tv review

Dig Needs to Keep Digging

Mysteries! Photo: USA Network

I like a good prophecy. In life, in literature, in my TV shows. Hearing a mysterious rabbi whisper, “The prophecy has begun!” right at the beginning of Dig was both a hook and a warning sign: On the one hand, yay, a show that’s trying to do something big and exciting and different. On the other, the thing about prophecies is that they always sound like woo-woo bullshit. And thus we have Dig, combining that large-scale ambition with moment-to-moment nonsense.

Dig, premiering tonight on USA, feels a lot like Homeland meets Heroes, perhaps in part because its creators hail from Homeland and Heroes. There’s the overexoticization of the Middle East and an unexplained Hero Child With a Purpose; we get a sexy FBI agent who likes to do things his way (including but not limited to having sex with his boss in a real casual way), and also dreamy young women who want to talk about “vibrations.” We’re all connected! Through … uh … a prophecy.

The show is mainly set in Jerusalem, where Agent Peter Connolly (Jason Isaacs) is investigating the murder of an American and trying to put his painful personal life behind him. That always works out great for TV cops, so you can guess how it works out for him. He meets an intriguing student (Alison Sudol) who bears a striking resemblance to his dead daughter, and if you thought Transparent was going to be the only show to figure out how to eroticize a mikvah, well, think again. We also get glimpses of a strange cell in New Mexico where a young boy is being held for mysterious — apocalyptic! — reasons. There’s a group of male Hasidic Jews in Norway, and they are also up to something. (Something with a gun.) Oh, and a subplot about missing jewels. La la la, this has been going on for thousands of years.

Some of the show is effective, especially the parts that double down on anything eerie or particularly ominous. The perplexing, threatening New Mexico facility really got to me, in an X-Files kind of “what is going on in there?!” way. But my appetite for stories about sad cops is at an all-time low, and all the chasing-people-through-bazaars stuff I could similarly do without. Too often the series confuses “mysterious” with “dull”; I’m fine with not knowing who everyone is, but I’d like to know why I should care.

Ultimately, that’s Dig’s big issue: It’s hard to care about it. I’m not opposed to jumping into a large-scale mystery series, but given how Lost and Heroes worked out, a show would have to be radiating promise at every moment for me to do so. If Dig wants to be that show, it probably could be. If it, oh boy, digs a little deeper.

Dig Needs to Keep Digging