Hour, The: Season Two (2012/BBC/Blu-ray)
Elegant and smart, from the sharp dialogue to the chiaroscuro cinematography, BBC's The Hour
revisits the news landscape of the nascent television age, while shining a light on today's more fast-paced era. In this darker-hued season, the team struggles with a sex scandal, police corruption, and the rise of neo-fascism. A new boss, Randall Brown (In the Loop
's Peter Capaldi, sly and subtle), takes over, and doesn't like what he finds, starting with the hard-living anchor, Hector Madden (Dominic West), whom he aptly describes as "self-destructive and highly corruptible." A professional on the set, Hector is a serial womanizer in his off-hours, and his socialite wife, Marnie (Oona Chaplin, more impressive than ever), couldn't be more miserable, until she finds a way to establish her own unique identity.
Brown also prefers the reporting of ITV competitor Uncovered, so he rehires journalist Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw) as cohost, to the consternation of Hector and producer Bel Rowley (Romola Garai), who fell out at the end of the first year (Lizzie Brocheré plays the new lady in Freddie's life). As his fame increases, Hector's situation worsens when Kiki (Hannah Tointon), a showgirl, accuses him of abuse, so Bel sets out to uncover what's really going on at the El Paradis Club, while Freddie shines a light on the white supremacists running rampant in his Notting Hill neighborhood, plot lines that involve a controlling club owner (Vincent Riotta) and an amorous ITV executive (Tom Burke). As these six episodes come to a conclusion, the story strands coalesce, and most of it works quite splendidly, even Brown's history with desk editor Lix Storm (Anna Chancellor), which starts off on an uncharacteristically soap operatic note. As long-buried secrets rise to the surface, The Hour ends on a moment of triumph for some--and tragedy for others. --Kathleen C. Fennessy