Say this for “Zero Hour”: It is not cookie-cutter television.
ABC’s new drama, premiering at 8 p.m. ET Thursday (Feb. 14), is a sprawling conspiracy thriller in the mode of “The Da Vinci Code” that involves Nazis, a secretive sect charged with saving the world, an abduction and clocks. Especially clocks.
The series opens in Germany in 1938, where the secretive order of Rosicrucians — “Christian mystics,” as they’re described later — tries to stay a step ahead of the Nazis by pulling what looks like a giant coffin from a watery berth under a church. Members of their order have discovered that the Nazis have figured out a way to create human life without childbirth, which is a signal of the end times. Meanwhile, a dozen clockmakers in their employ are hard at work on their timepieces.
Cut to present-day Brooklyn. Hank Galliston (Anthony Edwards, in his first series since “ER”), the editor of Modern Skeptic magazine, and his wife, Laila (Jacinda Barrett), are shopping at a flea market for items she can sell in her clock shop. Wouldn’t you know, one of the Rosicrucian clocks is there on the table.
Laila is soon abducted from her shop by a mercenary known as White Vincent (Michael Nykvist, “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”), who very badly wants the clock — or more specifically, the diamond embedded inside it, which shows a map to “New Bartholomew,” which everyone assumes is a place, in the Arctic Circle.
Hank gets there first and uncovers shocking things. Meanwhile, two of his magazine’s reporters, Rachel (Addison Timlin) and Arron (Scott Michael Foster), track down the clockmaker, who tells them of the impending “end of the vurld” if the other clocks — there are 12 in all — should fall into the wrong hands.
So, yes, this is a series in which the key to the greatest conspiracy in the history of mankind is clocks, and humanity’s best hope is the editor of a niche magazine and his two young sidekicks, one of whom is Cappie from “Greek.” If that sounds like your thing, then godspeed. Just know going in that you’ll be far better served by acknowledging the towering silliness of the plot, because it’s just about impossible to take it seriously.
Edwards, for his part, does do a fine job of selling Hank’s whatever-it-takes determination to find his wife. He’s a tremendously likable, everyman sort of actor, and he helps some of the more preposterous elements of “Zero Hour” (which is to say, most of them) go down easier. Carmen Ejogo (“Kidnapped”) also stars as an FBI agent bent on tracking down White Vincent, but in Thursday’s premiere (the only episode ABC sent out for review), she doesn’t get much more to do than annoy Hank and say things like “That doesn’t make any sense.” Which, to be fair, is true.
“Zero Hour” airs at 8 p.m. ET Thursday on ABC.