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"Foyle's War" is a British police television drama which is set during and after the Second World War. Early episodes take place in Hastings in the south of England, site of the Norman Conquest in 1066, but sometimes other locations are used, for instance London.

The main character is Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen), whose official title is Detective Chief Superintendent. But when he presents himself, he usually just says: "My name is Foyle. I'm a police officer." He is a modest man.

His driver Samantha "Sam" Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks) appears in all episodes, while Detective Sergeant Paul Milner (Anthony Howell) appears in most episodes.

"Foyle's War" was first broadcast on television in 2002, and it is still running. A new season is scheduled to be broadcast in 2015. As soon as a season has been broadcast on television, it becomes available on DVD.

"Foyle's War" is an outstanding drama, for three reasons: (1) it is entertaining; (2) there is a challenge: can you figure out who is guilty and who is innocent before the truth is revealed? (3) It is educational, because it shows the basic facts of life in England during and after the Second World War.

Most episodes begin with several story lines. At first the viewer does not know how they are connected with each other. Eventually one of the story lines, perhaps even two, will lead to a crime, or two crimes, which Foyle and his team will have to investigate.

The crimes committed are often based on or inspired by real historical events. Historical accuracy is an important element of the project, although there are a few cases, where historical accuracy has been violated. To give just one example: in the episode titled "Bad Blood," set in 1942, streptomycin is used to cure a patient, but this drug was not developed until 1943.

I noticed an internal inconsistency regarding Foyle's family. Foyle is a widower. In one episode he visits the cemetery where his wife is buried. According to the tombstone she was born in 1902 and died in 1932. So far so good. Foyle has a son whose name is Andrew (Julian Ovenden). In one episode Andrew says he was eight years old when his mother died. If this is true, he was born in 1924. But this cannot be true, because it does not fit the general story line:

In 1940, when the story line begins, he is ca. 20 years old. He has finished school; when the war began in 1939, he was studying at a university. He has joined up and is in training to become a pilot. In other words: he was born in 1920, and when his mother died in 1932, he was 12. If he was born in 1924, he would be 16 in 1940; too young to study at a university and too young to join the war effort as a pilot.

"Foyle's War" is created by screenwriter Anthony Horowitz who is also the author or the co-author of most episodes. All episodes are well written and all actors play their roles very well. Each episode is a self-contained story which runs for ca. 90 minutes, but at the same time there is long-term development, from one season to the next, from the beginning of the war to the end of it, and beyond.

War brings out the best and the worst in people. On the home front, war creates new crimes, such as stealing food and petrol, known as racketeering. During the war many government institutions are shrouded in secrecy. Many people are not allowed to talk to outsiders about their jobs. Some of them may use the high level of secrecy to commit a crime or to protect a person who has committed a crime because he or she is considered essential for the war effort.

When Foyle tries to investigate crimes committed on the home front, he is often rebuffed by people in high places. But he does not back down. The more someone tries to keep him out, the more he will try to find out what goes on behind closed doors. His argument is something like this:

"Victims of theft and murder deserve justice, even though we are in the middle of a war. If crimes like theft and murder are allowed to take place, we are no better than the enemy."

Each episode raises questions about legality and morality. What does the law say? And what is the right thing to do?

One reason for the high quality of this drama is the British understatement, as opposed to a typical US action drama, where there can be shooting and fighting all the time. In most cases, "Foyle's War" is not hectic. The pace is slow, but still intense. Since each episode runs for ca. 90 minutes, there is time for reflection and time for a moment when no one says anything. Foyle does not talk much, but he listens carefully to other people and he observes every detail around him. When he talks, his lines are usually short and clear. He is a person of authority, not because he can beat somebody up, but because of his honesty, integrity, and his sharp mind.

While the war and the crimes committed on the home front are serious, there is also room for a bit of humour from time to time. The funny situations are often created by or connected with Sam, whose character is quite different from that of Foyle. The two characters complement each other very well.

Series two (broadcast in 2003 and released on DVD in 2007) comprises four episodes which are set in 1940:

** "Fifty Ships"
** "Among the Few"
** "War Games"
** "The Funk Hole"

I do not wish to spoil the viewing for anyone. And therefore I am not going to reveal any details about these episodes. All I will say is sit back and enjoy the show. But please be careful: you may easily become addicted!

PS # 1. Anthony Horowitz has also written a book about the famous detective Sherlock Holmes: The House of Silk (2011, 2012)

PS # 2. For background information about the drama, see The Real History Behind Foyle's War by Rod Green (first edition 2006, second edition 2010).
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 2 August 2011

Be warned - for some reason quite difficult to explain, "Foyle's" (like "Spooks") is addictive. Watch it on television and buy one series to catch up on one you missed - often cheaper than one evening at the cinema - and you will buy another and another then find yourself sitting at home in the darkness watching them with friends, wives/husbands, sharing them with other members of the family and generally having hours of harmless fun. If you know Hastings, you might find yourself spotting places or discussing the plots with family and friends.

Anthony Horowitz is a great writer and script-writer who successfully combines the intricate plots with period action and a war-time experience but from the point of view of the civilians at home; often, the war is the unseen backdrop against which the stories unfold. Visually inventive and attractive, set with great attention to details in the forties, it depicts Spartan civilian life very effectively. The storylines show the effects of war on families at home and the underground racketeering which often accompanied acts of heroism in others. The actors are very convincing, ideal for the time period and seem to have a great chemistry on set, even if one does have to make allowances for Sergeant Milner's rapid and miraculous recovery from losing part of a limb.

Like life, some episodes are better than others, but they're well worth living through just for the fun of it. Recommended but, be warned. You will want the next one and need another book/CDshelf soon.

There are many other detailed reviews and sites so I will not repeat the information here. I will just recommend this and the other DVDs in the series. To save your money, consider buying the fuller sets initially or you will eventually buy the individual ones then wish you had thought about it!
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on 1 November 2010
Michael Kitchen portrays Foyle wonderfully. These stories give a flavour of what it must have been like to live though the wartime in Britain and that crime doesn't stop for a war. It is well acted by a very talented cast. The unravelling of the mysteries at the end of each episode is always fascinating. Unmissable.
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on 17 May 2013
I'd missed the series on TV and a friend recommended it. So it is great to have it on DVD without any commercials. Mostly very well researched (one glitch I noticed was a naval officer with just a moustache and not a beard, which would never be allowed!). The characters are good and it is a quality production.
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on 25 August 2013
Have other is the series, except series 2, now that has been added to collection.

Thanks to Amazon for the chance to add this one DVD set to our viewing pleasure.

Thanks to those from whom we where able to obtain this DVD set, the response from purchase to receipt is appreciated.
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on 18 November 2014
Foyles War is a DVD purchase that I will never regret, the acting is superb, and Michael Kitchen excels in every scene.
The storylines are so accurate of those difficult years in WW2,
I have every series and enjoy watching them over and again - Highly recommended, an excellent production.
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on 3 September 2013
Superb script, and the acting of Michael Kitchen in particular in the lead role, is effortlessly excellent. Flalessly support by the performances of Anthony Howell and Honeysuckle Weeks. If you're a devotee of 1940's nostalgia, each episode is two hours of bliss! Thoroughly recommended.
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on 22 April 2013
First class intelligent, understated British TV. Never disappoints on storyline or Michael Kitchen's understated delivery. Like Morse with a touch of nostalgia thrown in. Why watch rubbish when you can order a series like this and cosy up on the sofa for a good night's viewing?
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on 9 August 2012
My 85-year-old mother gave this series to us last Christmas.
We loved it so much - everything about it, the pace, time of place, era, storylines, actors...
We have subsequently bought series 3 and 4, and 6 is on its way...

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on 24 January 2014
Brilliant Series - DVD is good quality and it is a good price for such an excellent show.
All went smoothly from order to delivery and was well packaged.
If you haven't seen this then I'd recommend it, great storylines, acting & show in general.
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