Review: Eleventh Hour 1×1

Better than the original

Eleventh Hour

In the US: Thursdays, 10pm ET/PT, CBS

Cast your minds back a bit. The Eleventh Hour was a really very bad ITV drama starring Patrick Stewart and Ashley Jensen, in which physicist Stewart worked for ‘The Government’ solving science-related crimes while bodyguard Jensen did her level worst to protect him. Derivative of just about everything from Doomwatch and Doctor Who to almost every US TV show ever made, it only lasted four episodes before being pulled.

So it was something of a mystery to me why Jerry Bruckheimer no less took a look at it and said to himself, “Yes, I’ll be having myself some of that.”

But, it can’t help be noticed that over the years, when the UK has done its level best to produce TV shows that look a lot like US shows but are simply awful, when the US remake them they’re a whole lot better. Look at Touching Evil. Mind-blowingly bad stuff in the UK, absolutely triffic in the US.

And thus it is with Eleventh Hour.

ELEVENTH HOUR from acclaimed producer Jerry Bruckheimer follows Dr. Jacob Hood, a brilliant biophysicist and special science advisor to the government, as he investigates scientific crises and oddities. His jurisdiction is absolute and Hood is dogged in his pursuit of those who would abuse and misuse scientific discoveries and breakthroughs for their own gain. His passion and crusade is to protect the substance of science from those with nefarious motives. He is called in at the eleventh hour and he represents the last line of defense. Special Agent Rachel Young is the decorated FBI protection officer assigned to watch Hood’s back. Based on the British miniseries by acclaimed writer Stephen Gallagher, the series is executive produced by Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman, Danny Cannon, Cyrus Voris, Ethan Reiff and Mick Davis for Jerry Bruckheimer Television in association with Warner Bros. Television.

Is it any good?
It’s not brilliant. Not yet, and that I firmly put down to the fact they’re still remaking the British episodes. Once we get into original stuff, things can only get better.

But it’s been polished (yes, you really can polish a t*rd) to a far shinier sheen the UK version. Simply in plot terms, it’s more coherent. Jacob Hood (now played with decent US accent by household fave Rufus Sewell) is now a biophysicist – whatever one of those is – so at least there’s a reason why he’s investigating medical problems. He now works for the FBI, rather than directly for ‘The Government’ and so does his bodyguard, which makes sense. Although Marley Shelton’s Rachel Young is a tad on the skinny side, she does act like she knows what she’s doing, doesn’t spend all her time shagging when she should be guarding Hood and doesn’t come across as dumb – which was the biggest problem with Jensen’s bodyguard who wrestled blood-soaked smallpox victims and drank contaminated evidence samples.

The brisk pace of the episode shows you just how much padding there was in the original UK story. It’s also funnier, with Sewell’s nitpicking of TV ads and sitting on his panic button actually coming across as amusing, which the original never managed. The interplay between Sewell and Shelton, the building up of Young so she’s Hood’s equal, and the action scenes are all better, basically.

Nonetheless, it’s still more than a bit daft, and just about every bit of daftness is due to the original script. Having a baddie calling him/herself Gippetto is just silly; and only having one 24/7 bodyguard is a dramatic conceit at best, simply stupid at worst.

It’s quite fun, I easily prefer Sewell’s Hood to Stewart’s, ditto Shelton v Jensen, and the shorter run-time means the show doesn’t have time to dwell portentously on arguing that it’s saying something meaningful about science. They even include some actual scientific explanations and debate issues of morality in a House-ian way.

I’m hoping that once we get into original material, the show will find its legs and get to develop what it’s already doing a good job of setting up. It also needs to find something that will distinguish it from CBS’s other procedural fair, particularly CSI – by the looks of it, they’re going for a modern version of Doomwatch, which is what The Eleventh Hour should have been but never managed to be.

But it won’t be too painful sticking around until episode three, at least.

Here’s a whole raft of YouTube vids, including a series promo or two, an interview with Rufus Sewell and Marley Shelton, and a clip from the first episode.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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