This is a compelling and oddly comforting drama. There is the setting and the time -- Hastings, on the southern coast of England during World War II. Hastings of course was the site of the last successful invasion of England, in 1066, and that threat seems real in the early days of the war. In the series, it is a provincial town where Deputy Chief Superintendent Foyle tries to solve local crimes of theft and murder, while dealing with wartime problems of black markets, sabotage and espionage. In addition to meddling from police superiors with their own agendas, Foyle must contend with bureaucratic and military interference from London as the war creates situations that lets criminals go free.
Then there are the scripts and the actors, not to mention the overall quality of the production -- lucid photography, theme music with echoes of Brideshead Revisited, period clothing, vehicles, etc. The writing is measured, intelligent, no wasted words. Honeysuckle Weeks and Anthony Howell in the supporting roles of Samantha Stewart and Paul Milner are excellent and play off each other well.
But the show belongs to Michael Kitchen and you wonder why you've never seen this actor before and when you will see him again. He conveys the competence and integrity you want in your hero, but the real attraction, I think, is that he is the ultimate father figure. He is concerned about people without wearing it on his sleeve; gruff, even curt, but letting us glimpse the tenderness behind it; and he is wise, not only a clever detective but wise in the ways of the human heart. He is a father not only to his son, Andrew, an RAF pilot, but also to Sam and Milner and to any number of characters in the various episodes, including his goddaughter in the last (final?) episode. Invariably, this father knows best. While he conveys a sense of vulnerability, you never have the feeling Foyle has really made a mistake. This is why I think the films are comforting. With all the chaos of war, and darkness of human behavior, Foyle moves through it all, self-possessed, caring, and ultimately, even when circumstances beyond his control keep him from actually incarcerating the wrongdoer, successful in protecting his charges from evil.
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