Dig‘s biggest problem, though, is its initial promise of a closed ending. Three episodes in, the plot starts to ease up instead of gaining momentum. For a show centered on a global conspiracy, one which pulls together enough supervillain types to power the James Bond franchise for a decade, it should learn to pick up the pace. Of course, Dig was billed as a limited series, so perhaps future installments will make the long build-up worth bearing, but it’s not quite the pulse-quickener that USA promised, at least at this point.
Peeking behind the curtain helps with understanding some of the series’ issues; co-creators Tim Kring and Gideon Raff previously brought us Heroes and Homeland, two extremely promising series (the first season of Homeland is one of the best introductions for a show in TV history, period) that stalled much sooner than they should have due to a lack of ideas. Heroes drowned in its own mythology, while Homeland simply grasped at narrative straws after blowing up its original logline. Whether some combination of those two fates awaits Dig remains to be seen, but neither Kring nor Raff have the best track record for following through, and the surprising insouciance with which the show is progressing already raises concerns about whether viewers are in for a bumpy ride. After three episodes, the larger, Biblical implications are fuzzy, and any narrative elucidation appears a ways off.
I’ll say this for Dig; right now, I have absolutely no idea where it’s going, and that’s refreshing. Setting itself apart from Raff’s Middle East-centric Homeland, Dig focuses on shadowy Christian and Jewish organizations racing to possess a power that could (it appears) transform the future of global power. The religious aspects of that – both seem to think that a prophecy is unfolding before their eyes, heralding the apocalypse – are less important to the show than the brutality of its extremist proponents. How Isaacs will move from largely unaware FBI bloodhound to a central player in their long-in-the-tooth plot is a big question mark, and one that Kring, Raff and their team of writers will hopefully aspire to answer without lurching over the edge into completely ridiculous, Saturday morning cartoon territory.
Regardless of how Dig unspools, though, USA probably has a hit on its hands. With sturdy performances and an ambitious storyline, Dig is the only real ‘event’ hitting airwaves this spring (or should I say hitting cable – Netflix’s House of Cards has already proven appointment television in its third season). The show’s enterprise should be applauded. Now that it has our attention, though, Dig will have to work a little harder than it already is, and turn up the tension by a few notches, to prove that it’s truly worth delving into.
Entertaining but a little too slack for its own good, Dig is perfectly diverting, high-octane fun that's just a few turns of a scribe's screwdriver away from taut and gripping appointment television.