FOYLE'S WAR - Three Cheers for RADA!
The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) is one of the last remaining select schools for the performing arts. They do not take just anyone. They thin the herd from Day One. And they turn out actors and actresses who WORK. We, the viewing public, are the beneficiaries of such a disciplined approach to the craft.
Foyle's War, on the Watch List radar for a decade, finally arrived at the front of queue. Am sorry it took this long. Have not checked the CV of any of the performers, but the thespian clinic that informed Episode One is a Must See. Every actor and actress, uh, acts. That's not a throw away. Nothing is a gimmick. There are no movie stars devouring scenery. Not a hint of indicating, line readings, or hyperventilating.
The lead, Michael Kitchen, might be familiar to U.S. audiences for supporting roles in two James Bond films as Joe Farrow. That trivia nugget is inconsequential to the brilliance of Kitchen as Detective Chief Inspector (DCS for your Anglophiles) Christopher Foyle.
Joining the talented Kitchen is Edward Fox as the politically motivated Commissioner Summers, the underrated Anthony Summers as Paul Milner, and the oddly named Honeysuckle Weeks as Samantha Stewart.
There are two performers familiar to Americans. James McEvoy plays the heartbroken Ray Pritchard and Rosamund Pike is, once again, a woman with something to hide, as Sarah Beaumont.
Was so caught up in the capability of the performers, almost neglected to pay attention to an intricate plot, and one that needs some attention by the viewer.
It's 1940 and the southern coast of England is aware of the incursion of the Nazis. So much so that local officials round up German Nationals living among the locals and place them (GASP!) in camps. One of the fortunate Deutschlanders who escapes the net is Greta Beaumont (Joanna Kanska), the wife of Henry Beaumont (Robert Hardy). Greta is sprung because of the influence of her husband. Unfortunately, someone takes issue with the freedom of Mrs. Beaumont and separates her head from her body.
Enter DCS Foyle, who puts the jigsaw puzzle of small town incestuous coverups together and gets a clear picture of whodunit. Foyle's War, Season 1, Episode 1 is an enrapturing piece of cinema. There is not a wasted frame of film . . . the first season dropped in 2002, before HD video became the standard . . . or an unnecessary word of dialogue.
Kitchen carries the viewer along with a confident aplomb and the decency of Sir Galahad. He is clearly GOOD, and will defeat EVIL.
He does just that.