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I wanted to dislike "Eleventh Hour". Yes, it is yet another US remake of a UK series, yet another CBS procedural drama produced by Jerry Bruckheimer where nerdy professionals spout scientific and medical jargon paired with an attractive female. It's been disheartening watching Bruckheimer's name go from being associated with loud, boisterous, flashy, trashy, action movies to being a television brand name for "CSI" and endless, lifeless CBS procedural clones. The Bruckheimer Executive Producer template is tried-and-true and "Eleventh Hour" gets run through that ringer. Take a UK series starring Patrick Stewart and Ashley Jensen, flattening out any potential substance to leave only the most basic tent-posts of the CBS formula standing and bingo: ratings gold. Yet with a little polish in the production and an ear for creating mild thrills, "Hour" is a little bit better than the "CSI"s of the world.
Rufus Sewell plays genius scientist Dr. Hood, who advises the FBI through the lens of physics, biology and chemistry, under the handling of partner Rachael Young (Marley Shelton). This often includes viruses and toxins that are on the verge of spreading into a fatal pandemic unless Hood can find the a) terrorists and malevolent corporations or b) accidental combination of common chemicals responsible. Sewell fits the scientist bill well. He's halfway commanding on screen and about as devoid of personality as any procedural drama nerd. Sewell, perfect cast as the personality-free amnesiac in "Dark City", stretches limited acting abilities to the max here. With no chemistry (but a welcome lack of a forced sexual undercurrent) with Sewell, a miscast Shelton is also stretched to the max. Albe it with a smaller reservoir.
But around these obstacles, the writers, show-runners and directors behind "Eleventh Hour" actually stitch together a reasonably entertaining, intellectually stimulating and kind of exciting thriller. The first thing I appreciate is the show's willingness to be topical, not shying away from bioterrorism and stories about anthrax - both natural and engineered. The show also finds a good balance between the chemistry jargon, making it relatable and the thriller elements. These elements all come together well in "Subway" where a group of American teenagers who have formed their own radical Islamic sleeper cell set off a virus in the subway system. A sequence where Young and fellow agent Felix (Omar Bensen Miller, also miscast) track the potential path of the virus carrier through the subway halls is crisply turned into an action scene of excitement.
The look, sound and feel of the show come together to make a polished visceral thriller and "Eleventh Hour" solid shallow entertainment.
* * ½ / 4
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