One of the best things about television streaming services such as Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hula Plus has been the access to television programming that I may not have had access to or may not have known about.  One such genre that I discovered to be the most worth my streaming service monthly cost has been programs that depict historical information through a fictional drama.  Many of them are available for purchase on DVD too.  We all know how Downtown Abbey has become a hit show and although it is the sensational drama that brings many of us to the screen, underlying it all is the history.  I am going to attempt to highlight one of these programs each Saturday in place of my “What Happened on” post.

Do you have any favorite programs that fit this category?  I’d love to hear your ideas and I would be glad to include the program in an up coming post.  I also would welcome a guest blogger.

Foyle's_War_title_card

This week we visit Foyle’s War a truly wonderful program depicting World War II on the home front in England.

Here is the basic storyline as written on http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0310455/

It is 1940 and Britain stands almost alone against the might of Nazi Germany across the continent. The terrors of nightly bombing raids are only matched by the fear and hysteria of the population at the prospect of the seemingly inevitable German invasion. It is in this environment that Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle, of the Hastings Police on the south coast of England, works. Denied a transfer to the war effort, Foyle is nonetheless forced to confront the darkest acts of humanity on a daily basis. With his official driver, Sam, and his subordinate, Paul Milner, Foyle investigates murders, looting and theft, crimes of opportunism, crimes of war, crimes of passion and crimes of greed, because crime isn’t stopped because of warfare.

Through 2013, there have been eight series of the show.   Each series has 2 to 4 episodes which each fills a two hour timeslot.  There have been a total of 25 episodes covering May 1940 through September 1946.  World War II ended but its influence continued and so does Foyle’s War.  There is a 9th series expected in 2015.

On the show there are three primary characters, some semi-regular returning characters and hundredths of guest stars.  The three primary characters: DCS Christopher Foyle, his DI Paul Milner and his driver Samantha “Sam” Stewart portrayed by Michael Kitchen, Anthony Howell and Honeysuckle Weeks, respectively.

Foyle's War: Honeysuckle Weeks, Anthony Howell and Michael Kitchen

Foyle’s War: Honeysuckle Weeks, Anthony Howell and Michael Kitchen

For the following character studies, I used the help of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foyle%27s_War#Christopher_Foyle.  Some information has been omitted in order to avoid spoilers.

Detective Chief Superintendent, Christopher Foyle portrayed by Michael Kitchen

Detective Chief Superintendent, Christopher Foyle portrayed by Michael Kitchen

I am reminded of television’s, Columbo without the wrinkled trenchcoat and cigar when I see Detective Chief Superintendent (DCS) Foyle (Michael Kitchen) doing what he does best.  Foyle consistently introduces himself with the phrase (or some variation thereof), “My name’s Foyle; I’m a police officer.” This is typical of the modesty, courtesy and precision of speech that he displays throughout the series. Foyle is a longstanding widower; he has one son, Andrew, to whom he is close, although their relationship is not demonstrative. Foyle’s concern for his son’s safety as a fighter pilot in the RAF is an ongoing theme. He lost his wife Rosalind in 1932; according to the tombstone, she was thirty years old.

Christopher Foyle and son, RAF Pilot, Andrew Foyle

Christopher Foyle and son, RAF Pilot, Andrew Foyle

Foyle is himself the son of a policeman, and a veteran of World War I. He once told his son that the three years he spent enlisted in the war were the worst in his life, and reluctantly admitted that he had to kill. He requests a transfer to the War Department several times in the first two series of the show but, by the end of the third series, appears to have accepted that this will not happen and his detective work is just as important, in its own way, to the war effort. He argues that innocent victims of murder should not be forgotten just because there’s a terribly costly war on.

He has high moral standards, is scrupulously honest and very shrewd. His speech is rather straightforward in manner, combined with a dry wit. He is portrayed as very open-minded for a man of his time.  He is unfailingly loyal to his colleagues and expects the same from them.  In turn, he demonstrates trust in his colleagues.

Foyle relaxes by trout-fishing, at which he is very skilled and which supplements his wartime rations. He also plays golf, though with less proficiency. He is often accompanied by his son or his uniformed counterpart, Hugh Reid. Cameo and guest characters are occasionally shown with him on these outings, enabling the exchange of information important to the plot.

Detective Inspector, Paul Milner

Detective Inspector, Paul Milner

Sergeant Milner (Anthony Howell) was a policeman before the war; he left to enlist in the army. He was involved in the British Norwegian Campaign and lost a leg in Trondheim. In episode one, he is seen recovering in hospital, highly despondent. Foyle encourages him to rejoin the police and he remains with the Hastings department for the duration of the war. He also appears to be the only ranked detective in the station besides Foyle. Milner’s has a strained relationship with his wife Jane, she never fully comes to terms with his injury.

Samantha "Sam" Stewart portrayed by Honeysuckle Weeks

Samantha “Sam” Stewart portrayed by Honeysuckle Weeks

Sam (Honeysuckle Weeks) joins the Mechanized Transport Corps at the outbreak of the war. She is seconded to the police force as a driver in the first episode to relieve staff shortages within the police force, and becomes Foyle’s driver.   She is very enthusiastic about police work, offering unsolicited advice and help to Foyle and Milner – despite Foyle’s initial instructions that she is not to discuss police work. As the series progresses, they come to rely on her assistance more and more, primarily when she happens to overhear bits of important conversation.

Sam has a healthy appetite; her struggles with rationing are a constant theme, played for humor.  She invites herself to eat with Foyle on a number of occasions and covets a turkey (kept for evidence) on a holiday episode.

Sam’s father and uncle are Church of England vicars. Her father, the Rev. Iain Stewart (Stephen Moore), visits her in Hastings at one point. He wants her to return home but comes to see that her work for the police is important (after discussions with Foyle, and using his university training in art to help Milner solve a crime).  In one episode, she states that all her uncles are vicars.

Throughout the series, Sam has some romantic attachments but I won’t write too much about them due to not wanting to present any spoilers.

There is an official fan website for the television show http://www.foyleswar.com/

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3 responses

  1. We watched every episode of Foyle’s War on Netflix a year or so ago. Fabulously done and very enjoyable! I hated to see it end! 🙂

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