After creating two of the most brilliant, defining shows of the last few decades in Mad Men and Breaking Bad (my current favorite), expectations were high for AMC's third original series: Rubicon. A special sneak preview of the pilot aired after Sunday's spectacular Breaking Bad finale (seriously - please watch that show). The show doesn't actually premiere until August 1st. My initial impressions? Not good.
The Pacific's James Badge Dale stars as Will Travers, an intelligence analyst who cracks codes for a living. After a series of unexplained deaths and tragic events, Will's investigation leads him into a web of danger and high-reaching conspiracies. Also appearing (though not much in the pilot) are Miranda Richardson (as a recent widow) and Arliss Howard (as Will's boss).
Rubicon is being billed as a conspiracy "thriller" but it's not all that thrilling. The show is a gloomy , somber affair - that should produce a feverish state in the viewer and an obsessive need to crack the codes and uncover the clues. It fails on that end. Like AMC's other shows, the production quality is top notch. Rubicon looks and feels like a movie, but, unfortunately, the kind of movie that easily bores and has you checking your watch every five minutes.
I wish the show was more exciting. The pilot does not hook the viewer with anything of real substance. The actors are decent, but not compelling. Although I do wonder what has happened to Miranda Richardson's face. Botox? Who knows? The conspiracy so far is mysterious, but not intriguing. A preview of future episodes suggests that the show will become more action-packed, and I was excited to see Sledge Hammer himself, David Rasche, appear at the end of the pilot. But I don't think any of this will have me tuning back in come August 1st. If anything, Rubicon proves that a perfect track record is no easy feat. AMC - you are no Pixar, my friend.