Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pilot Review: Dig

Dig (USA)
Premiered March 5 at 10pm

There’s something about religion that just doesn’t always translate properly to television. I remember “Revelations,” a miniseries starring Bill Pullman and Natasha McElhone, but I never watched it, and “Touch” incorporated some Kabbalistic elements into its story. And then there’s a massive failure like “Zero Hour,” which lumped Christianity in with reincarnated Nazis and international terrorism of a purely financial sort. This show strives to be like the former but ends up closer to the latter, though not nearly as laughable. Ambitious is the best way to describe this show, which seeks to incorporate multiple religions and hidden children into its lofty plot, casting Jason Isaacs, who can’t catch a break after a successful run on “Brotherhood” and no smart shows since then, as an FBI agent with a penchant for getting himself into trouble and a checkered past filled with loss. Along for the ride we have an eclectic cast with two of my favorite TV stars, David Costabile, who appeared on “Breaking Bad” and “Flight of the Conchords,” and Lauren Ambrose, who was on “Six Feet Under” and hasn’t done too much of note since, sadly. I also like Anne Heche, Richard E. Grant, and Omar Metwally. Yet the talent involved here doesn’t lead to anything productive. Instead, it’s too exhausting to assemble the pieces and get past the lofty nature of this show’s plotting. It has no idea what genre it wants to be, a frequent symptom of the “event series,” and has already lost me in a way that doesn’t make me want to figure out where the show is going to go.

How will it work as a series? Ten episodes have been commissioned, which pretty much makes this a regular series. This is as plot-driven as they get, necessitating full viewership of every episode to have any clue what’s going on. Something tells me that a “previously on” segment for this show will be more of a joke than anything, and so this show will have to depend on its audience building now and anticipating what comes next rather than checking in each week.
How long will it last? It’s likely that this will remain an actual limited series unlike so many other shows that premiere under such pretenses and then end up lasting much longer. The ratings for the first episode weren’t consistent with a big USA premiere and an audience that the network truly wants, but they also weren’t bad enough to merit a premature cancellation before the ordered episodes have aired.

Pilot grade: D+

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