BluRay/DVD Reviews

THE ELEVENTH HOUR – The Complete Series

By • Nov 3rd, 2009 •

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Beautifully produced and photographed, using long lenses, burnt out windows, and saturated, slightly surreal colors, this retread of a UK series never quite makes it over the edge, but still delivers pleasant brain-teasing stories that are neither supernatural (X-FILES) nor future-science (THE FRINGE), but rooted-in-reality cautionary tales, in which protagonist Dr. Jacob Hood (Rufus Sewell) never lets an opportunity pass to inform TV audiences about how they are being hood-winked by big business (eg. that most bottled water is right out of the tap), as well as enlightening us about governmental oversights and the folly of religious zealotry.

Sewell is a competent actor, who last year delivered a harrowing portrayal in a botched anthropological horror film called VINYAN (see Elizabeth Shepherd’s review elsewhere on this site). Here he’s problematic. He sports a weak voice which works against allowing us to warm up to his character, and I tried to remember his past performances, and whether the delicate nature of his vocal delivery was a choice, or the real thing. In the episode entitled H2O, he ingests PCPs and flails around in a manner befitting his voice, so I’m gonna go with it having been an aesthetic choice. Unfortunately it doesn’t work for me. Otherwise he’s got enough colors in his paint box to entertain us for eighteen episodes, all of which are included on these six discs.

Accompanying him is his ‘FBI handler’, Rachel Young, played by blonde, officious, vigorous Marley Shelton. Their adversary/buddy chemistry doesn’t work at first, but gets better as the episodes go by. She’s the tough one of the duo, quick to fill her hand with a lethal weapon, while he’s the erratic government sponge-brain, the first on call whenever some strange malady affects a community. The writers must have had fun researching the stories and plotting them out, but some of the dialogue is both troublesomely loquacious and too obviously expository. Also, at least at first, the dialogue that is supposed to display Sewell’s unique genius feels ‘written.’ I do like a few of his quirky traits. One thing he doesn’t/can’t do is sleep. I have a friend named Tony who’s functioned nicely on three hours sleep a night for perhaps 40 years. So it can be done. Another thing I like about the series are the ethical issues presented, all of which are nicely debated, giving us minimally-informed citizens something to mull over.

Diane Venora appears in the first episode. She didn’t help THE SUBSTUTITE (the first installment in the franchise I created) one bit, and I hadn’t seen her around lately, but here she plays a venal villain, and fits into the character with aplomb.

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