Zero Hour is right

ABC’s new primetimer, Zero Hour, would be a better fit for Saturday morning on a kids network. The dialogue is painful, at one point having a character use the phrase “crap storm” in a serious statement. The casting has the most glaring swing-and-miss possible in a primetime drama: Its lead character. Anthony Edwards isn’t the only one, the priest played by Charles Dutton replicates Whoopi Goldberg’s appearance in 666 Park Avenue signaling that here we have an unserious television show.

Edwards is too soft to play the leading role in a conspiracy thriller. But don’t fault him. The character is so poorly constructed that he never has a chance. Hank Galliston is the editor of Modern Skeptic magazine, an amazing coincidence then that his wife is kidnapped after buying a clock built by a secretive religious sect as part of a plan to prevent the end of the world! Galliston’s skepticism is on full display after an international fugitive kidnaps his wife when he refuses to trust and barely cooperates with the FBI. He loves his wife so much – as evident in their one scene together – that he travels to the ends of the Earth to find her but not so much that he’s willing to set aside his core belief in distrusting the FBI. You know, like all men who love their wives.

Galliston would be more compelling if he was an accomplished and legitimate news reporter instead of a fringe conspiracist. An investigative reporter with real investigative skills could still have a healthy dose of skepticism while bringing some intelligence and legitimacy to counter the show’s tendency to mirror a Dan Brown novel. I don’t think you can have a successful show that dives headfirst into that realm the way Zero Hour does, at least not on prime time network television. Common sense tells you there needs to be some balance for the storyline to have a broad appeal. I don’t understand how the show’s creators or the network wouldn’t realize such a problem and fix it.

Maybe they knew the show wouldn’t be around for very long. That could also explain why the plot advances at a comical pace. There’s some dots on a watch? BAM – they must be a constellation! A madman blew up our car and flew off in our airplane leaving us stuck in the middle of the arctic? Cut to commercial so a helicopter can drop us on a roof in Manhattan. Ridiculous. A college journalism professor used to emphasize to students that they should show readers a story instead of telling it. Zero Hour never got that lesson. It tells viewers so much and requires so much dissonance that they are right to roll their eyes. We complained for seasons on end that Lost was going too slow, and at times we were correct to do so. Zero Hour shows maybe going slow isn’t such a bad thing.

“How long has it been for you?” Widmore’s question to Locke in The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham came to mind when Galliston found the standing woman in India who was protecting one of the secret clocks. Widmore’s line came in season five so it wouldn’t be fair to compare its weight to that of a line in the second episode. Instead I’ll use it to lament what Zero Hour isn’t able to achieve. The “snake in the mailbox” at the end of the premier was intriguing and had the episode been better it would have had an even bigger impact. The intimation at the end of episode two that the end of the world might be already happening right before our eyes is the kind of thing I could go for, but the show hasn’t done anything to show that it can back up the intrigue.

Zero Hour probably didn’t deserve ABC’s boneheaded decision to premiere it on Valentine’s Day. Doesn’t matter, though. It could premiere after the Super Bowl and not get renewed. What should be a dark mystery is instead a light and airy adventure that might entertain 10-year-olds. At least they won’t know enough about Anthony Edwards to be disappointed to see him associated with this embarrassment.




Top 11 Lost Scenes

2. Desmond and Penny’s phone call (The Constant)

“Penny, you answered.” This scene will never lose its resonance. It is a triumvrate of acting, dialogue and editing perfection. By the end of the phone call it’s not even a conversation anymore, they are each completing the same sentence. Phenomenal. Desmond and Penny’s expression of their devotion to each other across life and time is the essence of Lost.

3. The open (The Pilot, Part 1)

Where Desmond and Penny’s phone call represents the emotion of Lost, the opening scene represents the action. Jack waking up in the jungle, sprinting across strewn wreckage and directing total strangers in the midst of the chaos of a plane crash established his character and the foundation for the next six seasons, all in one scene.

4. Keamy shoots Alex (The Shape of Things to Come)

“She means nothing to me.” All of these scenes are marked by great acting, but none more so than Michael Emerson’s cold renouncement of Alex as his daughter followed by his utter shock at watching Keamy murder her right in front of him. In four minutes it sums up Ben’s entire character, good, bad and evil.

5. Jack’s “live together, die alone” speech (White Rabbit)

“It’s been six days, we’re all still waiting.” This scene represents Jack becoming the official leader of the survivors, but it also marks their transition from plane crash survivors to island inhabitants. It was a major turning point in the show. And it’s just a good speech.

6. Kate wakes up Jack. (The End)

“No, that’s not how you know me.” This scene fell right as you started to realize what was happening in the finale. Kate and Jack are the central love story, waking up to the fact that Kate lived the entire rest of her life knowing she left Jack to die on the island packed a heart-wrenching punch and starts Jack’s path to the church.

7. Locke’s reveal (Walkabout)

“This is my destiny!” It’s hard to tell what made John Locke more beloved: His character or Terry O’Quinn being fricking amazing. Learning that Locke couldn’t walk when he boarded Flight 815 and seeing O’Quinn’s stunning performance as Locke saw his toes move and stood on his legs for the first time in four years on the beach after the crash has to be on every all-time Lost highlight reel.

8. Not Penny’s boat (Thru the Looking Glass)

The only scene on the list without dialogue. It didn’t need it. Not Penny’s boat came to signify Charlie’s death – self sacrifice – so his friends could have a chance to leave the island. The still shot of Charlie’s hand against the window is one of the – I hate this term – iconic shots from the series. Charlie blessing himself beautifully reveals his character.

9. Sawyer kills Sawyer (The Brig) NSFW – Language

“You ever been to Jasper, Alabama?” This scene makes the list because of its relevance to Sawyer’s character and its sheer intensity. Sawyer funneled his entire life’s anger and frustration into one violent strangulation of the man who killed his parents. The other Sawyer’s realization of who was confronting him, why and what was about to happen to him was wonderfully arrogant, revealing the darkness that marked both Sawyers. Locke’s manipulation permeating the entire set up made this a great and important moment.

10. Ben confronts Charles Widmore (The Shape of Things to Come)

“Wake up, Charles.” This was the first real look at the rivalry and hatred between Ben Linus and Charles Widmore. The scene was brilliantly constructed: Ben, wearing a dark suit, confronts Widmore in the middle of the night. Each of their faces only half visible because of the darkness, Ben laid bare his intention to exact revenge by murdering Widmore’s daughter while Widmore promised to reclaim the island Ben took from him. It’s one of those scenes you watch and when it’s over you think, “These two just made shit real.”

11. Sun and Jin (The Candidate)

“I won’t leave you.” Where the phone call in The Constant made viewers happy, Sun and Jin’s final living scene is unfathomably sad. They were a couple whose lives and everyone in them tried to keep apart. Jin let himself be separated from Sun once and he simply would not do it again, even if it meant dying together in the submarine. Even if it meant orphaning the daughter he only saw in photos on Sun’s camera. The underwater shot of their hands slipping apart and drifting away from each other is heartbreaking.

And finally, number one…

1. Sawyer tries to save Juliet, and fails (The Incident)

“I got you.” This is one of those scenes that draws you to the edge of your chair and, without realizing it, makes you so tense that you simply stop breathing. When Juliet finally detonated Jughead it actually felt like being physically kicked in the chest. I have no idea how they did that. This scene ranks first because it had everything: It was Josh Holloway’s best scene, the determination to not let go of Juliet’s arm, the pain on his face knowing that he would have to and the insistence he put in his voice that he wouldn’t let it happen embodied every part of the good in Sawyer. It carried and emotional intensity like no other scene, and it came at a critical point in a critical episode for the entire story. The agony of this scene absolutely bought their reunion at the candy machine in the finale, which I remember as simply “You got it, blondie.” This scene was as good as television and gets.