I will admit to approaching the USA Network’s new mystery adventure series ‘Dig’ with a high degree of skepticism. Ads for the show made it look like a lame ‘Da Vinci Code’ knockoff. Of course, sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sadly, this is not one of those times. As it turns out, the impression from the ads was 100% accurate.
The show is a collaboration between Tim Kring and Gideon Raff, creators of ‘Heroes’ and ‘Homeland’ respectively. The story is part conspiracy thriller set in the Middle East and part supernatural mysticism nonsense, so you can probably guess which man was responsible for how much.
Jason Isaacs stars as Peter Connelly, an American FBI agent currently working in Jerusalem. He’s supposedly there to arrest and extradite a man who murdered a U.S. Senator’s son, but he seems to have free reign to do whatever he wants in the country. The fact that he’s boning his boss lady at the State Department (Anne Heche) probably gives him more leeway than an American law enforcement officer operating on foreign soil would normally have. Or it’s just bad writing. Whatever the case, he butts heads with a local cop who doesn’t like this interloper getting in his way.
While chasing his perp, Peter runs into a slutty pink-haired girl who reminds him of his dead daughter. In short order, he goes skinny-dipping with her, which to my mind makes him a massive creep. The girl is an archaeology student who brings him to an underground dig site where they surreptitiously witness what appears to be a cult ritual involving animal sacrifice.
The next morning, Peter gets word that the pink-haired girl is dead, and the cop he hates is working the case. He horns his way into investigating the murder as well, partly to find out what happened to the girl and partly to eliminate any evidence that ties him to her.
While all that’s going on, we cut to New Mexico, where a creepy guy named Pastor Billingham (David Costabile) has locked a young kid named Josh in a room and coldly tells him that his parents are dead and will never come to get him. He claims that the boy has a very special destiny. The nervous girl named Debbie (Lauren Ambrose) who’s assigned to take care of the kid inadvertently gives him the code to unlock the security door, which allows him to run away into the desert.
Just to end the pilot episode on an unpleasant note, Billingham tracks the young child down and shoots him dead. Meanwhile, Lauren discovers another room with another boy also named Josh, who’s an exact copy of the first one. A clone, perhaps?
Honestly, I don’t really care.
Episode Verdict / Grade: D
The 90-minute episode is very dull. It makes a lot of commotion without much of anything really happening or leading anywhere. None of the characters are at all interesting, and none of the plot threads tie together. While the first episode was actually filmed in Jerusalem and makes reasonably atmospheric use of the location, subsequent episodes will move the production to Croatia for budgetary reasons, so even that appeal will be lost.
The network claims that ‘Dig’ is a “Ten-Part Event,” but no doubt hopes it will be successful enough to continue another season. I don’t intend to stick around long enough to find out.