Sunday, August 1, 2010

"Rubicon" on AMC Tonight -- Will You Be There?

Nobody loves what AMC is doing these days more than we do. Breaking Bad is incredible television -- heartbreaking, brutal, with the best acting around -- and Mad Men continues in its 4th season to be the stylish icy delight that we all crave beyond reason. They're trying again, beginning tonight (except for an earlier sneak of the pilot) with Rubicon, an intricate drama set in the world of intelligence and counter-intelligence and counter-counter-intelligence.

Yikes. We love that the show is about a super-smart guy, Will Travers (played by James Badge Dale -- 24, The Black Donnellys,The Pacific), who knows everything, a super braniac who can find patterns where others see gibberish. Very appealing and we've got to support that, but Rubicon is beginning to sound like 24 without the chases and with lots of talk, if what we're hearing has merit. (I'm watching the pilot right now, and so far I'm not going to disagree.)

Nobody's more paranoid or conspiracy-minded than I am -- I'll listen to a good theory anytime -- but when the things Rubicon is being compared to are the extremely convoluted (but admittedly smart) movies like The Parallax View, or Three Days of the Condor, I've got to start freaking out a little. It's hard enough to keep track of clues and red herrings when you're on a magical island with smoke monsters, let alone on the drab streets of NYC we're seeing in Rubicon. I almost like the look of Rubicon -- it's like the brainy version of Rescue Me's gritty and hyper-masculine NYC (and Dale appeared on that show as a Gavin) -- but it'll grind you down.

Maybe it's just me, or maybe it was just snowing too much while they were filming the pilot, but Rubicon is really dark and understated, so much so that fine actors like Arliss Howard (Medium) and Miranda Richardson can't even register a spark. It's also the kind of series where a phone rings and the mysterious voice on the other end quotes a chess move, and then we see lots of chess boards in the subsequent scenes. Nothing against chess, but it's complicated and slow and if we're unlucky a metaphor for the entire show.

Maybe I'm reading this all wrong. Let's hope AMC has another winner with Rubicon, but so far I'm seeing it has neither the sexy veneer nor Baby Boomer-centric historical intrigue of Mad Men (which helps us get over the fact that often not much happens in the show), nor the X-ray accurate yet always unexpected twists of human nature of Breaking Bad.

Rubicon starts tonight on AMC at 8pm with two episodes, followed by Mad Men at 10pm. You really might want to visit AMC's Rubicon website for more insight and behind-the-scenes information, here.

1 comment:

Jane said...

I tried to watch last week and couldn't get through it. Very, very slow and complicated. It made me feel like I was back in the theater, having one of the greatest naps every while "Inception" droned along. Zzzzzzzzzz. :(