Foyle’s War, PBS

Written by:
Emily S. Mendel
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Foyle’s War’ (Series VII)

PBS Masterpiece Mystery
Created and written by Anthony Horowitz
Starring: Michael Kitchen, Honeysuckle Weeks
PBS stations, Sundays, Sept. 15-29, 2013, 9 p.m. ET/PT




A fabulous new seventh season of the applauded British series, “Foyle’s War,” will begin on PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery starting Sept. 15. The series contains three new 90-minute episodes that match or exceed the highly praised first six series. And they are purportedly the final episodes.

The first five series, set during World War II, followed police Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (fabulous Michael Kitchen) working in the quiet coastal village of Hastings as he unperturbedly and expertly fought murder, treason and other war-related crimes on the British home front. Series VI, which aired in 2010, began as World War II was ending and found Foyle assisting the War Office.  

Apparently, Foyle had then spent two years in the U.S., about which we know nothing, except a brief reference to a case there. Upon his return to England in 1946-47, he finds himself working for MI5 under the stern, enigmatic force, Hilda Pierce (terrific Ellie Haddington). She “runs” Foyle along with Foyle’s titular boss at headquarters, Sir William Chambers (Nicholas Jones).

In the post-war period, MI5 personnel, government ministers and others tread murky waters as they do whatever is expedient to help England succeed in the Cold War, including using spies, double agents and former Nazis. They lie and keep secrets from Foyle, yet he always knows when he’s being misled. Our Foyle can’t abide their “ends justify the means” philosophy, as his morality is always unambiguous.

In the first episode, “The Eternity Ring,” MI5 asks Foyle to investigate the Eternity Ring, a group of Soviet sympathizers bent on betraying Britain’s atomic secrets. Foyle learns that his former driver, Samantha Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks), has been working as a secretary for one of the possible suspects.

The two resurrect their friendship and working relationship. Sam has married Adam Wainwright, a former intelligence officer at Bletchley Park. Wainwright is now standing for by-election as a Labour MP candidate in his district. He seeks Sam’s help, although sometimes, she gives him a bit too much help. Sam has matured; she is no longer the spunky and adorable girl that Foyle first met. This episode has the least action, but introduces the new characters and setting. It’s still very good.

In the powerful episode, “The Cage,” Foyle’s new boss, Sir Alec Meyerson (first-rate Rupert Vansittart) asks him to investigate the deaths of three Russian defectors, who were all in purportedly safe houses. An injured Russian defector dies just as he reaches a hospital. Foyle’s investigation leads him to a covert military facility where his inquiries are stonewalled. Until the end of the episode, we’re not sure who knows what and when they knew it. There is a subplot about the disappearance of one of Adam’s constituents. She seems to be linked with the defection of a woman who was the safe houses’ liaison officer.

“Sunflower” is the most outstanding installment of the three. Foyle is asked to protect Karl Strasser, a former Nazi officer masquerading as a Dutch citizen, who now works with MI5 to catch Russian spies. Strasser believes he is being followed and that he is in danger. American Colonel Jackson wants to prosecute Strasser in connection with a wartime atrocity known as Operation Sunflower, in which a German patrol shot unarmed allied servicemen. It is clear that Foyle finds Strasser despicable and he is offended that MI5 is protecting him. The sole survivor of the Sunflower massacre, Tommy Nelson, recognizes Strasser and follows him. When Strasser is killed by a car bomb, Foyle finds several likely suspects in addition to Tommy Nelson. This episode is beautifully written, has wonderful cinematography and is well acted with intense drama.  

The writer and creator of “Foyle’s War,” Anthony Horowitz (“Collision,” “Poirot”), using many stories based on real-life cases, has created an engaging and admirable protagonist. Christopher Foyle is the quintessential British sleuth: fair-minded, courteous and articulate, yet steely and determined when pursuing criminals and hypocrites who obstruct the post-war peace efforts. Michael Kitchen (“Reckless,” “Oliver Twist”) is exceptional in the role. He portrays Foyle with a world-weary and restrained heart, a small persevering grin, and, when confronted by obstreperous and bureaucratic officials, a slight insouciance.

Anthony Horowitz insists that he will never write another episode. So don’t miss these wonderful final “Foyle’s War” installments.
©Emily S. Mendel 2013   All Rights Reserved.












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