‘Eleventh Hour’ hopes to blind us with science

By Rick Bentley

The CBS series premieres tonight.

LOS ANGELES — There’s a lot of concern about science running amok this year. Fox has “Fringe.” CBS has “Eleventh Hour.”

British actor Rufus Sewell plays Dr. Jacob Hood, a special science adviser to the FBI. He works under the mandate to investigate crimes and crisis of a scientific or technological nature. Imagine a cloning experiment goes bad. Who are you going to call? Dr. Hood.

Executive producer Ethan Reiff promises this show — which premieres at 10 tonight — will be more science fact than science fiction.

“The show is filled with science. But it’s science that surrounds us every day of our lives already. It’s the science that’s going to be the subject of at least one front-page story in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal every day,” Reiff says during an interview at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. “I think if you look around, probably, if not every one of us, then every other one of us, our lives have been directly touched in one form or another over the last decade by these endless cutting-edge breakthroughs in genetics, in biochemistry, and miniaturization and nanotechnology.”

That was the approach used in the British miniseries starring Patrick Stewart that served as the jumping off point for this new American network series. And just like the British version, Dr. Hood will not be alone in his work. He will share duties with Marley Shelton (Rachel Young).

“Eleventh Hour” is the first starring role in a television series for Sewell. He’s better known for stage work including a Tony nomination for “Rock ’n’ Roll.” His movie credits include “Amazing Grace,” “Dark City, “A Knight’s Tale,” “The Holiday” and “The Legend of Zorro.”

Sewell made sure not to see the original miniseries after he was cast in the television series.

“The fact that they’re casting me as opposed to Patrick Stewart means I don’t need to worry about trying to be like Patrick Stewart. Because obviously you’d get Patrick Stewart if that’s what you wanted,” Sewell says. “So I wasn’t worried about trying to match that, but rather just trying to do it the way I would do it, because presumably that’s why they’ve come to me.

“I really like the character. I really like the fact that I play someone really, really smart, who also had a little bit of mystery and was quirky and idiosyncratic and not without a sense of humor.”

Sewell will have more opportunity that Stewart did to develop the character. The original British miniseries lasted only four episodes. Unless the science goes really bad, the CBS series should get more time than that.

And for the run of the series, Sewell will have to do what so many British actors are doing on American television shows. The British actor will be using an American accent. And that’s the only way he would have done the role.

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