The show that went from boring as fuck to tolerable is back and we’re a year down the line from the momentous climax of series one which left a breathless audience saying “Oh – when does Newsnight come on?” It’s 1957 in The Hour now and Britain’s favourite current affairs show is still running with Bel (Romola Garai) at the helm and the girl is finding her superstar anchor increasingly exasperating. Hector (Dominic West) rolls up late every day stinking of good scotch and bad pussy. You’ve either got swag or you havenae and Hector has it in big hairy handfuls. Now quite the celebrity, his already sizeable ego inflates daily. He finds himself seduced by the charms of the Soho nightlife, notably the El Paradis club where he hooks up with smoking hot blonde showgirl Kiki (Hannah Tointon). Life could be a whole lot worse.
And yet it could be a whole lot better. Wifey boo Marnie (Oona Chaplin) is not an advocate of the 1950s housewife lifestyle so many 2012 girls are in love with (baking cupcakes, hand washing nappies and backstreet abortions) and she’s getting mightily pissed at his shameless frippery. Then at work new Head of News Randall Brown (Peter Capaldi) is a real pain in his balls. Constantly riding him about his timekeeping and showing no understanding of the needs of the sensitive artiste, he rehires and parachutes in Freddie (Ben Whishaw), fresh from travelling the world, as co-host. Small wonder Hector is considering a lucrative offer from ITV’s rival show Uncovered. Because of the unique way the BBC is funded Hector will probably take the cash and fuck right off.
Meanwhile back at El Paradis Hector’s new piece Kiki takes a fearful ass whipping at the behest of Paradis owner Raphael Cilenti (Vincent Riotta), who when he’s not putting the smack down on errant showgirls plays cards with bent coppers. Freddie is now married to some foreign trim Camille and the look on Bel’s face when she is introduced to the new Mrs Lyons makes The Scream look tranquil.
So The Hour. You could care but you never really will because they keep the stakes so officiously low. I’m not quite sure why Kiki got a cauliflower arse, what Freddie’s wife’s like or whether Marnie will blow a gasket at Hecturd and my curiosity is barely piqued. There’s something soulless about Bellend and it’s therefore hard to care about anything that happens to her or anything she does. The journey from Pathé to Panorama could be an interesting one in the right hands but The Hour has always been all production values and no narrative drive. Crime is rising in Soho, Britain is testing nukes in the Pacific, The Cold War rumbles quietly in the background and this remains a serviceable show I will never love. All I can say with any certainty is that if a naked lunatic with a hard on and a sword ran through Broadcasting House killing every cast member I’d get over it.
The verdict on The Hour series 2: The Dour.
Marks out of 10: 7
Wednesday, 14 November 2012