Spring 2015 Review: Dig

1 Apr


I don’t know much about the Book of Revelations and Judeo-Christian end-of 0he-world theories, but I know enough to recognize when they’re being alluded to. I read the Michael Chabon book The Yiddish Policeman’s Union a few years ago and got incredibly confused when the primary murder case was tangled up with religious apocalyptic scenarios. There’s some preachers, and some Hasidic Jews, and a calf, and well, we’ll get to it in slightly more detail in a minute. But this is definitely some end-of-days stuff.

 Here’s what we know. Jason Isaacs plays an FBI agent whose daughter died recently, tearing apart his home life and motivating him move to Israel to get far away from the site of his personal tragedy. He gets into some territorial tiffs with a local Israeli agent, as the two of them compete to take down an American murderer who ran to Israel. They find that he stole bizarre ancient religious paraphernalia that they don’t know what it is, but well, it’s got to mean something to be worth killing over. Isaacs meets a young woman who is working on a major archeological dig near the Temple Mount, and the woman is mysteriously murdered the next day. Gale from Breaking Bad (David Constabile, one of the great TV character actors working) plays a crazy preacher who has been raising a 13-year old boy trapped in a complex for his entire life for some crazy religious prophecy purposes. When the boy escapes, he’s shot, because he’s now unclean, and he’s replaced with an identical boy. The preacher has contact with some Hasidic Jews who have been raising a cow, because, more end of the world stuff that I don’t really understand.

 The level of religious prophecy immediately has been wondering what level of reality Dig is playing in terms of religious and magic, or, myth, or fantasy, or however you want to describe it. Is religion real, and thus everyone right to be chasing all these far out goals, turning what could be deluded zealots into prescient prophets? Is this brand of religion a lie, in which these are a bunch of crazies whose religious fanaticism is driving them towards murder and other illicit activities? Or is it somewhere in the middle. Since this is from Tim Kring (and Gideon Raff, the creator of the original Israeli Homeland), the man behind the went-off-the-rails fate-centric Heroes and the cringingly-fate-centric Touch, there’s probably some magic going on.

Dig is clearly one of those big picture, big question series, and because Tim Kring is part of it, as mentioned above, there’s probably magic in the air.  Dig actually seems a little less bright than most USA programming, probably an attempt to change up the brand after USA has been slipping somewhat in the ratings, and more closer in hue to the series of supernatural mystery programming that churns through the broadcast networks every year.

Historically, I have been huge sucker for supernatural mystery shows, and time and again I’ve gotten pulled into watching more episodes than I should before realizing that almost every supernatural mystery series is terrible and goes nowhere. I watched several Revolutions and Terra Novas, for example, before giving in and admitting that both were not good. Dig’s first episode is about on pace with either of those. There’s nothing to suggest that any aspect of Dig is superior, and the appeal is simply based on the what-the-fuck-is-happening plot aspect. Great plot can absolutely make a show, and BattleStar Galactica, a flawed but fascinating sci-fi show, often made hay with excellent plot when other aspects of the show were lacking (the episodes, including the finale, where the plot didn’t work, were correspondingly awful but that’s another story).

The acting was competent but there would be no reason to come back except for my itching curiosity at the supernatural mysteries hinted at in the pilot. That just isn’t enough anymore. I’m starting to learn my lesson.

Will I watch it again? No. I’m trying to face down my supernatural mystery habit. These big mysteries always suck me in, and like someone who continues to date the wrong type of guy or girl even when he or she knows better, I’m slowly and with great difficulty leaning to spot my own weakness and try to identify it objectively. I’m not falling for just any mystery show and Dig doesn’t seem worthy.

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