In the post-Lost era, you’d think that vast government conspiracies would be easier targets for serials which are meant to last six or seven seasons. But the few, quickly-canceled series we’ve seen these past few years which have dealt with such hefty subject matter have shown us that these types of shows aren’t always the easiest to pull off. But while, during the pilot episode of AMC’s third original drama, I may have felt like someone was going to rush into the Oval Office and tell the president, “Sir, he’s going to tell them about The Event,” I walked away feeling like they had finally gotten it right. Or that at least they were on the right track.
With Mad Men and Breaking Bad, and now The Walking Dead on the horizon, I can understand how people might look at AMC and think, “They can do no wrong!” The similar-minded amongst you need only turn your attention to Exhibit A to realize that not everything the network puts its name on is going to be a guaranteed hit. And so it may turn out with Rubicon. But assuming the show does stick around, it will definitely be a much different animal than AMC’s current lineup in just about every way imaginable. From the show’s color palette to its acting, Rubicon just about screams low-key.
James Badge Dale plays Will Travers, who works at the American Policy Institute, a think tank which looks for threats based on patterns found in big file folders full of files and books, which also happen to be filled with files. And it turns out they’re not above searching through crossword puzzles, because apparently these groups which secretly control the world are never happy with just controlling the world, they have to drop clues and be so in your face about it.
So yes, you have to admit that for all it has going for it, there are a few things about the show that make you go, “Hmmm.” But in the end I didn’t think that this or the fact that technology seems to have taken a back seat to things detracted from the show in any big way. The world depicted in Rubicon is a dreary one. It’s a world where people talk in quiet, inside voices, look pensive most of the time and buy all their clothes from Banana Republic. It’s as if their world operates under different rules than ours. But while there are some aspects you can tell the writers are stretching just a bit, everything still seems to work.
If you’ve read other reviews of the show, one thing a lot of people are talking about is the show’s pacing, in that it seems to be moving very slow. This wasn’t as big an issue for me. I feel that if we were watching Rubicon on NBC or FOX, we’d mostly be treated to big explosions and people speeding away in dark sedans while being shot at. So I’m happy to watch AMC take a more subdued approach to things.
So while the explosions may be absent, it looks like AMC’s got another solid show on its hands. Well acted and brooding, it’s a kind of drama that’s been absent from television for a long time. And once the show’s had a chance to work out some of it’s kinks, I think it’ll be a welcome addition to those in the market for a smart, thinking man’s (or person’s) show.