Eleventh Hour (UK original)


Code Monkey
Staff member
With the US remake of Eleventh Hour recently premiering, BBC America was kind enough to run the original UK version starring Patrick Stewart.

From an American standpoint it'd be hard to characterize the original as either a TV series or as a mini-series because it was only 4 episodes but with each one airing for 90 minutes (at least they did on BBCA). The 4 episodes started & ended without a buildup nor a finale.

The 4 episodes that did air dealt with human cloning, viral diseases, global warming, and finally miracle cures mixed with politics.
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.

Hood and Young attempt to locate the source of an outbreak of a hybrid Smallpox/Tanapox virus, but things become more complicated when Young is apparently infected and the 'trail' leads in the wrong direction.

When a friend of Hood's vanishes while doing research on global warming, he takes it upon himself to decode his encrypted research.

Following the miraculous cure of a young boy suffering from cancer, 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 sufferers 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, however, and it appears increasingly likely that the boy's doctor has made the entire story up. But shortly after Hood reaches this conclusion, the doctor responsible for the case dies in an apparent suicide. A chance phrase in the suicide note referring to a Geiger Counter, a term the doctor would never use due to Hans Geiger's known Nazi sympathies, leads Hood to begin an investigation into her death, and he uncovers a Government conspiracy to produce heavy water (which he is able to demonstrate is found in the spring). By blackmailing a leading government figure, Hood is able to clear the doctor's name, but is not able to expose the secret service's involvement in the whole affair.
All 4 episodes offered moments of excellent acting and, in the case of Kryptos, some beautiful photography. There were some plot elements though that could have been worked on. For example, it was never really explained why Hood requires an armed police protector nor why he is apparently famous. With no only 4 episodes the viewer is left to assume that more of the back story would have eventually been told.

Politics are strongly woven throughout each of the episodes. "Resurrection" touches upon Christian beliefs, "Containment" touches upon the issues of immigrants, and "Kryptos" deals with the oft seen theory that big oil companies are secretly controlling what data is released to the general public in regards to Earth's changing climates. "Miracle" goes for the brass ring by starting out with the debate of faith based healing and ends up with a massive multi-national government conspiracy.

The US remake of Eleventh Hour has been compared to another new US show this season, JJ Abrams' Fringe, since they both deal with questionable science. That comparison is unwarranted though since Fringe is closer to The X-Files in its mythology while Eleventh Hour is grounded on the principles that there is a scientific explanation for everything.

If you get a chance to watch the original series again I would recommend it viewing. I was able to watch all 4 episodes in one night thanks to our DVR and I enjoyed them as a good solid drama. It would have been interesting to see a full season of the show with the characters fleshed out a bit more. I would also recommend watching the original if for no other reason than to see how a British drama was re-imagined for the US version.