DVD review: “Foyle’s War” (2002-2015)

“Foyle’s War” (2002-2015)

Television

Twenty-eight Episodes

Created by: Anthony Horowitz

Featuring: Michael Kitchen, Honeysuckle Weeks and Anthony Howell

Samantha Stewart: [to Foyle and Milner] “What you both need is a jolly good murder!”

Recently re-released on DVD is the television series “Foyle’s War” (2002-2015), it was essentially a murder mystery series taking place mostly in England during World War II. Many of the episodes were directly related to the war effort so there was a high military involvement which was a reflection of the times.

Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen), a widower, is quiet, methodical, sagacious, scrupulously honest and frequently underestimated by his foes. Many of his cases concern profiteering, the black market and murder, and he is often called on to catch criminals who are taking advantage of the confusion created by the war. Although Foyle often comes up against high-ranking officials in the British military or intelligence services who would prefer that he mind his own business, he seeks justice tenaciously. Throughout the series, he is assisted by his driver, Samantha “Sam” Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks), and Detective Sergeant Paul Milner (Anthony Howell).

Foyle has to take on cases of all types with narratives that take into account the 1940s as well as very real social issues that we are still dealing with today. Foyle is painted as a fair person, always happy to understand those who were out of favor with current morales, his rules are simple and adamant: There is no excuse for murder, or for harming those who can’t defend themselves, not even the desperate requirements of war.

In the title role Michael Kitchen like all television detectives must walk. fine line between looking too smart as well as too stupid, or at least playing at representing oneself as stupid. In fact this performance reminds me of Columbo who would always be master of fact, with always one last question to be asked. Like that famous New York Detective Kitchen says so much without saying anything, he is an expressive actor, early on in the first series this becomes apparent.

I have to be honest and say that I was not convinced I would like this series, especially after viewing so many greats, the Branagh “Wallander” (2010-2018) comes immediately to mind as do the myriad of Scandi-noirs that are now available, but “Foyle” sets itself apart by embracing its own time giving a history lesson, Dunkirk is referred to in the second episode, reminding us that maybe as a society we have not come far in may respects.

Episodes 

Series One

The German Woman: The German wife of a rich and influential aristocrat exempted from wartime internment is found decapitated in the midst of anti-German feeling.

The white feather: The arrest of a young girl on a sabotage charge brings Foyle into contact with a group of English Nazi sympathizers.

A lesson in murder: Foyle investigates the suicide of a pacifist and death threats to the judge who ruled against his conscientious objector status.

Eagle Day: Foyle investigates a man found with a knife in his stomach in a bombed out building while son Andrew gets involved in a top secret radar program.

Series Two

Fifty Ships: After Foyle is a guest at a friend’s home at a dinner for an important American diplomat, a suicide victim and German agent both are discovered near the house.

Amoung the few: Sam volunteers to go undercover to discover how rationed gasoline is being stolen from a fuel depot, and Andrew becomes a suspect in a murder case.

War games: When a British food corporation signs a secret agreement with the Nazis to provide essential food services to the enemy during wartime, murders result.

The funk hotel: Foyle’s investigation of the death of a young black marketeer and stolen food is interrupted by his suspension on charges of sedition.

Series Three

The French drop: February 1941: A local murder investigation sidetracks Foyle’s endeavor to pursue a position that would contribute more to the war effort as he finds himself caught between rival spy organizations.

Enemy fire: February 1941: When a manor house is commandeered as a special burn unit for treating injured RAF pilots, Foyle is called in to investigate a series of accidents.

The fought in the fields: April 1941: Foyle questions three Land Army girls about a murder that occurs on a Hastings farm.

A war of nerves: June 1941: A.C. Rose orders Foyle to delegate his investigation of black marketing ring and personally look into the possibly seditious acts of a Socialist activist.

Series Four

Invasion: American troops arrive in Britain and the Corps of Engineers building an airstrip on a Hastings farm is met with resentment

Bad blood: Foyle investigates a mysterious disease affecting local farm animals and looks into the stabbing of a war hero.

Bleak Midwinter: The death of a woman in a munitions factory becomes linked with the murder of Milner’s estranged wife as he falls under suspicion and Foyle strives to clear his name.

Casualties of war: Foyle has his hands full dealing with illegal gambling, sabotage, and his needy goddaughter who shows up on his doorstep with her traumatized son.

Series Five

Plan of attack: Milner is unhappy with his new DCS and has asked for a transfer, but after the DCS is murdered, Foyle comes out of retirement to replace him.

Broken souls: Foyles hones in on two murders: an unpopular psychiatrist in a trauma facility and a low security German POW on work release to a local farm.

All clear: Foyle joins a municipal committee preparing for the imminent V-E Day celebration but soon finds himself investigating the deaths of two of its members.

Series Six

The Russian House: The escape of a Russian POW sets off a chain of events that leads to murder and rekindles a conflict between Foyle and his former superior.

Killing time: Foyle goes head to head against the might of the US army when a local girl is found murdered and the finger of suspicion points to a black GI at the US military base.

The Hide: Foyle battles to save a young man accused of high treason from the executioner’s noose in a case that will shatter his personal world to the core.

Series Seven

The eternity ring: MI5 suspects British atomic research has been infiltrated and asks Foyle to look into whether a Russian spy network could be at work in the heart of London.

The cage: Foyle’s investigation into the death of a nameless Russian leads to a mysterious military facility and the discovery that the victim was a spy with dangerous connections to British intelligence.

Sunflower: Foyle is drawn into the bizarre murder of an ex-Nazi defector and leading expert on Soviet intelligence who had been working for MI5.

Series Eight

High castle: Foyle is drawn into the world of corrupt Nazi businessmen when a University Professor is found brutally murdered in a London park.

Tresspass: When the son of a high-profile Jewish businessman is attacked in the grounds of a university, Foyle wonders whether the attack was racially motivated.

Elise: Foyle must find out if there was a traitor within the SOE after Hilda Pierce is shot in an attempted assassination.

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