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Category:    Home > Reviews > Telefilms > Mystery > Drama > British > Foyle's War - Set 1 & 2

Foyle’s War – Set One & Two (British TV Mystery)


Picture: B-     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, includes:


Set One:

1)     The German Woman

2)     The White Feather

3)     A Lesson In Murder

4)     Eagle Day

Set Two:

5)     Fifty Ships

6)     Among The Few

7)     War Games

8)     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war, simply because it marks the decline of their country as the dominant force in the world before The United States superceded it.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


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