Eleventh Hour, a new, hour-long drama from CBS, stars Rufus Sewell (John Adams, The Illusionist, A Knight’s Tale,) as Dr. Jacob Hood, a biophysicist and government science advisor, and Marley Shelton (Planet Terror, American Dreamz) as his FBI watchdog/protection officer, Rachel Young.
In the opening episode, “Resurrection”, Hood and Young are called to Seattle to investigate the discovery of 19 containers of biomedical waste, all buried in various shallow graves, and all buried with crucifixes attached to the containers. And inside each large jar are the gruesome remains of an unborn fetus. The local law enforcement has caught a suspect who confesses that he had been paid to incinerate the contents of the containers, but once he realized what was inside, he couldn’t bring himself to do that, hence the hurried burials.
When Hood and Young arrive on the scene, Hood discovers that the DNA records of each fetus are identical to one another. The only explanation is an attempt at human cloning. Now Hood and Young, aided by a local detective, begin searching for the mastermind behind the illegal cloning work. At the same time a young woman, very pregnant with her second child, is being cared for by an ethically challenged doctor and nurse team. Yes, there’s a connection.
A quiet town in Georgia is the setting of the second episode, “Cardiac”. Dr. Hood and Agent Young probe the mystery of why several 11-year-old boys are suddenly dying from heart attacks. This episode features the talented actor Zach Mills (Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium) as a hospital administrator’s son bent on fitting in with the other kids.
So what makes Eleventh Hour tick? Comparisons will be made to FOX’s Fringe, which is being compared to X-Files. So what? Is the show entertaining? Does it hold interest? Yes to both. Jerry Bruckheimer is the executive producer, which does not guarantee a free pass, but it bodes well. With a string of hit movies (The Pirates franchise, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Con Air, Bad Boys) Bruckheimer has also produced some top television shows (Amazing Race, CSI, Without a Trace, Cold Case). Here, he’s adapted the British mini-series version of Eleventh Hour keeping the same character name of Rachel Young, and changing Ian Hood (Patrick Stewart in the UK version) to Jacob. Interestingly, the American version of the “Resurrection” episode follows the same plot as its UK predecessor.
Rufus Sewell is excellent as the brilliant scientist, Dr. Hood. He imbues his character with a good mix of simmering angry righteousness that’s mostly tempered with grace, humor, and intelligence.
I’m not so sure about Marley Shelton as Rachel Young. She’s come a long way since her Sugar and Spice days, and I wouldn’t call her wooden, but her portrayal of Agent Young is bordering on robotic at times. It’s not that she doesn’t seem present, but she has an intensity that is a little out of place. Watching her move recalls Kristanna Loken’s “T-X” in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. But Sewell’s Dr. Hood and Shelton’s Agent Young together have a decent chemistry. But don’t look for the Scully and Mulder dynamic, you won’t find it here. Different show, different people.
The show has some unrealistic moments. I hope that there are not any highway patrolmen who are actually dumb enough to pick up and open a container marked "Bio-Hazard” with their bare hands. And when Agent Young spurns the invisible advances of a police detective, all I can think is that it’s mighty presumptuous.
Generally though, Eleventh Hour is exciting. “Resurrection” is about suspense and a race against time, while “Cardiac” is more of a classic whodunit. There were plenty of twists and turns to keep the conjecture going. And Jacob Hood would make Dr. House proud as he worked through a differential diagnosis scenario on a classroom white board (instead of addressing the concerned parents waiting in the auditorium).
I look forward to more episodes.
Eleventh Hour premieres tonight, Thursday, October 9 at 10:00 PM (EST).