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Eleventh Hour

Acorn Media // Unrated // September 26, 2006
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Louis Howard | posted September 19, 2006 | E-mail the Author
A short lived British series that only ran for four episodes, Eleventh Hour returns Patrick Stewart to the small screen in the role of Dr. Ian Hood, a roving, troubleshooting adviser to the British Government who investigates science related crimes and conspiracies. A brilliant, daring professor, Hood has all the tools necessary for such an eclectic profession- he's a veritable scholar in all fields of science, possessing pronounced skills in analysis of both the seen and unseen, and he has an honest desire to uphold right over wrong. With partner and his Special Branch Scottish bodyguard Rachel Young (Ashley Jensen) Dr. Hood goes up against all manner of evils including rogue cloners, polluters and viruses on the cutting edge of modern day science.

Part CSI but for the most part The X-Files, this seems on the surface to be an intriguing vehicle, all the more so when one has the talents of Stewart as the lead character; not only should he have audiences firmly on his side from his Star Trek TNG and X-Men legacies, the character seems like minded to both Picard and Professor Xavier- being a leader who can make decisions quickly, having an analytical mind and being seen as someone with a pronounced,scientific intellect. Stewart's Hood comes across as one of genius proportions, yet not necessarily a man who would always use streetwise common sense in his quest to solve a case; hence we have his no-nonsense, bulldog of a bodyguard Rachel along for the ride to watch the good Dr.'s back. Rachel comes across as more than that, however, not only being a sounding board for Hood to bounce hypotheses off of but also having a pretty good analytical mind herself, thus they come across more like a Mulder-Skully type team than a dignitary and his bodyguard.

Resurrection- After the discovery of a large number of malformed fetuses in a field Ian Hood and Rachel Young investigate a black market human cloning experiment being funded by a father desperate to recreate his dead son. As they investigate the forces behind the experiments they must also try to save the life of a single mother who has been duped into acting as a surrogate for one of the experiments. A particularly grim episode, and a very solid start to the franchise.
Containment- Hood and Young attempt to locate the source of an outbreak of a hybrid Smallpox/Tana pox virus but things become more complicated when Young is apparently infected and the 'trail' leads in the wrong direction.
Kryptos- When a friend and former classmate of Hood's vanishes while doing research on global warming, he takes it upon himself to complete his research. Only by cracking an intricate code can Hood determine whether his friend and the world face real danger.
Miracle- Following the miraculous cure of a young boy suffering from a kidney tumor Hood and Young travel to his home to investigate claims that he has been cured by local spring water. The area becomes a focal point for cancer suffers desperately seeking a cure. When these victims start to experience even worse symptoms Hood becomes convinced that there must be something in the water. All of the tests prove to be negative, and it appears increasingly likely that the boy's doctor has made the entire story up. Shortly after reaching this conclusion the doctor responsible for the case dies in an apparent suicide. A odd phrase in the suicide note leads him to begin an investigation into her death and uncovers a Government conspiracy to produce heavy water.

I am a bit quizzical as to why the show only lasted four episodes; was it was meant to be a limited series? Had it been an American studio-based series I have a feeling it would have gone longer, perhaps much longer in order to allow the producers an opportunity to iron out the bugs that are bound to come with a new show. As each installment was a 90 minute broadcast, this is more along the lines of several made-for-TV movies than a weekly series. ITV reportedly put quite a bit of money into the project- the number I came across was 4.5 million pounds- likely due to Stewart's involvement. The series did well at the outset but the plotlines seemed to quickly falter. All in all, its a moody, thoughtful and involving vehicle with just enough action to keep things from plodding.

The DVD-

Eleventh Hour is a 2 disc set, each disc in its own standard sized case, housed together in a cardboard box.


Aspect ratio here is simply listed as widescreen, so I'm assuming this is 1.78:1. While a bit on the soft side, the picture quality is good; colors are aptly rendered. The show seems to have been filmed with a rather dark, ruddy look in mind, so this should be taken into account.


Available audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. Nothing special, but clear and easy to understand, fine for its purpose.


Notes from Interviews with Patrick Stewart and Ashley Jensen.

Final Thoughts-

A curious crossbreed of a show utilizing the popularity of both CSI-type series as well as sinister, ethereal shows like The X-Files, the series seems to have alot going for it, and being a British series is distinctive from conventional American mystery fare; having Patrick Stewart in the lead role is a boon to any project. He doesn't disappoint here, and Ashley Jensen is very adept in her hard-nosed sidekick role. Having only four episodes to make a judgement on makes the viewer wish there had been more installments so one could see how the characters fleshed out, but I still recommend it.
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