Split decision in the local dailies today over the BBC series The Hour, which returns for its second season on BBC America tonight.
First up, the Boston Globe’s Matthew Gilbert, whose opinions the hardwatching staff generally agrees with (except when he called John Simm’s portrayal of Sam Tyler in the original Life on Mars “weaselly”).
His review in today’s edition:
I hear from a lot of TV viewers who really want to like “The Newsroom,” Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama about the media, integrity, and the Gordian knot of love. But while they’re drawn to a drama about TV journalism, they complain that the “Newsroom” characters are preternaturally intelligent, overly self-important, and emotionally adolescent. The usual Sorkin rumpus. I enjoy the show, for Sorkin’s passionate treatment of timely issues, and for Jeff Daniels’s flamboyant performance, but I can’t argue with those who reject the kit because of the kaboodle.
Cut to: BBC America’s “The Hour,” the British series that returns for a second season of six episodes on Wednesday night at 9. This is also a drama about the news business, the challenges of integrity, and love’s near misses and thunderclaps, but it’s not marred by any of Sorkin’s excesses. Set at a weekly BBC newsmagazine in the 1950s called “The Hour,” it’s a subtle intertwining of journalists’ professional struggles, their personal lives, and the thorny social issues that envelope them, and I can’t recommend it enough. “The Hour” is not “Breaking Bad” good, or “Mad Men” good, but it’s close.
Quickly we go crosstown to Herald TV critic Mark Perigard’s review:
The Brits are learning the wrong things from American TV.
Take BBC America’s “The Hour,” which returns tonight for a second season. The 1950s-set drama about the making of a “60 Minutes”-style news show sucks up all the excesses of AMC’s “Mad Men” and none of its storytelling virtues.