Foyle’s War

FoylesWarSuggested by Brad Nelson • Michael Kitchen is Detective Inspector Christopher Foyle who is ordered to remain at his post as homicide investigator for Hastings and its environs during the outbreak of WWII. He’d much rather be doing his bit for King and Empire fighting the Nazis in some more substantial way.
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One Response to Foyle’s War

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Having recently finished the “Wallander” series with Krister Henrickson, I had been looking for another somewhat light crime drama. “Foyle’s War” fits the bill. You get not only a decent crime show but a historical drama.

    The series starts with the outbreak of WWII. Foyle, as with most others on the home front in England, is tasked to remain at his post as detective inspector. They need experienced officers because most of the able-bodied men have gone off to war.

    Foyle is soon joined by a former policeman who was wounded severely in Norway. Foyle, under-staffed, needs all the help he can get. Paul Milner (played by Anthony Howell) is reluctant at first, but soon joins in and puts his keen mind to the task of capturing criminals — most of whom, at this stage of the war, are black marketeers.

    You get what appears to be a credible amount of historical detail regarding the day-to-day living before, during, and after (getting there) the Blitz. Everything is rationed. Nearly everyone is put to work in one form or another — including the “Land Women” who are specially recruited to work the land, most of the men having moved on to more front-line roles.

    This being a British series, you’d expect a Leftist spin. And, indeed, Foyle is rarely the mouthpiece for anything other than “tolerance” of whatever he comes across — other than to the Nazis, who everyone hates…except perhaps the pacifists and Communists (prior to Hitler invading Russia).

    Foyle himself is a mild-mannered, but sharp, character. He never raises his voice. He has seemingly inexhaustible amounts of poise and reserve. He can’t be ruffled. This could tend to make him a somewhat bland character. In fact, if you’ve seen Michael Kitchen as the king in the second part of the series, “House of Cards” (“To Play the King”), you’ve seen Detective Chief Superintendent Foyle.

    Neither Foyle nor Sergeant Milner are demonstrative characters. Both show that British reserve which I find refreshing compared to what is typical today. Foyle, for some reason never having learned to drive, drafts a driver into his cause: Sam (Samantha) Stewart. Stewart plays (not always particularly convincingly) the wide-eyed newbie, just thankful to be doing something reasonably interesting. She comes into her own a bit as a character as the series progresses, but there’s generally not a lot of depth to start out.

    Foyle, somewhat like Wallander, is a bit of a brooding character, both having lost their beloved wives. Foyle has a son in the RAF. At times, Sam Stewart feels like the token female (although I’m warming to her). But this guy is the token mimbo (male bimbo). Not much there but GQ looks.

    So without being surrounded by a lot of dynamism, it’s up to Michael Kitchen to carry the show, along with plots that are fairly interesting, but can’t help (as most crime shows do) repeat themes and situations you’ve seen dozens of times before. A couple of the shows I’ve seen so far have been loosely written. But there have also been some outstanding ones, including season one’s “Eagle Day” (featuring Foyle’s son getting involved in the secret radar program) and season three’s “Enemy Fire.”

    A few plot gadgets are thrown in near the end of some of the episodes, which severely marred many of the “Wallander” episodes, but nowhere near to the extent. And overall (so far…through season 3) the political correctness is not too bad — and what there is of it arguably reflects a Britain moving from an Empire to a “social democracy” as the role of women in the work force, for starters, has irretrievably changed the social fabric.

    Nor is the series little more than a soap opera. Crime is king, and Foyle is their foil, so to speak…a low-key one that you may or may not like.

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