This week was the last episode of the BBC drama "The Hour". I do not watch TV very often, and I choose the programmes I want to watch very carefully. There have been excellent dramas this year (Any Human Heart, Christopher and his kind, South Riding, The Night Watch and the wonderful, wonderful The Crimson Petal and The White and dare I add the fluffy, easy on the eye Downton Abbey?), some with excellent reviews and some with less good ones. What these programmes have in common is that they shine like stars among the idiotic, tacky, grotesque, simplistic audience-grabbing miasma that invades our screens every day.
I don't really care about reviews because much as for everything else in my life, I do not follow trends and other people's opinions and prefer to follow my instincts.
And my instinct told me right from the start that I was going to love The Hour, which I dully did. I absolutely loved it.
I am not going to write a long review or anwer point by point the criticism The Hour has received. Nobody seems to have really liked it, apart from some female bloggers who liked the outfits and fancied Dominic West's Hector. *sigh*
I found the dialogues witty and snappy, I loved the attention given to the props, atmosphere and clothes, but most of all, I loved the characters and found the story quite gripping. I was reminded of the time when I was a concerned teenager and I was desperate to become a journalist (I don't often go back to the times I was a teenager, believe me...). The type of journalist I wanted to be would have been Bel, Lix and Freddie all rolled into one.
Yes, there might have been a lot of anachronisms, but what do I know? and anyway, I was too taken in the story to notice them.
The thing about the language not being "of the time", for example. Do we ask every costume drama, be it Medieval, Elizabethan or Victorian, to be exactly accurate about the language used by the character? Something tells me that we wouldn't understand much of the dialogues, then. Artistic license it is.
I was very impressed by the actors too. Romola Garai is fast becoming one of my favourite actresses - with Anna Maxwell Martin - and I was very impressed with the wonderful Anna Chancellor... What a woman!
I also adored Freddie. Ben Wishaw gave his character an incredibly realistic obsession and a touching mix of strength and vulnerability, arrogance and self-doubt. Isn't he an incredible actor? While all the females were swooning over the slimy, quite repulsive Hector, I was thinking that Freddie was actually the most attractive male character - both physically and intellectually - of the cast. Freddie is a terrific guy.
People have said they stopped watching after the first or second episode because it was "boring". No. It is actually what all dramas should be: slow burning, with enough time to develop the characters and situation. It was a joy to watch something that took its time. People nowadays have got a short attention span and need immediate gratification. People cannot cope anymore with a good story, good characters, good dialogues. Take the original Brideshead Revisited. It was as good as it was because it did take time to develop the characters and the story and pick up on everyone's little inner dramas and fears and foibles (and hopes, sometimes!).
And no, I've never watched Mad Men (as everyone has been saying that The Hour was the BBC's version of the US hit and never ending comparisons have been filling in column inches) and therefore I couldn't compare, but I have the sneaky feeling that it wouldn't have been that clever, and would have been much more shallow.
Yes, I loved The Hour, and I might not be cool but so be it!
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