Monday, 25 March 2013

Foyle's War Season 8


Foyle’s back- and now he’s a spy!

Foyle’s War has the distinction, if you can call it that, of being a programme that was only cancelled because a senior executive did not like it despite its success. The culprit Simon Shaps showed peculiar lack of understanding of his audience when he took the decision that forced the series to wrap up what had been a carefully constructed journey in just three episodes. Then Shaps left ITV and the show was recomissioned but the problem was the War of the title was over. So, one fictional year- and three real ones- later finds Foyle in London working for MI5. Can such a sea change work? The answer is a resounding affirmative.




"So who invited this lot to dinner then?"




So much so in fact that you instantly feel creator Anthony Horowitz has stumbled upon a new kind of spy series that could sustain a lengthy run, though he has said he’s not wiring any more. That’s a shame because Foyle fits the format like a glove. If the previous series occasionally seemed a tad limited by its parochial nature, this new version flings us into the changing world of the second half of the 1940s with new post war threats and espionage very much the mood. Foyle in his wide brimmed hat and watchful demeanour is tailor made for this world and it draws Michael Kitchen into one of his best performances in a show in which he is always good anyway.


This opening episode `The Eternity Ring` brings an urgent pace to the series with Horowitz cleverly including a major coincidence that turns out to be deliberate in the plot. When we find Foyle’s former driver Samantha Wainwright working for the very same professor under investigation our critical antennae are twitching but it turns out to be part of a web of intrigue that the writer weaves throughout the entertaining two hours. Honeysuckle Weeks often had comparatively little to do in the show but her role here is far more pivotal and varied; she also gets to play in the lighter sub plot of her husband’s attempt to become a parliamentary candidate.


Amidst shady meetings and situations that could be clich├ęd the drama is channelled in different directions due to Foyle’s presence. MI5 says it is his forensic police methods they wish to utilise and it is this that adds the different slant. Michael Kitchen is on bracing form as he slices through the obfuscation and sees around corners brilliantly. His calm summing up of what has really happened works even better here and various actors have fun reacting to his deductions.

With the cinematography full of dark streets, dimly lit rooms and as much brown as you like in this post war environment, director Stuart Orme is able to go for maximum mystery. The pace is faster than the series is used to and each development is introduced with imagination, none more so than the scene where Foyle and Sam are searching a room only for several gas mask clad soldiers to burst in

One aspect that thankfully does remain is the series’ historical perspective. From the start each episode has been more than simply a mystery drama but also includes pertinent observational strands. These add a truthfulness to each episode that help us understand the times. The show has always been better at this than other similar series and here we have as a sub-sub plot the story of a soldier returning home after six years to find he has no position in city life. It’s just one more element that makes this a successful reboot for a show that remains intelligent and absorbing.

5 comments:

  1. How did you see this episode? Where can I find it?

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  2. I feel the same way. PBS has done nothing to let us know when this new series will air. Why???

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  3. 3 shows is not a season! Will there be more Foyle?

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  4. This series has just been shown on PBS. You have to keep checking. You can probably stll watch it on their website as the last episode has just aired.

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  5. This is a fantastic Series, please do not stop writing Foyle's war.....

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