ZERO HOUR: First Thoughts on ABC’s Dan Brown Porn

Zero Hour
Zero Hour (2013) – Created by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Paul Scheuring, Dan McDermott – Starring Anthony Edwards, Scott Michael Foster, Addison Timlin, Jacinda Barrett, Carmen Ejogo, and Michael Nyqvist.

Ugh.

Ugh.

Ugh.

Let me start this evisceration of ZERO HOUR by saying that I absolutely love ABC’s approach to drama. Not content to simply churn out an infinite number of CSIs and NCISes, not content to carefully develop a house style, ABC is a network willing to take risks. Over the past several years, they’ve given us a breezy cop romance (Castle), a revenge fantasy (Revenge), a nuclear sub on the run (Last Resort), a contemporary fairy tale (Once Upon a Time), a political soap opera (Scandal), an All About Eve update in the country music capital (Nashville), and a slick horror show (666 Park Avenue).

Not all of these shows have been hits, of course, which is why it’s so refreshing to see ABC continuing to look for the next breakout hit instead of simply capitalizing on their successful shows and churning out like-minded product.

Most of those shows that I listed above were/are pretty decent. If nothing else, they were different, which can raise the question of why ABC puts them on the air if, like Last Resort and 666 Park Avenue, they’re going to be cancelled after half a season. It’s tough enough putting a hit show on the air, let alone launching something new. Certainly, what CBS and USA do is a much sounder financial strategy – even if their viewers have never heard of, say, Sherlock Holmes, they know when they turn into Elementary they’re going to get a stylistic fit with the other shows on the network. Where ABC is a music company putting out records by all kinds of artists, CBS is an artist putting out songs with a signature sound.

Now that I’ve firmly sucked up to ABC, lets get into the heart of the matter at hand:

ZERO HOUR sucks.

It’s so bad it makes National Treasure feel like a national treasure (Shalit!)

Admittedly, I was not greatly looking forward to ZERO HOUR. I thought the commercials looked kind of silly and I didn’t buy Anthony Edwards as a compelling lead. Don’t misunderstand – he’s a decent TV actor but he was also the milquetoasty part of ER, not the horse pulling the wagon. Yet it appeared from the commercials that he was going to have to carry ZERO HOUR and I was skeptical that he had a strong enough personality needed to lead us through a labyrinth of secret societies and ancient languages and clocks.

I take no joy in having my fears confirmed, but ZERO HOUR is going to get exactly one more episode to get me to come back.

Why one more episode? Because after all this time of secrets hidden in clocks and Nazis and the end of the world (not to mention a flat-out amateur script and largely sub-par acting), two crazy kids visit a clockmaker in Bavaria, and a 93-year old man delivers a fantastic monologue about secrets hidden in clocks and Nazis and the end of the world that will get me to come back next week.

Up until then, I didn’t think I’d ever subject myself to a second episode. As ZERO HOUR opens, Hank Galliston (Edwards) and his wife Laila (Jacinda Barrett) are shopping by the water in New York City. Laila owns a clock shop and so she’s looking for clocks, and Hank runs a magazine that apparently staffs two people (the crazy kids I mentioned last paragraph), and he’s playing hooky. He goes back to the office of Modern Skeptic and tells his two enthusiastic workers that he doesn’t want stories about werewolves because they’re a serious paranormal magazine. Hank gets a panicked call from Laila and she gets kidnapped by the first guy to play Mikael Blomkvist in the Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo film (Michael Nyqvist).

There’s an FBI agent who doesn’t trust Hank and whom Hank doesn’t trust. Edwards delivers all of his lines like he memorized them 10 minutes before filming and he’s just completely the wrong choice for this show. The lackluster script doesn’t help – the biggest insight Hank has the entire episode is when he realizes that Nyqvist isn’t actually watching him when he says he is! Hank figures this out because when White Vincent (Nygvist) tells him he’s doing a good job walking, Hank is … TYING HIS SHOE! Whoah!

After Vincent almost kills Charles Dutton and steals a diamond that holds a map inside of it (don’t ask), Hank decides to follow the map to “New Bartholomew,” which is in the Arctic. We learn from that cool 93-year old that New Bartholomew isn’t a place but a person! A new Apostle! And he looks just like Anthony Edwards! You know this because when he enters a Nazi sub stuck in the Arctic ice (don’t ask), Hank says, “Wow, this frozen Nazi guy looks just like the really great actor from ER,” to which the FBI agent (who can’t see the frozen German guy) says, “George Clooney!”

“No.”

“Noah Wyle?”

“No.”

Eriq La Salle?”

“Nope.”

“Goran Visnjic?”

“No!”

“Alex Kingston?”

“Alex Kingston is a woman.”

“Erik Palladino?”

“I don’t know who that is.”

“Mekhi Phifer?”

“No.”

“John Stamos?”

“The Greek yogurt guy?”

“Shane West?”

“No.”

“Scott Grimes?”

*sigh* “Yes. Scott Grimes. The frozen Nazi looks like Scott Grimes.”

“That’s weird. I didn’t think there were Nazi Gingers.”

“Well, like the commercials say, this show changes everything you think you know about history.”

There’s no passion here, no heart, no intelligence, no reason to stick around except for that old dude. I bet this will be like The Walking Dead, where the single most interesting guy on the show was used in the first episode and then never again.

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