A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Foyle's War is a drama set in England during World War II that was made as part of PBS's long-running Masterpiece Mystery series. The series' main character, Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle, is unassuming, steadfast, and morally upright and solves cases related to the war. Expect to see sudden violence (bombings, shootings, on-screen deaths) and evidence of war's devastation. Some blood is shown; most violence takes place offscreen but may be described graphically. The show's action does take place off the battlefield, however. Scenes take place in pubs, where characters drink liquor and beer. Characters smoke cigarettes on-screen. Mild cursing: "I'll be damned."
What's the story?
Set during World War II in a small village in Sussex, England, FOYLE'S WAR follows the adventures of Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen), a widower who chiefly investigates crimes committed by those who are taking advantage of wartime confusion to commit nefarious deeds. With the help of his steadfast driver Sam Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks), Foyle takes on a different case during each two-hour-long episode. Foyle's foes, who frequently underestimate the sleuthing powers of the steadfast, fiercely honest detective, range from forgers to murderers to profiteers, but none of them stands a change once Foyle's on the case.
Is it any good?
Things happen slowly in Sussex, even during wartime and even when a murder investigation is underway. So kids may fade quickly when asked to share some screen time with parents who enjoy period dramas, or English murder mysteries, or war stories, or, optimally for this series, all three. No matter: The goings-on are largely gentle and subtle for a tale about murder. Meanwhile, Anglophiles who enjoy watching a lovably crusty old character methodically put the pieces of a puzzle together will be in heaven. This is quality, smart stuff -- plot points hinge on citizenship classifications, ration coupons, and the location of safe houses. It requires that viewers watch carefully and pay attention to details. In a nice bonus for modern viewers, Foyle is presented as being quite broad-minded -- he treats characters from ambitious women to closeted gay men with dignity, giving viewers the vintage pleasures of a retro drama without the period-correct bigotry.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why wartime is a common setting for dramas. What is it about war that makes for compelling drama?
Foyle's War received much praise for its historical accuracy. Does it matter that a period drama remain true to real historical events? Why, or why not?