Eleventh Hour strikes out

Rufus Sewell may be best known for period pieces like Middlemarch, A Knight’s Tale and Helen of Troy, says he was tired of being offered parts that always involved horses.

“People generally come to me with edgy characters they throw on horses,” Sewell says. “So the idea of being a non titled, non-over-the-edgy person who actually walk on their own two feet rather than four and someone who is ultimately a good guy but with many layers and complex, really appealed to me.”

He might want to reconsider the option to pony up.

In Eleventh Hour, airing at 10 p.m. Thursday on CBS, Sewell plays Dr. Jacob Hood, a special science advisor to the FBI who investigates science and technology crimes that cannot be solved. So he’s brought in at the Eleventh Hour to solve these mysteries.

Think of it as The X-Files, but without the mythology, the sci-fi or the charisma.

Like Mulder and Scully, Hood and his FBI handler Rachel Young (Marley Shelton) pop on a scene, collect the evidence and solve the crime.

But unlike The X-Files, this is supposed to be taking place in the real world, where the FBI steps in to help solve these impossible cases. Judging from tonight’s first episode and next week’s offering, there hasn’t been much in the way of investigating until Hood comes on the scene and wraps everything up before the clock strikes midnight.

The series comes from CSI franchise producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who has had extraordinary success with his procedural shows. Eleventh Hour, based on a four-part British miniseries, has a flatness that never gets you revved up about the characters or the plot. You quickly learn to expect the expected. In the two episodes offered up for review, you could go make a sandwich, come back, and still know exactly where the story was heading.

In the first episode, which clearly outshines the second one airing next week, Hood must rescue a young mother who has sold her womb. She doesn’t know that the fetus she is carrying isn’t for a childless couple, but is part of a cloning experiment to bring back the dead son of a multimillionaire.

No spoilers in that. The previews have all but spelled out what happens in this slow-moving episode that offers only slight promise of better things to come. Sewell has incredible presence, but we’re not quite sure how to take Hood. Hood’s kind of quirky like House or Life’s Charlie Crews, but doesn’t have that sly bit of humor that makes those other characters intriguing.

Hood’s so valuable he requires a personal FBI bodyguard, but we never get a sense of any real danger to Hood. It’s almost like hiring muscle for Monk or Columbo. What’s the point? Except that Rachel offers the chance to introduce someone who is blonde, pretty and lethal.

In the first episode, Rachel pops as she flattens a plainclothes cop aggressively approaching Hood or reacts to a false alarm that has her coming out half-dressed with guns blazing in a scene that’s both intense and slightly amusing.

The British series starred Patrick Stewart and Ashley Jensen, with both characters taking up equal parts of the on screen drama. In this version, Rachel starts out as being slightly less equal than Hood, and by the second episode she’s barely a sidekick.

Eleventh Hour gets a good shove from a CBS lineup that begins with Survivor and the still mighty CSI, but viewers will be better served switching to newcomer Life on Mars on ABC, or sticking with the final season of ER, which still has more juice than this plodding procedural.

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