Despite its flaws -- and there are key ones -- "Dig" offers a fascinating tale, digging from modern life to old Jerusalem history. And it pulled that off despite an abrupt shift in locations; here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
At times, Hollywood
invades exotic spaces in distant places. At other times, it simply
Then there's “Dig,”
the six-week cable miniseries; it does it both ways.
was filmed in one of the world's most special places, old Jerusalem.
“You are walking on stones that people walked on 3,000 years ago,”
said writer-producer Tim Kring.
Or, at times,
leaping or crawling. “You're running on the rooftops,” said Jason
Isaacs, who stars. “Or you're emerging from a tunnel or a cave and
you can feel the combined history of millions of people.”
And then, suddenly,
all of that shifted. After Thursday's opener was filmed, fresh
tensions arose; the rest of the Jerusalem scenes were moved to
Anything is possible
“with the magic of movies,” Kring said, as proven by his “Heroes”
series. “We did scenes in Tokyo and Paris and Africa – and we
never left a 35-mile radius of our office.”
Still, “Dig” had
been planned to be exotic in both its theme and its locations.
This was created by
two people familiar with the classic stories of religions. Gideon
Raff (a “Homeland” producer and the “Tyrant” creator) grew up
in Jerusalem; Kring (creator of “Heroes” and “Touch”) was
once a religious-studies major in college.
They wanted “Dig”
to resonate history, after a modern start. “We are lighting the
fuse of a story that has biblical prophecies that surround this
murder mystery,” Kring said. That involved filming in:
-- Northern Canada,
which portrays Norway. There, a red heifer is born, fulfilling a
-- New Mexico. In a
cold, clinical setting, a young woman (Lauren Ambrose) watches a
-- Jerusalem, where
Isaacs plays a U.S. deputy legal attache. “His life was shattered
by a personal trauma,” Raff said. “He has lost his faith. And he
is dealing with that in the holiest place on Earth.”
For Isaacs, filming
that first episode was like a daily exercise in time travel. In Tel
Aviv, he had “a modern apartment on a beach, where there are people
running around in Speedos or dental floss. And then we drive to
Jerusalem and it's like driving back through a rip in the fabric of
That old world
gripped the actors, said Anne Heche, who plays his boss and
sometimes-lover. “Every turn you take leads you into another
extraordinary space, just filled with an incredible energy of history
and love and passion.”
Then life shifted.
When trouble erupted in Gaza, the State Department began warning
Americans to stay away. “Tyrant,” which had planned to film in
Israel (after a pilot in Morocco) chose Turkey; “Homeland,” which
was moving its characters to the Middle East, went to South Africa.
And “Dig” headed
to Europe. “Croatia's old cities double beautifully for Jerusalem,”
They have the
ancient stones ... but not the resonance of world-shaking history.
-- “Dig,” 10
p.m. Thursdays, USA Network, starting March 5
-- Opener reruns
that night at 11:23 p.m. and 12:47 a.m.
-- It also reruns at
6:30 a.m. Friday, 10 and 11:30 p.m. Saturday, 9 and 10:30 a.m.
Sunday, 11:05 p.m. Monday and 6:30 a.m. Thursday, March 12.
-- Also, opener
reruns Friday on three sister channels – 5:30 p.m. on E, 10:30 p.m.
on Esquire, 1 a.m. (technically, Saturday morning) on Bravo