LOS ANGELES â€” The late â€˜50s and early â€˜60s are popular this year with TV producers, who insist theyâ€™re not just trying to capitalize on the success of â€œMad Men.â€
BBC Americaâ€™s â€œThe Hourâ€ â€” the first of three new dramas set in the time period â€” launched this week, offering a look at the birth of serious television news journalism in the late â€˜50s.
NBCâ€™s new drama â€œThe Playboy Clubâ€ peeks under the bunny ears of the women who worked in the Chicago night club started by Hugh Hefner in the early â€˜60s.
And ABCâ€™s â€œPan Amâ€ follows the lives of airline stewardesses â€” before they were called flight attendants â€” in the â€˜60s.
The new shows share an era with Don Draper and company of â€œMad Men,â€ but those behind them say theyâ€™re not copycats. â€œMad Menâ€™sâ€ success aside, producer stress the time period is rich for stories because it was such a turning point for social change, pop culture and politics.
â€œThe Hourâ€ started with an idea about doing a TV show set in a â€˜50s newsroom. Writer Abi Morganâ€™s research revealed that while the date might be different, the themes and concepts are very modern.
â€œI suddenly was very led by how brilliant the sort of historical event was and how many parallels I felt there were with our modern times. What was key to that was the Suez crisis, which was really a moment in British history when the government actually pulled us into a phony war. I just thought there was an immediate comparison with whatâ€™s been happening in the world today,â€ Morgan says.
Morgan understands the comparison to â€œMad Menâ€ because of the time element but stresses â€œThe Hourâ€ will be much different because behind the sharp suits, cigarette smoke and chauvinistic thinking is a story of espionage.
NBC president Robert Greenblatt says he has great respect for â€œMad Menâ€ but â€œThe Playboy Clubâ€ is completely different because itâ€™s more of a soap opera. â€œThe Playboy Clubâ€ executive producer, Ian Biederman, adds that his show has a musical element that will bring a different energy to the series.
In the opener to air in September, a young Tina Turner sings and dances on the club stage while Sammy Davis Jr., Ray Charles, Sam Cook and Frank Sinatra will stop by in later episodes.