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"White Heat" begins quietly and remains low-key, but it grows on you and the final episode yields a captivating surprise. Its strengths stand in contrast to the failings of "The Hour", another recent drama situated in recent British history. "The Hour" starts out looking like a thriller somehow related to the Suez invasion and Hungarian uprising of 1956; but the thriller plot fades into an inconsequential side-show and all that is left at the end is period soap-opera. "White Heat" follows its characters from 1965 to the present day, with public events mainly occurring in the background and serving as chronological markers, although they do impinge on the lives of two of the characters. Some aspects of the plot are stereotyped, but the drama scrupulously eschews soap-opera glitz, and the characters show plausible development--that's why it grows on you. The actors are generally excellent, but I did feel that the casting of Juliet Stevenson as the present-day avatar of Claire Foy's character was ill judged, since the appearance, styles and diction of the two actors are all strikingly dissimilar. It might have mattered less had the drama been chronologically divided between "then" and "now", but there is no way that the character portrayed by Foy over 35 years could have turned, in another 20, into the character played by Stevenson.
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