Friday, February 08, 2008

315. Foyle's War

Unquestionably, one of the best TV series going. Detective Chief Superintendent Foyle (Martin Kitchen) is based in Hastings on the southeastern coast of England when war breaks out in 1939. Intent at first in getting involved in the war in a more meaningful way, Foyle seeks a transfer from the humdrum police work of running down black marketeers and other petty criminals until murder and intrigue comes knocking at his door. Each episode in this series is a densely woven tale involving two or more subplots unfolding in tandem with the main action. There are no car chases or shoot-outs or any of the wham-bam action of a Hollywood thriller. Instead, the stories unfold with a seemingly leisurely but increasingly complex interplay of characters and events as the war progresses in the background, at first hardly noticeable but then intruding into the action more and more directly as the bombing intensifies and invasion fears increase. The attention to historical accuracy and period detail is extremely impressive with the mood of the series matching closely the popular literature and eyewitness reports of the wartime period. The clothing and the surrounding artifacts such as housing, interior fixtures, street architecture, notices and signs, and above all, the motor cars, are totally believable and one never gets the feeling of watching modern actors pretending to inhabit a recreated past. The characters and atmosphere bring the viewer straight back to the period in a fully believable way. Best of all, the stories are so subtle and so intelligently developed that the viewer before long begins to dread (with hindsight) the inexorable ongoing progress of the war since we all know it ended in 1945 ... and with it so will this series!