Three episodes of USA’s “Dig” were made available for review prior to broadcast.
USA is investing a whole lot of energy in touting its new limited series Dig, and after just one installment (three were distributed to press for review purposes), it’s easy to see why. A high-octane conspiracy thriller set against the backdrop of a sprawling excavation in the ancient city of Jerusalem, Dig is bigger and bolder than anything the network has ever attempted, a Da Vinci Code-esque tale of murderous, religious zealots and shadowy organizations preparing for nothing less than the prophecized end of days, told over the course of a single, 10-episode season.
Jason Isaacs stars as FBI agent Peter Connelly, who unearths a sinister plot that dates back 2000 years as he investigates the brutal murder of a beautiful archaeologist (Alison Sudol). The victim is somehow connected to another case, involving a Palestinian-American man (Omar Metwally) who murdered an antiques dealer before fleeing to Jerusalem to carry out an intricate plan involving a stolen artifact, though Connelly’s race to connect the dots doesn’t yield any easy answers. Complicating matters are Connelly’s Israeli National Police detective partner Golan Cohen (Ori Pfeffer), with whom Connelly rarely sees eye to eye; Connelly’s sexual relationship with his boss (Anne Heche); and the dead archaeologist’s uncanny resemblance to Connelly’s own dead daughter.
Dig goes way deeper than that, though. In Norway, a red heifer is being raised in secret by a young rabbi, who has been instructed to lay down his life in order to protect the cow from deadly Essene hitmen. Over in the New Mexico desert, meanwhile, a young boy (Zen McGrath) is being prepped for his bar mitzvah by members of a psychotic Christian cult. Characters in the series must also contend with dubiously aligned embassy officials, an inscrutable mystery scrawled on cave walls and many, many sacrificial lambs (including some who walk on two legs).
Mostly, it’s an intriguing watch, boosted by a hearty helping of action. Isaacs, taking a second shot at the small screen after NBC’s ambitious but ultimately awful Awake, is a suitably hardy leading man, physically capable and predictably world-weary. He holds his own against the more clichéd elements of the show. Pfeffer and Heche both do strong work too; the only weak link thus far is McGrath, another in a long line of aggravating child actors. However, it must be acknowledged that his largely unsympathetic character would present quite a challenge for any actor, regardless of experience.