I really liked the pilot. But then I really liked the pilot for The Americans
also, and I am not too jazzed about where it has gone since.
There are a lot of good things to be said about the show. Anthony Edwards is no matinee idol (matinee idols all have chins), but that might be a strength in trying to portray an "Everyman". This is a Jimmy Stewart made-for-Hitch**** character, and he has had years of honing his chops on ER
to get pretty good at this portrayal.
Also, the others in his little Scooby Gang are good and believable, likable and charismatic (of course you can't flesh them out much in a conspiracy pilot; I wonder if the casting company is the same one for Californication
since both supporting characters were on that show. And Addison Timlin is hiding a lot of her talents in this show that were visibly on display there.)
But the show also seems well thought out, and well produced. The first hour moved along pretty good, and kept me entertained all the way through. Without giving much away, there is a dramatic reveal at the end of the pilot that really underlines how serious this conspiracy just might be, and expands the possibilities to potentially include time travel, cloning, reincarnation, the supernatural, and who can guess what else.
Here is where I think there may be an issue, and that is that the entire focus in a conspiracy-based theme is the conspiracy. And referencing Nazis and the Rosicrucians is sort of a gimme, and by now, tired, derivative, low-hanging fruit. In X-Files
there was a conspiracy, but the show was more than that, and they could move between self-contained episodes that never mentioned the conspiracy and episodes that mentioned not much else other than the conspiracy, with a lot of ease. Of course any time they went to the conspiracy I started to yawn, but that's not the point. In Lost
there was an overarching series of nefarious conspiracy-like questions that drove a lot of the series, but they could also use that as a platform to give us really entertaining stories about the characters.
I think if they are smart, the producers will learn from that and try to build out these characters on their own in spite of the conspiracy story. That can help support the conspiracy itself, especially if there are weak points there. It also is a hedge against being too popular; if the show is lucky enough to get picked up, they would otherwise need a brand-new conspiracy for year two, and if they begin to merge personal stories in with the current conspiracy, that will lay the groundwork for that.
But Zero Hour
as currently envisioned is forced to hang its hat on the conspiracy alone, and that means as a viewer you have to pay attention, show up each week, and do the hard work of following (and remembering over a minimum 13-week span) every moment of the story, something you don't have to do when casually tuning in to The Mentalist
, which is one of the reasons those shows are successful; you can drop in and out whenever, and still not be missing anything.
The conspiracy genre can work in movies like National Treasure
or The Davinci Code
, because you only have to show up once; you get beginning setup, middle, and end resolution all in one sitting. You just paid 12 bucks, and you're already invested. To stay involved in a conspiracy-based series, you have to show up every week, and remember and keep track of what passed before. That's not easy, and a lot of folks will drop off along the way because of that. Their only hope is to run all eps in a row, or sell this show to Netflix who will post them all at once.
The best thing you can do as a viewer is record all eps, and then watch them in a marathon next summer; that relieves the burden of remembering and keeps the energy level up. After all, you don't read Robert Ludlum by reading one chapter once a week, separated by reading other chapters of other books, do you? And that points out the flaw of the conventional delivery system, at least for serialized stories. Netflix is probably on to something.
But then this show also has Paul Scheuring as its show runner and visionary, and the first season of Prison Break
was about as good as writing for TV gets. Second year, not as good, third year, hard to watch due to it being all violence and not much else, 4th year, ridiculous if still somewhat entertaining. Based on that, I would like to predict that at least the first 13 of this one, assuming we will be treated to all 13, will hold up pretty good. Time will tell.
On another note, earlier I referenced a notable movie director, Alfred Hitch****, who was a master of suspense, and possibly the best and most famous director ever. In reviewing my post, it appears the forum does not approve of the last four letters of his name. I'm sure you can all fill in the blanks, but this points out the ridiculousness of the nanny state we live in.
I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry about that. Even more oddly, Californication
seems to go through unscathed.
Edited by TomCat, 16 February 2013 - 07:15 PM.