Conspiring to do more on TV
Showcase’s new miniseries Dig may initially be about the murder of a U.S. national on foreign soil, but as its title urges, the action-thriller probes beneath the surface to uncover something much more sinister.
The project from Tim Kring (Heroes) and Gideon Raff (Homeland) stars Jason Isaacs as Peter Connelly, an FBI agent in Jerusalem who uncovers an ancient international conspiracy bent on altering human history. Peter races to unravel the mystery despite doubts from his boss and sometime lover Lynn (Anne Heche).
Isaacs spoke recently about Dig, why miniseries are more satisfying than long-run shows and having the shooting of Dig interrupted by real-life bombings:
Q: What was filming like in Jerusalem?
A: We were filming in this place where, for thousands of years, people have slaughtered each other to try to take control of this square kilometre of land. Then the real world caught up with us and that terrible conflict in Gaza happened.
The missiles and bombs and planes were flying over and people were getting killed in large numbers, so we had to relocate to Croatia.
It just reminded us that we were making a kind of Indiana Jones and Da Vinci Code-style thriller, but based on stakes that are very real.
Q: Do you consider yourself a conspiracy buff ?
A: People use the word “conspiracy” a lot and they talk about Dig being a conspiracy thriller.
But conspiracy implies something that’s unprovable and these very dangerous, sinister groups in our story and in the real world exist and you can find plenty of evidence of them. And they scare the pants off you.
So do I believe there are things other than what we’re told by the government? You’d have to be a moron not to.
Q: How strongly do the political and religious elements run through the show?
A: My character is a very cynical, aggressively atheist FBI agent and that’s probably because he was a man of faith who went to the seminary when he was young. And now he’s in this place where all the world’s great religions congregate and compete for space.
The groups in our story who cause mayhem and try to bring about the end of the world — are they political? Are they religious? Are they psychologically deranged? Are they fanatical? Are they in it for finance or power? Those are the sort of questions that the show and the audience will be asking themselves.
Q: Dig is only 10 episodes. What’s the advantage of having a defined end point for the story?
A: I’ve been working in both British and (U.S.) television for years and one of the main differences is that these very talented people craft the beginnings of stories in (U.S.) television. They make pilots and if people like the pilot, it gets commissioned and the idea is to keep the wheel spinning as long as possible while people are still watching.
And in this, Tim and Gideon always knew from the beginning what the end would be and how they were going to get there. Everything is in service of the complete story. It’s just a more satisfying thing as a viewer.