Stewart's 'Eleventh Hour' Earns Positive Advance ReviewsBy Michelle
January 17, 2006 - 9:44 PM
Advance reviews of Patrick Stewart (Picard)'s Eleventh Hour have begun to appear, praising the veteran actor's screen presence and noting the strongly scientific focus of the new show.
"Playing a man of science is no stretch for Patrick Stewart, and he brings all the authority of his roles in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' and 'The X-Men' to the part of a professor who investigates spooky goings-on for the British government," wrote Ray Bennett at Reuters. He said that the show was well-filmed and paced but "it needs all of Stewart's gravitas...to overcome some clunky scripts."
Stewart plays a character named Professor Hood, who works for a government agency investigating scientific and technological excesses. His bodyguard Rachel is played by Ashley Jensen. In the pilot episode, the discovery of 27 buried human fetuses leads Hood to suspect that someone is trying to clone humans.
"The first two scripts set up the formula efficiently, and there is pleasing byplay between Hood and his younger, feminine but no-nonsense bodyguard," wrote Bennett, though he found that the scripts required too much reliance on imagination and coincidence, plus a lot of scientific rhetoric, such as when Hood corrects a police officer who tells him they have found the bodies of 27 babies" "'They only become babies after they're born. Until then, they're fetuses.' Even if you didn't agree with those sentiments before, you do after Stewart gets done with you."
Meanwhile, The Guardian's Linda Nordling has examined the fact that more scientific-based television shows are being produced, of which Eleventh Hour is one example. Stewart's character "is described as a 'roving trouble-shooter', who lives out of a suitcase and is followed around by Rachel Young, his Special Branch bodyguard."
Nordling compares the pair to Mulder and Scully of The X-Files, noting that they defend the integrity of science from everyone from politicians and businessmen to quack doctors and hackers. The inspiration for Stewart's character, she adds, came from British fertility expert Lord Robert Winston. "Still," she added, "there is something profoundly fictional about Eleventh Hour...nobody...could ever be a one-stop shop for science", which in reality is a process whereby theories are tested by discovering when they are wrong.
EleventhHour.tv quoted a Dreamwatch review in which critic Richard Matthews wrote of the series, "On its own terms it shows great potential, with Stewart sparking well with Extras' Jensen as his tough, sardonic sidekick." He, too, found that the scientific explanations could be "a little patronising" but called the tone "bleak and incendiary."
Eleventh Hour debuts this Thursday at 9 p.m. on ITV.