‘The Hour’ Returns with New Freddie, New Faces
“I went somewhere…America. And you know what? Being a nobody in a country where everybody thinks they can be a somebody, that’s infectious. It’s exciting. I want that, for me. Keep up, Hector.”
Final papers, the holidays, and general end-of-semester concerns have really put a damper on my blogging. Which is sad, but has not stopped the ideas from flowing. So, what I have wanted to say for about three weeks now is…I am really enjoying the new season of The Hour. I’m not completely convinced it got away from its missteps of last season, but it is still very intriguing. And looks gorgeous in HD. And it’s a good way to fill that post-Cloud Atlas, post-Skyfall Ben Whishaw void. (I am more concerned about the world after The Hour ends…next Ben project?!) It premiered last Wednesday on BBC America and will be airing its fourth episode on the BBC this week. Here’s a few reasons why the characters on The Hour have returned rejuvenated:
Freddie: Fresh off touring the world, Freddie returns to The Hour with new confidence and closer than ever to the job he has always wanted. After losing the lead anchor position to Hector early in the first season, Freddie has been called back to co-anchor by the new Head of News (Peter Capaldi). He is not the Mr. Lyon of yesteryear and it reinvigorates the show. Oh, and when Bel decides to show up and “rekindle” her emotional dependency on Freddie, what does she find? Freddie has married a French woman he met on his travels. Yikes. But from his lingering glances at Bel and his new wife’s mood swings, will we soon see Freddie revert to old ways?
Bel: She’s grappling not only with ITV competitors, who want to steal Hector, but also with Bill Kendal of ITV, who wants to steal her heart (maybe). Which is certainly a relief after that embarrassing moment with Freddie. She still cares for Hector, but has clearly lost that loving feeling, as he has slowly descended into his worst drunken tendencies.
Hector: Talk about a reversal of fortunes. Freddie is the confident newsman and Hector can’t be bothered to show up for work. He no longer even keeps up an act with his wife. (She’s even booked her own cooking show, which prompts her to maintain the marriage for outside appearances only.) He is close to being fired and starts off this season’s other dramatic storyline by being accused of assault by a local showgirl.
The strength of The Hour, in my opinion, is with the character work the writers put into the last season. I love spending time with Freddie, Bel, Hector and the rest of the team. It falters more on cultivating its season-long “mysteries” as they tend to start off very broad and tangential before eventually being revealed as tied to our characters. Whereas last season’s tied to Freddie, this season our entry into the seedy El Paradis is brought to us by Hector. Bel (and eventually Freddie) set out to discover why Hector was framed for assault and find a dark underbelly at the club, fueled by police corruption. It is hard to determine how effective this storyline will be before the end, but for now, it suffices.
Meanwhile, dealing with immigrant racism and sexuality issues circulating at the time, as well as the looming figure of Sputnik, are much more adept at fitting in with the character arcs.
New faces: Bill Kendal (Tom Burke), wooing both Hector and Bel at the same time for various reasons. Kiki (Hannah Tointon), the showgirl that’s in a little too deep. Commander Laurence Stern (Peter Sullivan), who has close ties to both Hector (as an informant) and the club. Camille (Lizzie Brocheré), as Freddie’s new wife. And Randall Brown (Peter Capaldi), tired of Hector’s antics and harboring a secret past with Anna Chancellor’s Lix Storm.
The bottom line: The Hour is back and better than ever in the field it does best (characters) and consistent in its ability to drum up some late 1950s mystery.