Zero Hour (ABC): What to Expect

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Zero Hour premiere’s on Thursday, February 14 at 8pm on ABC. The cast, including Anthony Edwards, Carmen Ejogo, and Jacinda Barrett, as well as executive producers Paul Scheuring, Zack Estrin, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, and Dan McDermott were on hand at TCA 2013 to discuss the show and let everyone know what to expect from its first season.

Here are some things we learned.

The show will be a spectacle, but it’s not another Da Vinci Code. Discussing the premise of the series, Scheuring said, “I created this thing. It’s interesting because there were kind of two mandates going into it, one of which was to deliver something gigantic. We wanted to make a spectacle. But for me, a serialized show is only as good as its MacGuffin, ultimately, where it ends up. And over the years, I’ve interfaced with a lot of other creators of serialized shows, and I’ve really been kind of blown away by the fact that they create a big spectacle at the beginning in the pilot and they don’t ultimately know where they’re going. And that’s terrifying to me and creatively disingenuous. So ultimately, before I even put pen to paper in any kind of sense in this, I’m like, ‘What’s the coolest MacGuffin you can come up with? What are the last frames of this series?’

And there is the secret that’s behind this entire thing, to be as evocative, quite original, and thought provoking, and it hasn’t been done before, and also timely. So from that I, then, reverse engineered this larger kind of construct and threw all those delicious elements like the Nazis and church and such to get to that final place. That’s a very, very long winded way of no, it’s not The Da Vinci Code.”

Anthony Edwards came back to TV because of the script. After signing off of ER and claiming he never wanted to do another TV show again, Edwards explained what brought him back to the small screen. “When ER was done, I felt like I had really accomplished something. It had been an amazing eight years, and I was ready for a new adventure, which included my family and taking time and moving to New York. It really took a while to recover from what. I also knew that if I was going to come back to television, having done that, it would have to be something that was as exciting to me as that was going in there, and like with all things in life, it was the surprise, and this was a great surprise when Lorenzo, an old friend, sent me this script, and I read it, and I could not put it down. And I just said, ‘If these guys are crazy enough to tell this story, I want to do it with them.'”

The show is set all over the world, but it films in New York. Asked about where the show is set, Estrin said, “We’re based in New York, but we’ve been turning New York into South America and Istanbul, into places all over the world, and our production team in New York has just been fantastic in finding stuff that actually matches that. The second episode we’re in India in small villages, and you wouldn’t know the difference.

Edwards also added, “What they’re telling you about the adventure of the location has been a big part of this. Stuart Wurtzel, who is our production designer, has just created these worlds, so we’re shooting in places that you haven’t seen before on television because most New York based shows are cop shows or they use just the city. We’ve been out finding places I mean, we were shooting Paraguay in Long Island in an old army base that’s overgrown, and the jungle, so there’s been real discovery of visuals that kept us there.”

The show will reset every season. When asked about the amount of “crazy” in the show and weather that would ever run out, Scheuring said, “There’s a fair amount of crazy in here. One of the things I’ve learned from Prison Break and making a serialized show was that if you’re a single concept show, like Prison Break or Lost or such, is that sooner or later you start flapping your wings because a story needs to end. So going into this show, I kind of applied that wisdom to the construct of this show, which is it’s like the 24 model where you reset every year. Like this entire Nazi conspiracy thing will be done in Episode 13 this year, but we have a group of investigators, headed by Anthony, at the magazine which can then apply those skills to the next investigation next year. So we don’t have to flap our wings. In fact, 13 episodes, it’s gonna be so dense with information and reveals and mythology that there will never be a sense at all that we’re stalling or trying to find our way.”

Bonaventura added, “It actually gives it a lot of pace as a result of it. There’s a cinematic quality to it because there’s a constant character reveal and there’s a constant plot reveal going on.”

Estrin also added, “And we’re not going to make you wait until the end of the year to find out your answers. Specifically, Episode 4, you know what that thing is that we’re saying was hidden beneath the church. That’s not the big mystery. That’s just one of the many mysteries. In each episode you will find out a piece, we will turn a card, there will be a cliffhanger.”

The show won’t be complicated or confusing. With a show that is steeped in conspiracy, some fans may be worried it will be too complicated to watch. McDermott responded to that question with, “It’s also not complicated. It’s not confusing. You watch it and it works on many different levels. There’s a conspiracy component of the show. There’s the emotional component of the show. There’s the mystery component of it. So there’s a lot to get, and it comes at you, but there’s nothing that confuses or you don’t turn on an episode and go, ‘I have no idea what just happened.’ You know exactly what just happened.”

None of the characters are all good or all bad. Speaking on the characters in the show, Barrett said, “Nobody is all good or all bad in this. Although Michael Nyqvist’s character, what Vincent appears to be [is bad], we also see his origin story, and it’s amazing, and it sheds light on his story, on other characters, on the plot. Each episode does that, so you’re investing not only in the story and the cards that will be revealed, but the characters, because you see why they turned out the way they did each time, which, for me, I don’t know, as an actor and someone who’s drawn to character driven drama, that’s what was so exciting, so different about this, even though it is action/conspiracy/thriller.”

What do you think now that you’ve heard from the cast and showrunners about Zero Hour? Are you going to be checking it out when it premieres next month?

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