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Appeal of Anthony Edwards’ new show strictly a mystery

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‘Zero hour’★½

7 to 8 p.m. Thursday
on WLS-Channel 7

Updated: February 13, 2013 11:11PM



Question: What do you get when you combine Nazis, clones, conspiracy theories, kidnapping, murder and a secret society of Christian mystics readying for the apocalypse?

Answers:

A) The pilot for ABC’s new action thriller “Zero Hour”

B) A hot mess

C) All of the above

The answer unfortunately is C. The frenetic pilot for “Zero Hour” is a mix of “Da Vinci Code,” “National Treasure” and ABC’s short-lived “Missing.” The show starts with a cinematic feel in 1938 Germany . While Nazis conduct human cloning experiments, members of a Christian secret society rush to build clocks. These timepieces play a crucial role in a mishmash of a mystery that picks up in present-day Brooklyn, where the publisher of a paranormal magazine called “Modern Skeptic” discovers that his wife has been kidnapped.

The magazine’s publisher, Hank, is played by Anthony Edwards in his first return as a TV series regular since “ER.” In a curious bit of “Zero Hour” casting that results in zero chemistry, Jacinda Barrett of “The Real World: London” portrays Hank’s wife, Laila, a clock-shop owner.

Hank, the feds and Modern Skeptic’s Scooby-Doo-like pair of young investigators embark on a race around the world to find Laila and wrangle an octopus of a deeper mystery that we’re told threatens mankind’s very existence.

Heavy-handedness is a hallmark of “Zero Hour;” I couldn’t keep a straight face during the Bavarian clockmaker’s histrionic speech at the end of the pilot.

Lazy exposition is another one of “Zero Hour’s” less admirable traits. After giving a lecture on deductive reasoning to his small staff, Hank sums up with, “That’s what we do here at ‘Skeptic.’ It’s our foundation.”

“Zero Hour” creator Paul Scheuring (“Prison Break”) said he’ll tell the sprawling story in 13 episodes. If there’s a second season — and I’m as skeptical as Modern Skeptic — Hank and his team will tackle a different mystery.

With just 13 episodes, Scheuring said, the show is going to be “so dense with information and reveals and mythology that there will never be a sense at all that we’re stalling or trying to find our way, because we have a huge amount of information to give.”

And that’s the big problem with “Zero Hour.” This overly ambitious series tries to do way too much and ends up doing nothing particularly well.



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