Viewers who can't wait for the sixth season of "Mad Men" to arrive can console themselves with the season premiere of "The Hour" (9 p.m., BBC America, TV-14). Set in 1957 in the London studio of a struggling news program, "The Hour" is filled with period fashions, habits (smoking and drinking) and

attitudes (sexism galore and adult-

ery). Much like Peggy on "Mad Men," news manager Bel Rowley (Romola Garai, "The Crimson Petal and the White") is a competent woman overlooked and disrespected by the males in upper management. This second season brings the prickly and eccentric new head of news, Randall Brown (Peter Capaldi, "The Thick of It"), who im-

mediately destroys any vestige of Bel's authority.

It also marks the return of Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw, "Skyfall"), a slightly dreamy and idealistic visionary who sees their program, "The Hour," as a place to break rules and push boundaries. His co-host, Hector Madden (Dom-

inic West, "The Wire"), a glibly charming alcoholic, uses his television celebrity as a means to pick up women and cheat on his gorgeous and

sophisticated wife.

"The Hour" puts even more emphasis on historical background than "Mad Men." The first season took place against the backdrop of the 1956 Suez crisis, while the second puts emphasis on nuclear fears and Britain's uneasy acceptance of nonwhite immigrants from the colonies.

Television shows that are about television can get a tad insular, if not dull. The writers have wisely chosen to explore the demimonde of Britain's criminal element and the

authorities who overlook and enable their activities. Hector's boozy stumbling offers a

dramatic keyhole into this world of vice, and his character does not get away unscathed.

"The Hour" will appeal to patient viewers. It takes a bit getting used to, particularly the accents and slang. At first, I thought subtitles might be in order. But acquired tastes are often the longest lasting and most satisfying.

---"Invention USA" (10 p.m., History, TV-PG) returns for its second eight-episode season. Hosts Scotty Ziegler and Reichart Von Wolfsheild scour the 50 states to find bold innovators. Along the way, we learn about an eating utensil for messy foods like ribs, an innovative way to measure first downs in football by using laser beams, and a backpack that creates a new water supply for hikers. Besides, how can you resist a show hosted by someone named Reichart Von Wolfsheild?


---The top 10 compete on "The X-Factor" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).

---Al Roker hosts "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" (8 p.m., NBC).

---The Peanuts gang learns the lessons of the holidays in the 1965 special "A Charlie Brown Christ mas" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-G).

---The Huntress arrives on "Arrow" (8 p.m., CW, TV-14).

---"Saturday Night Live" (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14) celebrates the sketches of Christmas past.

---Mitch and Cam crusade for an endangered tree on "Modern Family" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).

---A car becomes a grave for a mysterious stranger on "CSI" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

---Marshall thinks Juliette and Rayna can make beautiful music

together on "Nashville" (10 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).

---Sister Mary Eunice senses a new evil presence on "American Horror Story: Asylum" (10 p.m., FX, TV-MA). When someone possessed by the devil thinks things are getting out of hand, you're in trouble!

---A new baby changes the equation on "Hot in Cleveland" (10 p.m., TV Land, TV-PG).

---Fran must make a choice on "Happily Divorced" (10:30 p.m., TV Land, TV-PG).


An orphan (Natalie Portman) in need of protection kindles a spark of humanity in a mercenary (Jean Reno) in the 1994 drama "The Professional" (8 p.m., Reelz).


---Attending motivational talks can be murder on "Criminal Minds" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14)

---Grim murders seem two-

dimensional in nature on "Super natural" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14)

---George feels made over on "Suburgatory" (9:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).


---Neil Young is scheduled on "The Daily Show with Jon Stew art" (11 p.m., Comedy Central).

---Jessica Biel, Marc Maron and Alice Cooper appear on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS).

---Alessandra Ambrosio, Joe Matarese, April Richardson and Jo Koy are booked on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!).

---Frank Oz sits down on "The Colbert Report" (11:30 p.m., Comedy Central).

---Aerosmith and Judy Greer appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS, r).

---Jay Leno welcomes Wanda Sykes and Blake Shelton on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC).

---Eric Bana, Damian Lewis and Wiz Khalifa appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (midnight, ABC).

---Craig Ferguson hosts Lewis Black, Karen Gillan and LP on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS).

Kevin McDonough can be reached at