1 July 2010
Letters From The TV Front 2
The Ruby in the smoke - Rubicon preview
Seven years ago, James Badge Dale was running around LA with a grade 1 hair cut, getting his hand chopped off in order to save the day. His big TV moment as Chase in 24, however, soon dimmed into obscurity, never to be seen or heard from again. Until last year when he appeared once again; new haircut and a new found intellect, carrying a machine gun through tropical jungle in the epic TV mini-series The Pacific. In the first episode of The Pacific, his character observes that he'd much rather be carrying his typewriter into war than a gun, and voila! In the summer of 2010, he is reborn as Will Travers in the new mystery show Rubicon.
Far from being a delicious mango based drink or a famous roman river, Rubicon is the latest in a series of possible successors to the now disenfranchised Lost viewers (along with already planted Fringe and the new NBC series Persons Unknown) that promises clues, questions and hopefully answers. I am not a massive fan of the mystery series, and one Mr Childs or Mr Woburn will attest to my disregard for Lost's seemingly endless trek into the wilderness of despair (which then ended. Damn) but I decided to look at Rubicon with a fresh eye. The network AMC (who are also responsible for Breaking Bad) are not releasing Rubicon until August 1st, but played the first episode as a teaser last month, so I decided to check it out.
The series revolves around one man, Will Travers, an introspective brain in a government think tank (the purpose of this think tank appears to be analysing intelligence to find patterns in terrorism, economics etc). One day, Travers discovers what he believes to be a pattern in the crosswords of America's biggest newspapers, leading him to investigate the possibility of a global secret society. It sounds like the premise of a Dan Brown novel, sure, but the real quality of this show comes from the intellectual acting of Dale along with the sheer interest of what he is investigating. When shown the office of the think tank you genuinely believe there are placed in America attempting to connect cities by whether or not they have university hospitals, public fountains or a low defence budget. The direction itself is subtle, but not without its punches. A haunting accident scene half way through the episode had me pause the video while I composed myself - here is a mystery show that doesn't rely on flashbacks, arguments or polar bears to intrigue its viewers. Instead a mystery that could exist in our own back yard - a conspiracy drama that is comprehensible and, almost, believable.
I don't want to say much more than I already have about the show itself. But as someone who may feel like they missed out on the Lost craze, Rubicon offers another chance at being fully amerced in the tough questions, in the puppet strings being gently pulled behind the scenes and a character with emotional depth that can pull you into this new show just enough, so softly that you'll think it was your choice to get involved in the first place.
Rubicon airs August 1st 2010.