Part of my break has been spent watching "The Hour". "The Hour" is a period drama/ spy story set in Cold War 1956 London. The story revolves around a producer, a journalist and an anchor man who are working on a BBC investigative news programme called The Hour. It's said to be the British Mad Men which it most certainly isn't! Actually, I found the first two episodes pretty infuriating for reasons I will explain later, but I perservered and found it improved somewhat with each episode.
These are my thoughts:
1. It is ravishing to look at. "The Hour" has very high production values. In fact, I think this is what kept me going past the first two eps. The costumes are gorgeous, paticularly Bel's wardrobe which is to die for lovely. The period detail and set designs are spot on. I love seeing bits and pieces from 1956 post war London. The cinematography is superb and the interiors which range from country piles and the TV studio to modest flats in London are very well done.
2. The acting is very decent. The three main characters of producer, journalist and anchor man played by Romola Garai (Bel), Ben Wishaw (Freddy) and Dominic West (Hector) are well acted. The supporting cast is as equally solid as the leads.
3. The jazzy/ bebop theme music is great and the incidental music throughout the series compliments the action well.
1. Poor character development. For the first two episodes I felt like I was watching a stone skipping across the surface of a lake. I felt I wasn't given the opportunity to get to know the characters beyond the surface. This is largely due to the script which I find pretty thin at times and down right inappropriate at others.
2. The script! As already mentioned, it is pretty weak in parts and doesn't work hard enough to give the charcaters a three dimensional feel. It is also very lumpy and jarringly modern. It pulls you out of the drama with its 2011 phrases and expressions. One glaring example is a scene between a distressed Freddy (the young journalist) and his superior, Clarence Fendley, who must be 60 plus years old. The superior takes a distraught Freddy by the shoulders, looks him in the eye and says soothingly "Just breathe". He says this about four times! Really? In 1956? A superior to a subordinate? I think such touchy feely modern ideas about how to relieve stress and the concept of a a caring workplace environment have no place in 1956!!
3. The Cold War Suez Canal crisis which unfolds during the series is historically interesting up to a point, but quite frankly I found it a bit so what. We know how it worked out and we know it didn't result in World War Three, so how can we feel as anxious about it as the cast? The political scandal surrounding the crisis similarly seems a bit ho hum.
So, there are my pros and cons regarding this series. It did improve with each episode, so if you find it a bit heavy going for the first few, take heart : it does get marginally better.
What are your thoughts? Have you seen it and what did you think of it? Have I been too harsh here or not harsh enough? I'd love to hear your views!
Images from here.