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Television Review

'Eleventh Hour' doesn't have a clue

Rufus Sewell plays a biophysicist and Marley Shelton plays his FBI protection officer in ''Eleventh Hour.'' Rufus Sewell plays a biophysicist and Marley Shelton plays his FBI protection officer in ''Eleventh Hour.'' (Marcel williams/warner bros.)
By Matthew Gilbert
Globe Staff / October 9, 2008
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If you are a diehard fan of police procedurals that have a heavy accent on forensic evidence, and if you are that TV viewer who is still hoping there will be yet another "CSI" series before too long, and if you think Gil Grissom is a god, you still might roll your eyes at "Eleventh Hour."

This new CBS series, which premieres tonight at 10 on Channel 4, is just too silly, as it tries to mix up science and crime-solving like a sloppy kid with a chemistry set. The writers of the show, which is based on a short British series starring Patrick Stewart, must think American audiences no longer expect even a semblance of logic in their crime stories. The clues on "Eleventh Hour" are obvious, when they're not absurd; the criminal motives are baseless; the bad guys, once caught, veer into unintentional camp as they make mad-as-a-hatter faces. And the scripts serve up refried lines along the way, such as, "Mommy, why is Jesse so cold?"

"Because he's dead, dodo," you want to shout at the screen.

Like so many other TV lead actors right now, Rufus Sewell is a Brit playing American. He's Jacob Hood, a brilliant biophysicist who advises the FBI on hard-to-solve cases such as the deaths by heart attack of a group of small-town 11-year-old boys. When all else has failed, Hood and his irritable handler, Rachel Young (Marley Shelton), show up to spew some specialized knowledge about plants and toads and fetuses. They don't have much chemistry, but, presumably, they will cultivate some will-they-or-won't-they overtones.

Either Sewell's character is extremely laconic, or Sewell is still perfecting his accent and doesn't want to try much dialogue. Either way, Hood is a cipher of a lead who says little and projects nothing. On NBC's "Life," Damian Lewis creates a similarly eccentric character who is so much more compelling. "Eleventh Hour" is executive produced by "CSI" honcho Jerry Bruckheimer, who spits out police procedurals like a Pez dispenser these days. Neither his heart nor his brain seem to be in this product.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com.

Eleventh Hour

Starring: Rufus Sewell, Marley Shelton

On: CBS, Channel 4

Time: Tonight, 10-11

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