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6 Degrees Entertainment

'The Hour'
(Ben Whishaw, Dominic West, Burn Gorman, Jamie Parker, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2011 / BBC Home Video)

Overview: Working-class Freddie (Ben Whishaw), the journalist, prefers hard news to society fluff, and enjoys a snappy rapport with comely producer Bel (Romola Garai), but her heart belongs to Hector (The Wire's Dominic West), the well-connected anchor, who doesn't let his marriage to Oona Chaplin's socialite stand in his way. When a friend informs Freddie that there's more to a subway murder than meets the eye, he becomes as obsessed with the case as with his new job.

DVD Verdict: At the time of writing this review, 'The Hour' was currently being shown on BBC America. And the important thing I wanted to let people know about is that if you are not very happy with what you have seen on BBC America, don't blame it on the drama. In the UK, the length of each episode (without commercials) is 60 minutes. On BBC America, the episode WITH COMMERCIALS is squeezed into a 60-minute time slot. If you feel that you are missing something (approximately 10 minutes?) while watching it on BBC America, YOU ARE, and the drama suffers accordingly. The good news is that this DVD contains the full episodes.

I enjoyed watching this mystery (the full episodes). The drama unfolds well, and the cast is excellent. I can't say enough about the cast. I would watch any show with only one of the following actors: Ramola Garai, Anna Chancellor, Jamie Parker (Scripps from The History Boys), Juliet Stevenson, Tim Pigott-Smith, or Julian Rhind-Tutt. Lucky for me that they all are in this series. There are many other recognizable and talented actors (aka Masterpiece alumni): Dominic West, john Bowe, Andrew Scott and Nicholas Woodeson. While I was not familiar with the Ben Whishaw's work, I will now add him to my list of must view actors.

My engagement in the drama grew throughout the six hours. By the end, I had to know how it was going to turn out. My only criticism is that it leaves a lot of loose ends on what happens to the people involved in the drama. Presumably, this allows more freedom for the second series, which has been approved by the BBC, but it bothered me. Still, I gave it five stars. I did like the mystery and its solution.

I guess I can't blame BBC America for thinking that it can cut 10 minutes or so out of each hour. PBS does it with Masterpiece, and I was shocked to read that the Torchwood: Miracle Day is 60 minutes in the UK and only 50 minutes on Starz! So much for the free market and capitalism. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.BBCAmerica.com





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