In my Pick of the Week, I called The Hour “Mad Men who tell the news,” and that is an apt enough description. You could also call it Broadcast News in the ‘50s. With Hector Madden (Dominick West) as William Hurt’s beautiful face of the news, Bel Rowley (Ramola Garai) as Holly Hunter, and Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw) as the Albert Brooks’ character with his hard-hitting, investigative journalist, smartest-man-in-the-room, but completely forgettable public persona existence. But The Hour is all that and more. Series 2 even more so than the first.
With the first season of The Hour, the show seemed bent on recreating the era to perfection and making a show about a news program that strived so hard to be real news and not just another tabloid puff program that the actual show forgot that it was a television drama that needed to also be actually dramatic. The Hour 2 has lost all of that pretension and has created some of the best darn drama on either side of the pond.
Series 2 takes place several months after the events of Series 1. Freddie having been apparently forced off the show has spent his time finding himself in America and Paris, but Episode 1 finds him being hired back by the new head of news, Randall Brown (Peter Capaldi), as not only a journalist but as co-host. The rest of the staff have held the show together, gained a bigger audience, but also steered clear of controversy and lost their “tick.”
With the heightened popularity, Hector seems to have lost himself, preferring to spend his nights at a local hot spot with women who are decidedly not his wife and several bottles of scotch.
The main plot revolves around that local hot spot, the owner of which uses his dancers cum prostitutes to put nearly everyone of note in London in situations that he uses to blackmail them. There’s murder, intrigues, political haranguing, and a lot of discussion over what they can and cannot put on the show. All those things that make The Hour so delightful to watch.
I noted that The Hour 2 really developed their drama and that is most decidedly true. There are subplots that deal with Hector’s devolving marriage, Freddie’s relationship to a Parisian girl, and how Bel deals with it, the horrendous lives of several of the dancers, and the aftermath of a relationship that Lix had with Randall in the far away past. It is that last story that renders the show with its most heartfelt emotional moments and gives Lix a backstory that is both endearing and gut-wrenching.
It really is quite amazing how much better Series 2 is over the previous one. The Hour was a good show with a lot of ambition. The Hour 2 is a great show that manages to tell a broad story about a newsroom and manages to develop all of their main characters with smaller stories told brilliantly.
At the moment there is no news as to whether we will get to see a The Hour 3, but I surely hope that comes to pass for if they can continue to grow and develop the series like this, they might just make one of the great dramas of our age.