Dig Review – TV USA – Plus March 19th Preview

I blame LOST for most of the problems with Dig, USA‘s new investigation thriller, but frankly, I blame LOST for a lot of things.

The show is the latest entrant in the limited-run mystery genre, and revolves around Peter Connelly (Jason Isaacs), an FBI agent working in Israel, finding himself caught up in a bizarre conspiracy that spans the globe. Having caught sight of a redhead, who sticks out like a sore thumb among the crowds in Israel, Connelly follows her to the dig she’s been working on. It’s a massive archeological exploration of caves under the city. They stumble on an odd religious rite being performed by people who aren’t supposed to be there.

It isn’t as odd as it might seem to viewers, because we’ve already been introduced to some very “old school” Jews (no, really, really old school) who are fantastically interested in a red cow in Norway.

Another spin that Connelly is unaware of is the strange, cult-like organization who are apparently raising a child as part of the same global prophecy-fulfilling machinations.

Before we get far, Connelly’s involvement in things centers around the murder of the girl he visited the dig with, and his avoidance of the idea that he had been with her. This becomes tricky, because Connelly obviously knows things don’t look good, and he has to dodge both his boss, Lynn (Anne Heche), and the Israeli detective he has to work with, Golan Cohen (Ori Pfeffer).

As if we didn’t have enough going on, Cohen manages a connection to the bigger picture when he finds a thief has stolen a religious artifact that is said to allow the wearer to talk to God. This brings some clarity to the overall scheme, as certain jewels are being collected, but there’s no telling exactly where things are meant to end up, or how Connelly is going to put all the pieces together.

Where things get rough for the show, if you haven’t figure it out already, is in the mixing of what seems to amount to two different shows. It’s an interesting effort, but it’s a show that forces you to watch both to watch either, and they are jarringly different. We basically have “the Connelly show” and “the religion show,” and they occasionally overlap.

Ronen Akerman/USA Network
Ronen Akerman/USA Network

The one that has us watching Isaacs, Heche, and Pfeffer is a solid mystery, with some twists and surprises, including the kind that go a little into the realm of the odd. But, it’s fun, sucks you in, and builds interesting characters, especially with the sprinkling of backstory references that let us know why Connelly is in Israel in the first place, and how that leads him to do certain things. Isaacs has to carry it, and he’s great. You might rate that show about 8.5, or even as high as 9.5, if this is really up your alley.

But, the other show makes you look at a cow a lot, has Hasidic Jews coming rather close to wringing their hands and cackling, and has David Costabile leading a cult in a bunker, apparently in league with said cow people, apparently because our spell requires cow of red, and boy unspoiled, among whatever other ingredients might crop up.

A group of religious fanatics hoping to figure out the secret to God’s cell phone might not be a bad thread from which to weave your yarn, except that these are fairly silly religious fanatics, and I’ve got to put that together with the rest of the show I’m watching. You might rate this show between 1 and 3, depending on how much you loved all the things in LOST that never ended up making any sense.

It’s hard to even give it that score, because “the religion show” turns out not to just be about some Bible fanatics, but murderous Bible fanatics. Sure, there’s nothing that far gone about people who kill in the name of religion, but when you have to kill people because they are cow witnesses, and/or “spoiled” little boys, and in the name of working some God magic, then you’re just silly for the sake of being silly. You’ve, I’m guessing unknowingly, crossed into the realm where anything could come next, because you don’t have your head wrapped around your own story. If we went a couple more episodes in and Costabile pulled his head off to reveal that he is an insectoid alien who needs the “God phone” to call home for transport, you’d have a hard time balking at how the show “turned” goofy.

That’s why I blame LOST, and the worst part is that you could have made this show without the non-Connelly perspective side of things, and it would have worked. At the end, or very close to the end, we’d see a bunch of “how we got here,” wrap-up, and we might have most of the “crossing the streams” moments to make us scratch our heads, and the whole thing would have been a fun ride.

Instead, you’re left with an almost watchable irritant that won’t leave you to play along with Isaacs as he ferrets out something that seems to be crazy. Instead, it has to show you that things are crazier than you’d ever guess, because, “Woah! Did you see that!”

Put those shows together how you will, I’ll be surprised if you can watch it. Unless you still love everything about LOST, then you should not miss this for anything.

Below a promo and images from the March 19th episode.

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The action thriller “DIG” tells the story of a murder mystery set against the backdrop of modern day Jerusalem, a city shrouded in ancient intrigue. FBI agent Peter Connelly (Golden Globe nominee Jason Isaacs, “Awake”) has had his fair share of heartbreak. Anxious to leave his personal demons behind, Peter takes a job stationed in Israel under the guidance of his new boss, and occasional lover, Lynn Monahan (Emmy Award winner Anne Heche, “Save Me”). When he sets out to solve the murder of a young American, Peter soon finds himself embroiled in an international mystery that delves into the Holy Land’s darkest secrets. What he discovers is a conspiracy thousands of years in the making that threatens to change the course of history. While Peter races to figure out what it all means, he quickly finds that he may not be the only one searching for answers.

The series also stars Alison Sudol (A Fine Frenzy, “Transparent”), David Costabile (“Breaking Bad”), Screen Actors Guild Award winner Richard E. Grant (“Downton Abbey”), Golden Globe Award winner Regina Taylor (“The Unit”), Emmy Award nominee Lauren Ambrose (“Six Feet Under”), Tony Award nominee Omar Metwally (“Non-Stop”) and Ori Pfeffer (“World War Z”).

Created and executive produced by Tim Kring (“Heroes”) and Gideon Raff (“Homeland”), “DIG” is from Universal Cable Productions (UCP) and was developed by Keshet, in association with Gail Berman (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) of The Jackal Group and Gene Stein (“Deception”). Keshet’s Avi Nir (“Homeland”), Alon Shtruzman and Karni Ziv also serve as executive producers.

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Marc Eastman
Marc Eastman is the owner and operator of Are You Screening? and has been writing film reviews for over a decade, and several branches of the internet's film review world have seen his name. He is also a member of The Broadcast Film Critics Association and The Broadcast Television Journalists Association.

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