Writer-producer Tim Kring likes telling a certain kind of story, incorporating far-flung locales, disparate characters and a vaguely supernatural element, with the connections only becoming apparent over time (and sometimes, not completely even then). That approach produced “Heroes,” an NBC hit for a while; “Touch,” a short-lived Fox series; and now “Dig,” on which the producer teams with “Homeland’s” Gideon Raff, embarking on a global conspiracy whose biblical-inspired implications yet remain fuzzy after three episodes. Some will no doubt lose themselves in the mystery and casting, which includes Jason Isaacs; others, feeling twice burned, might decide to break ground elsewhere.
“Dig” opens with Orthodox Jews in Norway inspecting a red calf. “The prophecy has begun,” one says, dispatching a wide-eyed young man (Guy Selenik) on a mission of great importance but unclear intent.
From there, it’s off to Israel, where American FBI agent Peter Connelly (Isaacs, adopting a Yank accent) is working a case with a local detective (Ori Pfeffer), and not incidentally, having an affair with the boss (Anne Heche). A third narrative strand leads to New Mexico (actually the Israeli desert as a stand-in), where Debbie (Lauren Ambrose) is responsible for watching a beatific young boy (Zen McGrath) who also evokes a lot of talk about his destiny, mostly from the religious leader in charge (David Costabile, who, after “Breaking Bad,” is really deserving of a show in a more hospitable climate).
Connelly, naturally, has experienced a great personal loss, which might make him more emotionally vulnerable when a beautiful young woman (Alison Sudol) leads him to an archaeological site and allows him to secretly view a strange ritual conducted there. Yet his attempt to catch an elusive suspect only hints at a much larger plot, which, lest anyone not grasp the stakes, is made explicit when someone ominously says, “This is bigger than any of us.”
And so it goes. Beyond its handsome locations (shooting extensively in Israel) and impressive list of players (among them Richard E. Grant and Regina Taylor in supporting roles), “Dig” keeps referencing the grand forces at work, but also does little to divulge what they are. And while that might be fine for those determined to hunker down for this entire 10-episode event, it can feel a bit tiresome to others still debating whether the show merits such a commitment.
In a special designed to promote the program, Kring and Raff noted that much of the story is rooted in actual biblical prophecy and beliefs, which give this limited series heft in light of the visible impact of religious extremism around the world.
Those less inclined to accept on faith — either due to the auspices or a lack of patience — that “Dig” is leading somewhere can be forgiven for rolling their eyes at another show that promises to threaten “everything we believe in.” For such skeptics, to borrow a line from “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” USA might be digging in the wrong place.