"The Hour" is slow, and it's not "Mad Men"
Published: August 17, 2011 11:00AM
Updated: August 17, 2011 11:00AM
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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - BBC America's "The Hour" is an intriguing period piece that's absolutely gorgeous to look at ... and moves at such a glacial pace that America viewers will have to be very patient.

For at least the first quarter hour, this British drama (Wednesday, 8 p.m., BBC America) is completely confusing and somewhat off-putting. There's a rather graphic murder in the London tube while other people are dancing and there some people really concerned about presenting the news.

What it turns into is a murder mystery set against the backdrop of 1956 London and the creation of television news.

These days, every period piece - American or British - is automatically compared to "Mad Men." But, other than the fact that "The Hour" has an extremely cool look and feel, there's absolutely no comparison.

Executive producer Derek Wax said he thinks "Mad Men" is "brilliant" but that "The Hour" "wasn't in any way really inspired by that show.

"We think felt that postwar Britain and this sort of extraordinary year of 1956 was rich and resonant enough to have its own dramatic sort of flavor. I think completely different in terms of characters and the flavor from "Mad Men."

Abi Morgan, who wrote "The Hour," is also a fan of "Mad Men." But she's not necessarily a fan of the comparisons.

"I think it's kind of a bit of bum steer for us because, ultimately, I think we're looking at a political thriller," she said. "And I think it just has a completely different pace to 'Mad Men.'"

But production designer Eve Stewart put it best.

"I think a lot of ['The Hour'] characters would have loved to work in the advertising office of 'Mad Men,'" she said, because it shows "the real aspirational side of the UK where we go, 'America's all great and big and shiny, and here we go.' And in fact, you're all held back by tea pots and rather bad plumbing. That's what we wanted to show.

"I think that we achieved it."