Hey folks, Valkor here. The folks at Warner Home have returned into the Val-Cave with another BBC Original series, one where I was definitely not up to reviewing – political dramas aren't my thing. But that may change now that I've sat through "The Hour"… then again maybe not. But I still enjoyed this series nonetheless.
The Hour is a political thriller set in the 1950's that centers on a behind the scenes look at a news broadcast show, which deals with current events of its time – in this case it would be the cold war, with the government suppressing much of the details from spilling out, airing on the BBC. Clarence Fendley (Anton Lesser) puts together a team for the weekly broadcast called "The Hour", which includes best friends Bel Rowley (Romola Garai) and Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw). Clarence has to choose between the two as to who will get the part as producer of the series, in the end choosing Bel over Freddie. To add to the tension, enter Hector Madden (Dominic West), who will be the on-air personality and is instantly attracted to Bel, adding sexual tension into the mix. The story mostly centers on Freddie's quest for real news, to find out what lead to the death of a college professor, but you also have Bel's goal to remain on top in a man's world and also her and Hector's relationship, which I should point out that he's a married man. There're a lot of questions that need answering, lots of conspiracies, espionage, sexual tensions, and loads of suspense building up to a climatic end in this six episode series. What a way to kick off a new series.
The Hour arrives on a two disc DVD or Blu Ray and along with the six episodes, you'll get a couple of extras including a "Behind the Scenes" look into the series and "Creating The Hour", which discusses the shows creation. Plans for a season two of the series is in the works, but how does the Val-Man handles this season? Let's find out in the TOV Breakdown.
I'll admit, political dramas aren't usually my cup of tea, shows like "The West Wing" or "Commander in Chief", are usually the kind of series I steer clear of. So when The Hour arrived and I started watching it, I was tempted to take a pass on reviewing it – especially after the first episode, which was mad slow. But after sticking it out for another episode or two, I can see where the show was headed and how the suspense gradually builds. The level of detail, to capture the shows 1950's setting is quite amazing – every element of the time period is captured – sinks, phones, clocks, guys wearing fedoras, and lots of smoking both indoors and out, really helps immerse you in the setting. I especially love the backdrop music, which has a nice, slow, and jazzy beat to it – definitely reminds me of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit". The plot is very deep and very engaging. Again this comes after the slow beginning, but as the show progresses you'll see a definite build up as tensions heat up. It really captures your attention, especially Freddie's part of the story as he pieces together clues about Ruth, the death of a college professor and everything that ties it all together. But the best part about the series is that it's short! Only six episodes and I wonder why more television series don't follow such a path. Do we really need twenty- two? Less is more people! Acting nods go all around - this is a character driven show, with Dominic West being the biggest standout. You mean to tell me the star of HBO's "The Wire" is a Brit? WOW talk about range! In "The Hour" he's arrogant, a bit brash, but adds much needed coolness whenever he's on screen. But let's not forget Freddie aka Ben Whishaw, who really portrays his characters eagerness and other eccentricities. But sexy, PerfectView nods goes out to Romola Garai as Bel, she's strong yet sexy, and plays the part to perfection.
Again, I have to point out the pacing is quite slow – at the beginning. Once you enter the third episode, things start to pick up. I wasn't kidding when I said I was thinking of stopping at the second episode. Also for a show set in the 50's and with all the detail, it still felt very… modern. Maybe it's the dialogue, the imagery… or maybe it's just me. But if someone had started using a cellphone at any point, I wouldn't feel at all cheated. Yea… maybe it is me.
The Hour DVD is available now and if you need your fill of suspense, political dramas, then this one will certainly suffice. Season two is well underway and I'm curious how events will play out. Until then, out of TOV 5 stars, I give "The Hour" a 4 and it's been Valkor Viewed, TOV Approved!