Tag Archives: Mary McNamara


Goodbye, Mr. Foyle.


KT said:

John Donne said, “No man is an island, entire of itself.” but, I’d argue, that Foyle comes as close to proving him wrong as any fictional character and MK played that perfectly.

This is inspired. Thank you for sharing, KT. In light of your comment, I particularly got a kick out of this New Yorker cartoon. →

Mary McNamara of the LA Times makes “a case for an Emmy (or more) for Foyle’s War:

Created and written almost entirely by bestselling novelist Anthony Horowitz, “Foyle’s War” is the Mona Lisa of television: small, quiet, utterly hypnotic and mysteriously perfect.

A small and often silent man, as kind as he is morally rigorous, Foyle stands guard over basic humanity as the whirlwind of war and modernity threatens to uproot the good with the bad. Year after year, he has been brought to vivid vibrant life by Kitchen, an actor of rare and controlled brilliance. Each season, he gave the performance of a hundred lifetimes while appearing to do little more than shrug off his coat, bite his lip and refuse endless offers of tea.

…the final episode of the series, “Elise,” is what the American-based Acorn TV, which has co-produced the series since its return, will submit in all the relevant television movie categories — some of which it better win, despite the low-key nature of its radiance and, perhaps more significant, the famous long-standing refusal of its leading man to do any publicity.

Neither should matter at all if the awards are truly about excellence.


From Mary McNamara of the LA Times, one of the critics waxing rhapsodic about the merits of Foyle’s War and Michael Kitchen:

Though other detectives and lead characters twist and shuffle through addiction, attraction, corruption and a generally fluid morality, Christopher Foyle doggedly remains a fixed point in an uncertain universe.

Generous to those facing social censure and other hardships, his rules are simple and adamant: There is no excuse for murder, or for harming those who can’t defend themselves, not even the desperate requirements of war.

In recent seasons, Sam has played an increasing role in the narrative, growing from sprightly enthusiasm to self-assured and competent adulthood; in Season 8, she is as big a player as Foyle. But as good as Weeks and all the supporting players are, there’s an easy answer to why “Foyle’s War” is one of television’s masterpieces: Michael Kitchen.

The series both revolves around and ignores its main character. Several early seasons deal with him as the father of a young pilot, but otherwise we know little of his personal life. He likes to fly fish; he is a widower who deeply loved his wife.

Occasionally there is a flicker of interest in a woman (never, mercifully, Sam) or the memory of an early romance. But Foyle is who he is: a good solid detective.

Simple words, and common enough, but no one does more with them than Kitchen.

… Horowitz is as scrupulous with his psychology as he is with his history. Every episode illustrates, in some way, the best and the worst of his native land, which he can do with ease because his lead actor is more interested in being part of the scenery than chewing it.

Kitchen is a deceptively expressive actor, and his performance as Foyle is a master class in the power of subtlety. Famous for the irregular request of less dialogue, he relies almost entirely on the physical, including his extraordinarily communicative face — the lowered eyelid, the lip bitten from the inside, the brow furrowed in mock surprise — small but characteristic movement, and the power of vocal syncopation. When Foyle hits his consonants hard, someone is in trouble.

Like many fictional detectives, he is perpetually underestimated (until, of course, he isn’t), and Kitchen makes it easy to see why. While other men exhibit more traditional alpha male tendencies — Foyle is often dressed down by his “superiors,” in the force and the British class system — Foyle lowers his head, quirks his mouth and stays silent.

Until, having quietly collected all the evidence everyone else missed, he brings the hammer down.

The lines of dialogue in which Kitchen speaks passionately and in complete sentences could probably fit on two pages, but it doesn’t matter: His Foyle is one of the most powerfully persuasive characters on television.


Some flawless comments from an article in the LA Times about the lack of grown-up heroes on American TV today:

“Foyle’s War” may be the best example of what’s missing on American television …

Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) is a detective in a small coastal town during WWII, holding the line between morality and corruption on the home front. Kitchen is not a big man, even his female costars often tower over him, and there are few scenes in which Foyle exerts himself physically, much less violently.

A widower with a grown son, Foyle has a young female driver, and there is never a moment of romantic, much less sexual, possibility. He does not carry a gun, respects authority and often allows himself to be dressed down in public without a word of protest. He says little, in fact, for a lead player, saving his speeches for when he brings the hammer down.

Nonetheless, Christopher Foyle is always the most powerful man in the room. Men admire and women swoon for a short, soft-spoken retirement-aged detective who doesn’t like to drive but can always be counted on to do the right thing. Because he believes people should always do the right thing.

Simple moral math but increasingly rare on television.