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‘The Hour’ Prepares to Face Off Against ‘Mad Men’ on BBC Two

By Alyssa Rosenberg  

"‘The Hour’ Prepares to Face Off Against ‘Mad Men’ on BBC Two"

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Well, this looks like my dream television show:

A British show about the news that’s explicitly being created as an attempt to compete with Mad Men on U.K. broadcast as that American import switches to another channel? Starring Dominic West as a roguish newscaster? Romola Garai as a British Peggy Olson, but with power over West’s Jon Hamm figure? And Ben Whishaw as an ambitious young investigative journalist? That’s partially about the challenges of covering the Suez Canal crisis? This is just absolutely engineered to appeal to me.

It’s not that Mad Man‘s unengaged with the social issues of the day, it just comes at them obliquely, mutedly, and I’ve always been most interested in the direct rebellions of the era, the point at which things break because they’re no longer sustainable. It sounds like The Hour is both moving the action back a decade into the ’50s but making it more explicitly political, situating the characters directly in the center of swinging London instead of putting them on the periphery of cultural upheaval, instead of having Greenwich Village be the site of pilgrimages. And while ad men create the consumerist world that ordinary Americans live in, that responds slowly to the societal shifts that are happening around, newsmen can’t help but be timely. The flaws are different, but I’m more excited about the prospects of stumbling headlong into the new world rather than holding it off, with inconsistent levels of success, for as long as possible.

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