The Hour’s main attraction, as it turns out, is its cast. Putting The Wire star Dominic West at the heart of the drama proves to be a masterstroke, and he’s ably supported by a high calibre company of acting talent, including Juliet Stevenson, Anna Chancellor and Ben Whishaw. It’s West who drives the drama forward, though, with a trademark skilled central performance. It helps that he’s at the heart of much that happens with the show, too.
What drew the initial Mad Men comparisons was the setting for The Hour. This is a show surrounding a BBC news programme being made in 1956, which happens to be the time of the Suez Crisis. Behind the scenes of the show, there’s sexual politics, ambitions, and pressures from all directions. And that, mixed with a strong attention to period detail, helps make The Hour an engaging drama.
It has a few problems, starting a little too slowly for many peoples’ tastes. Certainly, its first episode isn’t its best by any measure. But it’s very much worth sticking with The Hour. It’s ambitious, high class drama. And while it’s a fair distance from Mad Men, it’s still television that’s certainly not to be sniffed at. --Jon Foster