Rufus Sewell, Marley Shelton, ...
Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS

One of the worst things you can call a TV show is “inoffensive.” It’s the equivalent of telling someone that you just want to be friends: “You’re not horrible enough that I need to ban you from my life, but you offer nothing that I can’t get somewhere else, so I’ll just see you when I see you.” Eleventh Hour — CBS’ latest procedural, imported from Britain — is inoffensive.

The show revolves around Dr. Jacob Hood (A Knight’s Tale‘s Rufus Sewell) who, in the premiere, identified himself as a special science advisor to the FBI, then added, “I was appointed to investigate crimes and crisis of a scientific nature.” You’d think that Sewell’s warm bath of a voice could make any line of TV dialogue work, but no, it just emphasizes how much bad writing is beneath him. Dr. Hood is partnered with Special Agent Rachel Young (Sugar & Spice‘s Marley Shelton), whose job it is to protect the biophysicist from the people he pisses off in the course of solving cases. This means he carries a panic button with him that he can, oops!, accidentally sit on late at night and summon her to the hotel bar, gun drawn, when she’s wearing a short white robe that’s open just enough to remind us that underneath those pant suits, she wears a sexy black bra. Puh-lease. I suppose we should be happy that the producers opted for that kind of humiliation instead of a pratfall to make her seem vulnerable to the audience. Having a woman be the muscle in a partnership is cool — don’t blow it! Keep her balls-to-the-wall (as when a stranger offered to buy her a drink and she responded, “Before you disturb me, you should know I’m filling out this paperwork because I shot at a man today.” Why? “Because he disturbed me”).

There’s a reason I’m three paragraphs in and I’m just now getting to the crime in this episode — it was kinda boring, even though it involved human cloning. After 19 (!) dead fetuses were found in Seattle, it was finally time to bring in Hood, who was apparently the first person to think about doing DNA testing. (Note: The local detective was played by Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Riley, Marc Blucas, who should really cut his hair.) Hood determined that they were clones, and, set out to find the person pulling the strings — someone with the codename Geppetto. That was so supposed to be clever, but it made me groan. Even more so after Young said she never understood Geppetto — a woodcarver wants a son so badly that he makes one, Pinocchio…what is there not to understand? Her musings, however, made Hood realize that Geppetto would be commissioned by a billionaire parent who’d lost a child, and he took Young to a library to sit and look through hard copies of local newspapers from 2005. Wouldn’t a computer have been quicker? Of course, Hood found the dad (Michael O’Keefe) and had a heart-to-heart that revealed something about himself: his wife died two years ago, and not a day goes by that he doesn’t want her back. The tears in Sewell’s eyes made me wish he was on a better show. Like, The Mentalist. In the end, Hood saved the mother who was carrying the 20th ill-fated fetus, but Geppetto got away. Do we want Geppetto to be the villain that returns every Sweeps period? Eh. (Insert shoulder shrug.) A better question: Do you want this series to last until November?

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