Friday, 26 August 2011

The BBC clock up another HOUR

Friday, 26 August 2011
The BBC have renewed BBC2 drama The Hour, the '50s-set newsroom drama with a dash of spy thriller. I'm still a few episodes behind on this six-part series, which had its finale earlier this week, but I can't help feeling disappointed by it. It wasn't the Mad Men-esque workplace drama it was promoted as, nor was it a particularly engrossing espionage thriller.

There were times when The Hour's overall mystery would fade from my memory in-between episodes, as the show seemed unsure what it should really be focusing on: the workplace love triangle, the Suez Canal Crisis reporting, or the cloak n' dagger spy stuff? No, it fizzled for me, despite two great performances from Ben Whishaw and Romola Garai. I only persevered because (a) it's only six hours long, (b) there's not much else competing for my attention in August, and (c) there were occasional signs the story was going to kick into gear. But it averaged 2.1m viewers over its run, so that's not too bad.

It's been interesting to note the very positive response from US critics, but they tend to go nuts over anything British with the faintest whiff of quality (see Downton Abbey). I've always said it has something to do with exoticism, as US critics are more starved of foreign programming than their UK counterparts.

Without spoiling The Hour's ending for me (and any others reading), did you enjoy this drama, or were you likewise letdown? Do you agree it was too slow moving, often struggling to fill each hour? Or did you relish the slow-burn approach to writer Abi Morgan's storytelling?

THE HOUR will return for a second six-part series in 2012, set ten-months later and focusing on '50s celebrity culture.