Foyle’s War Complete Saga

A-Foyles WarEntire “Foyle’s War” Series Now in One Collection

When the popular “Inspector Morse” series came to an end in 2000, ITV needed a new idea in police drama and came up with an good one: a detective fighting crime during World War II.  It was called “Foyle’s War” and was an instant hit.

 The show is helped immensely by the acting of Michael Kitchen as Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle and by the action being set in wartime Hastings, England. Now Acorn has released “Foyle’s War, the Complete Saga,” which includes all 31 episodes from Set 1 to Set 8.

Foyle wants nothing more than to be a combatant, but his civil work on the home front is too important. He is assigned a cute-as-they-come driver named Samantha Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks), and the two deal with espionage, war profiteering, and old fashioned murder.

Some of the plots are directly linked to the war. The first one is about a rich man’s German wife with  family connections in the homeland who was never interred because her husband was rich. Others are straight crimes, mostly murders that could have fit in any time period; but here many of the characters are members are of the military.

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Weeks as Samantha

The Sets 5 and 6 are not quite as successful, as they take place after the war, and Foyle’s rejoining with Samantha is somewhat forced and awkwardly developed at first. However, sets 7 and 8 are concerned with the New Enemy (every decade must have one), and the last episode of all ends with a stunner.

The producers tried to end the series in 2007, but public demand convinced them to continue. We are now assured that the latest episode, filmed in January 2015, is indeed the last. So I am all the more grateful to have a complete collection of this fine series.

As it is with John Nettles in “Midsomer Murders,” Kitchen’s portrayal of Foyle brings out all the character’s decency and determination to solve his cases in a decent way, although he really wants to do his bit in the armed forces. Likewise, Honeysuckle Weeks plays his driver, Samantha Stewart, as a capable and dependable assistant who mixes her driving skills with policing skills.

There are 29 discs, the last of which is an extended interview, with stereo in Sets 1-6 and surround sound in the rest. Only Sets 6-8 are subtitled. There are over 6 hours of bonus material in the form of behind-the-scenes features, interviews and other forms of production notes. A very helpful booklet is provided with notes and plot summaries.

Foyle’s War 8

 

“Foyle’s War 8” Tackles Grim Problems Still With Us

A-Foyle's War 8Whether or not “Foyle’s War, Set 8” is an end to this impressive series (and scriptwriter Anthony Horowitz hopes not), the third story ends in the most unforgettable way. But let me lead up to that.

It is now 1946 and Foyle (Michael Kitchen) is working for MI5. He is assisted by his driver and confidante Samantha Wainwright (Honeysuckle Weeks), now the wife of MP Adam Wainwright (Daniel Weyman) and is “PWP.” Foyle’s bosses are the intense Hilda Pierce (Ellie Haddington) and the stuffy but efficient Sir Alec Meyerson (Rupert Vansittart). These two ran the SOE (Special Operations Executive) that I have written about twice.

Once in my review of the dramatic series “Wish Me Luck” and again in my review of the documentary “Secret War,” I explained that the purpose of the SOE was to send agents, many of them women, into German-occupied countries to disrupt the enemy’s war efforts as much as possible. Unhappily, the operation was quickly blown; and through incompetence or ego or both, those in England refused to believe it and kept sending agents. This is what the third story, “Elise,” of Set 8 is all about. And this is the one with the…well, let the viewers see for themselves.

“High Castle” links the Nuremberg trials with the need for oil by the western and Russian powers. The theme is the corruption in those governing the “sleep with the enemy” consequence that inevitably results where oil is concerned.

“Trespass” brings in the problems of not only anti-Semitism but of the age-old tendency to blame someone, anyone, for whatever ills a society is facing at the present. There is always the “fearless leader” who springs up to lead a campaign for a religiously/racially/politically [choose one] pure population. And of course, there are always the morons who will follow their accepted master.

Yes, this last series, now out on the Acorn Media label, is pretty grim. Each episode runs about 95 minutes, and the subtitles are always helpful. What? Oh, yes. PWP meant back then “Pregnant without Permission.”