17 April 2012 | francis-hogan
Comparisons with "Madmen" are inevitable but "The Hour" holds its own
Comparisons with "Madmen" are inevitable but they also run the risk of distracting the viewer from properly appreciating "The Hour" in its own right. For all the obvious similarities between the two shows with their period-piece settings and respective portrayals of entrenched misogyny, this BBC/Kudos production marches resolutely to the beat of its own drum. "The Hour" is gritty and gray. It's temperature is cold. One of its main themes is the examination of conflict in a variety of forms; the deep internal conflict between ardent idealism and soul-numbing compromise or between personal integrity and ruthless ambition; and the dogged pursuit of truth in the face of suppression and censorship. Other classic struggles between opposing dynamics are also explored. These include individualism and conservatism, inspiration and convention, impoverishment and privilege, courage and fear, rational caution and paranoia, democracy and tyranny etc - all of which are set amid the historic backdrop of two salient international military conflicts. The landscape is panoramic and the brush-strokes reach far and wide but the painting remains clearly defined. All the elements are tautly packed into a 360 minute thought-provoking thriller. If comparisons must be drawn, then "Goodnight and Good Luck" might prove to be a helpful suggestion. With its subtle script, insightful direction, solid casting and a stunning performance from Ben Whishaw, "The Hour" is one of the BBC's finest. Congratulations to all involved with this production. Thoroughly recommended.