Review: The apostles of Zero Hour

This week saw the premiere of the new conspiracy drama on ABC.

In the 1930’s presented in Zero Hour, a dangerous, world-ending secret was hidden from the Nazis by a doomsday cult. Two generations later, this secret is resurfacing, and Hank Galliston, played by Anthony Edwards, is caught in the middle when his wife, a clock-shop owner, is abducted by a man who thinks she has a clock which will show him the next step in unraveling the cataclysm.

The show follows Hank, who also runs a magazine for skeptics, as he attempts to track down his wife and her kidnapper, discovering along the way that there is much more at stake here than his wife’s safety. The alternate history we’re presented with, one in which the Nazis were working on some sacrilegious technologies to create some kind of ubermench, is a trite one, as is the generic secret society who were trying to stop them. In fact, many elements of the secret history are ones we’ve seen before, and the depiction of the ‘evil Nazis’ is, frankly a bit of a cop-out at this point. There are so many interesting organizations in the world’s history; do we really need another story with Nazi villains?

That past is not the bulk of the story, however, as the action takes place in our modern world, where those conflicts have risen again. This place, however, is no less trite. Much of the characterization is lost in dialogue which is heavily stilted, and almost entirely expository and melodramatic. There is not one character in this pilot that I found myself relating to or even just caring about. It’s like the action is moving at the pace of a feature film, but the characters are only receiving development at the pace of a TV drama, so everything feels a bit mismatched.

I’m going to give the episode the benefit of assuming that this is just a pilot trying to find its legs, and I’m willing to watch again next Thursday night to see the second half of the opening story (why they didn’t run the pilot as a double-length premier, I’m not sure) Perhaps the events in this half are reliant upon the second half to work, maybe the second episode will make me care, but I doubt it.

I had high hopes for this one, but if the next episode keeps the same pacing and dialogue issues as this first one, I’m afraid there is not much to look forward to. As interesting as the concept is, and as much as I’ve been pushing for more genre television, this one just tries too hard to do too much at once, and, ultimately, it fails to do anything at all.

Zero Hour airs on ABC Thursday evenings. 13 episodes were orderd by the network so far.