Foyle’s War: Complete First Season (DVD: Icon Distribution) c.2007

Summary: It is May 1940, and the second World War is well underway. England, standing alone against Germany, is in the midst of it’s darkest hour. Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle is a veteran of the first World War, determined to do his bit, even if he can’t get to the front. With the help of Detective Sergeant Paul Milner and Mechanized Transport Corp (MTC) driver Samantha Stewart, Foyle must maintain order on the home front and ensure that ordinary crimes do not get lost amidst the chaos of war.

Review: Each of the four episodes included in this first season is about 1 hour and 30 minutes long, and follows the solution of a single story arc. There are strong procedural overtones (the crime solvers are all with the police, after all) but the way Foyle uses intuition and observation to close each case is very reminiscent of Conan Doyle’s Holmes. The mysteries often have multiple threads that are pulled together in the last 20 minutes, and are excellently written. The acting and cast are fantastic; actors portraying a family often share physical attributes and mannerisms. Fair warning, this show is VERY British. In the first 10 minutes of the first show, Foyle attempts to arrest a man and is seemingly stunned that the fellow would run rather than simply wait for the handcuffs to be applied. Throughout the series, those being arrested routinely take their plight in stride, occasionally asking if they have time to pack. If you are a fan of crime dramas that have tons of action, this is probably not for you. If it’s story that you’re looking for, you’ll struggle to do better.

Read-a-likes: For further World War II mysteries, you might try reading James Benn’s Billy Boyle series, or Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther novels.  For those looking for other British mystery series should take a look at another BBC series, Rosemary and Thyme.

Availability: This item is available from the Lake Bluff Public Library as a DVD. Click here to check on the availability!

Review by Eric.

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