Friday, March 1, 2013

Zero Hour: A Letdown

ABC's new show, Zero Hour, had a premise that piqued my interest, so I decided to watch the pilot last night. I didn't get far before I started grumbling at my TV. Ten minutes into the second episode, I stared blankly, turned off my TV, and went to bed.

I thought, even if there was bad acting (I was prepared for the campy dialogue seen in the commercials), a science fiction, conspiracy show akin to The Da Vinci Code, one that incorporated Nazis and Rosicrucians, could keep me entertained for seasons on end. Plus, I'm a huge fan of Charles S. Dutton, and that was enough for me to overlook the suggestions from friends not to watch. I should have listened to them. Even an actor as stellar as Dutton can't save this ship from sinking.

In a world where print is dying, Anthony Edwards' character, Hank Gallistan, heads a skeptic magazine in Manhattan. Apparently, those stories about werewolves and ghosts are selling well, because the magazine has the funds to send its staff around the world without the need of Hank signing off on large sums of money, after explicitly telling his two cohorts, Rachel and Aaron, not to leave New York City.

Where I really started scratching my head, however, was at how easily Hank, a man whose profession and mission in life is disproving radical theories and beliefs, which means he should be a logical, calculative thinker, succumbs to the notion of secret societies, ancient conspiracies, treasure hunts, religious dogma, and runs headlong into danger without a second thought. Albeit, his wife was kidnapped, but is a writer seriously going to hunt down a mercenary that's on the top of the FBI's Most Wanted List? Maybe Hemingway. Maybe.

But lucky for Hank, his pal Father Mickle (Dutton) is there to help him track down one of the new apostles and decipher text from a language not spoken in thousands of years in a matter of minutes. The villain, White Vincent, could read it too, as he was on a plane out of  the country the moment he got his hands on a diamond containing a map to New Bartholomew.

As a science fiction fan, I'm not new to the concept of cloning. Therefore, I wasn't in awe at the pilot's cliffhanger, especially since they went out of their way to cover the Nazi collaborator's face in the opening. I was more in awe the characters ran around the Arctic Circle in normal winter coats with no cold breath and their faces exposed to the elements or that a Nazi submarine, which was sticking out of seasonal ice, wasn't discovered or crushed in over sixty years.

One of those characters in the arctic with Hank was an FBI agent named Rebecca Riley, who joined the agency to avenge the death of her husband and is willing to talk about it in an airport while her partner is in ear shot. She must not have a superior to answer to, because "Beck" is allowed to work on her dead husband's case and skip the country to chase his killer. Then, bent on revenge, consumed by it for years, she doesn't take a clear shot at Vincent. Two feet from her, he escapes by exploding a truck he just drove across two hundred miles of rough tundra and sea ice...with an armed bomb inside.

Still, these were minor annoyances compared to my largest beef with Zero Hour: the reveals. Every puzzle, just about every mystery presented, was solved and explained soon after its first mention, leaving little to the imagination and nothing to riddle through. Instead of slow build-ups, the writers threw it all on the table. Shows with similar formulas, Supernatural, Lost, or Fringe, took weeks, sometimes seasons to disclose their secrets, building their mythology around interesting characters. Even American Horror, which starts from scratch every season, toys with the viewer week after week, making us guess, making us theorize; it's the mystique of plot in these types of shows that bring us back, and Zero Hour doesn't even attempt it.

I can understand if this show entices others. Some might feel it's so bad it's good, and I wouldn't knock them if that's the case. I had moments where I laughed at the absurdity of Zero Hour,  yet there is simply not enough there for me; I can't bring myself to give it my usual three-episode-trial, and shockingly, this comes from a viewer displeased 666 Park Avenue was cancelled.


  1. Just read they have already cancelled the show.


  3. I was actually going to bring this up to you but didn't. I was going to say, "man, I am watching this show that I wanted to like but it is so bad, I can't believe how bad it is, but I had to watch the second episode to see if they got their shit together after trying to reel us in. They didn't." But you clearly know that now.