If you want to see the finest new drama of the TV year, tune in BBC America at 10 p.m. Wednesday for the opener of "The Hour," a six-week series starring Dominic West, of "The Wire,"and Romola Garai, of "Emma."
He plays a hard-to-read establishment anchorman at a BBC newsmagazine; she plays his producer boss. He's married; she isn't. That doesn't stop stuff from happening between them -- powerful stuff.
I guarantee you nothing the networks will offer in coming months of their fall seasons comes close to "The Hour." This spy-thriller set in the 1950s is everything Masterpiece Theater wants to be again. I don't know how Masterpiece missed on this one. Maybe it was too sexy for PBS.
If you liked West in "The Wire," I guarantee that you will leave this series after six weeks thinking, "Man, I didn't know West had that kind of range. He never got to show those muscles as Jimmy McNulty."
As for the series, think "Good Night and Good Luck," the George Clooney feature film version of Edward R. Murrow's days at CBS News in the 1950s, with a bit of "Mad Men" thrown in. Yes, there is sex, sexism and tons of drinking and smoking and people desperate to advance their careers. Plus, you get a rich overlay of a crumbling social class system in post-World-War-II Britain. and, oh yeah, a very clever spy thriller.
The casting on this series is through the roof: Ben Whishaw, Tim Pigott-Smith, Juliet Stevenson, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Oona Chaplin. The latter plays West's wife, and she is marvelous as well.
I don't preview a lot of series on this blog. But when I do, they are worth it. "The Hour" is worth it and then some.
An added treat for fans of "The Wire" who do tune into BBC America Wednesday night: They will see Idris Elba as host of Dramaville, a new Wednesday-night drama showcase from BBC America. The channel is launching the showcase, which it describes as "the best in new British drama," with "The Hour."
The sequel to Elba's detective series "Luther" will air when "The Hour" finishes its six-week run.
No confirmation yet, but BBC America and the creator of "The Hour" are reportedly in talks to continue the series. I cannot imagine they won't.
Click here to see a gallery of photos featuring West in "The Hour" and Elba in "Dramaville."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times