BBC America’s new drama series “The Hour” is a fascinating look inside the behind the scenes of an hour-long news program on British television in the ‘50s.
The series has been compared by many a critic to the AMC critical darling “Mad Men.” I’ve, unfortunately, never seen an episode of “Mad Men” and can’t compare or contrast the two, but it seems many time period dramas are going to be compared to the AMC Emmy winner simply because they are time period dramas. Both ABC’s “Pan Am” and NBC’s “The Playboy Club,” which will premiere in September are receiving similar comparisons already.
“The Hour” begins its pilot episode with young hotshot journalists and best friends Bel Rowley (played by the gorgeous Romola Garai) and Freddie Lyon (played by Ben Whishaw) who are longing to cover the hot button topics of the day, as their paper relies way too much on sporting events and lavish royal engagements. Bel is exceedingly professional and Freddie is arrogant, but very good at his job.
Both get the chance of a lifetime to leave their current paper for the startup program with Bel becoming the show’s producer. Freddie becomes a reporter for the show and the man behind many of the hard-cutting questions, but he thinks he should be the program’s anchor. The anchor position goes to the charming and handsome Hector Madden (played by Dominic West). The two don’t get along at all from the beginning as Freddie thinks (and likely is) better at his job than Hector, plus Hector has eyes for Bel. There’s definitely a will-they-or-won’t-they feeling between both Freddie and Bel and Hector and Bel.
The fictional program gets off to a rough start in its first few weeks with Hector getting scathing reviews in local publications. However, it gets into its groove when the Suez Crisis breaks out. “The Hour” does a wonderful job at placing fictional characters into historical issues.
“The Hour” isn’t just the behind the scenes of the news program, but also parts thriller with intrigue building throughout the first two episodes. Freddie has caught wind of a story that there might be some people out there who don’t want certain stories to get out to the public and will stop at nothing to make sure they don’t.
The intrigue is nice for viewers who might find other aspects of the show to be somewhat of a bore, but it’s actually the journalistic aspect of the show and the relationships between Freddie/Bel, Bel/Hector and Hector/Freddie that have captivated me through the first two episodes.
“The Hour” can be seen locally on BBC America Conway Corp. Channel 103 every Wednesday night at 9 p.m.