Now is The Hour

Published August 24, 2011

I was really looking forward to The Hour, a six part series on the BBC that followed some 1950s Beeb journalists setting up a news programme called, funnily enough, The Hour. It was compared to Mad Men from the outset, but it wasn’t much like that crazy advertising world.

In fact, the only real similarity was the bad hair and the constant chain-smoking.

The Hour

After the first episode, I wasn’t sure I was going to keep watching. I couldn’t really reconcile the spy plot with the TV studio storyline, and I really wanted it to focus on one or the other. However, I gave it another episode, and then I was hooked… which was unfortunate because I found it quite slow-going.

It’s not so much the pacing of the piece, which I have seen complaints about. I don’t mind enjoying the great dialogue and looking at the beautiful direction, it makes a change from frenetic non-stop action. I think my problem lay with some of the characters, who I found pretty disappointing. Bel, in particular, was not at all what I’d hoped she would be.

Perhaps I expected too much, having something of a girl-crush on Romola Garai, but the ridiculously obvious affair with Hector, the barely touched upon relationship with her mother, and a seemingly lack of control at work, there wasn’t much to like and support. I must say, though, like this post, I very much adored Lix.

On the flip side, Freddie was pretty spectacular, a flawed but earnest guy, with great dialogue, a clear cause for the truth, and plenty of cuteness to help him along the way.

As the episodes continued, the spy plot began to merge with the action inside the BBC, and that was good. I would have liked to see more about how the programme was made, and the difficulties of putting it together. In some episodes, there were only glimpses of the set, and yet the final episode culminated in all hopes and dreams being based around this one hour programme.

The twist at the very end was worth waiting for, and for once, I wasn’t disappointed in the way a series came to a close. So, with a good finish, a fabulous Freddie, and some beautiful set design, I’ll give The Hour a tentative thumbs up, although I think there could be improvements if a second series was commissioned.

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