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Review: The Halcyon
TV critic Louise Dean reviews ITV's latest period drama, The Halcyon
Feeling the absence of a period drama on ITV after Downton Abbey ended, I was intrigued to watch The Halcyon and assess whether it was worth the hype which it had been given – after all, ITV had shown its previous capabilities to capture the nation through a period drama. The expectation of The Halcyon was high. After four episodes, the series so far has failed to disappoint. It follows the story of running The Halcyon hotel, owned by the aristocratic Hamilton family, which consists of Lord Hamilton, Lady Hamilton and their two sons, Freddie and Toby.
The background of the drama is ironic considering its historical context; life both in the hotel and nationally is far from halcyon. The glitz and glamour of the guests at the hotel contrasts the backdrop of the Second World War, which adds to the uncertainty when watching. But that uncertainty is what adds to the appeal of The Halcyon; every character is vulnerable in wartime, and you can never anticipate what is going to happen after each scene finishes, which makes it gripping to watch.
“Every character is vulnerable in wartime, and you can never anticipate what is going to happen after each scene finishes
The dynamic between the characters is already entertaining, and it will be entertaining to watch its progression. Each episode sees Lady Hamilton struggling to cope with the humiliation and disgrace that her late husband’s affairs have brought onto the family. She is struggling to cope with the legacy of her husband in the hotel and is having old members of staff, such as Mr Garland, the reliable hotel manager, still working there and being a constant reminder of her husband’s infidelity. Freddie Hamilton, the new Lord Hamilton and the oldest son, now has sufficient responsibility to the Hamilton family and the hotel. He now has complete authority of the hotel, whilst being on call to fight in his air squadron at any point. He is determined to do things differently from his father, which involves going against his mother’s decision to sack Mr Garland. The second brother, Toby Hamilton is a quiet yet deceiving character. His constant comparison and rejection from his family compared to Freddie has struck a chord. This caused him to confess his father’s infidelity to the American journalist, Mr O’Hara, which was a factor contributing to Lord Hamilton’s death. He has a lot of anger inside him against his father and I predict that this could be vented at either Lady Hamilton or Freddie at some point later on in the series. As mentioned earlier, Mr O’Hara is the American correspondent who is staying at The Halcyon as well. He is striking up deals with the wrong sorts of people, and the close bond that Toby has formed with him through his media influence could have the potential to caused damage. There is also a love triangle emerging between Freddie and Mr Garland’s daughter, Emma. They were childhood friends, but Mr O’Hara could be set to wreck this blossoming romance.
“If you’re looking for a series to get into this winter, full of deceit, anger and passion, The Halcyon is definitely worth a watch
If you’re looking for a series to get into this winter, full of deceit, anger and passion, The Halcyon is definitely worth a watch. Regardless of whether you are knowledgeable on the Second World War or not, the storylines are current and relatable. They have underlying messages which can be applied to everyday life; witnessing the struggles that the Hamilton's face despite their affluence reaffirms the belief that money can never buy you happiness. It’s not a laugh a minute, but it’s highly captivating and gives a snapshot from an unusual perspective of the uncertainty of living and working in Britain during the Second World War.