Last week I came down with a lovely seasonal cold (which kindly coincided with my Birthday). I was confined to exile in bed and had plenty of time on my hands so I decided to watch every episode of Foyle’s War from start to finish. I’d never seen the show but had always wanted to watch it. I had been provided the new complete DVD box set coming soon from Acorn Media (comes out in March). It took me the better part of 5 days (each episode is feature-length at almost two hours each) but in the end, Christopher Foyle proved a good companion while I was sick.
I’m now in love. Foyle’s War is a fantastic show that takes in all my interests: good British drama, World War II history and British TV. Couldn’t ask for more. Here’s a list of a few things I learned from watching every episode of Foyle’s War in a week.
1. Michael Kitchen is a God
The role of Christopher Foyle was made for Michael Kitchen. I cannot imagine a better person to play the role. His quiet demeanor, friendly questioning and brilliant mind makes Foyle the perfect detective and Michael Kitchen hits a perfect note every time.
2. The war had a million fascinating threads, not all good
I’m continually fascinated by the World War II era and it’s effects on Britain. What Foyle’s War brings in to focus are some of the thousands of possible stories that took place. It’s not all spies, soldiers and glory. War is a dirty business, especially on the home front. World War II provides a massive canvas for the show’s creator, Anthony Horowitz, to paint beautiful pictures of this most fascinating period in British history.
3. Americans come off as rather villainous
Americans don’t come off in a very positive light throughout the series. The first time we show up, the American is a murdering thief but because he’s so important to the war, he gets away with it (well, for the time being). The second time we show up is when we’re finally in the war and we basically invade Britain and the episode in question concerns building an airbase that will essentially destroy a beautiful bit of English Countryside. The last time we show up, we get a shame inducing story about how the American military treated its own citizens by segregating black soldiers from white soldiers and then trying to impose this on a country that was horrified by the very idea. Not all good at all but interesting none the less.
4. Hastings looks like a fascinating place
As a history buff, I’m familiar with why Hastings is famous (a certain battle in 1066) but I’d never really had it at the top of my lists of things I’d really like to do in Britain. That’s no longer the case, I can’t wait to explore Foyle’s Hastings! It sure looks like a beautiful and interesting place.
5. Just because there was a war on doesn’t mean there was no crime
The general assumption is that in a country united by the common purpose of war, there would be a drop in crime. No, the nature of crime just changes as draft dodgers, opportunists and profiteers try to make the most of their wartime years.
6. Later series suffered from production problems and gaps in time
I was a little disappointed with the later seasons of Foyle’s War. At the beginning the gaps in time between episodes were only a month or two and then all of a sudden we skip years and before you know it, the war is over. This had to do with the show having a strange relationship with its network in the UK, ITV; which kept canceling the show and then bringing it back after the howls of viewers forced them to do so. The show runner, Anthony Horowitz, had to throw out scripts that filled in a lot of those gaps. It’s a shame we’ll never get to see them. While a new series of Foyle’s War is in production, it will take place well after the war. I wonder what stories we missed? They should release the scripts in book form.
7. A nation coming to terms with having to change. The certainties of war led to a clean slate.
I didn’t think the show would still be as interesting once the war ended but I was very wrong. I think the show captures very well the massive changes that took place during the war and then the further changes that took place after. It’s so interesting to watch characters you know and love so well, navigate this brave new world.
8. Like Hogan’s Heroes you wished the war would go on forever
I’m a fan of the classic absurd comedy Hogan’s Heroes and that show characteristically when on for longer than the actual wear did. I had the same feeling about Foyle’s War, I never wanted the war to end but it was very moving when it finally did.
9. What happens to the criminals doesn’t really matter.
What separates this show from other shows like Law & Order is that you almost never see the courtroom. We only see I think 3 trials the entire series – and in most cases they weren’t necessary to the plot (except for the one in the final episode). Really, once Foyle’s figured it out, why show the trial? In Britain during this period, murder had pretty much one punishment – hanging so we’re left to our own imaginations to figure it out.
10. I want more!!!
After watching 22 episodes of Foyle’s War straight through, one thing is clear: I want more Foyle’s War. Now.
The good news is that thanks to our friends at Acorn Media, Foyle’s War has been revived for a new series, which is currently in production. It is currently being filmed in London and Ireland. It will continue Christopher Foyle’s journey after WWII into 1946-47. Hopefully we’ll find out how his adventure in America went. They should air in the USA and the UK this summer – the DVD release is already scheduled for this fall.
What are your favorite observations from Foyle’s War? Let us know in the comments!