Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Foyle's Vicious War

FOYLE'S WAR or new sitcom VICIOUS ? No contest ...

How pleasant to discover a drama series one did not bother with before, in a new series of British drama FOYLE'S WAR. A new series of 3 episodes set after the war gripped us from the start, as scripted by Anthony Horowitz and starring that under-stated actor Michael Kitchen as our detective, ably aided by his spunky girl friday Honeysuckle Weeks. In the new series she is newly married to a newly elected MP (Member of Parliament) and they live in a perfect pre-fab, one of those pre-fabricated homes built after the war, due to the housing shortage caused by bomb damage, and the then age of austerity.

It was with pleasure I discovered that box-sets of the previous 6 series were available, 22 episodes in all. I ration them out to Sunday night viewing, with a gin & tonic to hand ... 

It is 1940 and Britain stands almost alone against the might of Nazi Germany across the continent. The terrors of nightly bombing raids are only matched by the fear and hysteria of the population at the prospect of the seemingly inevitable German invasion. It is in this environment that Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle, of the Hastings Police on the south coast of England, works. Denied a transfer to the war effort, Foyle is nonetheless forced to confront the darkest acts of humanity on a daily basis. With his official driver, Sam, and his subordinate, Paul Milner, Foyle investigates murders, looting and theft, crimes of opportunism, crimes of war, crimes of passion and crimes of greed, because crime isn't stopped because of warfare.

Life during wartime is splendidly captured in these leisurely episodes with well-worked out stories and lots of period detail. Those cars, those clothes, how people lived then. But these are not done in a conscious way as in star-filled period dramas where the cars and clothes wear the characters ... Kitchen is the perfect actor here, underplaying nicely, a subtle mix of determination and humanity, as he gets to grips with each story, oftren being hindered by the officious secret services who operate as if they are above mere police detection, and lots of regular faces crop up: Rosamund Pike, Edward Fox, Sam West etc.  These are a world away from those for me unwatchable Miss Marple retreads stuffed with famous faces and updating and changing the classic stories. (Much as I like Julia McKenzie, the only Miss Marple for me is Joan Hickson in the 80s BBC versions). The cases involve murder, espionage and robbery on the south coast (the series was filmed, starting in 2002, around Hastings and Rye - also the setting of my beloved MAPP & LUCIA). The ideal series if you like you like well-crafted, intelligent drama. Watching it is like being back in the '40s or as we imagine what the '40s were like ...

Another new series too has caused a lot of consternation. VICIOUS (or VICIOUS OLD QUEENS as it was initially meant to be called) is a new, much publicised comedy series meant to be breaking ground showing the home life of two bickering old gay men, who have been together 48 years .... they bicker constantly but love each other dearly and their best friend Violet (Frances de la Tour) pops in a lot, and there is a gormless young man Ash who moves in to the apartment upstairs whom the older guys inexplicably fawn over .... This was also publicised a lot as it starred Sir Ian McKellen (whom I was chatting to 10 years ago, when out clubbing) and Sir Derek Jacobi - Gandalf and  Claudius, together at last .... but mere words cannot explain how dire and cringe-making it is, and totally dated as if stuck in some 70s timewarp. These two old queens are caricatures and stereo-types as much as Larry Grayson or John Inman ever were. The surprise is that the 2 knights go along with this charade, and that it was written of Mark Ravenhill and Gary Janetti, a writer from WILL & GRACE.  They are such an old fashioned couple - yet they live in Covent Garden. The fun part would have been if they were witty, modern, up-to-date eldergays - as a lot of older gay folk are, with say Joanna Lumley as their witty friend. But no, its painfully unfunny, abysmal and insultingly bad - the level of wit here is "Is Zac Efron a place or a person" which was said not once but several times in the opening episode. A missed opportunity then for showing how fabulous older gays can be .... sorry, Sirs, but I am heading back to the '40s with Inspector Foyle !

1 comment:

  1. Oh that's more like it and fancy meeting Sir Ian on the razzle, how lucky. Now That's "What I Call" A Night Out!