‘The Hour’ – ‘Episode 6’: Shut it down

“The Hour” wrapped up its first season tonight, and I have a few quick thoughts coming up just as soon as I put on a fake mustache…

I know that BBC America can’t make programming decisions based on the schedules of the nation’s TV critics, but boy do I wish this show had debuted several weeks sooner, which would have given me a bit more time to focus on each episode rather than having to race through them while getting ready for the start of the network TV season.

My concern at the start of the series was that I wasn’t sure how well the spy storyline tied together with the other romantic, professional and political elements, and as we come to the end – for now(*) – I’m still not entirely sure. Certainly, the parts of the finale I responded most strongly to involved either the Freddie/Bel/Hector triangle or the political pressures on Bel and Clarence to toe the Parliament line and not question the Suez crisis. All of that stuff was very well-handled – I especially liked Freddie and Hector’s conversation/argument in the bathroom, as well as all the tap-dancing around McCain during the live broadcast – but then we swerved back into the Brightstone material at the end and my interest waned significantly.

(*) The BBC has already ordered a second season, and while that’s no guarantee that BBC America will air it, it seems likely.

When I interviewed Abi Morgan before the season began, she said she liked the spy story as a kind of narrative engine for the series, and also acknowledged that she would have to do something else in the event the show was renewed. Well, it’s coming back, and I think it’s probably to the good that there won’t be more Cold War intrigue. Romola Garai, Ben Whishaw and Dominic West are too good, and the workplace tensions at The Hour – or wherever the characters end up working in the aftermath of their terminated broadcast – too rich for it to be necessary.

What did everybody else think? Are you looking forward to another season?

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