Bad writing drags down ‘Zero Hour’

Bad writing drags down Zero Hour

Annie Bruce, Writer

The first episode of a new series is always particularly shaky. It’s hard to get a good feel for what the rest of the series will look like, and the pilot is often a step below what a series can actually achieve. If that’s the case, then “Zero Hour,” an ABC drama about a reporter searching for his missing wife and discovering an ancient secret, might be able to redeem itself after its mediocre premiere.

“Strike” sets the premise for the series by beginning with a flashback to 1938 Germany. The first few minutes are filled with confusion, and it takes viewers a little while to truly grasp what happened in the introduction. The most important part is that a group of 12 parishioners needs to keep what is hidden underneath their church a secret from the Nazis. Cue the start of really intense music that continues throughout the episode.

Next, the episode takes viewers to present-day Brooklyn, where Hank and his wife Laila are antique shopping at a market. In some of the first few minutes of dialogue, Laila assures her husband he will never lose her. The obvious foreshadowing is fulfilled within a couple of minutes, when Hank gets a frantic call from his wife telling him someone is breaking into her store. Hank rushes to the store as fast as he can, but it’s too late. The FBI agents tell Hank the man who took his wife is White Vincent, a terrorist they’ve been watching for years. Vincent and a mysterious clock purchased by Hank’s wife are all tied to the 1938 flashback at the beginning of the episode.

For the rest of the episode, Hank tries to track down his wife with help from two 20-something reporters from Modern Skeptic Magazine, which he publishes. The main problem with “Zero Hour” is its forced intensity. Instead of building excitement with clever writing, the actors deliver their dialogue like they’re trying to make it more dramatic than it actually is, and the writing itself is filled with cheesy lines. Hank, played by Anthony Edwards, speaks solely in cliches. “If you can’t do something yourself, find somebody who can,” is just one example of some of the cringe-worthy lines said throughout the episode.

Edwards’ acting feels forced and never quite sincere, considering he’s playing a man who’s searching for his missing wife. The two reporters, Arron and Rachel, don’t add much to the episode either. In fact, their main job is to wear appropriately intense facial expressions to react to everything that happens.

By the end of the episode, the writers were able to build some momentum and managed to end with an intriguing cliff-hanger. All of this will hopefully carry “Zero Hour” the rest of the season. Otherwise, the show will only be a melodramatic attempt at a suspenseful TV drama series.