Monday, July 9, 2012

Foyle's War

Two years ago we got Netflix, and despite their PR debacle last fall, we have had uninterrupted service since then and I have not regretted our decision. Our decision was originally born out of two factors: to assuage the guilt we knew was entirely possible in buying a Wii and Wii Fit, and, having watched all of the BBC period pieces at our public library, to keep a continuous stream of British drama for our insatiable appetites. Long after the guilt over the Wii Fit has disappeared, Netflix remains, continuing to offer us a feast of British shows.

Our newest discovery on Netflix is a show my sisters had recommended to me years ago but which just arrived on Netflix instant streaming: Foyle's War. One of the minor bummers of last week's storm was that we had just watched the first episode the night before the storm knocked out our power, which prevented us from watching more until this weekend. We are three episodes in now, and I am already disappointed that there are only 22 episodes.

My semi-addiction (already) has got me thinking about why I like it.

Really, I think there are several reasons, none of them being the mysteries themselves. Foyle's War is a mystery series, but I don't enjoy it for that reason. In fact, I'm not sure how it has happened (as I'm usually dense when it comes to figuring out mysteries), but I've been able to figure out the who in each mystery if not the why or how.

But my favorite mysteries are never about the cleverness of the plot: I like mysteries that have good or interesting characters. Sherlock Holmes, Flavia DeLuce, Christopher Foyle: in these cases the people tasked with discovering the mystery are the reason to read or watch, not the mystery itself. And in Foyle's War, I find the characters fascinating. Foyle himself is understated, a reluctant cop who would rather be serving the war effort but instead is positioned to maintain order in a backwater while younger men do the work he would rather do. His driver, Sam, is a spunky girl who pushes the boundaries of British civility and provides a good foil (!) to Foyle's propriety. And his sergeant, Milner, was injured in the war and now helps Foyle in tracking down the bad guys. Far from being a "charity case" (despite what his nasty wife might think), he provides the team with the facts they need to make the arrests.

Another reason I like Foyle's War is the setting. Much of what I've watched about World War II has focused on the war itself, or the key players in the war, or key events and places in the war. Foyle's War provides a picture of the war that seems a little closer to home: the war effort in a small port town across  from Dunkirk. (I appreciated The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society for similar reasons--and because that book was just so darn charming.)

Okay, okay: I'll stop raving. I just think this is a great show, and I'm glad to have discovered it. Thanks, Netflix!

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