USA's 'Dig': What the Critics Are Saying

Ronen Akerman/USA Network
'Dig'

The religious conspiracy thriller from Tim Kring and Gideon Raff stars Jason Isaacs, Anne Heche, Alison Sudol and Lauren Ambrose.

Dig, USA’s religious conspiracy thriller — promoted as a 10-episode event series, premiering March 5 — was created by Tim Kring (Heroes) and Gideon Raff (Homeland) and stars Jason Isaacs as Peter Connelly, an FBI agent who investigates a murder and discovers much more in the process.

Anne Heche, Alison Sudol and Lauren Ambrose also star in the show, which has a 90-minute pilot that was shot in Jerusalem, but the remaining episodes' production relocated to Croatia due to civil unrest in the holy city.

See what top critics are saying about the first few episodes of Dig:

The Hollywood Reporter's Keith Uhlich says the "overstuffed setup isn’t likely to pay off in the long term. Much of this has to do with the series’ frenetic feel. An early foot chase through a street market, filmed like a Bourne-series offshoot with shaky, handheld camerawork and incoherent editing, seems like a mission statement: Chaos reigns. There’s little rhyme or reason to the way the series jumps between locales and doles out its prevalent plot twists, and that kills most of the desire to see how these disparate narrative threads will eventually converge. ... It certainly doesn’t help that there’s a seen-it-all-before quality to many of the characters' interactions."

Additionally, "Dig is more about the never-ending swirl of plot, ... to the point that the unexpected becomes expected and monotony sets in. There’s little excitement in having the rug so consistently and predictably pulled out from under you." However, "Isaacs, at least, makes for a good, bewildered protagonist. ... The actor runs with all the rote shadings, elevating this Da Vinci Code-esque trash with his sheer commitment. There’s real longing, and a touch of Hitchcock’s Vertigo, in the way he follows Sudol’s mystery woman into the caverns below Jerusalem. It’s flashes of inspiration like this that make one wish Kring and Raff would put the brakes on their plotty conspiratorial ditherings and linger a bit longer on mood and atmosphere."

The Los Angeles Times' Mary McNamara writes that it's "more entertainment than education, though one will no doubt feel compelled to Google at least some of the show's iconography. ... Although designed for high-octane enjoyment — marketplace chase scenes, shootouts, enigmatic zealots, mysterious talismans — Dig takes its time, weaving its various plots together in a way both tantalizing and occasionally maddening. ... Tension is good, but the longer you build up any mystery, the more shocking and clever it dang well better be." Plus, the religious overlap between Christian and Jewish extremists "lends Dig a certain resonance and depth, just as the location work in Jerusalem gives it authenticity. ... Dig promises to be a whole lot of crazy fun to watch, proof that TV can be as wild and exciting as it is political and penetrating," and "Isaacs roils with pain and the ongoing curse of clarity."

The Wall Street Journal's Nancy deWolf Smith understands why Raff would make the show: "because he wanted to make an entertaining thriller in the Da Vinci Code mode and realized that while Christian and Jewish extremists might not be universally appealing characters, their motive — to prepare the way for biblical prophecies to be fulfilled — would resonate on some level with many viewers of the faiths. ... A sprawling apocalyptic fantasy crammed with plot threads in Israel, New Mexico, Norway and beyond may be just the thing to empty the mind of fearsome developments in the real world. The 10-part series does have cracking-tale potential. ... The mind reels from all the action. Most of the time it is an entertaining sensation."

RogerEbert.com's Brian Tallerico calls it "a show that boasts a talented cast working with high production values but in pursuit of a story that only gets sillier as it progresses. ... It pushes you away as it gets so nonsensical and overheated that you give increasingly less of a damn." Altogether, "Dig takes itself SO seriously that it’s impossible for you to do the same. ... In the end, Dig reminds one a bit too much of the previous programs of its creators, Heroes and Homeland, although it doesn’t have the hook of the former or the performances of the latter." 

The  San Francisco Chronicle's David Wiegand explains, "USA’s new international thriller is fun to watch and makes almost no sense whatsoever. As the saying goes, who could ask for anything more? ... The show has a lot of chase scenes, but instead of just adding to the confusion, they actually provide a valuable thread, which, over time, binds the disparate parts of the story together, more or less. Dig probably has more in common with Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Da Vinci Code than Homeland, but that’s not a bad thing. [OriPfeffer and Isaacs make great colleagues and rivals, and the show has a certain authenticity of place."

Dig airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on USA, beginning March 5.

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