The Hour has, perhaps unfairly, constantly been compared to the runaway success of Mad Men. And while the similarities are undeniable – a sumptuous period setting, a rather attractive cast and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of backroom double-dealings and sinister machinations – this is a far more ‘British’ affair than its would-be transatlantic rival.
Ben Whishaw (better known these days as Daniel Craig’s new Q) is Freddie Lyon, a headstrong young journalist at the BBC who, along with producer Bel Rowley (Romola Garai) and handsome presenter Hector Madden (Dominic West), front the team on “The Hour,” a new current affairs magazine show launching around the time of the Suez Crisis. Languishing on the Home Desk, Freddie is at constant loggerheads with the BBC bigwigs who feel that his desire to uncover the real goings-on in the halls of power is not in the best interest of Joe Public. Domestic murderous subplots play out against developing tensions in Egypt and Gaza as Freddie and the team’s digging stirs up trouble at home and abroad.
With each episode clocking in at a solid 60 minutes, The Hour is not easy going. The show is in no rush to make its point, and there’s plenty of self-indulgent, noir-esque plot development. Fast-paced, action-packed drama, this is not. But it is unerringly rich, lavishly shot and cerebrally engaging. It’s the kind of drama that needs your undivided attention – with no ad breaks to worry about, there’s no convenient pause every 15 minutes to take stock and recap. You’ll need to commit fully to this show if you’re going to make it through these first two seasons. Be sure to tune in.