Foyle's War Set 6
Recurring character(s): DCI Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen), Sgt. Paul Milner (Anthony Howell), Samantha Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks)
Original air date(s): 04/11/2010 to 04/25/2010
DVD Date: 06/01/2010
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 300 minutes
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Review: No doubt my joy was shared by millions of other Foyle's War fans when I learned in April 2008 that ITV, after canceling the series just a few months earlier, had commissioned three additional episodes. It seems like forever and day has passed since then, but in April of this year those episodes aired on PBS's Masterpiece Mystery! and today they're available to purchase on DVD. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely.
When series creator Anthony Horowitz learned of the cancellation of Foyle's War, he accelerated his time-table and wrote a final episode titled "All Clear" set in May 1945 on VE Day, bringing the series to a logical close. Since all episodes of the series had proceeded chronologically, when the new episodes were commissioned he was forced to move forward in time and chose to set the three episodes comprising Set Six immediately thereafter, during the summer of 1945. But as Jill Green (Horowitz's wife and producer of the series) noted at the time, “This fascinating period post-VE day has rarely been featured on TV and once more Foyle's War will be unearthing true stories that reflect tougher, moodier times.”
A quick nomenclature note: Set Six here in the US is called Series Seven in the UK and elsewhere.
The first episode in this set is titled "The Russian House". Synopsis: June 1945. Tracking an escaped Russian POW at the behest of British intelligence, Foyle becomes involved in a murder investigation conducted by his former subordinate, DI Paul Milner. The situation threatens not only their already strained relationship, but also Foyle’s life.
"The Russian House" is as much about reuniting the three main series characters as it is a murder mystery. Foyle has retired but is pressed back into service on what he believes to be a menial assignment, to investigate the whereabouts of a missing Russian soldier. Sam is employed as an assistant for a wealthy artist, and Milner is working as a Detective Inspector in nearby Brighton. The three come together when the artist is murdered. The mystery plot here is overshadowed somewhat by the politics of a newly won peace, but it is good to see the team back together ... even if they're not necessarily working together.
The second episode is titled "Killing Time". Synopsis: July 1945. While black American GIs wait for transport home, racial tensions run high at the army base in Hastings — particularly when a black serviceman becomes romantically involved with a white local woman. Then a series of nighttime holdups adds to the town’s concerns and leaves Foyle puzzled.
Foyle's sensibilities are severely tested when it is suggested by the Americans that the British set up segregated white and black facilities while the troops are transitioned back to the US. When a white woman is murdered, the black soldier who is their child's father is the prime suspect. But Foyle isn't convinced. "Killing Time" is the weakest of the three episodes in this set in part because the intersecting storylines are not all that strongly written, and when required to be so seem almost contrived in places.
But the set ends on a high note with its strongest episode, one that ranks among the best of the entire series: "The Hide". Synopsis: August 1945. Foyle probes the mysterious motives of James Devereaux, a former POW and member of the British Free Corps, who refuses to defend himself against treason charges. Meanwhile, Milner investigates the murder of a young woman rooming with the Devereaux family’s housekeeper.
Foyle's trip to America is booked, but he has a week or so before the ship sails. A newspaper headline attracts his attention: a soldier is accused of treason and will certainly be hanged if he's found guilty -- which seems a certainty since he's offering no defense. Foyle requests an audience with the soldier and realizes he's holding something back. Investigating on his own, he soon discovers what it is the soldier is hiding ... and we learn of Foyle's interest in the case. "The Hide" is Michael Kitchen at his very best playing Foyle, helped to no small degree by a superb, multi-faceted script from Horowitz.
There has been no indication by ITV or Horowitz that the series will continue on at this point, though we can all keep our fingers crossed. Foyle's unstated reasons for traveling to America are certainly a starting point for a number of episodes that could be set in the US. And there are no doubt many more stories that could be told in post-war Hastings that would require the involvement and wisdom of a retired DCS.
Foyle's War is certainly among the best series ever filmed for television. If this is the end -- and hopefully it isn't -- it's been a grand run.
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