The only thought that comes to mind while watching the premiere episode of “Eleventh Hour” is “Oh Lord, not another weird-things-happen, we-are-all-connected, ‘X-Files’ rip-off.” Regardless, CBS introduced “Eleventh Hour,” a new show about a brilliant scientist and female cop/sidekick who investigate wacky, scientific, possibly supernatural occurrences. Now, if this seems familiar, it’s not only because of its resemblance to “The X-Files,” but also to the new show “Fringe,” which features all the same paranormal shenanigans. While “Eleventh Hour” has strong acting, even that can’t compensate for the show’s weak premise.
“Eleventh Hour” opens with an exciting car chase in which a young man tosses a biohazard waste container out the window. After crashing into a tree, flying out the windshield (wear your seat belt, kids) and being caught by the police, the man fleeing the scene reveals that he was hired to burn the containers, which actually contained terminated fetuses. Enter Dr. Jacob Hood (played by Rufus Sewell) and his bodyguard Rachel Young (Marley Shelton).
Hood is a scientist working specifically for the FBI and, because he is supposedly the best, he is assigned a bodyguard. Young follows him wherever he goes, and Hood holds onto a panic button just in case trouble strikes. The lack of GPS positioning on the panic button, however, begs the question of what good it really does.
Supporting this theory is a scene in which Young is awakened by her panic buzzer, jumps out of bed scantily clad, races down the hallway and kicks in Hood’s door only to find him gone, then races down to the lobby, where she discovers that the only reason her beeper went off is because Hood sat on it. As you’ve already guessed, this scene was just an opportunity for some gratuitous skin action from Shelton.
The doctor figures out that the biohazard wastes are all identical fetuses and that someone is planning to use them to produce clones. After tracking down the source of all the money and the mother soon to give birth to a clone, Hood and Young manage to thwart the experiment and save the mother, yet let the mastermind behind this scheme escape. The pilot ends with Hood receiving a phone call, telling him there’s a new situation. Young says, “What kind?” and Hood replies, “A delicate one.”
Obviously, the dialogue is not superb, a factor which does not help the multiple inane plot points, such as Hood using the library instead of the Internet to track down the killer, and cops opening and sniffing containers clearly labeled biohazard. The list goes on and on. The case in question centers on cloning and the moral crises it presents, but this topic is less than controversial, nearly turning the show into a bad “CSI” re-run.
Though the plot and dialogue make the show almost unbearable to watch, Sewell and Shelton are two fine actors who do their best with what they’re given. Sewell provides a little mystery to Hood and, during a scene that reveals some of the skeletons in his closet, the actor manages to convey real emotion. The same can be said for Shelton; her portrayal of a tough girl despite her Barbie-doll looks sets a positive example for female cop characters. Shelton — aka Wendy Peffercorn from “The Sandlot” (1993) — does a tremendous job in spite of the fact that her looks don’t mesh with the character.
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, the guy behind TV smash hit “CSI” and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, this show more than likely will flop before the end of the season. As it will inevitably compete with J.J. Abrams’ relatively original new show “Fringe,” “Eleventh Hour” doesn’t stand a chance. Even though both Sewell and Shelton have large fan followings, their popularity and good acting won’t be enough to save this already-sinking ship.