What To Watch On Netflix This Weekend: The Hour by Alex Snider

It's Oscar weekend and while it seems like a lot of fun to have best picture marathons, I think everyone should instead watch The Hour – a brilliant, slow-burning drama that combines elements of noir, cold war spy thrills and historical accuracy, then throws in a few scorching love stories. I would love nothing more than to be able to watch it all again for the first time. Set in 1956 and 1957, the centre of the series is the fledgling BBC news program, "The Hour", where a group of excellent journalists struggle to stay on top of the ratings, appease the BBC suits and balance not pissing off the government with hanging on to their collective integrity. Wowee zowee, it is good. Here are the reasons we need to all collectively watch it even though we may well crash the Netflix server, in absolutely no order other than in which they pop into my head.

1. McNulty. McNulty is one of the three main characters. He plays a charming, philandering, socially alcoholic with a wavering moral compass. He is obviously perfect in the role.

2. The chemistry between the leads. Aside from McNulty (Dominic West) as Hector Madden (the presenter), there is Bel Rowley (Romola Garai) the producer and Freddie Lyon (one of the journalists and Hector's foil). They are smouldering together.

3. Abi Morgan (screenwriter of Shame and The Iron Lady) is the creator and producer and wrote 10 out of 12 episodes. She is amazing and provides the show with a definite feminist, pro-social justice slant. Issues such as homophobia, sexism, race and class are dissected subtly and with finesse.

4. It has nothing to do with George Strombolopolous.

5. Despite 'the times' in which the show is set, Bel is the show-runner and while there is some sexism to be overcome, that she is intelligent, capable, assertive and in charge is never challenged by the majority of the characters. It can be done!

6. The historical events that are visited and discussed can stand as allegories to some of the major issues plaguing us today: imperialism and colonialism (the Suez Canal crisis), LGBT rights (the British laws against male homosexuality) and "the ends justifies the means" reasoning for military action (the cold war arms race). The lens through which the show presents these events are told is decidedly lefty but without the paternalism, holier-than-thou, ham-fisted leftyness of other shows/movies.

7. After the whole "news show" thing, all similarities with Sorkin's The Newsroom end.

8. After the era and fashion and overall genius, all similarities with Mad Men end.

9. The camera work, music, sets, dialogue and acting.

10. Peter effing Capaldi.

11. The soapiness is kept within reason. But there is soapiness.

12. This picture.

13. And this one.

14. This trailer that is a little light on the thriller and noir elements but still utterly charming:

15. It's been cancelled. Not a reason to watch it but I'm lonely in my heartbreak : (((

Please watch it and then we can talk about it and have Hour themed parties and maybe start a massive campaign to demand that the BBC uncancel it?

Photo from bbcamerica.com

Alex Snider watches a lot of TV but few movies. Her website is What Fresh Hell is This and her Twitter handle is @what_freshhell.


Post a Comment