Friday, January 25, 2008

Tolkien Sighting

So, the other night we watched FOYLE'S WAR on PBS's MYSTERY, about an English police inspector trying to do his job (solve crimes and catch murderers) in trying times (WWII England). Pretty good: well-acted main parts (particularly the American commander in charge of setting up a new airbase), and an interesting backdrop in wartime England. The surprise came when they worked in a sly Tolkien reference that went by so quickly you'd miss it if you blinked. A young American soldier and his new English girlfriend from the local village are enjoying some small talk after a tryst in a farmer's barn when they hear first one shot and then another outside. She's a bit startled and asks what that noise was, and the American reassures her, saying it's probably just Farmer Giles, firing off his blunderbuss.
This is anachronistic, of course, given that FARMER GILES OF HAM wasn't published until 1949; although it was in existence by 1936 there's no way a young American soldier at Hastings could know about it in 1942-43. Still, it's nice to see the writers work in a subtle Tolkien reference they knew most of their audience wd miss. I'll definitely be watching to see if there are others.

--John R.

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