Masterpiece: Home Fires
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Starring Masterpiece favorites Samantha Bond (Downton Abbey) and Francesca Annis (Reckless) as part of a remarkable group of women living in a small rural village during World War II. Separated from husbands, fathers, sons and brothers for years at a time, they find themselves under extraordinary pressures in a rapidly fragmenting world.
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It begins in a small English village in 1939 just as Hitler is coming to power and war is evident. The town has an air force base but most of the young men were leaving for France to help the war effort. In the first 30 minutes we are introduced to the main characters – and there are quite a few – and we lean that the town is so small that it has one mailman (on a bike), one butcher store, one church and eventually one fallout shelter will hold all the town’s residents. Like every small town (and every melodrama) there are people with secrets and some folks make foolish decisions that will impact both their life and the lives of others.
The series is actually perfect for “binge watching” or at least watching Disc 1 straight through (2 ¼ hours) and then the second. For a movie about war there is no real graphic violence as the action all takes place in the town, which is now left with mostly the women, children and men who served in the last war. And there is discussion of sexual identity as well.
The cast includes many actors you’ll recognize from other BBC and ITV series. I can never remember their names but their faces are very familiar. And I’d like to point out that music theme that plays at the beginning and end of each episode is wonderful. It is way too modern for the period but it seems to work and will stay in your head at least an hour after the music stops. (Update: I found the recording of the theme streaming here: [...]
Now I promised “no spoilers” but I feel I should let you know that the series was “greenlighted” for a second season which began filming in September. This BD/DVD goes up to Spring 1940 and the war is far from over. Many of the story lines are tied up, but not all (just as in life). Some “relationships” are just beginning while others have ended and there are few unknowns. I don’t want to dissuade you from watching the series by pointing out that it will continue. The time spent watching this show will be rewarded by watching some superb British actors tell the story of Britain’s war efforts (as seen by the actions of those left at home.)
There are English Subtitles but it doesn’t appear to have closed captioning.
The release date is October 27, 2015. I was provided an advance screener for an objective review.
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.
The story of a small rural English village as WW2 unfolds. Foyle’s War set the bar with sets, story & costumes on WWII home front drama and the ladies of “HOME FIRES” HAVE MET THAT CHALLENGE. Well done again Masterpiece. From the Julie Summers book “Jambusters”, 2013, and Summers can be spotted as a cameo character in episode 2. Filmed in Cheshire England, the story setting as well, it is nostalgic perfection.
Cast is overall great, allowing many memorable characters to unfold, too many to mention. Leaders of the Women’s Institute with their banter and one-upmanship are brilliant played by Francesca Annis (‘Restless’) as Cameron the outgoing head, and Samantha Bond (‘Downton Abbey’) as new President Barden. Dr Campbell (Ed Stoppard –‘Upstairs, Downstairs’) and wife Erica (Frances Grey –‘Vanity Fair’) portray an important couple with as much finesse as the Simms, a writer & wife battered couple (Mark Bazeley –‘The Queen’) (Claire Rushbrook –‘The Mill’ ‘Mutual Friends’).
SDH SUBTITLES for all 6 hour episodes. NO bonus materials except ads.
 AUG 1939 pre-war fears and friction causes the Women’s Institute (WI) to divide. Past President walks out, followed by many of the higher class members, expecting collapse, or a plea to return. Viewers are introduced to many of the town locals. Blackberry jam becomes a WI saving project.
 SEP 1939 War has begun. Great Paxford WI new leadership proposes plowing the cricket pitch for food production. More characters unveiled.
 NOV 1939 war continues and more sons and husbands opt to fight. The new Paxford WI pushes for everyone to do their part. Both love and anguish prevails in local marriages.
 FEB 1940 The WI plans for a town air raid shelter. A conchie is exposed. A first fatality for the village of Great Paxford.
 MAR 1940 Rationing, a blind evacuee from Liverpool, a mourning bride, and personal triumphs. Paxford citizens doing their bit for the boys, except for a white feather. Secrets exposed.
 MAY 1940 France’s fall is anticipated. Ambulances are the new WI target. Some threads close, others left open for a 2nd season as the sky fills with planes depicting the front is ever closer.
I must comment on the delightful, soulful, music of Indigo Girls for the theme song. It can be found as a download single “There’s still My Joy”; & on the album “Holly Happy Days”. Mine is in the mail to listen to until season two of “HOME FIRES” is available.
This is beautifully done: the clothes, the hair, the set decoration, the town, everything....it feels like you're watching it in real time during WW II. Francesca Annis is SO fabulous in this and such a great actress; and Samantha Bond (Lady Rosamund Painswick from Downton Abbey) plays her part brilliantly. Claire Rushbrook (Mrs. Simms) is just incredible playing a woman who is both mentally and physically abused by her husband. All around, the acting is perfection. These actresses (and men actors) just absorb themselves into their characters.
This series also confirms how all British people just came together during the War because they had one common goal. It was representative of how a small village all knew each other, helped each other, celebrated their joys, and cried for their sorrows.
If you're a member of Amazon Prime, you can view this Season 1 in its entirety thru Prime Video. You won't be disappointed.