|Henry Goodman||Howard Paige|
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While WWII rages across the Channel, police detective Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) reluctantly remains on duty in the English town of Hastings, exposing the ravages of the conflict on his once quiet coastal community. Seen on MasterpieceMystery!,covering the war and its aftermath from 1940–45, this awardwinning British series is rich in moral complexity, historical accuracy, and period detail. With Anthony Howell and Honeysuckle Weeks. Includes all 22 mysteries from individual sets 1–6. 37 hrs, 22 DVDs
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By comparison with most television programs that claim to be historically accurate, "Foyle's War" compares well. The use of period vehicles, notably the Wolseley police cars and a vintage Spitfire fighter plane, help to establish the flavor of 1940s Britain. But purists who know the detailed history of WWII will find many instances where accuracy is trumped by dramatic license. One episode mentions codebreaking at Bletchley Park. This activity, crucial to the war effort, was one of the best-guarded secrets of the war, with the story of what was called "Station X" during WWII not revealed until 1975. Anyone who spoke of Bletchley Park during the1940s would have been prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act. Another episode features radar, and shows, without comment, a tall radio mast still standing near Dover, that was part of the original Chain Home radar system that was operational during the Battle of Britain. In those early years, radar was a primitive system of wires strung between tall towers along the coast of Britain. But for dramatic effect, and because anyone thinking of radar today would expect to see a rotating dish-like antenna and a beam sweeping around a cathode-ray tube in front of the radar operator, the program shows the more familiar but historically inaccurate modern version of radar. Another program conflates the Luftwaffe's use of a radio navigation system with radar as part of a program whose convoluted plot requires a suspension of disbelief regarding the lengths to which a German villain would go to protect the technical details of a crashed bomber's electronics. One also may marvel at how many big wartime events are made to fit into the purview of a small-town police detective chief inspector---everything from Lend-Lease to commando operations to germ warfare to police corruption at the national level. These quibbles aside, "Foyle's War" is still first-rate entertainment, with Michael Kitchen and his supporting actors giving strong performances. Ideally, viewers should begin with the first season and watch the characters evolve, but individual episodes may be watched out of order and still be enjoyable. ProfBrian