Zero Hour: Zero Acting, Recycled Plot

Original artwork for ZH

ABC’s new drama Zero Hour, set to premiere on February 14, has potential within its conspiracy storyline, which is unfortunately bogged down by the cast’s mediocre acting skills.

The pilot episode begins with a mysterious scene of Nazis beckoning at the door of a great European Catholic Church which holds a secret older than 2,000 years. This opening scene sets the plot in motion also sets up the audience up for a fast-paced, cryptic episode that leaves the audience asking many questions.

Fast forward 80 some years and we are at a flea market with a couple. The wife, Laila (Jacinda Barret), is a beautiful 30-something year old clock repairer and her incredibly average looking husband is Hank Galliston (Anthony Edwards). Galliston is the publisher of a magazine that focuses on debunking the supernatural. Not only are their occupations utterly absurd for their age and the current time period, but their on-screen chemistry is unconvincing as well. It is depressing to see a network play the ‘hot wife and average husband’ card in a drama of all genres.

The episode then becomes painfully predictable for the majority of the time. Galliston leaves Laila alone in the market and she ends up buying an old and dated clock. Soon after, Laila is kidnapped at her clock store by the infamous international terrorist White Vincent (Michael Nyquist). Chaos ensues and eventually we meet Rebecca “Beck” Riley (Carmen Ejogo), an FBI agent who Galliston is reluctant to trust. Galliston’s magazine staff consists of only two other people and both in their twenties. There is the slacker know-it-all Arron Martin (Scott Michael Foster, Greek) and the emotionally aware Rachel Lewis (Addison Timlin).

A majority of the characters painfully overact their scenes. Ejogo is by far the worst culprit within the entire cast. The writers give her a back story so you can attempt to feel connected to her, but really it just makes her acting all that much worse. After a few bumpy episodes, perhaps the acting will smooth out once the performers are comfortable with each other. Most acting in pilots is usually overdone and sketchy so it is not the end of the world, unlike the premise of the plot.

No really, the plot is based around the Apocalypse.  The premise of the new drama feels genuine but it is not original. Apparently, during the 1930s when many people thought that Hitler might have been bringing about the end of the world, the church decided to designate 12 new apostles. These apostles are supposed to keep the end of days from happening. The church believes it is happening because the Nazis have created a baby in the laboratory with no mother or father but by cells

After that storyline is set up everything becomes a bit difficult to follow. With some clearer script writing it could easily be remedied in the upcoming episodes. Zero Hour has a strong theme so far, which is knowledge. Certain characters believe that they can keep Armageddon from happening with the power of knowledge.

This theme of knowledge is ever-revolving throughout the first episode. The priests have faith in the idea that knowledge will save the world from destruction. The priests also believe the world is about to be under attack because the Nazis have created a child in a laboratory. In essence, the writers are saying the very thing that is about to ruin civilization as we know it, will also save us.

This seems fitting considering the current day and age we live in now. Many people today believe that knowledge will save us, that we must carry forward in the name of science and see how far we can push the human race. Then there are people in today’s world who are afraid of that change and progress and think that it will lead to humanity’s destruction. It is interesting to see a show’s take the ‘science will destroy the earth’ route and then claim that knowledge will save us. It seems a bit backwards but it could lead to some interesting climaxes and explanations if the writers are doing it on purpose.

Aside from the theme of knowledge the series has a second theme, which is time. As mindboggling as it is to realize that a show called Zero Hour has a theme around time, it clearly does. The show has a continuous romp with metaphors and how time is fleeting. There is a fast paced atmosphere to the drama that does make your heart race throughout the episode. It conveys the feeling that time stops for no one.  Almost as if you’re holding your breath for 44 minutes. Well when you’re not chuckling at the acting.

The scenery is beautiful, from the interior of giant masterpieces of artwork in churches to the outside world. The setting and backdrop are done perfectly, although Zero Hour lacks an intriguing cinematography lens. Many of the transitional cuts feel as though they were made for a sitcom and not a drama.

Zero Hour has potential with its themes of knowledge and time. The plot is already thick so hopefully some answers will thin it out before it thickens again. The plot is there, now as long as the actors become more comfortable with one another this show could stand a decent chance.

Since the original writing of this review (1/6/13) the show has premiered at a record low, as reported by deadline.com. It will be a surprising feat if this show can pull off an entire season without being canceled. Although it did premiere on Valentine’s day. I may have a soft spot for Foster, my ever indulgent Cappy, but original fans of Edwards seem to not support him in this role. With good reason too, he is just plain unbelievable.

Zero Hour, is going to sink fast if ABC doesn’t figure out how to bring in more viewers.

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7 comments on “Zero Hour: Zero Acting, Recycled Plot

  1. Pingback: Zero Hour: Zero Acting, Recycled Plot | Reel Thoughts of Jacki K

  2. A passably interesting concept, but the first episode was over-reaching, in addition to the stilted acting. But what annoyed me was the bad grammar used by a … MAGAZINE PUBLISHER!! To wit, “What would make Laila and I [*me] happy…” and “…massive assumption about you and I [*me] being the same…” Really? And what 40-50 year old talks these days about doing “a solid”? Is he supposed to be hip or learned or clever? At least FBI agent Rebecca Riley knows how to correctly pronounce the capital of Russia — it’s Mos-coe, not Mos-cow. The show seems to rely on dialog to establish the characters’ bonafides, but they’re not substantiated by plot activity. Unless the writing improves, I see a short run of this series.

    • I completely agree with you Joanna, I would like the show to improve on so many levels, but I don’t know if it will happen. Did you watch the second episode last night? I wanted to, but I didn’t come in until around 8:15 and Rebecca was talking to Rachel, but I couldn’t near the dialogue at ALL! The background music was so loud that I couldn’t hear them talking. And it was only that channel, all the rest of mine were fine. How weird?

      Anyways I’m glad to hear that someone is disliking Edwards as much as I did. He is completely unbelievable as his character. He lacks intelligence on so many levels in just the pilot episode alone.

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