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Monday, June 22, 2015

FOYLE’S WAR (2002-08; ‘10; ‘13; 15)

(Slightly Revised Reposting) This British based WWII homefront drama turned out exemplary tv for a remarkable 19 (make that 28) episodes over five eight seasons. A deceptively subdued series about a chief detective whose local investigations get entangled with the war effort, it consistently moved into morally grey areas that brought a sharp focus to skewed wartime priorities. The regular cast and guest stars were uniformly strong, with Michael Kitchen’s Foyle reaching Alec Guinness levels of subtle revelation. Over most of the run, his two aides, the delicious & deliciously named Honeysuckle Weeks and the gallantly handsome Anthony Howell, endearingly even started to pick up some of Kitchen’s mannerisms. Modern films about WWII are allowed to be a lot more realistic than the old classics (sex, cussing, violence), but they just as often miss the essential spirit of the era; something that was often far better caught in films made at the time. At its best, especially in its first two seasons, FOYLE'S WAR beautifully balanced the strengths of both old & new values.

DOUBLE-BILL: After a hiatus, writer/creator Anthony Horowitz brought Foyle to post-war London for two series of Cold War stories. The first three episodes (Series 7) waded a bit hesitantly into this John Le Carré territory, but the final three shows (Series 8) triumphantly regained the distinctive form, flow & tone of the original series.

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