PBS's ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre introduces Foyle's War; a four-episode murder-mystery series set in historic Hastings, England (i.e. The Battle of Hastings) at the onset of World War II. This is a much welcome installment for PBS Mystery! devotees as corporate sponsors have, unfortunately, been few-and-far-between in recent years. Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle is perfectly portrayed by Michael Kitchen, a Masterpiece Theatre alumnus, and he lends an easy-going charm and compassion to the serious and determined Foyle, who calmly tracks down the assorted murderers.
"The German Woman" starts the series off with a flourish (and two murders). It boasts an enviable cast of redoubtable British actors (Edward Fox, Robert Hardy, David Horovitch, Dominic Mafham, Rosamund Pike, etc...) and contains wonderful production values, so that the period atmosphere of English village life is fully evoked. The plot concerns the murder of the German wife of a wealthy Englishman and, despite powerful anti-German sentiments, Foyle focuses on treating the case as he would any other murder inquiry -- by rooting out the murderer and bringing them to justice. This is Foyle's strength and his Achilles' heel. As Foyle is so intent on justice, his superiors will not release him from his civic duties -- much to his chagrin. Foyle would rather be supporting the war effort by fighting in the front lines. To complicate matters, Foyle's son, Andrew, has signed up with the RAF as a pilot. Foyle's world is quickly unfurling through events that he cannot control, yet, ironically, he must maintain control in his district -- else chaos ensues. This intelligent and thoughtful series, and especially this premier episode, is highly recommended for viewers who enjoy a well-crafted mystery. In addition, they will be transported back to an incredibly dangerous and courageous time in world history by this realistically produced series.