The Hour (Blu-ray)
‘The Hour’ is not the British version of ‘Mad Men’. Prior to sitting down with the dramatic BBC mini-series, I had read many people comparing the two shows. But after sitting through the BBC mini-series (all 6 episodes of it), I can safely say that aside from both being period dramas, there’s absolutely no similarities between the two shows. So if you’re interested in ‘The Hour’ because you like ‘Mad Men’, please consider this your warning.
‘The Hour’ is about a British hourly news show in the 1950’s. The series mostly revolves around Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw), a journalist/co-producer of the news program called The Hour. ‘The Hour’ really feels like three different shows, depending on where the focus is. First, the series comes off like a soap-opera whenever it tries to deal with the love triangle between the three main characters. I never got attached to any of them, so I never cared whether or not they got together. If anything, the romance angle took away from what the series actually did well. Second, the series is a behind the scenes look at running a news program. I found this angle to be interesting and was always captivated whenever the characters talked about what they were going to air and what they wanted to investigate. Third, the series has an entire political conspiracy that unravels as Freddie starts investigating the death of a well known debutante. We get shades of THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU where agents behind the scenes control the lives of others (although not in a science fiction way).
Each element has its pros and cons, but the series as a whole doesn’t wrap them together in an interesting and captivating manner. Each hour long episode drags longer than it needs to and although the recital of dialogue is impressive, I don’t find what they’re saying interesting. The conspiracy element had potential to be captivating, especially as Freddie “investigated” various members of British society. But the story took far too long to get going. Any suspense created in one episode was squandered as the next episode either ignored the previous set up or took too long to revisit it.
I did appreciate the bigger themes that were explored in the series; the role of journalism in society, censorship and the inner battles between doing what you know is right and doing what is right for you. And the sixth and final episode was almost good enough to make up for the previous five episodes dragging along. But I failed to relate or connect to the characters and their situations. I wanted the series to flow smoother and to focus more on the news/conspiracy and less on the romance.
This could very well be a case of a British drama not translating well to an American audience, but I found the 6 episodes of ‘The Hour’ to be tough to get through. I feel like if I wanted to watch people carry out boring conversations, I’d just step outside my office and listen.
Video: I’ve never been impressed with the video transfers of BBC content and this one didn’t change my mind. It’s a dark series, but the uses of color didn’t pop like they should on HD.
Audio: If the video on BBC transfers is questionable, then the audio is downright awful.
Behind the Scenes (9:57): This is a pretty simple look at some behind the scenes footage of ‘The Hour’. It’s more a set walkthrough than anything.
Creating ‘The Hour’ (20:02): This is a standard fluff piece about ‘The Hour’.