'Dig' unearths a twisty mystery
The creators of 'Homeland' and 'Heroes' bring an adventurous limited series to USA Network.
The new USA Network drama "Dig" is something of a nail-biting thriller mashup: a murder linked to an ancient artifact and a conspiracy theory with a global scope and multiple interweaving storylines. Call it "The DaVinci Code" meets "National Treasure" with a dash of "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
Created and produced by Gideon Raff ("Homeland") and Tim Kring ("Heroes"), the 10-part series premiering March 5 is from Keshet, the Israeli production house responsible for "Homeland," "Allegiance" and "Rising Star." It’s set in and was partially filmed in Israel, with Jerusalem the backdrop for much of the action.
"Dig" stars Jason Isaacs ("Awake," the "Harry Potter" series) as FBI agent Peter Connelly, whose investigation of the death of a young archaeology intern embroils him in a much bigger mystery. "He’s posted to Jerusalem at his own request. He asks his old friend and boss (Lynn Monahan, played by Anne Heche) to bring him out there to get away from a tragedy," Isaacs, referring to the death of his character's daughter, told From The Grapevine. "He starts investigating this murder mystery and bit by bit unveils a much bigger, thousands-of-years-old conspiracy that threatens the world as we know it."
Isaacs read the script and was instantly caught up in the story. "I was desperate to know what happens next," he said. "Gideon Raff and Tim Kring are master storytellers. When I asked them where they got the idea, they said it’s all true. So I looked up these different elements and I don’t want to give too much away, but there are these groups at play that are truly terrifying."
Raff wanted to do a show set in his hometown, Jerusalem, "centered around an archaeological mystery," Kring told From The Grapevine. After speaking with Avi Nir from Keshet, Raff wrote the script, and it was picked up by USA.
The opening episode was shot in several far-flung locations, with northern Canada standing in for Norway, Israel’s Judean Dersert subbing for New Mexico, and Jerusalem playing itself. The production shot everywhere from the markets and alleyways above ground to the tunnels under the city.
Some scenes in subsequent episodes were shot in New Mexico and Croatia, the latter standing in for Jerusalem. "I defy people to tell the difference," said Kring.
If "Dig" is successful, it could continue, but not in the traditional way. "It’s designed more as a franchise than a serialized show," Kring said. "It’s about a legal attaché, an FBI agent stationed in a foreign country, investigating crimes by and against American citizens on foreign soil." That might be Peter Connelly, but not necessarily. "That’s not how we designed this. We’re totally committed to having an ending that’s completely satisfying, and if it lives well and dies young, we’ll be satisfied with that," he said.
"For people who love murder mysteries, conspiracies, thrillers, the kind of paranoid nightmare kind of thriller where the world is closing in on our lead character and he can’t figure out which way is up or down, they will find the show exhilarating," Kring continued. "They should know that it will have a beginning, middle and end in the 10 episodes. The mystery will be solved."
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Related Topics: Archaeology