It's “Zero Hour” for Anthony Edwards, somewhat literally.
The former “ER” star consciously stepped away from television after finishing his tenure as Dr. Mark Greene on that long-running drama, but he's ready to get back in the game. He does that at 7 p.m. Thursday with the premiere of his new ABC suspense drama about a paranormally inclined publisher desperate to find his kidnapped wife (Jacinda Barrett), whose interest in old timepieces leads to her disappearance.
The vanishing is tied to a mystery sparked by the Nazis' reign in Germany — as detailed in the debut episode's prologue — and also to an antique clock with surprising contents. The husband's resulting globe-spanning search links him to the mercenary abductor (Michael Nyqvist, of the original movies inspired by the “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” literary trilogy) and an unrelenting FBI agent (Carmen Ejogo). Addison Timlin and Scott Michael Foster play the Edwards character's magazine colleagues, who assist in his hunt; Charles S. Dutton (“Roc”) also appears as a helpful clergyman.
Created by executive producer Paul T. Scheuring (“Prison Break”), “Zero Hour” inspired Edwards to resume series work because of how unique he believes it is.
“I very intentionally took many years off,” he says, “having felt complete and great from ‘ER.' I knew there was a time to really focus on my family. We moved to New York, traveled around the world for a year and did all kinds of great things.
“About a year and a half ago, I got offered a play ... and I was like, ‘Hmm. I could wrap my mind around doing that for six months, and if I'm ready for that, maybe I'm ready to go back and play in the medium I really love.'”
Edwards began developing television projects, and shortly after one just missed the cut at Showtime, the “Zero Hour” script came his way.
“It just hit me,” he says. “I thought, ‘If they're crazy enough to make this, I'm crazy enough to want to do it.' It just read differently. I hadn't seen this on network television, and it had a character I immediately related to, so I was like, ‘Let's try it.'”
The series provided Edwards — whose portrayal of Navy pilot Goose is getting new exposure this month in the 3-D refitting of “Top Gun,” in theaters and on home video — with someone completely fresh to play.
“It was really a relief that the character was not a doctor or a lawyer or a policeman,” he says of playing someone defined by the name of his publication, Modern Skeptic. “There are a lot of great stories to be told in those worlds, but I'm just not a procedural kind of person.
“Every episode doesn't have to have a beginning, middle and end, if you can put (all the episodes) together. ‘24' proved that.”