Sunday, June 17, 2007

Let the Shelling and Sleuthing Resume

Just when I think there’s nothing new worth watching on American summertime television (National Bingo Night? Oh, pleeaassee!!), PBS suddenly bursts forth with another run of Foyle’s War, the World War II-era British serial starring Michael Kitchen. According to the PBS-TV site, the first of four new episodes will air tonight, with successive installments on Sunday evenings through July 8. (Check your local listings for the start time and channel.)

For those of you who’ve somehow missed taking in this rattling good British series up until now, it follows the investigations of Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle, who pursues criminals in the south of England--even as far greater malfeasances and terrors are visited upon London and the European mainland. The patient, widowed, and dogged Foyle is played by Kitchen, who’s probably still best known to U.S. audiences as the eponymous monarch in To Play the King (1993), the second series sequel to Ian Richardson’s brilliant House of Cards (1990). Assisting Foyle here are the spirited Samantha “Sam” Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks), Foyle’s young but hardly naïve driver, the daughter of a vicar; and Sergeant Paul Milner (Anthony Howell), a former soldier who was sent home after losing part of a leg in battle. Created by Anthony Horowitz (who also now writes the Alex Rider series of young adult spy novels), Foyle’s War is a thoughtful, character-rich, and complex series, well backdropped by war but not overly insistent upon reminding viewers of that conflict’s nuances. Readers who’ve enjoyed Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther books (March Violents, The One from the Other) and J. Robert Janes’ series pairing Sûreté detective Jean-Louis St. Cyr with Gestapo Oberdetektiv Hermann Kohler (Beekeeper, Flykiller) are likely to enjoy Foyle’s War.

This latest PBS run under the umbrella series title Mystery! combines what were originally, in the UK, two distinct sets of two episodes apiece, broadcast in 2006 and 2007. These four stories are set over the period from 1942 to early 1943. “Invasion” is the title of tonight’s episode, and it builds around two plots: efforts by American GIs to build an aerodrome on farmland near Hastings, England--an enterprise that’s rubbing locals the wrong way; and the horrific demise of Sergeant Milner’s friend, Will Grayson, who saved his life on the battlefield, only to die, drunk, in a house fire. Meanwhile, Sam is upset over a letter she’s received from her beau (and DCS Foyle’s son), Andrew. (For more information on this episode and those to come, click here.)

If you haven’t yet discovered Foyle’s War, now’s the time.

1 comment:

Iden Ford said...

Foyle's war imo is hands down the best historical mystery series ever made. That is until, well you know.
But seriously the attention to detail from the era and how the stories are so rooted in the period make it a real transporter so to speak. Maureen and I adore this show and love Michael Kitchen.