BBC4’s remit is an ‘ambitious range of innovative, high-quality output that is intellectually and culturally enriching’ and having recently enjoyed watching ‘The Killing’ (see previous review on here) on the same channel, I decided to try out the US Drama ‘Rubicon’.
This program started at the beginning of April and is screened on Thursday nights at 10pm and is notable for being a ‘conspiracy thriller’. This type of drama often appears in film (‘Blow Out’, The Da Vinci Code’, The Bourne Films etc) but there are very few examples on TV with ‘The Prisoner’ being the most prominent.
The program is made by the AMC network which brought us ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Mad Men’ and more recently ‘The Walking Dead’ and the series has 13 episodes.
Describing what this program is about is very challenging. It starts out with a wealthy industrialist blowing his brains out after receiving a four leaf clover in his daily newspaper. A four leaf clover then appears as the same answer in a number of different crosswords produced by the top newspapers and this is picked up by Will Travers (clearly a genius) who is an analyst working for the API (the American Policy Institute). Travers lost his wife and daughter at the World Trade Centre in the 9/11 attack and lives for his work.
API is a federal agency performing analysis and research for various parts of the state and looks for patterns in events concerning various political and corporate organisations around the world. It seems they provide recommendations and information that do not always get acted upon and this leaves their analysts frustrated and exasperated.
Travers finds other clues in the same crosswords that indicate that the clover is a representation of 4 branches of the US government, one of which (because he does not know it) is clearly a secret. Travis tells his boss David (played by Peter Gerety who was Judge Phelan in ‘The Wire’) who knows what the clover represents and passes this information higher up the hierarchy. David later ends up dying in a train crash and the clear indication is that he was murdered for something he knew.
The show takes great elight in very slowly revealing what is going on in what becomes a painstaking investigation by Travers into the death of his boss (who also happened to be his father-in-law). Some of the detail is given away in the background which requires concentration to pick it all up.
If you like fast-paced shows then this is not a show for you. You have to commit to this kind of show completely, rather like ‘Lost’, or you will not fully enjoy it. If you like films like ‘All The Presidents Men’, then this may be something you would enjoy watching. This may sound strange but if you get a chance, check out the opening credits to the show on ‘Youtube’ and if you like them, then try watching the show.
There are no big names in the cast. Will Travers is played by James Badge Dale who recently appeared in The Pacific and you should spot the English actress Miranda Richardson. You may have seen the other actors and actresses in other TV shows or Films if you were lucky.
I must admit I have enjoyed watching the first four episodes of the show that I have seen so far, probably because I am watching a lot of other ‘formula’ shows on television and this is very different to those. There is enough in each episode to make me want to carry on watching. Bizarrely, it will be hard to know if it’s really good until more is revealed, probably when it is finished.
The series was reasonably well received critically but the audience figures meant that the show was cancelled in the US after only one series so we can only hope this gets wrapped up properly at the end.
No dates have yet been announced for the DVD release either in the USA or the UK.
Paul – Follow on Twitter