The Hour 

Clockwatching BBC America's newest hit series

The one thing I hate about The Hour, BBC America's new ab-fab drama, is that it's only 60 bloody minutes long. Damn you, clock. The Hour is my new obsession. Leave it to the Brits to set the bar high as we approach a new season for prime-time television.

The Hour, a weekly mini-series (a mere six installments), is set against the smoke, whiskey and starched collars of 1956 London. As post-war Britain redefines itself, a more ominous force has invaded queen-and-country television.

The conceit of The Hour is the birth of independent broadcast journalism on the state-sponsored BBC, providing crackling tension between the Beeb and Parliament. The Hour is not only the title of the miniseries but the name of the fictional newsmagazine launched by intrepid muckrakers.

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Our antihero is Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw), a rebellious reporter always inches away from being fired or promoted. His best friend is smart, gorgeous producer Bel Rowley (Romola Garai) whose biggest flaw is having affairs with unavailable men.

Freddie calls Bell "Moneypenny," keeping in mind that the world only knew James Bond in the 1950s through the scandalous Ian Fleming novels. Adding bitters to the cocktail is Hector Madden (Dominic West), host of The Hour. He's as handsome as he is cocky and should never be underestimated.

One caveat if you watch The Hour--and believe me, it's appointment television: You must see if from the beginning. You'll relish every minute.

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