For some reason, I thought this was a British workplace comedy (like "The IT Crowd"), but when the man in the double-stitched overcoat is stalked and stabbed in the underground, I quickly shifted gears to appreciate the taut, multi-level thriller set in the deadline-imposed anxiety that fuels "The Hour"— BBC-TV's brand new "60-Minutes-style" news program. The program's fateful launch occurs in the summer of 1956—just before Egypt seizes the Suez canal, Israel (joined by British and French troops) invades Egypt, and Russia invades Hungary.
But those historical events only serve as backdrop for the clashing personalities of Hector (Dominic West), the handsome, womanizing news-reader, Bel (Ramola Garai), the over-qualified female producer, and her protege Freddie (Ben Whishaw), a neurotic, chain-smoking journalist/script writer whose talented prose and bulldog tenacity challenges the suits in the BBC, MI6, and Anthony Eden's government, and Clarence (Anton Lesser), BBC-TV's elderly, "let's not rock the boat," Head of News who just wants his last big project to be the successful capstone to his career.
Over the course of the first season, Freddie's promise to protect his childhood friend turns into a cat-and-mouse tale of espionage, and murderous cover-ups.
In the second season, Randall (Peter Capaldi), takes over the Head of News post, Hector's wife Marnie (Oona Chaplin), blossoms into a self-actualized character, Freddie brings a surprise with him when he returns from his "gap year abroad," and Kiki (Hannah Tointo), a sexy, blonde nightclub performer leads "The Hour" into the strangely convoluted worlds of bomb shelters, pornography, criminalized homosexuality, fascist hate-mongerers, real-estate speculators, the criminal underworld, and police corruption.