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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

'Eleventh Hour' DVD: U.S. Version of Brit Mini-Series Is Intriguing 'Fringe' Procedural

The relevancy of this latest entry in a series of reviews on older Warner DVD and Blu-ray releases is particularly relevant to June. The 6-disc 18-episode DVD release of the 2008-09 CBS regular-season Jerry Bruckheimer procedural "Eleventh Hour" is a textbook example of an entertaining summer series along the line of the more modern three-season CBS summer-series "Under the Dome." It is worth noting as well that "Hour" is based on a Patrick Stewart British mini-series of the same name.

The following YouTube clip of an interview with Rufus Sewell offers a good overview of the style and the quality of "Hour."

"Hour" additionally evokes thoughts of  Fox procedural. "Fringe" (which premiered one month before "Hour") initially centers around a mostly mad scientist, his brilliant previously estranged son, and their female FBI handler investigating cases that involve the "weird science" regarding the prior experiments of said researcher.

Current "The Man in the High Castle" star Sewell portrays brilliant biophysicist/figurative Gil Grissom clone (complete with intense emotional baggage) Dr Jacob Hood who makes the world a better place in his capacity as a FBI special science advisor. His partner-in-crime fighter is FBI agent Rachel Young. She takes care of him, which ain't easy because his work earns him powerful enemies and often literally places him in the cross-fire.

In typical Bruckheimer fashion (including the recently reviewed Bruckheimer procedural "Lucifer,") most "Hour" episodes open with the events that trigger Hood and Young coming to the scene to discover what is going wrong and figure out a way to prevent further harm. Although the effects lack the way-cool highly stylized look of the Bruckheimer "CSI" franchise, the freeze-dried corpses and similar visuals are good.

The pilot literally starts in high gear with a car chase that reveals a graveyard of fetuses. This leads to uncovering an underground scientific effort that disregards the harm related to an effort to what is perceived as a highly profitable greater good. 

Team Bruckheimer centers another early episode around the similar theme as the pilot. Hood and Young discover a pattern of previously highly autistic teens returning as savants after an unexplained month-long absence.

The final episodes are frustrating in that they make one yearn for a second season. One of these has Hood and Young use good old-fashioned detection and reconstruction to find the link between seemingly unconnected deaths in Philadelphia. 

The penultimate episode is a truly guilty pleasure in that it has the apparent mere presence of fashion models literally drive men insane. This one is predictable but provides entertaining commentary on the primal nature of man.

The season/series finale makes one ache for at least a basic-cable pick-up of "Hour." This one is the closest of all 18 episodes to a "CSI" offering in that it opens with a crazed former FBI female employee invading the home of a FBI deputy director. The most lucid of her many claims is that that literal bureaucrat is the father of the child that has been taken from her. Hood and Young primarily get involved because they witness this confrontation.

Also in true "CSI" style, the investigation points to misconduct by the deputy director and leads to imperiling the life of Young. Both elements prompt Hood to go rogue in a manner that proves that he is the smartest guy in the room. 

Hood further uses his detection and scientific skills to uncover the truth. Deprivation of season 2 episodes surrounding the fallout from Hood violating the blue code and Young (presumably) standing by her man is maddening. One season and a movie?

The big picture aspect of "Hour" is that it is from a largely deplorable era in television history in which budgetary concerns and American hunger for low-brow fare such as reality series and game shows hinder the ability of programs such as the topic for today to find and build an audience. Another way of putting it is the quote that is believed to be that of P.T. Barnum that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Hour" is encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvddvguy.