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The Best of Foyle’s War

Studio:         Acorn Media
Format:         Colour; NTSC
Rated:         Not Rated
# of Discs/Episodes:         6 / 6
Running Time:         600 minutes + bonus features
DVD Release Date:          June 26, 2012

Creators:         Anthony Horowitz
Screenwriters:         Anthony Horowitz
Actors:         Michael Kitchen, Honeysuckle Weeks, Anthony Howell, Julian Ovenden
DVD Features:         SDH subtitles; Interviews with Anthony Horowitz (23 minutes) and with Anthony Howell and Honeysuckle Weeks (14 minutes); behind-the-scenes featurette (24 minutes); photo gallery; historical background; cast reflections.
E: Top Picks Rating:         10/10

Acorn Media Write-up:         Michael Kitchen’s favourite episodes from his acclaimed WWII detective series; Discounted collection features six feature-length mysteries.

Specially selected by Kitchen himself, these six feature-length episodes feature his favourite episodes from the first four years of playing detective chief inspector Christopher Foyle. Featuring fan favourites Honeysuckle Weeks and Anthony Howell, these episodes also include guest stars Rosamund Pike (“Pride & Prejudice), Edward Fox (“Gandhi”), Robert Hardy (“All Creatures Great and Small”), Amanda Root (“Persuasion”), Ronald Pickup (“The Rector’s Wife”), and James McAvoy (“Atonement”; “X-Men: First Class”; “Wanted”).

Combining uncompromising historical accuracy with compelling, character-driven murder mysteries, this enormously popular, award-winning British series has won unqualified critical praise and undying viewer loyalty since its premier on ITV in the UK in October 2002 and PBS in February 2003. FOYLE’S WAR’ was created by Anthony Horowitz (“Poirot”, “Midsomer Murders”).

The Mysteries:
The German Woman (Series 1, 1st episode) – After a gruesome murder, Foyle’s seemingly peaceful town is full of suspects.
Eagle Day (Series 1) – Foyle uncovers a plot to steal art treasures from a local museum.
Fifty Ships (Series 2) – The discovery of a body on a deserted beach puts American aid donations at risk.
Among the Few (Series 2) – The investigation of an illicit fuel racket turns personal for Foyle.
The French Drop (Series 3) – Foyle gets caught up in the rivalry between British spy agencies.
Bad Blood (Series 4) – A biological warfare experiment goes wrong, threatening the life of Foyle’s loyal driver.

Jon Ted Wynne Review:         FOYLE’S WAR, the WWII-era police drama starring the great Michael Kitchen continues to offer viewers superb drama in a period setting. The show has been rightfully lauded for its historical accuracy and high production values. It remains popular for many reasons, including its intelligence, literate scripts and thought-provoking performances. And let’s not forget the air of melancholy about Christopher Foyle, which is central to Michael Kitchen’s performance, and which is subtly conveyed in the show’s main theme played on that most melancholy-sounding of instruments, the oboe.

THE BEST OF FOYLE’S WAR is special, not the least because the episodes were selected by the series’ star, Michael Kitchen. As a producer of the show, Kitchen has a vested interest in the series’ success and there is no question his choices were thoughtfully made.

Perhaps to fully appreciate the artistry of Michael Kitchen – and hence the obvious care he took in compiling this collection – it is helpful to note that even as a boy, Kitchen stood out as an artist. He was head chorister (and thus a frequent soloist) in the Church of the Martyrs choir. After gaining acting experience with such distinguished organizations as the National Youth Theatre, Kitchen trained at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he not only won an award for “outstanding talent and aptitude for the professional theatre”, he was also discovered by a top talent agent. His professional career, therefore, began when he was in his early 20s, and his achievements since 1971 to the present have been considerable.

Kitchen is the kind of actor who can hold his own with anyone, yet he isn’t a big star, at least in Hollywood terms. It is doubtful he wants to be, for he values his privacy and rarely gives interviews. His performing range is considerable and he packs every close-up in FOYLE’S WAR with a world-weariness and subtlety of thought that not only envelops the viewer, but also leaves critics grasping for superlatives.

With a new series of FOYLE’S WAR rumoured to begin filming in September of 2012, it is wonderful to have this “Best of” collection to remind us just how outstanding this show really is and why we should want to revisit it.

The six mysteries in this collection include numerous extras, including historical background (it’s amazing how the series writer/creator, Anthony Horowitz, has intertwined fact with fiction) and cast reflections.

One might not have the opportunity to sit down and have a chat with Michael Kitchen, but having his favourites episodes from a series so close to his heart is almost as good.  And here’s hoping the rumour of further episodes is true!

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