The Hour, Series 2 (UK, 2012)

the-hour-series-2Created by: Abi Morgan. Looking back at my post for the first series, I had high hopes for this show. But with this second year, not even my combined fondness for British drama, the BBC, and Dominic West can blind me to the fact that this show is kind of intolerable and probably always was. My memory of what transpired in the first series is pretty dim, but I seem to remember some kind of major plot about a murder involving MI-5 and a cover-up, and some kind of dovetailing plotline that meant that Ben Wishaw had to leave the country. And, of course, the juicy stuff—the romantic triangle with the two dudes and the girl, the ol’ who’s fucking whom story of great TV drama (or dram-er as they say in Britishland). This series is propelled by a few main stories, none of which are pulled off all that well. There’s the “big stuff”: police corruption and complicity and hypocrisy in the world of vice, prostitution, exploitation, organized crime, and racism, all of it swirling together in such a way that it suggests a team of writers ticking off check boxes of important issues that their important issue show is going to focus on, and less like a well-constructed, eloquent look at any of those issues. Then there’s the big subplot about Don Draper—er, I mean, Hector Madden—the suave, womanizing, hard-drinking, but perpetually dapper and handsome celebrity news anchor, whose womanizing and hard drinking are getting him into hot water with the public, his job, and his wife, and whose subplot dovetails pretty neatly and successfully with the “police corruption” subplot. This little triangle between Dominic West, his wife (Oona Castilla Chaplin, who I swear I’ve seen before…), and the old war buddy/corrupt policeman (Peter Sullivan) is a pretty enjoyable, well done little subplot on its own, and it’s hard to tell if the fact that the acting of these three is far and away the best acting in this show (the believability that West gives to Hector’s transformation, and the believability that Chaplin gives to the patient, strong wife are really anomalous in this season of undercooked caricatures) owes to the inherent abilities of the actors or to—I suspect—the fact that way more thought and care was spent on this subplot than the other subplots combined. The less said about the sub-subplot of the new supervisor and the older lady (the character’s name, Lix Storm, is so unrealistic and irritating that it bothers me to even call attention to it here) the better. And the sub-plot, what is supposed to be a “major plot” I’m sure, between Romola Garai and Ben Wishaw, his going away and coming back, and the letters sent and not sent, and the unspoken bond of love, and the shotgun marriage to a short-haired, free-spirited, bohemian French girl who is so free-spirited and bohemian and, again, French, that she walks around in public with no pants on in the 1950’s, all of that great stuff makes me want to puke. It’s so undercooked and stock-torrid-romance, yet such importance is placed on it, it informs 100% of why we’re supposed to give half a shit about either of those central characters, that it really weakens the show. And frankly Ben Wishaw’s character is made to be so damn noble it’s sickening: if he was facing something other than cartoon villains, it might be remarkable watching him get beat up. And if Romola Garai’s character did anything other than whine and carry on about how much she “hates” Ben Wishaw, like a fucking high school drama where it’s obvious that she does the opposite of hate that guy—she loves that guy, get it???—then I might actually give a shit about her and her subplot with the douchey rival newsguy, who is so obviously a douchebag that when the big turnaround comes and she discovers, about a million years after we all do, that this guy is clearly a douchebag, it’s kind of anticlimactic. And, of course, the grand, tearjerker cliffhanger, where we see Ben Wishaw sprawled out, half-alive on the BBC front lawn as his star-crossed lover runs to his aid just before he blacks out, is meant to be a huge moment…! But then I read that the BBC pulled the plug on the whole show due to bad ratings. Well frankly, I am relieved, because my obsessive-compulsion with regards to television is such that, even after all I just said about this show, I would have been strongly tempted, had I seen a DVD of “The Hour, Series Three” on the shelf at the local library, especially after a year or so’s cooling-down and the fog of memory to obscure how much I hated it, to sit and watch the entire third season, to see what happens to everyone. This is the curse of television, and this show’s ending has saved the human race countless wasted hours in viewing time, not to mention countless hours and millions of dollars spent making the stupid thing. Life’s too short. If you must, go watch Deadwood or something.

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One response to “The Hour, Series 2 (UK, 2012)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2014 | Offhand Reviews·

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