Milner: You don't
think it was suicide, do you?
Foyle: Don't I? What
do you think?
Milner: Well, a man
locks himself in a room with the key in his pocket, blows himself up
hand grenade. He has a motive. He's just bust up with his girl and he
leaves behind a suicide note in his own hand writing.
No, I don't think so.
After the popular and long-running series Inspector Morse
came to an end in 2000,
the British network ITV had a hole in their schedule.
They commissioned Anthony Horowitz, who had written a number of
adaptations as well as several of the early episodes of Midsomer
come up with a mystery show and the result was Foyle's War. Set
in Englad over the course of WW II, the
show centers around Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle who has to
peace at home. Historically accurate (to
a very large extent) and the show not only features intriguing
also gives viewers a glimpse at what like was like in England during
the Blitz. Previously released in season
sets, Acron has
now collected all 19 movie-length episodes that have been made1 into a very
nice collection that is a must for fans of excellent television.
The series starts in 1940 and things look bleak for England. WWII has begun and the German juggernaut is
sweeping across Europe.
They have invaded Norway,
Denmark, Belgium and, as is illustrated in one
pushed the Allied army into the sea at Dunkirk
forcing the British soldiers to be evacuated by fishing trawlers.
Widower Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (Michael
Kitchen) tries to join the armed forces but his application is denied. He's needed in his home town of Hastings, in the south of England,
to keep the peace. With his only son
Andrew (Julian Ovenden) a
fighter pilot in the RAF and his second in command along with most of
friends enlisted in the military, this irritates the quiet and
but there's not much he can do about it.
In order to sooth things out, the man who rejects his
manage to find a driver for Foyle, who does not know how to operate a
car. This comes in the form of Samantha
"Sam" Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks) a young woman who has volunteered
to do his part. Terminally understaffed
he finds an assistant in Paul Milner (Anthony Howell).
A detective before the war, Milner lost a leg
in battle and feels that he's no use to anyone.
Foyle changes his mind, not by persuading the man with logic,
handing him a file and asking what he makes of it.
Even though the country is at war, there is still a lot of
crime. Foyle spends a lot of his time
chasing down black marketers and illegal profiteering, but occasionally
episode in fact) a dead body pops up.
These cases can be much more complicated due to the war. Foyle runs into trouble with officials who
hide behind war time regulations to stonewall his investigation (and
a murderer to go free) and even the Germans themselves can complicate
life. That is the case when a house was
bombed by the Luftwaffe and the owner is found dead in the rubble... with
sticking out of his chest. Forget about
DNA and psychological profiling, techniques that haven't been invented
yet. How do you find clues when the
murder scene has had a bomb dropped on it?
And what actions do you take when you discover someone who is
the war effort is guilty of a crime that he will hang for?
While this is a mystery series, the look at life in England
the war is just as fascinating as who actually committed the murder. The fear, paranoia, determination, and
uncertainty of the people at the time shine through in the show. It's the slice-of-life aspect that pushes
this from a good solid mystery program to a great one.
The actors all do a great job with their roles, but Michael
Kitchen is outstanding. He plays Foyle
as a very quite but observant man. You
never really know what Foyle is thinking.
The detective keeps his cards close to his chest, never
theories or why he'll occasionally ask a seemingly unrelated question
witness. The reveals are often
unexpected, which makes the show quite fun too.
Foyle will often let a prime suspect go and when asked why,
and without buildup state the he knows who did it, shocking everyone in
This set contains all five seasons of the show that have
been made so far; 19 episodes that run about 32 hours all together. Acorn wisely put one movie-length show on
each disc and then packaged them in 5 single width keepcases, with one
to a case. All five are then housed in a
slipcase. It's a very compact and
These movies come with the original stereo soundtrack.
Given that there aren't many action scenes
this is adequate. There are a couple of
explosions scattered through the series but these were a little weak
have used a lot more bass. Aside from
that the audio is very serviceable and fits in well with the show.
The set is also closed captioned for the hearing impaired.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image looks very good,
especially for a British TV show. The
picture is a little soft in places, but the colors look fine and the
nice and deep. The image is free from
digital defects too, thanks to Acorn resisting the temptation to
shows on each disc.
While the extras are not abundant, the included bonus items
are nice. All of the discs include
either texted based production notes on the filming of the story or
background notes that detail events in England
and Europe that are briefly mentioned
shows themselves. Sprinkled over the 19 discs are also interviews with
writer and creator Anthony Horowitz as well as stars Anthony Howell and
Honeysuckle Weeks. These are generally
short but nice to watch. There are also
filmographies of the cast and a few photo galleries.
In all each disc offers something which is
This is an excellent series.
Michael Kitchen does a brilliant job as Chief Superintendent
man who feels that he's not doing his part to help his country win the
actually fighting against corruption and crime at home.
With a great supporting cast, some intriguing
mysteries and featuring a wonderful look at life in England
during the war, this set
comes very highly recommended.
each of the early seasons covers a few months of the war, the fifth
takes on more than that. The creative
team got word that the series would be cancelled after the fifth
they wrapped up the show. Season five
starts a year after season four, skipping much of 1943 and the
'44, and rather than covering a few months the three episodes that make
season span the last 13 months of the war.
Ironically, after season five wrapped up, the public outcry
at the canceling of the series convinced the new Director of
Television at ITV to reverse his predecessor decision and revive the show. Currently a sixth season is being filmed that
takes place after the conclusion of WWII.