Jacob Hood -
Rachel Young -
OTHER PARANORMAL INVESTIGATIONS
A man is chased by police at high speed and attempts to get rid of evidence out of the window. This leads the police to a series of shallow graves, each with a human foetus in it. Someone has been attempting to clone a human and is getting close. Jacob Hood is FBI consulting scientist out to stop this illegal research. He is aided by his bodyguard, the redoubtable Rachel. They have an added incentive in that a girl will die if they cannot track down the elusive puppet master Geppeto.
The American version of the short lived UK show 11th HOUR opens with an episode that takes the script virtually verbatim. The reason is simple, it's a startlingly good story with power that works both as police procedural thriller and timely warning against the potential ethical issues around the subject of human cloning. It also introduces the main characters at a run, basically dropping them into a situation and letting them emerge by what they say and do along the way.
Patrick Stewart had the innate respectability of age and shakespearean training (not to mention his time commanding the USS Enterprise) as the original Hood, but Rufus Sewell makes a surprisingly acceptable substitute. He's much younger, much prettier, but works the scatty side of brilliant scientists well enough to be accepted as a loose cannon scientist. Marley Shelton is his female bodyguard Rachel whose character is as strong as her headstrong charge's and comes across all no-nonsense and competent. The interplay between the two is something that will hopefully develop, but not in a romantic way.
The UK version was an exceptional stab at a scientific mystery series that deserved more of a life than it got, but its influence lives on here and that might give it the longevity it deserved, despite it's surface similarities to the (on opening episode evidence at least) inferior contemporary show, FRINGE.Top
Three 11 year old boys die of heart attacks in a small town and Hood is brought in to find out what is going on. It might have to do with the frankly disgusting habit of 'toad licking' or the poisons held by the local alternative therapist or could even be something to do with the school's favourite teacher. It's up to Hood to find out before somebody else dies.
This is a straight up police procedural about poisoning. The various theories about what is happening and the panic that grips the town are nicely played through, but in the end it isn't anything that we haven't seen before.
The identity of the killer might come as a surprise to some, but the motivation behind it is somewhat weak and again is something that we've seen before.
Fortunately, Rufus Sewell Marley Shelton are growing on us as the investigating duo.Top
A family fall down paralysed by something that they ate at breakfast. Hood investigates and quickly comes up with a genetically modified mould that could be activated by something else. It might be the fault of a giant corporation, or a small ma and pa fruit farm.
Genetic engineering, world hunger, corporate greed and ethics, small farmers, chemicals, the food industry and the wine industry all get a sideswipe from this week's episode of the 'science on the edge' detective show. That makes it a little deeper in terms of plot than the average police procedural, but it is still a cop show with added science.
The afflicted families are shockingly portrayed, making it more important that Hood finds his answers and everyone seems to be a bit at fault, but whilst it is less impressive than what has come before, it might make you look differently at your food in future.Top
Autistic children are disappearing for approximately a month before reappearing as savants, brilliant in one single field, but not capable of functioning in any other. Hood determines that someone is experimenting on their brains, but who and for what purpose?
Whilst it shifts the focus to autism, this is similar in theme (certainly in villain's motivation) to the series opener Resurrection. It's a straight police procedural that could have graced many shows, but it does play with Hood's ability to connect with the autistic kids and his statement that just because someone's brain behaves differently doesn't mean they can't feel joy, happiness, love or grief leaves you wondering about personal connections, and his own only slightly less odd behaviour.Top
A worker on a building site dies of a dreadful disease that turns out to be Smallpox, officially wiped out by the World Health Organisation and now only existing in a few research labs. As the possibility of a full blown epidemic gets ever closer, Hood is obssessed with finding the origin of the disease, not least because his handler, Rachel, just got infected.
Gruesome alert - this episode shows the early stages of the disease and it isn't pretty. Anyone with phobias about that sort of stuff ought to be prepared to shut eyes at the relevant moments.
There is nothing in this episode that we haven't seen before elsewhere, but it's nicely paced and slickly put together. It's also nicely played, especially once Rachel comes into contact with an infected man and finds herself under the same containment procedures as everyone else.
It's not hard to guess whodunnit, but at least the story doesn't shy away from the effects of what they have done and there is no silver bullet to save the victims.Top
A young girl is found frozen to death on a Malibu beach in the summertime. When Hood learns that she was signed up to a cryogenic freezing clinic because she suffered from a fatal illness, he starts to investigate what chemicals could cause the process and where they came from.
Aside from the manner of the victims' deaths, this is a police procedural just like all the others. Hood uses a university lab which gives him an excuse for the lectures that he likes to hand out, but temperature-free freezing chemistry is a pretty unexciting subject.
It also doesn't help that the whodunnit uses a trick that the show has already used, but the cast keep it watchable.Top
The head of military research and development brings Hood into a case where a chimpanzee being treated with mind-enhancing drugs goes on the rampage. He finds that the researcher has overstepped the mark and moved onto human subjects in the search to create the supersoldier, but that leaves a dangerous man on the loose.
Judd Nelson makes for a suitably creepy research scientist and so the identity of whodunnit is pretty obvious from the outset. The focus therefore shifts to the morality of creating a supersoldier. Is it OK to mess with a person's life in the hope of keeping him alive on the battlefield? Unfortunately, that morality is pretty much ignored in favour of the nuts and bolts of the investigation.Top
When two young people die of the bends about as far away from the sea as it is possible to get, Hood and Young investigate. with the help of an ex-FBI agent, they uncover evidence of a gene doping conspiracy.
After super-soldiers it's super-athletes. The use of genes instead of chemicals to improve performance is a headline waiting to happen and that makes this episode feel a whole lot more relevant than some of the others. It also helps that Marley Shelton's character gets to show a more human face by being attracted strongly to the ex-FBI man and to reflect on some of the sacrifices that she is forced to make for the job.
the plot suffers somewhat from having one victim last long enough for a deep sea decompression unit trucked in from halfway across America whilst another is dead in the time it takes a plane to land. It also beggars belief that a couple of hours is all it takes to cook up a gene remedy and that its effect would be immediate. Shame on you Dr Hood.Top
It's spring break at Daytona beach an the impossibly young and beautiful have come to town to party. When two boys die and then wake up on the post-mortem table Hood is called in to find out what is going on. Then it turns out that waking up from near death leads to a flesh-eating virus chowing down.
A word of warning to the squeamish - there is a fairly high gruesome factor to this episode with living bodies lying open on mortuary slabs and people decaying where they lie.
Again, mode of attack aside, this is a fairly ordinary police procedural tale enlivened by the sparky relationship between the leads. Once the mystery of what is happening evolves into a tale of revenge then the plot gets very simple, but the waters of morality get very murky indeed.Top
People in a small town are going crazy, like they're on drugs, but none of the usual drugs are detected and the victims don't fit the profile. Could it be the suntan lotion or the local bottled water? Whatever it is, even Hood isn't immune to the effects.
Rufus Sewell undergoing an hallucinogenic episode is the only reason to watch this. The story runs the same path as all the others, but with more focus than usual on one of the victims. Sewell's performance in that scene is excellent, channelling the character into the madness.
The relationship between the leads remains the core of the show's appeal and Hood's response to being a lousy shot is very funny.Top
A heavy storm creates a new spring and a child with cancer who drinks from it undergoes a miraculous recovery. Others flock to the hillside to drink the water, but it makes them sicker. There's no bacteria, no chemicals, nothing to suggest why this should be, but then people are murdered. What is the secret that they are being killed to protect.
This story is taken from the British show, but has been more significantly changed. The identity and motives of those responsible are vague, but more likely than the originals, there is no personal involvement in the effects of the water for the investigators and there is more of a history of religious fundamentalism in the US.
Whilst the investigation follows its usual course, it is the characters that continue to keep us engaged.Top
A man with a heart condition dies of suffocation and proves to have grown a new heart in the process. The only process that could do this is the use of stem cells, but who is supplying them and for what purpose?
Stem cell research is the next frontier of genetic science so it is only appropriate to find it cropping up in this series. It is also very real that such cutting edge science would be corrupted in the name of beauty, youth and wealth.
The rest of the episode, though, is as formulaic as those before it, made watchable only by the work of the cast to make the characters more interesting than the stories they inhabit.Top
A raid on illegal immigrants crossing the border catches three identical babies, clearly the product of cloning, which means Hood's nemesis Geppeto. The young immigrant couple who have taken the fourth baby in the quad find themselves on the run from Geppetto's hired killer, with Hood and Young always seemingly one step behind.
The thorny issue of cloning a baby in order to harvest its organs is raised in this story, although the police procedural aspects dominate. How anyone could create a baby to kill it and use its organs is a question clearly beyond the pale and so there is no moral quandary here.
The players continue to entertain, but this could have been any police show anywhere.Top
A news helicopter pilot suddenly goes blind mid-flight and crashes. Other people are also suffering sudden illnesses. The cause is suspected as heavy metal poisoning, in this case mercury, but if that is the case where is the mercury coming from and who is responsible?
Environmentalism and exactly how far can we go in the name of saving the planet is at the heart of this episode, but that is no reason to fear because the message is buried so deeply in a straightforward police investigation that you would hardly notice it. The police quest for answers itself is hardly likely to strain the brain either as each clue leads directly to the next with very little in the way of difficulty.
The sudden homage to THE BIRDS is quite effective though. The title refers to a Japanese village that was decimated by an outbreak of heavy metal poisoning.Top
In a single small town over 30 people are struck by lightning in the course of a two hour storm. With another, much larger, thunderstorm on its way, Hood and Young have to figure out why lightning is seeking out the folk of the town or more people will die.
This episode suffers from FRINGE syndrome in that it's all down to a virus. This particular virus has been engineered to gather together the naturally occurring metal inside the body to fashion a mesh of nanopolymers under the skin, creating a low resistance to electrical flow and thus making the humans into walking lightning rods. All of this may be perfectly possible, but it doesn't feel like it for a second and the image under the microscope of a metal mesh forging itself stretches belief even further.
That aside, the mystery is nicely set up and plays out in much the same way as those that have come before it. Now that the cast of characters are established, there is less interplay and banter between them, the story coming first and foremost, which is a shame because it was the characters and their banter that separated the show out from all the others like it.Top
A group of people fall victim to a poison on the same day, but they have nothing in common whatsoever. Except, they all rode the subway to work. Hood and Young commandeer the main subway station and uncover a plot by European militants to make a statement to the gathering heads of the G8 economic summit.
The investigation into what is going on here is over quite quickly and moves quickly onto who and where the main attack is going to happen. This leads to a confrontation with the would-be terrorists and a further confrontation with their leader. It's pure police procedural and could have come from any number of shows. The trademark exchanges between Hood and Young seem to have disappeared and so whilst the leads are as appealing as ever, the show is losing its sense of difference from any other cop show.Top
Attacks of fashion rage lead Hood and Young to the heart of the rag trade in search of a perfume that drives men wild (literally).
Anyone who believes that supermodels are too thin can use this in evidence as one is snapped in half by a powerful hug in this story. The scientific basis is interesting enough, but it soon devolves into the standard race against time to save the innocent girl caught up in the middle of it all.
Worst of all, there is no trace of the bright and cheerful characters that first attracted us to this show, making it just another investigation.Top
When a woman accuses the deputy head of the FBI of stealing her baby, she is clearly insane. Hood, however, finds that there are some interesting anomalies with both her story and her medical treatment. When Agent Young is shot with a crossbow and taken hostage, Hood has to use what he knows of the Deputy Director to track down the missing baby.
A corrupt cop, a hostage situation, a missing baby. There is little to no science in this episode and so it moves even closer to being simply another cop show. Hood goes rogue, like many other cops (despite not being a cop) and calls on those loyal to him within the department. It's old, hackneyed material and without the aid of the previously entertaining character interplay it falls flat and provest to be a highly unsatisfactory ending to what was a promising show.Top
Jacob Hood is a genius. We know this because everyone says that he is and like all geniuses he's a little bit eccentric with it. He works for the FBI solving all the science-based crimes that ordinary police work cannot solve alone. He is aided by the dependable Agent Young, a female agent with hopes of her own that didn't involve getting saddled with a babysitting detail.
ELEVENTH HOUR is based on the UK series of the same name that ran for only four episodes. There are more episodes here, but the success of that show is somewhat diluted throughout them all. Crime shows are ten a penny on the TV and you really need something special as a hook if you expect to survive. In this case the hooks are the science angle and the sparky, non-romantic relationship between Hood and Young. This is nicely scripted in the early episodes and it helps that Rufus Sewell and Marley Shelton are appealing, likeable actors who manage to bring their characters to life.
Sadly, in later episodes the banter and spark between them fizzles out in the name of running through increasingly formulaic mysteries to the point where the show becomes indistinguishable from others dealing with the forensic side of crime. This is a shame as the science angle was quite nice, passing comment on the current state of scientific progress and ethical issues. By the end, though, that's long gone and the show's passing will be barely mourned and hardly noticed.Top
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