Foyle’s War – Set One
& Two (British TV Mystery)
Sound: B- Extras: C+ Telefilms: B-
There is no doubt about Michael Kitchen, he is one of the
most underrated of British actors around (see Caught On A Train
elsewhere on this site to confirm) and he is very well cast as Detective Chief
Inspector Christopher Foyle in Foyle’s War. Acorn Media is issuing sets of the telefilms, four at a time, one
per DVD, in their release sets. The
first two sets offer the following films, running at about 100 minutes each,
The German Woman
The White Feather
A Lesson In Murder
Among The Few
The Funk Hole
The thing that distinguishes this show, besides
intelligent teleplays and solid casts, is that it offers a series of mystery
stories that take place while Britain is fighting the Nazis in World War
II. Of course, British TV continues its
uncanny obsession with that war, simply because it marks the decline of their
country as the dominant force in the world before The United States superceded
it. Anthony Horowitz created the show
and writes its scripts, which was “quality” enough to be on PBS, but not
everything is smooth sailing.
It is not easy to be “quality TV” and mix the drama of
WWII with a genre like mystery. The
show works best as mystery, but WWII is (and often has to be) kept secondary
for the show to work, as none of them establish the time of the war or its feel
as thoroughly as the show’s should and I felt that they were slightly
trivializing the time period to some extent.
With that said, if you can suspend that part of the disbelief, you will
enjoy the shows more than not.
David Thacker, Jeremy Silbertston and Giles Foster do
equally good work in directing the telefilms.
Matthew Hall and Michael Russell join Horowitz in writing on one show
per the second season, which makes it more comical at times and gives the shows
a new angle. That gives Set Two an edge
in being an interesting expansion of the show as a hit, while the first set is
the show getting started. Overall, Foyle’s
War succeeds as something unexpected, even when it does not gel, but
Kitchen is always good and you will have to see them for yourself to decide.
The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1/16 X 9 image is fine
on both sets throughout, lensed by cinematographer Peter Middleton, B.S.C. for
most of the first set and Alan Almond, B.S.C., for the second. This is the kind of TV-exclusive material
that is making digital HDTV and TV DVD so interesting. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has some nice,
healthy Pro Logic surround information to match, so performance is no problem
here. Set Two seems to have even better
picture quality, but both have fine image quality, especially for television
productions. That there is also more
money on the screen from the first series being a hit does not hurt. The sound is equally good throughout as it
should be. Extras include text on the
cast and crew for both sets, with notes on the shows for Set Two and an
interview with Horowitz on DVD1 of Set One.
Stills and interviews with Anthony Howell and Honeysuckle Weeks are also
on the second set.
Guest stars include Charles Dance in the Set One White
Feather installment, which includes a few in-jokes of sorts for fans of the
James Bond film For Your Eyes Only (1981), while the rest of the shows
have great casts of a new generation of fine actors we will be seeing more
of. Now, where will Foyle’s War
go next? We’ll see with the next
set. With Mel Gibson’s Icon
Entertainment involved, anything is possible.
- Nicholas Sheffo