Friday, June 18, 2010

Pilot Review: Rubicon

Rubicon (AMC)
Premiered June 13 at 11pm

This one-hour installment was officially a preview of the new series, premiering in August, provided by AMC as one of their flagship series, “Breaking Bad,” concluded its season. I think the idea is that the two-hour pilot that will air in August will include this episode as well as the second. Knowing that this is only the first half might generally help to curve the grade, as I’m of the opinion that the second part of a two-hour debut can often be much better. I personally feel that way about “Lost,” even if most don’t agree, having seen the first episode only and not being too interested. Not being interested is certainly not a problem with this show, since if it has anything going for it, it’s that it’s completely enticing. It’s 50% intrigue, 50% suspense, and 0% clarity, which I think is a recipe for success, even if it may not be lasting success. This is the first time in a while that, after watching a pilot, I have absolutely no idea what the hell is going on. With “Lost,” I was at least able to piece together who the characters were and what might be happening, but here, I don’t have a clue. Honestly, I think it’s a positive thing since I’m very drawn in and eager to figure out exactly what’s happening, though I don’t mind if I don’t find out for a while. It’s hard to follow exactly who is who as far as the characters are concerned, but Will, played by James Badge Dale, seems like a great lead. Dale first burst onto the TV scene as Jack’s sidekick and Kim’s boyfriend on the third season of “24,” and after a starring role in the HBO miniseries “The Pacific,” Dale is ready to take on the lead part in this series, and it looks like he’s up to the task. Unlike AMC’s other two series, “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad,” this show doesn’t appear to be grounded in reality, which is cool. It’s not necessarily a sci-fi or supernatural series, but there is something about these patterns that lends itself to the mystical. Since AMC has achieved such extraordinary success with its other two original series, which just keep getting better as they get older, the future bodes well for this show. I love the music and I was genuinely thrilled for a good chunk of the episode. Having a know-it-all character at the head of a series works well if he really does know it all, and that’s what it seems like Will is. Final judgment will have to be passed in August when the show really starts up, but at this point, I feel very engaged.

How will it work as a series? Mysteries may be unraveled, and they may not. This pilot felt like a really good episode of “The X-Files” and like a much darker, better version of “Warehouse 13.” Having that every week for thirteen weeks a season sounds like a really great idea. It will definitely be a dynamic show and may also have to feature some standalone installments in addition to its recurring mythology like “The X-Files” frequently did.
How long will it last? AMC renewed its ratings-challenged series thanks to critical praise, so as long as this show earns good reviews, it should be on the air for a while. No end is in sight for either of AMC’s other shows, so it’s hard to place a bet on the length of this show’s life, but I’d imagine it would be on for at least a couple of years. If critics like it, it should be swiftly renewed once it officially premieres.

Pilot grade: B+

1 comment:

Greg Boyd said...

I will definitely be watching this in August. I've decided to wait until then to watch this. I'm equally excited for AMC's new horror series "The Walking Dead".

P.S. The second season of "Mad Men" has been absolutely stellar, way better than season 1 (although I liked that season as well). Terrific show.