This is where you will find me on Sunday night - watching the Golden Globes. I like the Golden Globes not only because they are the most casual of awards shows (the dinner and drinks for the attendees helps with that) but also because I often will learn of tv shows, movies and mini-series that I may have missed during the year.
My favourite mini-series of 2011 is nominated for three awards this year - Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Mini-series. It's BBC's The Hour. I cannot tell you enough how much I enjoyed this show!
It is June 1956 and BBC reporters and soulmates Bel Rowley and Freddie Lyon join a brand new current affairs programme and become involved in a dark and dangerous conspiracy. Rounding out the main cast is Hector Madden, an upper class man hired to be the announcer. Think Mad Men but 6 years earlier and instead of advertising, current affairs tv at the BBC.
The show occurs during the Suez Crisis and the Czech uprising against Soviet occupation. This challenging of the status quo on the global stage is reflected in each of the character's lives. Bel Rowley is a young career girl breaking the glass ceiling. Freddie Lyons is a working class grammar school graduate employed at a BBC populated primarily by upper class men.
What do I love about this show? First, the the plot. This show has it all - sexual politics, ambition, class issues and the Red scare of the 1950's. The Commonwealth is crumbling both around the world and at home at the BBC. Subordinate groups are throwing off the shackles of Empire.
I love a good plotline but I find strong production values just as inspiring if not more. I adore this show's "look" so much that I want to kiss the production team for taking the time to make such a beautiful show. The set design and decoration are impeccable. The composition of the shots and the colour palette are lovely.
In addition to a great story and a stunning look, the female characters are memorable in their breadth and depth. Similar to The Good Wife and even better, the women in this series show a range rarely seen in television or movies today. We have Bel Rowley trying to make it on her own in a new career. Her mother, mutton dressed as lamb who has traded on her good looks which are about to expire. Lix, the former foreign correspondent as tough as you'd expect. And Marnie Madden, the socialite who trades a life of leisure for having to look the other way.
You'll recognize Dominic West (Hector Madden) as Jimmy McNulty from the Wire. Hector is 180 degrees opposite from Jimmy - upper class and enjoying his privilege while wanting to avoid some of his responsiblities.
The show is only six episodes long and luckily they are making a second season. So pick it up, curl up on the couch, and watch the Hour - you will not be disappointed!