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Foyle’s War Set 1 (2003) – DVD Review



Written by: Anthony Horowitz
Directed by: Simon Passmore and Jill Green
Starring: Michael Kitchen, Anthony Howell, Honeysuckle Weeks, Julian Overden


  • Interview with series creator and writer Anthony Horowitz
  • Production notes
  • Cast filmographies

Released by: Acorn Media
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Rent it.

Britain in 1940 is the only major European power left to stand against the Nazi blitzkrieg. Foreigners are being locked up, young men are joining up, and invasion is expected any day. The south coast of England is especially tense since it would probably the site of any Nazi landing. Even in these uncertain times, crime still goes on, even murder. And Chief Inspector Christopher Foyle (Kitchen) is there to investigate and find the culprit. He’s helped by his plucky driver Samantha Stewart (Weeks) and his sergeant Paul Milner (Howell), who came back from the failed defense of Sweden minus one leg. Together they probe crimes that are committed in the opportunities that the war unintentionally provides, but are motivated by the fear and greed that lurks in the hearts of everyone. This will be Foyle’s War.

[ad#longpost]I think it’s difficult, even in light of recent events, to appreciate how untouched we have been by the major conflicts in the last century. While many lives were lost, America itself has never suffered any significant attacks since enemy forces would have had to cross the Atlantic to strike. All England had was the twenty-two mile stretch of the Channel to protect it from Nazi forces. Many of the situations Chief Inspector Foyle encounters in 1940 parallel with what we are going through now when we have our own significant threats to confront here. A friend of Foyle’s, an Italian who has lived in England for more than twenty years, is killed when his restaurant in burned down by a English mob angry at Italy declaring war on England. Sound familiar?

Like many historical mysteries, this series uses crime to illuminate some aspect of the past. A good example of this is when Foyle goes to talk to a suspect who is supposedly working at a secure munitions factory. Since the suspect has no machine oil on him and the ‘factory’ has no smokestacks, Foyle smells something fishy. He discovers that the ‘factory’ is actually producing coffins for all that will die from the coming Nazi bombing. It’s secure as to not to lower morale. You just don’t get that kind of detail in History class.


It also helps that the four stories are well produced. The acting, from the main cast to some surprising guest stars, is at the usual high quality you get with English productions. I’m developing a theory that since British actors work in stage, screen, and television, they don’t limit their performances on one medium and simply act to the best of their ability. The production values, especially the continuity people, have to be complemented. Since most of the shows were shot on location in several English cities on the south coast, all modern changes since the war had to be removed and I couldn’t find any slip-ups.

The extras are adequate. The filmographies not only include the stars of the series, but of the guest stars as well, which is nice. While the production notes give a good synopsis of the show and what went into making it, they are the same on each disc. I would like to have seen some comments on individual productions. The interview with the series creator, Anthony Horowitz, is very in-depth. He tells how his idea for this series was one of several hundred to replace the ending Inspector Morse. He talks about writing a script before and after the actors have made the roles their own and letting the producers worry if the script calls for something costly.

The shows themselves are enough to appeal to any World War II buff or lover of mysteries, but anyone in search of a good drama would find this worth a rental.

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