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TV Tonight: Cuckoo Clocks

Zero Hour, ABC's attempt to cross Lost with The Da Vinci Code, is an unholy mess. But if you watch just a few minutes, it's a pretty good comedy.

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Philippe Bosse / ABC

You really should do yourself a favor and watch Zero Hour. Not the whole series; I can’t in good conscience recommend that. Not even the whole pilot, actually. But if you DVR the premiere and watch the first few minutes and the last few, you will be treated to the most over-the-top hilarious parody movie trailer you will likely see all year.

That trailer begins with a flashback to World War II. Nazism is sweeping across Europe. And a band of Rosicrucian priests have vowed to stop a Nazi threat against humanity–nay! against God Himself!–with an arcane plan that involves… clocks. “Twelve is a magic number, ” a voice intones. “Twelve is divine. Twelve is both the beginning and the end of time.”

The last time we heard someone intoning about magic numbers on ABC, of course, it was during Lost, whose spell Zero Hour seems Swiss-engineered to re-cast. But this is no Lost; it’s more like a particularly absurd Rimbaldi subplot of Alias. There is hilariously stiff dialogue. (We learn what order the priests belong to because someone says, “As Rosicrucians we know the most important thing we can do…”) There is an icebound submarine, and old men and babies with creepy pupil-less eyes, and maps and antiques and ancient prophecies. And it all wraps up with a wizened European man warning, “The storm is coming. It will pit science against religion, country against country. … And that storm is called–Zero Hour!”

That storm is blowing big fat flakes of pure hoo-hah, which could have been a grand ridiculous time. But on the way from World War II to the discovery of a secret holy-war conspiracy, we have to pass through Brooklyn, and some of the stiffest acting and dialogue you’ll find this season.

Hank Galliston (Anthony Edwards), publisher of a mythbusting magazine called Modern Skeptic–sort of an anti-Weekly World News–gets embroiled in the kind of conspiracy he usually debunk, when his wife (Jacinda Barrett) buys the wrong antique clock and gets abducted. With his two cub-reporter proteges Rachel and Arron (Addison Timlin and Scott Michael Foster), he goes on her trail, and comes across a mystery that involves modern Nazis, lots of clocks, and “a secret that even the Pope doesn’t know.”

If we’re going to wade through all this papal bull, we need characters to engage with, but Hank and his colleagues are written so thinly, their scenes have all the life of an early-morning table read. Edwards is too dour, his sidekicks too bland, and they’re forced to trade exchanges like: “We keep asking ‘how.’ If we want answers, we have to ask ‘why’?” “‘Why’ will drive you crazy, Hank!”

If you last this long, you will probably ask yourself how this show made it on air. No doubt it sounded great in a pitch meeting: a little Lost, a little Dan Brown, and the pedigree of the creator of Prison Break, which was at least good crazy before it went bad crazy. But we’ve seen this over and over again: a series built around an elaborate concept, dressed up with a spooky mythology, then filled in with characters so poorly conceived, they may as well be called Kidnapped Wife Lady.

All that said, while I think life is too short for hate-watching, this is the kind of show you might want to watch a few minutes of just for the experience. Maybe the intrigue over Pope Benedict’s resignation will pique viewers’ interest in Vatican-related religious thrillers. Certainly, Zero Hour needs some kind of miracle.

20 comments
LaraCroft_797
LaraCroft_797

At The Beginning Of Each Show Vincent Tells Which Each Number On The Clocks Stand For. And The Only One I Can Find Was 12 Which is. "12 Is A Magic Number, 12 Is Devine, 12 Is Both The Beginning And The End Of Time. But I Can't Seem To Find Any Of The Other Ones. Can Any One Help Me With This.

go4sergio
go4sergio

Accurate review by Time Magazine. Don't waste your time. This show will be canceled by the 4th episode.

KariKirschkeSims
KariKirschkeSims

I tried 4 times to get through the pilot...It took me 3 times to get through the next episode....I hindsight, I should have stopped trying after the very first attempt.  It sounded pretty cool, a little "DaVinci Code" with a dash of "National Treasure" but not even Tom Hanks could save the horrid script writing.  I have no reason to be invested in the characters, too bored with the pacing not to channel surf before the commercials come on , and have to use closed captioning to understand the dialog over the shoddy background audio....


ppehs
ppehs

r u that DENSE!

JackieNichols
JackieNichols like.author.displayName 1 Like

I LOVED the pilot and can't wait for the next episode!

ppehs
ppehs

facebook & twitter all of your friends about this show I think that social neworking  is the only way this show willl stay on the air!

HanBluegrass
HanBluegrass

If Big Bang Theory can somehow be the most popular comedy on television, and if Reality TV can be so popular, surely a show like this can survive. 

JimJasmer
JimJasmer

I tried to watch it last night. It was a total sleeper. Besides, the way ABC cuts shows it makes no sense in following a show that will likely be cut after the first season!

ppehs
ppehs

did you watch the 1st episode!

TheAdamJanes
TheAdamJanes like.author.displayName 1 Like

I am not religious, but this show is not about me. I can just go with it, for the fun of it. And when you let yourself go, you can have a lot more fun. I thought the show was interesting and could be entertaining for four seasons.

JackiWhitford
JackiWhitford

Oh stop it. Just because you have to suspend all belief to watch this show and just roll with this treasure hunt of twelve clocks that can bring about the end of days, does not mean you should not DVR this show and watch it later. Like when every clock in the world stops at twelve - "twelve is the beginning of time and the end of time..."

Captiosus
Captiosus

@JackiWhitford You have to do a LOT more than simply suspending belief. You have to also suspend any desire for a quality story or decent acting. The pilot to Last Resort was very good but the writing (no clue what direction they were going) and the subsequent acting turned it into a snoozefest that had little to do with the pilot itself. The writing of Zero Hour's pilot smacked of the same trite writing of Last Resort and the acting is so laughably bad that it's hard to believe Anthony Edwards was a pop culture icon as Goose and Dr. Greene.

anon76
anon76

"Zero Hour needs some kind of miracle."

News headline- "JJ Abrams and Dan Brown join forces to make Zero Hour watchable, are now eligible for canonization"

ps- the last time anyone talked about magic numbers on ABC was Flashforward.  However everyone that noticed is now trying to forget (apparently including the folks that greenlit Zero Hour). 

Lucelucy
Lucelucy like.author.displayName 1 Like

Dammit!  If I'd known that you could write "as you know, Bob" dialog for money, I wouldn't be so worried about next month's electric bill.  Maybe I should unplug all the clocks. 

Poppersci
Poppersci like.author.displayName 1 Like

@Lucelucy  Seriously. A professional writer and not a schoolboy wrote this? That's the most unbelievable thing about Zero Hour.

Lucelucy
Lucelucy like.author.displayName 1 Like

@Poppersci @Lucelucy Well, I couldn't resist.  I have it DVR'd.  Have to go out of town for a week, but it will be waiting.  Glutton for punishment.

geoff.clarke
geoff.clarke

My favorite scenes were the beginning with the priests who didn't bother to pretend to speak German, with one of them pronouncing "nazi" with a Minnesota accent. 

ColinM
ColinM

@geoff.clarkeOr the Canadian who talked about "your money being green?" (Nunavut is in Canada, right?)

evrg1
evrg1

@geoff.clarke  I noticed the "nazi" accent too. I think like Veritas on ABC years ago, this show will not make it far.

MattMitovich
MattMitovich like.author.displayName 1 Like

@poniewozik "Ze chhhhhlocks! You mahst fiiiind ze chhhhlocks!"