Friday , April 19 2024
DCS Foyle is back one last time... maybe.

DVD Review: Foyle’s War – Set Five

When the fourth series of Foyle's War finished, our hero, DCS Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) was headed off into the sunset. He had, following a political brouhaha, retired from his position. But, a successful TV series never does let a little thing like the main character's retirement stand in the way of the new season.

Consequently, when series five begins, the Hastings police are in low spirits. The precinct is going to be closed permanently in the near future and people are looking for their next job. Despite the fact that World War II is virtually over and that an Allied victory is all but assured, the folks in the Hastings police are none too pleased. When the position of DCS reopens, Foyle is coaxed out of retirement to put everything right once more.

It may all sound a little too convenient, a little too easy a way of continuing the series, by Foyle's War is so compelling that however weak the excuse for continuing the series, one can only be pleased that it does continue. And continue the series does, with three final (allegedly) 90 minute episodes that will be arriving on DVD on August 5.

Centered on the little town of Hastings, England during the Second World War, Foyle's War follows the titular character as he investigates crimes both related and unrelated to the war. Hastings is located on the coast and in relatively close proximity to mainland Europe, making it a good staging area for personnel from various military branches and countries and a complicated town. There are enough different groups, factions, and divisions within the community and those surrounding it that it's actually a wonder that they don't have more murders and intrigue than they do.

Working with Foyle to help solve these various crimes are his driver, Samantha Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks) and Sgt. Paul Milner (Anthony Howell). Stewart is young, talkative, and never quite sure when enough is enough. Milner, on the other hand, is a far more methodical individual, and unlike Stewart, sees the police force as his career and a place for advancement rather than merely a job.

While the two characters are in fact fully developed, during the course of these three episodes they are far more intriguing in terms of their relations to Foyle, and what they reveal about Foyle's personality. The DCS is a kind, generous man, but takes great pains to not be seen as such. He feels deeply for all of those who work for him, but would rather do virtually anything except express his feelings. Instead, Foyle repeatedly puts Weeks in her place and while he encourages Milner's investigations, he never heaps praise.

The mysteries Foyle solves in this last series are interesting, particularly the one in the first episode, but far more interesting is the way the characters approach the coming end of the war. While everyone is happy at its arrival, there is certainly also the sense that great change is coming not just for the characters, but for the world as well. There is something of a sense of longing for the England that existed prior to the war.

Much time is spent during these episodes on where the characters will end up, and how and why they will end up there. By the third and final episode, the sense of closure is actually too powerful. This episode, "All Clear," works entirely too hard for closure, practically forcing happy endings down the characters' throats. From magically returning and changed love interests to new jobs, it almost feels as though the entire purpose for the final series was to be able to put a pretty little bow on the characters' lives. And yet, if there were to be new Foyle's War episodes in the future, one imagines that creator Anthony Horowitz would need no more than 10 minutes to bring the gang back together.

The DVD release of Foyle's War – Set Five includes some behind-the-scenes featurettes which include thoughts from cast members as well as a documentary, and cast filmographies. Though at times a bit over-the-top with its need to satisfy viewers, it does provide a fitting end to a well-made, truly compelling television show.

About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.

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