Foyle's back with a new war

Honeysuckle Weeks and Michael Kitchen star in "Foyle's War," which resumed as part of "Masterpiece Mystery" and will be available on DVD Tuesday.
Honeysuckle Weeks and Michael Kitchen star in "Foyle's War," which resumed as part of "Masterpiece Mystery" and will be available on DVD Tuesday. (Eleventh Hour Film / Acorn Media)
Posted: September 21, 2013

British novelist, screenwriter, and producer Anthony Horowitz reinvigorated the period drama 11 years ago with his critically acclaimed TV mystery series, Foyle's War.

Set during World War II in the coastal Sussex town of Hastings, it stars Michael Kitchen as Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle, a veteran cop with the patience of a saint, a razor-sharp mind, and a sly, mordant wit. He's disquietingly quiet around suspects, catching them through observation and rumination.

Immaculately researched and based on real cases, the series opened in 1939 and was supposed to end after six seasons with VE Day.

"But the demand for the program, especially in Britain, was so huge that people kept asking me why there wasn't more coming," Horowitz said in a phone chat. "So when we ran out of war, it was an inspiration for us to take the characters and the show in a new direction."

It didn't take Horowitz and his creative partner, Foyle's War executive producer Jill Green, long to come up with an idea for a new series of three feature-length mysteries. They decided to embrace another conflict, the Cold War, just beginning in 1945, and move Foyle to British Intelligence.

"Anthony for a while had been thinking about how Foyle would make for a good intelligence officer," said Green, who has collaborated with Horowitz on more than 25 films - and also is his wife.

The new season premiered Sunday on PBS's Masterpiece Mystery and will air weekly through Sept. 29. (Don't fret if you missed it: It'll be released on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday.)

In the first installment, Foyle is recruited by an old frenemy, the brilliant, devious spy Hilda Pierce (Ellie Haddington), who in previous seasons had derailed a few of his murder investigations in the name of national security.

Spying, with all its deceit and double-crosses, is a thorny world for Foyle, who has an unshakable belief in justice and a sometimes-dangerous compulsion to expose hypocrisy and duplicity wherever he meets them. The consummate truth-teller finds himself in a world "where everybody is suspicious, everybody is untrustworthy, and everybody is telling lies," said Horowitz.

It's a recipe for thrilling drama. And there's more to come: Horowitz is preparing three more installments for next year.

Foyle's War: Set Seven is due Tuesday from Acorn Media ( http://www.acornmedia.com/; $49.99; not rated).

Other DVDs of note

Frank Riva: The Complete Series. Next to Jean Gabin, the young Alain Delon ( Le Samouraï, Purple Noon) was perhaps the most beautiful French leading man in cinema history. He was pushing 70 in 2003 when he made this wonderful 10-hour mini-series for French TV finally available here thanks to MHz Networks. But he still has that mischievous glint in his eyes.

Delon stars as an undercover cop who helped bust the French Connection in the 1970s but had to hide out for the next three decades. When he hears his brother, also a cop, has been murdered, he returns to the gritty Parisian streets of his youth to take on the mob one last time. ( http://shop.mhznetworks.org/; $39.95; not rated)

War Witch. Shot in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Canadian filmmaker Kim Nguyen's stunning Oscar-nominated drama is about a 12-year-old girl abducted by rebel soldiers and forced to become a child soldier. Her first job: to shoot her parents. ( http://www.newvideo.com/; $26.95; not rated)

Grimm: Season Two. David Giuntoli is terrific in this cleverly twisted take on fairy tales as a Seattle cop with a secret identity: He's a descendant of the Grimm Brothers, whose books weren't cute compilations of stories but how-to guides on killing monsters. As a Grimm, our hapless hero must take up the sword and hunt down the evil freaks. ( www.universalstudiosentertainment.com/; $59.98 DVD; $69.98 Blu-ray; not rated)

Leverage: The Fifth & Final Season. All good things must come to an end. So it is with this delightful drama about a group of con artists who rob the rich to help the poor. Timothy Hutton and Gina Bellman have never been better together. ( www.foxconnect.com/; $39.98; not rated)

Shadow Dancer. Clive Owen gives one of the best performances of his career as a British Intelligence officer during "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland who ropes a young woman (Andrea Riseborough in an amazing turn) into spying on the IRA. ( http://www.magpictures.com/; $26.98 DVD; $29.98 Blu-ray; rated R)


Contact Tirdad Derakhshani at 215-854-2736 or tirdad@phillynews.com.

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