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Foyle's War
September 19, 2010 12:13 PM   Subscribe

History and mystery wonderfully blended. Although doubtless well-known to UK Mefites, I was only recently directed to this marvelous and engaging TV series featuring Michael Kitchen as Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle. It's a refreshing change from American fare, entirely adult, with crisp dialogue and meticulous attention to detail and historic accuracy. Speaking as a Yank weary of plasticity, it's also wonderful to see actors with real faces. The series can be seen on Youtube in pieces that can be viewed fairly seamlessly: Series One: The German Woman, The White Feather, Lesson in Murder, Eagle Day. Series Two: Fifty Ships, Among the Few, War Games, The Funk Hole. Series Three: The French Drop, Enemy Fire, They Fought in the Fields, War of Nerves. Series Four: Invasion, Bad Blood. Series Five: Bleak Midwinter, Casualties of War. Series Six: Plan of Attack, Broken Souls, All Clear.

For those of us not from the Isles who are starved for intelligent drama, these films afford hours of enjoyable yet enlightening entertainment. Each episode stands alone nicely but together they form superb, beautifully developed character studies as well as a vivid picture of British life during WW II.
posted by kinnakeet (25 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
It is a delight - we just finished watching the last set this week (the writing on the middle one wasn't as strong as the others). It was a gutsy series to produce, as it shows that not everyone was gung-ho about the war, as we are frequently told by popular history. Kitchen is a hell of an actor.
posted by Shadan7 at 12:27 PM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh those Brits, so much more real than us Yanks.

"Plasticity" does not mean made of plastic or metaphorically cheap, either.

posted by fourcheesemac at 12:52 PM on September 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh those Brits, so much more real than us Yanks.

You are invited to list comparable US television productions.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:30 PM on September 19, 2010


It's a wonderful series. And yeah, the Brits tend to do this sort of thing better. I wish it weren't so, but it is.
posted by languagehat at 1:37 PM on September 19, 2010


I loved how each episode was 2 hours, so you could have the complex plot of a good movie, but it was a serial, so you could have the character development of a television show. Speaking of Foyle's War I think I still have a few episodes to watch next time I'm at the house with the DVDs...
posted by Canageek at 1:47 PM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Foyle's War has been shown several times over the years on public TV in Portland (OR).
posted by Cranberry at 1:52 PM on September 19, 2010


Heh. I was just today thinking about looking through old AskMe's for more suggestions for British TV shows to watch. Thanks for this post--duly Netflixed!
posted by DiscourseMarker at 2:04 PM on September 19, 2010


we record each episode the 20th century way. I'm suprised Kitchen hitched on for more after series 6 ended. In series 7 they get real good in 'The Russian House' and the shades of Kitchens' work from 'The Russia House' go nice. (hoped 'ned' would pop in) The accuracy is good but the overall picture is not the point of the show, IMO.

the Brits tend to do this sort of thing better.

agreed, as example 'Band of Brothers' is a fav with alot of folks and when you tell them that alot of the main cast are Brits....NO WAY. oh, it's the 3rd invasion yea. They simply act better.

but we have Fringe, The Mentalist....wait....24....no...Masterpiec...Sopranos
and Weeds
and Breaking Bad...... D'oh
posted by clavdivs at 3:28 PM on September 19, 2010


ROBERT DOWNEY
ha
posted by clavdivs at 3:28 PM on September 19, 2010


Looks like I missed the PBS airings, Ooh, there's a series based on Henning Mankell's "Kurt Wallander" mysteries starring Kenneth Branagh! I need to check the PBS Masterpiece site more often.
posted by MikeMc at 3:39 PM on September 19, 2010


Yeah these are really good.

I'm suprised Kitchen hitched on for more after series 6 ended.

I keep expecting it to be over for various plot reasons (first the war ends, then Foyle retires) and end up pleasantly surprised when there's more.
posted by juv3nal at 3:55 PM on September 19, 2010


I guess I'm That Guy... Foyle's War is sort of watchable on a rainy day—and if for no other reason than to look at old cars—but in its heart it's a mediocre mystery show with some pretty thin historical trappings. For the UK, these are shopworn genres and lots of times, IMHO, Foyle's war seems kind of tired of itself.

Still some good things were here and there in the episodes, so maybe I'll go on past the third series now with these links, so thanks!
posted by fleacircus at 4:07 PM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I keep expecting it to be over for various plot reasons (first the war ends, then Foyle retires) and end up pleasantly surprised when there's more.


...just like this (which, admittedly is unsourced and may be nothing more than wishful thinking):

Foyle's War Returns to UK ITV Sunday 11th April at 8.0 - 10.0 pm according tio ITV Listings. And, so insiders say, Series 8 is planned for next year!
posted by juv3nal at 4:34 PM on September 19, 2010


Huh, we just finished a Foyle marathon last week. Two things I like most about the series: Foyle, Milner, and Sam are decent people trying to do the right thing, and the writers and actors manage to carry this off without any feel-good treacle. Second is the attention to period detail. In an episode in one of the earlier seasons (hence early 1940s), a fisherman's son is killed. There is a shot of the fisherman walking in the funeral procession in which we can clearly see that he's wearing a celluloid (detachable) collar, which to my knowledge had become obsolete at least 15 years prior. Beautiful.
posted by scratch at 5:31 PM on September 19, 2010


My point wasn't clear at all: The detachable collar shows attention to period detail expressed as character summation in one tiny costuming decision. In short, the fisherman doesn't wear a suit very often.

can't brain today, have the dumb
posted by scratch at 5:33 PM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, great catch, scratch. Such things are why this series easily won me over. I was just hoping to point some non-UK folks towards something tasty of which they might not be aware.

I think if I had HBO, or perhaps a higher tolerance for violence and formula, I'd find US TV more palatable. There are American shows that I enjoy, just nothing recently with the kind of depth I've found in Foyle's War. And damn, I love the characters.

But then, my favorite reading is Evelyn Waugh and Thomas Hardy so I guess it's unsurprising I'd enjoy it so much.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:37 PM on September 19, 2010


Ooh, there's a series based on Henning Mankell's "Kurt Wallander" mysteries starring Kenneth Branagh!

This was shit compared with the Swedish series that's currently screening on BBC 3 or 4.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:08 AM on September 20, 2010


Oh those Brits, so much more real than us Yanks.

People will stop believing this when you stop casting Ken and Barbie in every single televised role. Even the extras have gym-toned bodies and totally symmetrical features. We know you don't all look like the Stepford Wives in real life, so why must you cast them in absolutely everything that you shoot?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:13 AM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


What, no mention for Foyle's War's other star - the splendidly named Honeysuckle Weeks?

Real name: Honeysuckle Hero Susan Weeks, apparently.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:51 AM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Even the extras have gym-toned bodies and totally symmetrical features. We know you don't all look like the Stepford Wives in real life, so why must you cast them in absolutely everything that you shoot?

Ignorant nonsensical spew.
posted by fleacircus at 4:15 AM on September 20, 2010


With the advent of HDTV, it seems there has been an epidemic of Botox, capped teeth and cosmetic surgery in US films and on television and I imagine things will only get worse. I had no idea of the raw nerve I'd hit by pointing this out--apparently we Yanks are more defensive about this than I ever imagined.
posted by kinnakeet at 4:50 AM on September 20, 2010


People will stop believing this when you stop casting Ken and Barbie in every single televised role. Even the extras have gym-toned bodies and totally symmetrical features. We know you don't all look like the Stepford Wives in real life, so why must you cast them in absolutely everything that you shoot?

Have you ever heard of the TV series Roseanne?
posted by drewski at 8:31 AM on September 20, 2010


Congratulations. One programme among thousands. In fact, the down-to-earth look of the characters was pretty much the entire draw of Roseanne.
posted by salmacis at 9:10 AM on September 20, 2010


I have watched a lot of both American and British television. Sure, there are American shows that feature actors who look like average people, but not nearly as many as there are British shows that do this.

I'm not a pro-UK snob. There are lots of American shows -- especially recent ones -- that I think are every bit at as good as anything that's ever been on British TV. Personally, I think "Deadwood" is the greatest show in the history of television. Other American greats include "The Sopranos," "The Wire," "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men." And there are many other worthy shows.

But we simply don't do Average Joe as well or as often as our UK cousins do.
posted by grumblebee at 9:29 AM on September 20, 2010


(I even think the American version of "The Office," which does feature some average-looking actors, is glammed up compared to the British version.)
posted by grumblebee at 9:31 AM on September 20, 2010


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