Tag Archives: Zero Hour

An ‘Hour’ you’ll never get back from ABC

In my line of work, it’s not unusual to encounter a terrible TV show every now and then, but Zero Hour, which premieres tonight on ABC, is in a dubious class all by itself.
This misbegotten hybrid of The Da Vinci Code, The X-Files and the National Treasure movies stars former Emmy nominee Anthony Edwards (ER) as Hank Galliston, the publisher of Modern Skeptic, a magazine dedicated to debunking the very sort of unintentionally hysterical urban legends and conspiracy theories into which Hank finds himself swept up after his wife (Jacinda Barrett, Suits) is kidnapped by shadowy figures led by a creepy foreign terrorist. Mind you, this is after a lengthy, convoluted prologue involving Nazis, Rosicrucians and a spooky-eyed infant right out of Rosemary’s Baby.
I’d try to give you a more coherent summary of the pilot, but within a matter of minutes I had writer’s cramp from trying to transcribe the hilariously melodramatic dialogue. At that point, I started pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating this ridiculously surreal stew. By the 15-minute mark, the pinches had turned to full-blown bitch-slaps.
Zero Hour has all the narrative focus of a manic hummingbird that has just knocked back a double espresso, zipping frantically from one scene to the next, desperately trying to (a) make us think the frenzied pacing reflects authentic dramatic urgency and (b) distract us from realizing that none of the hogwash being hurled at us from all directions adds up to anything meaningful.
I’ll give the show this: It isn’t boring, but it doesn’t earn our attention with well-crafted characters or situations in which we can become emotionally invested. Instead, Zero Hour settles for making us gape slack-jawed at the train wreck unfolding in front of us. By the end of tonight’s premiere, we’ve gotten murky hints that Hank may be a clone of another character who lived during World War II, while his two young assistants (Addison Timlir and Scott Michael Foster, formerly Cappie on ABC Family’s Greek) have connected with an elderly Teutonic clockmaker who crosses himself and whispers an urgent warning that our heroes have stumbled across “a secret that could bring about the end of the world.” (Actually, since he talks like Professor Lilloman from Mel Brooks’ High Anxiety, it comes out as “the ENT of the WORLT!”).
It’s hard to believe that a show this relentlessly cuckoo could happen by accident, but if the creators of Zero Hour set out intentionally to craft a guilty pleasure, they’ve gone about it the wrong way. The series seems to want us to hop on board this runaway clown car as an act of blind faith, but if we don’t care about the characters or the contrived perils they face, we’re left with little but a kind of horrified fascination that is sure to wear out its welcome quickly. Meanwhile, I just hope no viewers try to turn Zero Hour into a drinking game, because if you take a shot of booze every time something preposterous happens, you’ll risk acute alcohol poisoning.