Each week, one Slate staffer or critic will offer up a favorite cultural pick for Procrastinate Better readers. This week’s endorsement is from John Dickerson, Slate ’s chief political correspondent.
If the main character in Foyle’s War were writing this, it would already have ended. Good show. Well-acted. Worth staying home to watch. To do this elegantly restrained show justice, I should leave it there. But I’m going to go on, if we can all agree that just because my praise is over-the-top doesn’t mean the show is.
Foyle’s War is the story of a widowed police inspector investigating crimes in the British town of Hastings during WWII. It has all the crime tropes I want—awkward conversations with suspects, debriefings back at the office, surprise turns, a delicious wrap-up. But each show also contains a moral hunt: How do you stick to the rules when bombs are falling and everyone is taking shortcuts—sometimes in the service of the larger war? There’s no point in fighting to save a society by throwing out its core beliefs—right? This kind of moral question could come on like an air raid, but it never does.
The acting is superb, down to the smallest walk-on part by members of the Home Guard. Michael Kitchen stars, thoroughly inhabiting the role of a laconic inspector who often communicates most effectively with a shrug or by pulling up the side of his mouth. Sounds gimmicky, but it plays as the outgrowth of something far deeper inside a lonely man. Watching his hidden side emerge over the course of the series is another kind of unfolding mystery.
I am watching the show, in its sixth season on PBS , in order and slowly. I’d advise the same. There are key details that require a sequential viewing, and this is a series to be savored.