5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Six More Episodes: This Period Workplace Drama Gets Tough On Crime And Institutionalized Corruption,
This review is from: Hour: Season 2 (DVD)
When the BBC period drama "The Hour" premiered on American TV last year, critics were quick to draw comparisons to AMC's "Mad Men." While both shows might appeal to the same adult demographic, however, I never really gave much credence to this categorization. In fact, the two shows have little in common aside from being period piece dramas bolstered by an easy social atmosphere of drinking and smoking. While there is plenty of workplace intrigue inherent in both shows, Season One of "The Hour" also mixed in a fair share of government espionage. It introduced us to the birth of a TV newsmagazine show called The Hour (how appropriate) as it struggled to find its footing. With the six new episodes of Season Two, The Hour is battling to remain relevant in an increasingly competitive TV market (a timely subject that never seems to go out of style). Principle story threads include a nefarious local business man, a honey pot scandal, police corruption, racial unrest, as well as unexpected office romances and personal secrets revealed.
At the heart of "The Hour," Romola Garai continues to impress as a headstrong producer who is not afraid to make difficult choices for the program's integrity. Dominic West, as the host, is now a full-fledged celebrity stepping out to fashionable nightspots and receiving copious amounts of media scrutiny. And back on the scene is investigative reporter Ben Whishaw, who returns to The Hour with a new role and a pretty big personal surprise for Garai. Their unrequited love affair (or is it just a friendship?) gets quite a bit of play in these six episodes. When a dancer at a local club meets with an act of violence, West becomes an immediate suspect. This, however, is just a catalyst that introduces the viewer to a criminal enterprise whose repercussions and reach extend further than anyone might anticipate. Fully embroiled in the scandal, will The Hour team be able to uncover the full extent of the local corruption that involves blackmail, brutality and even murder?
"The Hour" continues to be what I'd call a slow burn. It is for patient adult audiences and unravels at the pace of a good novel. In truth, while the show is always an easy recommendation, I felt this season was a bit more uneven than the first. I loved both the beginning and the end episodes, but some of the central segments seemed a little overstuffed with personal drama. A marriage in crisis, a child given up for adoption, an alluring new job offer, new love interests: I just wasn't as invested in every tangent as I might have hoped. One thing that I really liked, however, was West's wife played by Oona Chaplin (she's the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin). West and Chaplin go on quite a ride this year, and Chaplin steps out of the shadows to demand and command a newfound independence and respect.
In the end, the final resolutions of the season feel a bit rushed. Five episodes of methodically paced intrigue get wrapped up in about 30 minutes of fast paced action in the concluding moments. And fair warning, a cliffhanger might leave you in the grips of frustration! Overall, a solid season that still manages to impress from both a technical standpoint (sets, costumes, music) and with a number of strong performances. The sole DVD/Blu-ray extra are some Behind-the-Scene spots. If you watched the show on BBCAmerica, they will likely be familiar to you as portions of them aired on commercial breaks. They are nice enough if you are a fan. KGHarris, 1/13.