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on 1 October 2014
"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 - famous as the site of the Norman Conquest in 1066 - but sometimes other locations are used, for instance London.

The main character is Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen). During the war his 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. At the end of the war he retires, but he is still involved with some investigations. In season 7 he starts to work for British intelligence, MI5.

Samantha "Sam" Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks) serves as his driver during the war. When Foyle retires, she tries to find a new job and a new life. When Foyle starts to work for MI5, she becomes his assistant. Paul Milner (Anthony Howell) serves as a Detective Sergeant under Foyle during the war. After the war he is promoted to Detective Inspector in Brighton.

The first episode of "Foyle's War" was broadcast on television in 2002, and it is still running. A new season is scheduled to be broadcast in 2015. When 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 only 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 more than 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."

The end of the war in 1945 does not mean the end of crime; only new types of crimes. There is still work to do for Foyle. The Cold War between East and West is beginning, although no character uses this term.

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 more than 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 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 1-7 (broadcast 2002-2013 and released on DVD in 2013) comprises 25 episodes which are set in the years 1940-1946:

*** SERIES 1
The German Woman // The White Feather // A Lesson in Murder // Eagle Day

*** SERIES 2
Fifty Ships // Among the Few // War Games // The Funk Hole

*** SERIES 3
The French Drop // Enemy Fire // They Fought in the Fields // A War of Nerves

*** SERIES 4 part 1
Invasion // Bad Blood //

*** SERIES 4 part 2
Bleak Midwinter // Casualties of War

*** SERIES 5
Plan of Attack // Broken Souls // All Clear

*** SERIES 6
The Russian House // Killing Time // The Hide

*** SERIES 7
The Eternity Ring // The Cage // The Hide

I do not wish to spoil the viewing for anyone. 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 - the creator of "Foyle's War" - 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).
33 Comments| 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 22 August 2013
The series is excellent but was sorry to see that it had no subtitles, as I am hard of hearing it would have been an asset
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on 2 May 2015
AWESOME, awesome, awesome; an incredibly enjoyable and intriguing police drama based in WW2! Excellent acting, excellent plots, realism beyond measure (except for the embarrassing spitfire plane(s) cardboard cut-out silhouettes used at RAF fighter aerodromes - while one or two real ones used in the foreground - that were blatantly easy to see, used as fillers to make a full squadron seem to be in residence) and each show a decent 140x mins rather than the bog-standard 40x mins that most TV show's are these days. The added time per show allows the plot to be examined in far greater detail and more twists and turns to be added... though it does sometimes get to be a tad bit irksome how each show is so quickly wrapped up with all the clues/evidence revealed in a succinct manner as if the whole saga was quite obvious from the get go! As each show/season progresses, each individual show's plots get more intricate and requires more sleuthing by the viewer (aka Sherlock Holmes understudy) and sometimes it can be quite difficult to determine whether 'the butler did it or not' (as in who dun-it).

Overall, I give this series a 5/5 as all the aspects of it (the lame spitfire props notwithstanding) come together in an enjoyable presentation (especially as to the absence of any gratuitous violence - especially against woman - nudity/sex, foul language etc) and one which any member of the household (though not small children) could easily watch, enjoy (even if just as part of a history lesion), and talk about afterwards too. I'm keeping this one in my DVD collection for future viewing again.
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on 28 October 2013
I missed some of the Foyle's War programmes on TV so bought the box set.

Absolutely marvelous and I do have to wonder why they don't make more series on TV.

Michael Kitchen can do more with a look or glance than actors can do with lines and lines of dialogue.
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on 9 January 2015
I think Michael Kitchen's portrayal of Foyle is consistently one of the all time great TV performances. He was surely born to be Foyle and some actors are supremely well suited to the TV format. Perfect casting for all the the other regular characters, too, some of whom are much more anonymous, less memorable perhaps but I suspect that is entirely deliberate, as a contrast and partly to do with the shadowy world setting of many of the episodes. Yes, one of the great TV series - who said ''they don't make them like that anymore''? They do and they are.
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on 25 February 2014
This set arrived really quickly. It comes as 3 DVD cases in an outer sleeve. Each series is in a separate case. There are 25 DVDs and each episode is on a separate DVD.

This is a really good series. Excellent stories, believable characters and good acting. The episodes vary in length. Quality of picture is good. This is probably, in my opinion, one of the best British made detective series as it rambles on slowly building up the characterisations. I would recommend it as a detox after the Scandinavian police dramas.
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on 27 July 2013
Absolute magic, my favourite kind of tv watching, all about old England, full of wonderful photography of village life etc, brings memories flooding back, even though I was born after the war.
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on 20 January 2014
Brilliant Series....SMALL PROBLEM to date..."Fifty Ships" & "War Games" both discs "CORRUPT"..have not finished watching series only up to & including "Bleak Midwinter". So far no corruption problems with discs other than 2 mentioned how do I replace corrupt discs? would suggest better to wait until finished watching as may only need two replacements eh!
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on 28 November 2013
Watching it all again and thoroughly enjoying it. Class acting, superb locations and a reminder of those days that my parents and family lived through. This is reality....
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 6 August 2015
As the existence of seven series suggests, 'Foyle's War' has long been a great popular favourite on TV. Three factors contribute to this - excellent acting and direction, a strong and usually convincing period flavour and, most of all, quite excellently plotted scripts by Antony Horowitz. Each two-hour episode is well-paced, plot revelations come gradually and there is always an interesting,sometimes surprising denouement, and the strength of the characterisation holds the viewer's interest compellingly. With his marvellous long coat, his steady-paced, dignified walk and his understated manner, Michael Kitchen as Foyle himself is outstanding, and he is supported by a pitch-perfect cast in every episode. If I want to carp, as with all such series the presence of so many museum-standard old cars, beautifully preserved and with not a speck of rust or dirt, is not quite as it would have been in real life, but far more importantly, there is real tragedy and compassion in the treatment of the effects of war on individuals when these make themselves known. This is a programme which deserves its success, and even though there is inevitably a 'who-dunnit' feel to many episodes, they do bear repeated watching and give continuing pleasure.
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