This fall, CBS will premiere a new, semi-sci-fi series in which one man (with some help, of course) thwarts mad scientists (sort of, anyway). Entitled Eleventh Hour, the series is actually a remake of a British series of the same name.
Currently available on DVD, the British version stars Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Ashley Jensen (Extras). Stewart takes the role of Professor Ian Hood and Jensen is his police protector, Rachel Young.
Consisting of four independent episodes, Eleventh Hour sees Hood investigate human cloning, global warming, fake miracles, and pox-like viruses. All in all, it's a pretty diverse set of things Hood tackles, and, as it's a television show, he's something of an expert in each area. However, Patrick Stewart still somehow manages to remain believable in exploring each area. A lot of this is due to the fact that he's not presented as super-human; he is clearly a fallible individual who doesn't know everything about everything, but rather just enough to be considered an expert in all things science.
While much of what happens as it relates to the science is worst case scenario/beyond the scope of possibility today, Hood seems relatively unfazed and ever curious no matter what is taking place. And, for her part, Young functions as the perfect stand-in for the average viewer. She is not a scientist and consequently Hood gets to explain to her (and therefore the viewer) exactly what is taking place and what he thinks can, or should, be done about it.
The viewer is never truly given much background into Hood and how he ended up in government employ. His relationship with Young is clearly a new one, and one with which he is not entirely comfortable. She is his “minder,” and clearly relatively new to the experience as well. Perhaps due to the series' short length, the audience is never fully given the scope of Hood's work and both his and Young's reasons for ending up where they are.
While each individual scientific area that Hood examines could be interesting, as a whole, the series takes a long time to get on solid footing. It isn't until the third episode that it finally seems figured out, and the fourth episode, which is finally wholly compelling, is sadly the last one.
Between this fact, and the viewer never getting the lay of the land vis-à-vis Hood and Jensen, the series as a whole, while good, disheartens the viewer due to its lack of fulfilled potential. There is so much there that could have been done, that could have been explored, that could have been examined, and yet it never happened.
However, there is still good to be had. One of the best aspects of the series is the fact that it tends to deal with the outlandish science in wholly believable ways. The show never opts to go over the top or just plain silly in its solutions. Hood always simply plows ahead, asking questions, getting answers, and putting together the pieces of the puzzle. It's perhaps the best aspect of the show, and one which its U.S. counterpart would do well to emulate. With Jerry Bruckheimer producing the U.S. version however, whether the show will be understated remains in serious doubt.