The All-Pilot Project

The All-Pilot Project: Eleventh Hour & Life on Mars (Oct 31)

We’ve got ourselves a genuine face-off on the All-Pilot Project this time. Two new dramas based on British hits, both airing Thursdays at 10 EST. Assuming you’re already recording It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The Sarah Silverman Program, you’ve got to pick one or the other of these new shows. So let’s have it out – one wins, one dies!

Eleventh Hour

Thursday 10 PM, CBS

The Premise: It’s a weird-science procedural, in which an attractive woman and her addled partner solve mysteries. You know, like The X-FilesFringe (if Walter and Peter were combined into one person). or

The Personnel: Stars Rufus Sewell as Jacob Hood – right off, I can’t think of anything I’ve seen him in, other than The Illusionist. Marley Shelton, the nurse from both the Death Proof and Planet Terror sections of Grindhouse, co-stars as Rachel Young. Writer Mick Davis does his first US work here. Most excitingly, Jimmi Simpson (Sunny’s Liam McPoyle) appears in the pilot as a fetus trafficker.

The Poop: I’ll be honest with you – I ended up watching this twice because I didn’t remember anything about the show the first time through. So we’re not off to a good start.

The episode opens fairly strong, with Liam McPoyle in a high speed police chase, flinging jars or fetus out of the car window in a panic. It’s creepy and quirky and memorable, everything that the rest of the pilot is not. Eleventh Hour quickly turns into a rote procedural, only with weird science instead of sex offenders.

I can’t even say with any certainty whether the focus is supposed to be on the pairing of Hood and Young, or if the show is supposed to be all about Jacob Hood. Marley Shelton gets just as much screen time as Sewell here, but she seems to be a Greek Chorus, filling us with information about her partner.

If the show’s supposed to be about the pair, well, we’ve got Fringe doing that better right now. If the whole point is Jacob and his unconventional methods, well, we’re currently hip-deep in “Man interacts uncomfortably with the rest of society, either because he’s too brilliant to really relate to others, or he’s a miserable bastard. Or both”-style characters right now. Off the top of my head we’ve got John Locke, Greg House, Charlie Crews, Temperance Brennan (female version!), Adrian Monk, Simon VonMentalist, and Jeff Probst. Either way, Eleventh Hour isn’t bringing anything new to the table.

The plot, which involves 19 cloned fetuses, doesn’t go anywhere interesting, serving mostly to convince us that Jacob is quirky. It comes off as sort of training wheels version of a weird-science show. Lost for beginners. The script actually takes the time to explain both a reference to Gepetto and the concept of cloning. The latter is particularly irritating because it’s presented as a dialogue between two characters who already understand cloning. There’s a less awkward way to exposit, and I’m not sure at this point that the average TV viewer needs cloning explained.

The Prognosis: Eminently forgettable. I’m not sure what this show is supposed to accomplish or who the audience is, and there’s nothing exciting or unique here. Just well-work tropes scaled back a step or two to make sure nobody gets lost.

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