Michael Kitchen. Never heard of him, I'm sure, you're saying. That would be your loss, especially if you enjoy a great period piece now and then. Kitchen was marvelous as the British agent for a British landlord with holdings in 19th century Ireland, in "The Hanging Gale." And now Kitchen triumphs again as a detective chief superintendent Christopher Foyle. He often identifies himself, however, rather more charmingly: "My name is Foyle. I'm a police officer." No badge is shown or papers presented while so introducing himself. Such would be superfluous though as Kitchen's Foyle, in mannerisms, demeanor, as well as the way his carries himself, makes it rather apparent that he is in law enforcement. And to boot, all this takes place in the early days of 1940, "in the beautiful southern English countryside amid the disorder and danger of World War II"(to quote the packaging). The episodes herein "concentrate on the influence the war had on the home front."
As in all Foyle episodes a murder takes place and Kitchen methodically goes about solving it. He has a sergeant for assistance as well as an actress side-kick (whose most unusual name in real life is Honeysuckle Weeks) who plays an army soldier seconded to drive for Foyle, who is without a license to do so. Like in many detective dramas the who did it is rather less important than the drama getting to that point. Actually, these hour and forty minute long Foyle episodes often go by for me without my giving much serious contemplation toward the solution Foyle seeks. Ever play chess and really focus on 3, 4, 5, 6 possible moves in advance and then play a casual game of chess just for fun? That's how I personally watch Foyle's War. I'm not too interested in guessing then second guessing again & again who I think is the murderer. (I do do that often with David Suchet's Hercule Poirot Agatha Christie mystery dramas, but alas, do too much guessing wrong there, however.) Watching Foyle is also much a period drama, as I've said, giving one a feel for 1939-1940 England, the country lanes, the occasional military vehicle and soldier(s), authentic clothes, hats, people on missions greater than themselves passing through the lens.
"A lesson in murder" is what a character terms war in an episode of this series. The episode balances the views of conscientious objectors with the need to contribute to a cause thought noble and just by most. An interesting angle of the Foyle series is the notion that the rule of law remains central even in a time of great moral stress; not in the sense of civil liberties ala Lincoln in the US Civil War, but in the sense that a murder is a murder whether a country is at war or not and such a crime out result in punishment. In this first episode, for example, a military man tries to reason with Foyle that taking him away from the invaluable work he was doing, leading a team trying to combat Nazi Germany, would serve no end, certainly no greater good. Foyle's driver later asks him whether he was tempted to let the man go, so to speak; give him a pass because of the circumstances Britain found itself in at the moment. Yes, Foyle, answered, in so many words. Nevertheless, we see the man in question being soon dealt with showing that Foyle's sympathies, war reason, didn't get the best of him in the end. Such evinces the quality of this series---sympathies for varied viewpoints are shown, but in the end much of which most could seen as right, is followed through on....thanks to the able Michael Kitchen. Kitchen, moreover, is an actor who is most accomplished even when not saying anything. Words are not thrown about in this series. In one episode (I won't say which as it will give away a bit of one story) Honeysuckle Weeks character Sam admits to Foyle that she doesn't know what to say after an unfortunate tragedy. To which Foyle responds: "I don't know what to say either." It's the epitome of Michael Kitchen's performance in this series---knowing what to say when words are warranted and saying little or nothing when they are not. Cheers