Review: Zero Hour 1×1 (ABC)

Zero intelligence and zero ratings

In the US: Thursdays, 8/7c, ABC

There are shows that despite essentially having an incredibly stupid premise actually turn out to be quite smart. Consider Prison Break, created by Paul Scheuring, in which an architect gets himself arrested so he can be incarcerated in the same prison as his death-row brother. Because he’s also the architect who designed the prison and has developed an intricate plan to get them both out of jail together – which he’s had tattooed onto his entire body.

Incredibly stupid premise, yet at times, it was actually quite smart, with intricate plotting, fun characters and tension aplenty.

Yet there are also shows that despite essentially having an incredibly stupid premise actually turn out to be absolutely stark staring bonkers insane.

Consider Zero Hour, created by – oh look – Paul Scheuring, in which Anthony Edwards’ wife gets abducted after she buys the wrong clock in a market. It turns out that it’s all part of a sinister conspiracy, involving the Rosicrucians, possibly the second coming or is it the anti-Christ, Nazis, reincarnation, 12 clocks, one for each of the apostles, and an unintelligible international terrorist. Only Edwards, together with a noble band of sceptical journalists, can save her and the world.

Yes, if you thought Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code wasn’t far reaching enough in its implications and Angels and Demons was just too plausible, have I got a show for you… and it’s possibly the stupidest, worst written show since the dawn of time.

Here’s a trailer:

Anthony Edwards – along with a dynamic ensemble cast — returns to network series television in the dramatic adventure thriller, Zero Hour, which will have his character, Hank Galliston, questioning everything and everyone he ever believed in – including himself. Zero Hour will premiere on THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on ABC.

As the publisher of Modern Skeptic Magazine, Hank Galliston has spent his career following clues, debunking myths and cracking conspiracies. But when his beautiful wife, Laila (Jacinda Barrett), is abducted from her antique clock shop, Hank gets pulled into one of the most compelling mysteries in human history, stretching around the world and back centuries.

Contained in one of his wife’s clocks is a treasure map, and what it leads to could be cataclysmic. It’s up to Hank to decipher the symbols and unlock the secrets of the map, while ensuring the answers don’t fall into the wrong hands — hands that belong to a sinister, mysterious man known only as White Vincent (Michael Nyqvist). Now Hank, along with his two young associates, Rachel (Addison Timlin) and Arron (Scott Michael Foster), as well as alluring and intelligent FBI agent Rebecca “Beck” Riley (Carmen Ejogo), must embark on a breathless race against the clock to not only find his wife, but save humanity.

Everyone has a personal stake in this life and death mission, from Hank, the everyman whose destiny is more intertwined in this conspiracy than he ever imagined, to Laila, the warm and loving wife who refuses to simply be a pawn in this struggle, to “Beck,” the FBI agent with plenty of secrets of her own. White Vincent has interests far more grand than the treasure that lies at the end of the hunt – and a mysterious past connecting him to Hank in ways that go well beyond this game of cat and mouse. And while Arron is a sucker for a good conspiracy theory, Rachel relies more on her head and her heart to guide her beliefs. But as this story unravels, knowing what to believe – and more importantly, whom to believe — becomes more and more difficult.

Whom and what will you believe?

Zero Hour stars Anthony Edwards (Big Sur, Flipped, ER) as Hank Galliston, Carmen Ejogo (Sparkle, Chaos, Away We Go) as Rebecca “Beck” Riley, Scott Michael Foster (Californication, The River) as Arron Martin, Addison Timlin (Californication) as Rachel Lewis with Jacinda Barrett (Matching Jack, Middle Men, New York, I Love You) as Laila Galliston and Michael Nyqvist (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Patrol) as White Vincent.

Zero Hour was created and written by Paul Scheuring (Prison Break), who is also an executive producer along with Zack Estrin, Lorenzo di Bonaventura (The Transformers, GI: Joe franchise, Salt, Red) and Dan McDermott (Human Target). The pilot for Zero Hour was directed and executive-produced by Pierre Morel. The series is produced by ABC Studios.

Is it any good?
It’s like having your brain knocked out by a lemon tied round a large gold brick. And not in a good way.

The implausibilities are numerous. They don’t even start with the idea that Anthony Edwards’s character could end up with a woman so obviously out of his league as his wife. Instead, we start with a flashback to Germany in the 1930s and 1940s where the Nazis are off abducting babies, particularly ones with shiny white eyes who might be the anti-Christ. We rove past a secret society of clockmakers and wise men who know all about Jesus/the anti-Christ, who decide to embed all their centuries of knowledge in a clock for no truly good reason.

We then flashforward to the present, with Edwards’ wife mysteriously drawn to said clock, which has somehow ended up in a Brooklyn flea market. Obviously the secret society were short of cash, or something. She’s abducted by an international terrorist, who wants the clock. Turns out he’s the baby all grown up, which perhaps would explain why he knows where the clock is, but not why he didn’t just buy it himself.

But perhaps it’s tied into the fact that Edwards is really a reincarnation of a Nazi guard, trapped in a frozen submarine, or perhaps even a time traveller. Perhaps it’s tied into the secret codes written in a lost Jewish language that for some reason Edwards’ pal the local vicar understands. Is it the second coming? Only Edwards and his employees at Modern Sceptic magazine, together with another FBI agent way outside his league, can find out and somehow they’re going to have the budget to investigate, even if it means travelling to the arctic.

With me so far? Why? Why are you following this nonsense? It literally makes no sense, and even if it did, the world isn’t going to end tomorrow because of a white-eyed terrorist, so you know he’s going to succeed, and his wife isn’t going to be killed unless it turns out she’s part of the conspiracy and only really married Edwards because he’s that reincarnated Nazi guard. Or a time traveller.

See? This is what will happen if you watch this. You’ll start making up nonsense theories about a nonsense programme that makes no sense. It’s not even fun. It has dialogue that could be used to torture inmates in Russian prisons. It’s like developing theories to explain why tigers attack Tom Hanks with lasers to save the planet Mongo from an unprecedented 3% hike in business tax rates on purchases greater than 75 Mong Drachma. It’s as arbitrarily pointless as that.

No one comes out of this looking good. Edwards looks like he wanted to be Tom Hanks, but couldn’t, and since Noah Wyle has had those Librarian movies for years on TNT and Nicholas Cage has had those National Treasure movies, he’s the third person now who wanted to be Tom Hanks but couldn’t be. He’s not even the first person off ER, that’s how unoriginal this is.

Scheuring had least came out of the first season of Prison Break looking goodish, but this makes it look like a fluke. ABC look like idiots for commissioning this. It’s truly the biggest, stupidest waste of money, I’ve ever seen on US TV. Don’t watch it.

Incidentally, seeing as this has the lowest ever ratings for an ABC debut drama, first assume this won’t be lasting too long anyway, so you’ll never find out how it ends, and second, be happy that the US public do have a modicum of intelligence. Unless they just TiVoed it because it was Valentine’s Day and they all watched it over the weekend. Which would be a shame.


  • 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.

    View all posts