February 17, 2013

TV: Zero Hour (ABC, Thu 8)

Oh my lord, this is the loopiest mess TV has given us in ages.

A prologue set in 1938 Germany gives us a bunch of Rosicrucians working frantically to finish a dozen clocks. Meanwhile, at a local hospital, we see that a Nazi experiment has resulted in the birth of a baby with creepy silver eyes. The Nazis attack the church, and the clockmakers and priests rush to hide from the Nazis the mysterious something that lies under the cathedral; one of them intones portentously, "It is all up to The Twelve now."

Jump to the present, where Anthony Edwards edits Modern Skeptic magazine. His wife (Jacinda Barrett), who repairs of old clocks and watches, is kidnapped by an international terrorist, who apparently wants the old clock she has just bought. And so Edwards is off to save his wife, with the help of an FBI agent (Carmen Egojo), whose husband just happens to be have been killed by the same terrorist.

The dialogue is one clunky cliche after another. "We're worrying about how she was taken," says Edwards, "and we should be asking why." "Hank, 'why' will drive you crazy," says one of his reporters. And in the starring role, Edwards is a mess, accomplishing the remarkable feat of overacting while being absolutely devoid of personality.

By the time we've gotten to the end of the episode and met the 93-year-old Rosicrucian who made the clock and delivers cryptic warnings of some horrible thing that will happen if the bad guys get their hands on the whole set of twelve clocks, or we find the bunker in northern Canada with the frozen corpse of a Nazi officer who looks exactly like Edwards, or we discover that the terrorist has creepy silver eyes, it's clear that we are in for a conspiracy thriller that's going to make the novels of Dan Brown look like sophisticated literature.

The show might just barely be able to save itself if it gives in to its camp potential and embraces its own silliness, but I fear that it wants to be taken seriously, and as serious drama, it's an absolute disaster.

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