With the success of Mad Men there are no shortage of those wanting to cash in on period 20th century dramas but the exception to the trash out there is BBC2's stunning program the Hour. Starring Ben Whishaw, Skyfall's Q, Freddy Lyon is a young journalist stuck in a desk of a newsroom on a program that runs fluff with his best friend and fellow journalist Bel. Bel is approached by the head of the BBC programming department about a new topical news program that she and Freddy always talked about and she gets the job as the show's producer. In a meeting with the head of programming Freddy, unaware of him only being offered a desk job, speaks his mind about how he should be in front of the camera which doesn't go over well with the BBC's top executives. Bel meets who the BBC has in mind for the face of the program in Hector Madden, The Wire's Dominic West, who flirts with Bel much to her disliking. Bel begs the execs to bring Freddy into the fold as he is a very capable journalist but his own worst enemy with his big mouth and they agree. Freddy, while covering a news story of a childhood friend's marriage to a high society gentleman Mr. Elms is his friend Ruth, the now Mrs. Elms and the two have an implied romantic past. When an academic is murdered and it is presumed to be a robbery Ruth approaches Freddy about a conspiracy about how the academic was one of the biggest political thinkers in the country. When Freddy examines the body after his boss on his program refuses to air the story he finds the MI6 has been there and has cut open all of the fabric of the man's tie, jacket, etc. looking for something that he most certainly had on him when he was murdered. While investigating Freddy also discovers the man's cigarette case which he had left with a newspaper stand owner while he was being followed no doubt to hide whatever he was carrying on him but Freddy only finds a single cigarette inside the case since the man traded it to the vendor for a pack of smokes. Ruth had also disclosed that if "they" found out about her speaking to Freddy they would kill her. Freddy lashes out at his boss over the MI6 searching a supposed robbery victim and gets himself fired due to his temper and he decides to go with Bel to Lime Grove Studios to work on the new program. At a dinner with the head of programming and Hector Madden Bel becomes acquainted with the rather sexist undersecretary of the Prime Minister Mr. Eden who comments on her maternal instinct inquiring after the health of the Prime MInister as making her too soft for news. Hector flirts with her and takes her to a private bar since women aren't allowed in the "elite" cigar chomping section of the club. She excuses herself and Hector comments on how beautiful and talented she is. Bel's being referred to as Moneypenny and Freddy fancying himself a 50's journalist James Bond is quite amusing. Bel makes Freddy apologize after he accepts the job offer for turning it down in the first place and the whole team celebrate their being commissioned to series on set with drinks. Hector tries to get to know Freddy but this is when he realizes the cigarette could be holding a secret and excuses himself and unroles the cigarette paper revealing some sort of blueprint or schematic. Hector continues hitting on Bel by bringing her orchids and the head of the BBC who is coincidentally his father-in-law and Hector's wife also appear much to Bel's chagrin him having been charming and trying to seduce her the whole time and him nevery disclosing that he was married. Freddy gets a call from Ruth and he traces it to a hotel but when he gets there she is hanging from a belt in the bathroom and he gets her down but not before she dies and he calls the police. No doubt there is something rotten going on here but this is a very promising first episode and the sets and the costuming are terrific and really is a great bit of nostalgia for the BBC to go back to the 50's to have a conspiracy thriller in a time when the Cold War was very much still in gear around the days of Fleming and John Le Carre which the series tips its hat too. Anyone who enjoys period conspiracy thriller storytelling with a British flair no doubt this series is for you.
Finally an intelligent story again There are lots of good series around But I am getting so tired of zombies vampires and what have you not . Luckily there are some series that make a difference Mostly HBO series Amc series and now this one from ITV -BBC I am hoping for more good series to come
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