The BBC period drama “The Hour” initially caught our attention with its stylish mash-up of “Broadcast News,” “Mad Men,” and “Good Night, and Good Luck.” News flash on the series’ sophomore season: It has no problem stashing its templates in the closet. Somewhat disappointingly at first, “The Hour 2” (2012) dispenses with the portrayal of pioneering broadcast journalists defining their bold new medium on the fly. We’re not on the studio floor much as we witness banished, crusading newsman Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw) return from abroad, getting back to work with no-nonsense producer Bel Rowley (Romola Garai) and charismatic anchor Hector Madden (Dominic West). But the leads dive so compellingly into a London vice investigation that the trade-off is worth it. Last season’s love triangle is also retired in favor of new developments that grow juicier as the half-dozen episodes play out, with cerebral Freddie listening to his heart, and high-living Hector being forcibly reminded to use his head. It’s another fine turn by Whishaw (“Skyfall,” “Cloud Atlas”), who’s got a cliffhanger utterance that segues nicely into his Bond gig, and it’s easily the best work West has done outside of “The Wire.” Peter Capaldi is a standout addition as the group’s enigmatic new boss. For an additional BBC fix, try the just-released first season of “Call the Midwife,” offering a very different look at ’50s London. Extras: A featurette spends time with series creator Abi Morgan, writer of “The Iron Lady.” (BBC, $34.98; Blu-ray, $39.98; available now)
By Tom Russo| Globe Correspondent January 12, 2013
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