Posted: 09/28/2009

 

Foyle’s War: Series 1-5 – From Dunkirk to VE-Day

(2002-08)

by Jef Burnham



Now available in a comprehensive, 19 DVD collection from Acorn Home Media.


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Of the innumerable British mystery series that make their way to this side of the Atlantic, Foyle’s War is a masterpiece of television that stands a mile above the rest. The series is set during World War II, following Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) of Hastings, East Essex as he investigates local homicides, though he would prefer a position allowing him to contribute more to the war effort. Foyle as a character is quiet, compassionate and determined—perfect for a series of such complexity, wherein the detective mustn’t draw interest away from the episode’s mystery. Occasionally, though, his cool demeanor will snap, and it is truly these moments that allow Foyle to carry the series.

However, Foyle alone does not make Foyle’s War special among British murder mysteries. It stands apart as each episode’s murder feels almost secondary to the war’s politics and cultural ramifications which result in said murders, giving the series thematic depth that straightforward whodunits rarely achieve. These backdrops for murder are always historical and often rooted in obscure tidbits dug up by series writer/creator Anthony Horowitz, such as the fact that the wealthy would hide out from the war on remote wooded estates termed “funk holes.”

This collection deviates little from Acorn’s previous releases of the 5 sets encompassing the series’ six seasons, save in price and packaging. To buy the original releases separately would cost somewhere between $35 and $50 each, whereas this collection will go for about $100. Also, the series’ 19 discs were presented in the box sets in individual keep cases, taking up considerable space. This new collection, however, is composed of five keep cases (3 or 4 discs to a case) inside a single cardboard sleeve.

Unlike other series released by Acorn, which are often older and more difficult to accumulate special features for, Foyle’s War was created during the age of DVDs and, therefore, special features are comparably abundant. The interviews with Anthony Horowitz are surprisingly informational. The making-of documentaries, however, can be a bit hokey, as the narrator inexplicably explains plot elements and describes at length the purpose of a second unit crew. The documentaries do include some interviews, but they are not often as illuminating as the interviews with Horowitz on the first set, or the interview with series’ costars Anthony Howell and Honeysuckle Weeks. Also included in the special features are numerous production photos, production notes, textual historical perspectives and cast filmographies.

Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.



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