powered by FreeFind

Apple iTunes


ABC's Zero Hour adds up to barely that

A very vexed Anthony Edwards returns to prime-time in Zero Hour. ABC photo

Premiering: Thursday, Feb. 14th at 7 p.m. (central) on ABC
Starring: Anthony Edwards, Carmen Ejogo, Scott Michael Foster, Addison Timlin, Jacinda Barrett, Michael Nyqvist
Produced by: Paul Scheuring Zack Estrin, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Dan McDermott

The title makes it seem like another military drama in the mold of Last Resort, which it's replacing as ABC's Thursday night leadoff hitter.

Not so, though. Instead Zero Hour pretty much reflects its chances of making it to a second season next fall.

Preposterous, ridiculously earnest, poorly scripted and laughably acted, this is the series that Anthony Edwards chose to re-enter prime-time after a long tenure as one of ER's main men. He should've stayed in bed.

The premiere episode begins with the narrative intonation, "12 is a magic number. 12 is divine. 12 is both the beginning and the end of time." Right. And 1 is the loneliest number for anyone who's still counting.

Zero Hour further sets up its cockamamie premise with a very ponderous 1938 Nazi Germany sequence in which priests and other resistors are sent to kingdom come after some mysterious events get set in motion. Then it's on to present-day Brooklyn, where Hank Galliston (Edwards) and his wife, Laila (Jacinda Barrett), are happily passing some time at a flea market.

She buys an antique clock and he's on the clock. "I gotta go," he says before heading off to the small offices of Modern Skeptic magazine, which he publishes while preaching the guiding principles of "inductive reasoning" to young staffers Rachel Lewis and Arron Martin (Addison Timlin, Scott Michael Foster).

Their banter is interrupted by a phone call from Laila, who's back at her clock shop and terrified by someone breaking in. By the time Hank arrives she's nowhere to be found. And he's not even allowed to wonder why before Rachel clunkily interjects in the original version, "Why'll drive you crazy, Hank. You've just gotta keep your head down. Keep pounding the pavement." (This since has been amended to "Why'll drive you crazy, Hank" in the official on-air version.)

No matter. The writing on Zero Hour is still the equivalent of a pounding headache. As are the over-cooked tick-tock bridges to commercial breaks. Edwards surely had a choice of better material than this. And to think he used to be on a par with George Clooney at the outset of ER.

The series' other principal co-star, comely FBI agent Rebecca "Beck" Riley (Carmen Ejogo), likewise has known loss in her life. And she also knows that Laila's abductor is "the highest-end mercenary in the world," a nut who goes by the name of White Vincent (Michael Nyqvist).

Beck and Hank eventually journey to frozen northern Canada in search of a method to White Vincent's madness. Meanwhile, ad hoc sleuths Rachel and Arron are off to Bavaria, Germany, where they encounter an ancient clockmaker (played by Jan Triska) guilty of some of the worst sustained over-acting in the history of series TV.

Charles S. Dutton (Roc, The Corner) also is tossed in as an ill-fated priest. ABC publicity materials describe this whole shebang as a "breathless race against the clock to not only find Hank's wife but save humanity."

Don't expect any of it to make even a modicum of sense. ABC has enjoyed considerable success with its lone "procedural" crime drama, Castle, in which cases are wrapped up in single episodes. But the network remains addicted to far-fetched, string-along serial dramas, including recent flops such as 666 Park Avenue, The River, Missing and the aforementioned Last Resort.

Zero Hour looks to be far more incomprehensible than any of these previous efforts. And Edwards seems to be off his feed from the very first scene. His character is last seen in the throes of the dry heaves while the closing words in Thursday's opener come from that scenery-inhaling, cuckoo old German. He lets it be known that "the storm is called" -- pause, one-two -- "Zero hour."

Don't waste your time.

GRADE: D-minus