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In about three minutes, the premiere of the ABC series Zero Hour manages to squeeze in Nazis, Rosicrucians, a mysterious baby, and mentions of the end times and biblical prophecy. It's like speed-reading Dan Brown.
But by the end of the first episode, you might be wishing you could jump ahead to the last pages — I mean episode — of this silly and overwrought series. With several folks from Prison Break working off-camera, the show aims to be a breakneck-paced thriller with just enough weirdness to entice fans of elaborate puzzles like Lost, or even National Treasure.
ABC has been vigorously beating the drum for the show, including posting the debut online before its telecast at 8 p.m. Thursday. It has enlisted the beloved Anthony Edwards of ER as the main character, Hank Galliston, the publisher of a magazine called Modern Skeptic. He is also the husband of Laila, a clock maker and collector (Jacinda Barrett).
But! Laila! Gets! Kidnapped!
Sorry. This is the kind of show where everything seems exclamatory. I am already expecting a series of promos akin to those for Scandal, promising that You! Won't! Believe! What's! Happening! Next!
After all, this is not just a routine kidnapping. Laila has something that a man known as White Vincent (Michael Nyqvist) wants. At the same time, an FBI team wants White Vincent — and for agent Rebecca Riley (Carmen Ejogo) that's a very personal task.
Desperate to get his wife back, Hank and his magazine team (Addison Timlin and Scott Michael Foster) begin to discover things that connect to old plans and mysteries. Of course, we as viewers know that he's about to be part of a big deal thanks to those first three minutes. And Zero Hour wastes little time on the way to a premiere-ending climax that is supposed to set your head spinning. (You! Won't! Believe! …)
Unfortunately, getting to that point has involved several dips into a pool of ridiculousness, particularly when it comes to the pursuit of White Vincent. Must law enforcement always be so foolish — and in such familiar ways?
I admit to something of a grudge against Zero Hour, since it is taking the time slot of the now-concluded Last Resort. That was my favorite new show of the season — at least until it got the cancellation notice and had to rush its plot to a finale. (Good finale, though.) Zero Hour is much more pedestrian, like Prison Break, a show that tries to keep moving quickly enough that you will ask only the questions the show raises — and not more demanding ones about plot and character.