28 November 2012 5:45 AM, PST | Indiewire Television | See recent Indiewire Television news »

When smart meets soapy, the results can be delicious and addictive television – as long as the show proudly owns its soap opera qualities (that’s one of the secrets of Downton Abbey) and integrates them into the drama (the gap between soap and preaching is what dooms The Newsroom.) The Hour, beginning its second season on BBC America, gets that formula, and if anything tips toward the lurid with its new episodes.   The cast is as impeccable as ever: Romola Garai as Bel, the producer of an hour-long BBC news program, who ended last season bereft of both her best friend Freddie (a disarmingly smooth Ben Whishaw) a reporter who was fired, and the married lover she dumped, her show’s anchor, Hector (Dominic West in dashing 50’s mode). But she’s not alone for long. Freddie is rehired, arriving back from a world-wide trip with a secret that will not please Bel. »

- Caryn James

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"Downton Abbey" (2010)
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