Honeysuckle Weeks and Michael Kitchen
When season six of the hit Masterpiece Mystery! series Foyle’s War ended, writer-creator Anthony Horowitz faced a dilemma. His show always had followed Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) as he investigated crimes in England against the backdrop of World War II in Europe. The season six finale, however, had taken place shortly after VJ Day. How could Horowitz continue Foyle’s War now that he had, in effect, run out of war?
It didn’t take him long, however, to realize that one war has simply been replaced by another: the Cold War, a phrase coined by writer George Orwell in an October 1945 magazine piece, just two months after the events that closed out season six on the show.
Now, as a new three-episode season premieres tonight on PBS, Foyle’s War gets a dramatic reboot of sorts as the morally upright Foyle – a man whose inner sense of right and wrong is as acute as Hercule Poirot’s – finds himself in 1946 London, reluctantly working with MI-5, Britain’s equivalent of the FBI. Although he is reunited with his former driver, the newly married Sam Wainwright (Honeysuckle Weeks), Foyle can’t help being repulsed by the shadowy activities of his new colleagues, who aren’t averse to threatening the lives and livelihood of innocent people – including Sam – in the service of a nebulous “greater good.”
“I haven’t got the requisite capacity for deceit,” he explains, when an intelligence colleague expresses puzzlement at his reluctance to share the agency’s morally ambivalent vision.
Then again, the world around Foyle has changed in nearly every respect. During the Second World War, Britain had pulled together, its citizens confident that they were on the side of the angels, yet now, although victory has been declared, they find themselves living in a largely ruined nation where jobs and medical treatment for returning veterans are scarce and goods are heavily rationed (Sam sighs to her husband that their bread has so much chalk in it she doesn’t know whether to eat it or write with it).
It’s an admittedly bleak but really interesting landscape in which to find the soft-spoken yet doggedly determined Foyle as he gets drawn into three new stories, all of them inspired in large part by actual historical personalities and events. And, given how long the Cold War lasted, Horowitz and his creative team shouldn’t run into a lack of story ideas for years to come, if they decide to continue the series.
After each new Masterpiece Mystery! episode premieres on Sept. 15, 22 and 29, it will begin streaming the next day for subscribers of www.Acorn.tv, which also offers all previous Foyle’s War episodes as well.
Additionally, Acorn Media Group is releasing season seven in a three-disc set in both DVD and Blu-ray formats on Tuesday, Sept. 24. In addition to the complete UK broadcast edition of all three episodes, the set also is crammed with nearly two hours of bonus features, including invaluable introductions to each episode by Horowitz, plus extensive and illuminating behind-the-scenes segments, hosted by Weeks, on the show’s stylistic elements (hair, makeup, costumes, sets, etc.). And for those who don’t give a hoot about hair, makeup and costumes, there’s a more macho featurette on the filming of an exceedingly violent scene that figures prominently in the final episode of season seven.