve the complex mystery with its rogue gallery of suspects in and out of uniform. The presence of a conference of anti-war clerics in Hastings is a complicating factor.

A second episode, "Broken Souls", deals with the complex drama created by veterans returning from combat with significant psychological injury, in some cases confronted by unwelcome changes at home. The murder of a German POW touches the lives of a maimed returning British POW, a refugee Polish psychologist, and another British veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome.

A final episode, "All Clear", deals with the end of the war and the consequences brought home to a number of people in Hastings. Wanted and unwanted pregnancies, survivor's guilt, and human greed are still a recipe for murder. This last episode nicely wraps the larger story arcs of the series in a way that fans should appreciate.

"Foyle's War" offers complex, multi-layered murder mysteries set in an authentic atmosphere of wartime. It deals unflinchingly with the underside of a homefront strugling to maintain order in the midst of world war. The understated Foyle is relentless in his pursuit of truth and justice, in the process making no concessions to the circumstances of wartime. This final set is very highly recommended to fans of the series.
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on June 20, 2008
There aren't enough words in the English language to describe the excellence of this series. I haven't seen this set yet, can't wait to, but if it's half as good as the other Foyles War, it'll be over the top. Michael Kitchen is fascinating to watch, the stories are interesting and intertwining, and the other characters add dimension.

While it's set during WWII, the stories are personal ones and frequently have little to do with the war itself. If you haven't seen Foyles War yet, do yourself a favor and get started. It's nice to have seen all the episodes from the beginning, but it's not necessary, so don't feel you've missed too much to start it now.
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After six years, 19 episodes and all of WWII, Foyle's War -- one of the best of British mysteries -- comes to a close. The three episodes in this set take place in 1944 and May of 1945. Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle, played by Michael Kitchen, has reluctantly returned to duty. He had resigned his job and gone into retirement, tired to the bone when criminal activities were swept under the rug in the name of the expediency it was said was needed for the war effort. One too many times he had been told to ignore the secret actions of the government or to ignore the activities of a highly placed person.

Foyle is a taciturn man, even sad. He has lost his wife and his son is a fighter pilot. In 1939 Foyle desperately wanted to join up, but was told by his superiors that his talents would be far better utilized where he was. Foyle is a dedicated, no-nonsense cop. He's respectful to authority and the rich, but he isn't intimidated. If a person has committed a crime, especially one that could damage Britain's war effort, Foyle will never let up until the crime is solved and justice -- by the book -- is done. His return from retirement is because, whatever his misgivings, an appeal to his sense of duty has been made. He is returning to his old job because the man who took his place has been murdered. Assisting him will be members of his old team. Samantha Stewart, played by Honeysuckle Weeks (a great name), had been Foyle's driver. Stewart is an energetic, curious young woman, brave when she needs to be, who has earned Foyle's respect. She has emerged from the war years as a capable, confident woman. As the war winds down, however, she needs to discover what her own plans will be. Detective sergeant Paul Milner is played by Anthony Howell. Milner lost a leg in the Norway campaign and was assigned to Foyle as his sergeant. He had to build back his confidence. By now Milner is a full member of Foyle's team, thoughtful and as dedicated a cop as Foyle. He plans to make policing his career.

In the three complex cases in this last set, we'll encounter the murder of a cartographer in a highly classified Air Ministry project concerned with strategic bombing (Plan of Attack); multiple murders which involve an ambitious young doctor at a psychiatric hospital where the patients are servicemen, as well as a 15-year-old run-away (Broken Souls); and a murder and suicide just days before victory over Germany implicating a smooth politician and a doctor from Austria (All Clear).

This series is one of the best mysteries from Britain in part because the writing is of a high order. Anthony Horowitz conceived the idea, wrote many of the scripts and closely supervised the rest and remained the power behind the program. The production values have been consistently high. A great deal of effort has been made to establish the look and style of England during WWII. The cast that backs up Kitchen is first rate.

Most of all, the series works so well because of Michael Kitchen. He is an excellent, subtle, versatile actor whose long career includes the amusing and reprehensibly egoistic doctor in Reckless, the well-intentioned but naive king utterly outmaneuvered by Francis Urquhart in House of Cards Trilogy, Vol. 2 - To Play the King, and the unprincipled charlatan who finds himself facing Inspector Morse. Inspector Foyle is a serious, thoughtful man of high principles, who keeps most of his feelings to himself. He is not without a sense of wry humor, but dour is as good a description of Foyle as any other. He is utterly without sympathy toward career criminals or those who try to impede or make money from the war effort. Kitchen has made Christopher Foyle his own.

And now, at the conclusion of All Clear, the unconditional surrender of Germany has been signed and the church bells are pealing. Foyle has made unmistakably clear that he will retire for good now. As dour and at times as uncommunicative as he can be, we know that he has had a quiet hand in Paul Milner's advancement and that his association with Samantha Stewart might possibly continue, this time because of his son. Christopher Foyle gave us a good run for our money. We'll miss him.
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on July 20, 2008
Foyle's War has proven to be a top notch television series of the highest order. It most definitley compares with other the great British mystery series. I can't think of anything on American television currently that even remotely comes close to the quality of this serial. This series is most defintely worth an investment of your time and money.
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"Foyle's War" Series 5 (Series 6 in Britain) occupies itself less with the unique institutions of wartime England than with the psychic toll the War has taken on its participants, at home and on the front. This series contains 3 100-minute episodes, covering the last year of wartime life in Hastings, as World War II comes to its conclusion in the European theater. Two of the episodes were written by the series' creator, Anthony Horowitz, but "Broken Souls" was written by Michael Chaplin. At this point in the series, there is less depth of character, and the three principle roles seem more a collection of mannerisms than three-dimensional people. Of course, anyone who has followed the series will know DCS Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen), DS Paul Milner (Anthony Howell), and their spunky driver Sam Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks) well. "Foyle's War" is still entertaining, and Series 5 stresses that victory and a return to "normal" will be as great an adjustment as those changes brought by the war.

It's April 1944 and a year since DCS Christopher Foyle resigned his post in frustration. Britain has commenced night-bombing Germany, and the resulting civilian casualties have raised some objections in "Plan of Attack". Foyle occupies his time dictating a history of the Hastings Conservatory to Sam Stewart, who was a better driver than she is a typist. Sam now works at a nearby Air Ministry facility. Sergeant Milner is still on the job with the Hastings police, but he's finding it difficult to fight crime under the new leadership of DCS Meredith (Nicholas Day). When a young man named Henry Scott (Martin Hutson), who made top-secret aerial maps for the Air Ministry, is found dead, and an attempt on Milner's life kills a senior officer, Foyle is asked to return to his job to solve the killings.

"Broken Souls" looks at the emotional toll it has taken on soldiers as they return home in October 1944. Fred Dawson (Joseph Mawle) has been in a German POW camp for 5 years and arrives home to find that his wife Rose (Natasha Little) has become friendly with Johann Schultz (Jonathan Forbes), a German POW assigned to help out on the family farm. DCS Foyle has been receiving chess lessons from Dr. Josef Novak (Nicholas Woodeson), a Polish psychiatrist who narrowly escaped being sent to a concentration camp with his family. Novak works at a psychiatric hospital for soldiers who are having trouble readjusting to society. When an unpopular and dishonest colleague (Oliver Kieren-Jones) is stabbed to death, patients and staff make up the list of suspects.

Five and a half years of war are finally coming to an end in "All Clear". It's May 1945. Soldiers are coming home changed men to families who have also changed in their absence. Sam is feeling at loose ends and volunteering at the SSAFA, assisting returning soldiers. DCS Foyle plans on retiring, and Sergeant Milner awaits a promotion to another station. Plans for a V-E Day celebration are underway in Hastings, hosted by aspiring politician Martin Longmate (Mark Bazeley). Foyle is serving reluctantly on the committee to coordinate the festivities, along with an old acquaintance, American Major Kiefer (Jay Benedict). When fellow committee member Dr. Ziegler (John Ramm) is stabbed and another member commits suicide, it looks like that little group held a surprising number of secrets.
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on September 5, 2008
As with the previous sets of Foyle's War, the fifth and final set is up to previous standards, although the tone has changed considerably with the ending of World War II. There is a much stronger emphasis on the overwhelming effects of the war on the home front. The series has dealt wonderfully with subjects we do not often see in World War II coverage - what is/was the impact of the War on those who had to "carry on". With these being the final episodes, we will deeply miss not looking forward to the next episodes of Foyle's War. We will miss the extraordinarily fine acting of the cast and superb writing. Michael Kitchen, in particular, is one of the most gifted actors of our time. We feel like we are losing the comfort of a very close friend or relative.
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on February 1, 2010
I'm wondering who the genius was who decided to do away with subtitles after the first 4 sets of this wonderful show. All of the previous sets were subtitled. Now, all of a sudden, set 5 comes only closed captioned. Closed captioning does not work on modern tv/dvd player combinations. The only thing that works is subtitling. I have really been looking forward to the continuation of this series and was so excited when set 5 came out I bought it without checking it out thoroughly. I think it was a reasonable assumption that since the first 4 sets were subtitled that this and set 6 would be. Buyer beware.
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on May 20, 2014
see previous reviews. I can't write about this series any more than I have except to say that I want to go and live in hastings and meet sam and milner and just walk and talk with foyle (not that he talks very much but all that he has to say is always full of undertones, overtones, intimations, suggestion). my fantasy!
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