Dominic West and The Hour returned to television screens in the UK last night (November 14) as the show continued to struggle to move away from comparisons to US drama Mad Men.
Set around the fictional news show The Hour, series two episode one saw Dominic West reprise his arrogant character Hector Madden, whose levels of self-confidence had gone through the roof since finally being made presenter of the show. The first episode sees him as a full blown national celebrity, hanging out in West End clubs and being snapped cavorting with an array of girls; this is set against a back drop of rising crime rate and political unrest, with a government under spending on the police and effectively leaving people to fend for themselves. Truly the environment is ripe for a man of Madden’s callousness to rise to the top.
A new addition to the cast though has potential to steal the limelight in future episodes, with Peter Capaldi joining the team as the new head of news Randall Brown, with many hoping he can bring about change in a news room that’s seen Madden’s ego take precedent. His character’s chemistry with foreign desk editor Lix Storm certainly suggested there was more to come from those two and offered a break away from the scene setting taking place with Madden. There was a lack of Ben Whishaw as Freddie Lyon though; he was fired at the end of the last season as The Hour was taken off air and for the first half of the episode he isn’t involved at all.
Then Brown springs his surprise; he’s bringing Freddie back to shake things up again, a bold step and one that does not go down well with Hector, who finds out that he is to be co-front man. The backdrop of unrest in this episode suggests that the show is once again going to pivot between political thriller and newsroom drama. The New Statesman doesn’t think it has to be either; it wrote “this second series opener has demonstrated that once again it's going to try and blend the two genres, but with a domestic political plot rather than a foreign one. A promising start.” MSN though points out that it’s still all too comparable The Newsroom, as well as classic 1976 film Network. Not a unanimous victory then, but certainly a return that isn’t without promise.