Pulling the Plug on Zero Hour

CARMEN EJOGO, SCOTT MICHAEL FOSTER, ANTHONY EDWARDS, JACINDA BARRETT, MICHAEL NYQVIST, ADDISON TIMLINIt only took a couple of episodes for me to get fed up with Zero Hour. It could be that I’m more critical of tv shows than I am of books. However, I think it’s more likely that books are coherent, character-driven, written by a single person, and working toward a singular end. Often tv shows have multiple writers, who must develop an episodical, self-contained, time-constrained show every week. Zero Hour suffers from a lack of those things that make a book great. It’s incoherent, lacks vision, and though the actors try very hard, the characters aren’t really compelling. I had many questions after that first episode, and a couple are addressed immediately, but ultimately the second episode raises even more questions than it answers. When you combine that with characters whose actions are inexplicable save for the purpose of advancing the plot, I built up an ambivalence towards the plot and the characters. I think it’s unlikely the series will be renewed, so I don’t wanted to get heavily invested in it anyway – I’ve had my share of that…realistically I should be watching season 2 of The River instead of this…

Zero Hour: “Strike” (Pilot, Season 1 Episode 1)


With The Following leaving a bad taste in my mouth, I was reluctant to add yet another series to the DVR and review list. However, the previews made Zero Hour look like The Da Vinci Code meets National Treasure, which sounded like it was perfect for my Indiana Jones infatuation. There are some major problems from the very beginning, but there’s also some promise of mystery and strangeness.

In my opinion, Episodes 1 and 2 should have been run back-to-back to create a two hour event. There’s so much information crammed into 1 hour that we get very little character development, and lots of questions without answers. The beginning starts with a cool Nazi-era flashback, where a bunch of priests are hiding something from the Nazis, while discovering that the Nazis possess a baby with strange eyes. The priests are gunned down, but another Nazi escapes with the secret object. it’s not even 5 minutes into the show and I’m wondering what the hell is going on here?

From there we move into the current day in a scene between Hank Galliston, editor of a skeptic magazine, and his wife Laila, a clock repairer. It establishes a little bit of character background, but Laila is gone far too quickly to establish her presence. I’m guessing we’ll see more of her in flashbacks, since that’s now the trendy thing to do. She sees a guy in the park selling clocks and she buys a strange looking clock that she’s drawn to. Next thing you know, she’s kidnapped by a terrorist named White Vincent, who wants the clock. Only she dumped it at home instead of the office, so now hubby has it. While the police and FBI conduct their investigation, Hank examines the clock and finds a diamond inside. Turns out projecting light through the diamond displays a map. Hank takes it to his old buddy Father Mickel to decipher the writing, which turns out to be “New Bartholomew” near the Arctic Circle. Hank leaves the diamond with Father Mickel for safe keeping and goes to meet the kidnapper of Laila, who wants the clock.

Enter the FBI. The lead agent, Rebecca Riley, really wants to get her hands on White (who we later learn murdered her husband). Her team bursts in on White’s location, only to learn its a decoy. White led them all on a merry chase while he went and knocked off Father Mickel and took the diamond. All hope is lost until Aaron and Rachel, Hank’s assistants, declare that they know White is headed to New Bartholomew, so they should do the same. Hank decides to go along and tasks the young ‘uns to find the clock maker. Which they do, and since he’s a 93 year old German with no phone or email, they fly to Germany to talk to him. Meanwhile we get a scene where White removes his contacts, and reveals eyes that look identical to the strange Nazi baby in he early flashback.

Hank reaches the Arctic Circle first, with Rebecca tagging along and discovers a Nazi submarine stuck in the ice. Meanwhile, Aaron and Rachel are getting an info dump from the clock maker, including the fact that the Nazi officer who made off with the artifact was none other than New Bartholomew himself. As Hank explores the sumarine, he discovers several bodies, including one that looks identical to him! He runs outside, shaken, just as White is pulling up. The End.

Wow. This isn’t just The Da Vinci Code meets National Treasure…might as well throw in some X-files, Fringe, and other weirdness, because the show is just so utterly bizarre that it’s impossible to tell where it’s going. As I mentioned above, there are some serious, fundamental problems with the script. Who is the creepy guy selling the clock? How does White know that Laila purchased it? If he wanted it so badly, why kidnap Laila? I mean, seriously, he couldn’t buy it (or just take it) himself? How did White know that Father Mickel had the diamond, when only Hank and Father Mickel knew? If the clock was made for new Bartholomew, why wasn’t it with him? Why did it contain a diamond that showed his location, frozen in the ice, when his location was supposed to be a secret? Hopefully there will be some answers coming, because if they don’t, that is some really terrible writing.

Anthony Edwards is a curious choice for the lead. He seems too, well, average, to pull this off. When Noah Wylie played the lead role in the Librarian series, he was good looking and had youthful exuberence. Nicolas Cage was an established action star when taking up National Treasure. I guess Edwards is being patterned off Tom Hanks in The Da Vinci Code. In conclusion, I’m intrigued enough to watch a couple more shows and see where it leads, but there better be some answers forthcoming, because I don’t have the time nor the inclination to watch poorly-written plots. Hopefully Zero Hour won’t fall into that category…