1 March 2013 | aehreviews
Intriguing ride that's not quite there
"Zero Hour" is a fast paced, twist-a-minute, intriguing, historical thrill ride that doesn't quite measure up. With its codes, symbols, maps, hidden objects and messages, and "ultimate secret", it's no wonder "Zero Hour" draws inevitable comparison to "The Da Vinci Code". This hour-long action drama centers on unraveling a mysterious secret hidden by twelve "new apostles" appointed by the church in 1938 to transport and safeguard some apocalypse-inducing secret from away from clawing Nazi hands. The mystery kicks off when the antique clock shop proprietress wife of Hank, played by "ER" (and "Top Gun"!) vet Anthony Edwards, is kidnapped after purchasing an unusual clock at a flea market. Hank runs a magazine called Modern Skeptic, focusing on conspiracy theories and historical mysteries (how convenient), and after being disillusioned with the abilities of the authorities, he enlists two of his young staff members, "Greek"'s Scott Michael Foster and his fellow "Californication" alum Addison Timlin, to follow the clues and track down his wife himself. This leads him to discover the rather convoluted conspiracy already outlined, and the necessity to investigate and travel the world to unfold the clues and match pace with the kidnapper, who is doing the same thing.
So many things happen in the first episode alone, it's tricky to keep track of it all. The conspiracy is interesting, especially its echoes of the supernatural, with genetic experimentation and a Nazi doppelganger of Hank, that make it a global "National Treasure" with the spirit of "Lost". While there are some very convenient discoveries and knowledge, there is at least an attempt to make the method of deduction somewhat plausible. The characters are under-developed but likable. Hank is so far a rather generic smart, good guy who just wants to get his wife back. His employees Arron and Rachel are also pretty stock characters (though it would be hard to fill in too many characteristic details for them and still have time for the plethora of details involving the plot set-up), their distinguishing characteristics being youth, loyalty, tenacity, and the extreme likelihood that they'll end up together at some point (if the show isn't canceled before they get around to it). More interesting are baddie Victor, who, though also thus far a non-specifically broad antagonist, is brought to life with grit and a somewhat psychopathic nonchalance by the Swedish "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" actor Mikael Nyqvist, and unconventional FBI agent Beck, played with a mostly successful American accent by Brit Carmen Ejogo. The dialog is nothing to write home about, and I'm not sure they can (or should!) maintain the breakneck pace of the first two episodes, but despite its shortcomings, the fun and infinitely expandable premise, the obviously decent production budget, my hope for future improvement, and a soft spot for Nyqvist, Foster and Edwards will definitely keep me coming back every Thursday at Zero Hour (8 o'clock
), for the time being.