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October 9, 2015

Six Reasons to Save 'Rubicon'

by Maureen Ryan, posted Sep 30th 2010 1:15PM
Enough with the angst about 'Lone Star,' a short-lived Fox drama about a deceptive man.

Instead, let's direct our energies at saving 'Rubicon' (9PM ET Sunday, AMC), a complex drama that also examines truth, lies and trust. 'Rubicon,' a gripping combination of character drama and espionage thriller, has emerged as one of 2010's best shows.

I've seen the next two episodes of 'Rubicon,' and I wouldn't dream of revealing any of the classified contents of those hours. But they're terrific.

The bottom line is, I'll be tremendously disappointed if this show doesn't get a second season. Here are six (non-spoilery) reasons to watch and save 'Rubicon':

6. Truxton Spangler is one of the greatest TV names of all time.

Come on, say it out loud: "Truxton Spangler, Truxton Spangler, Truxton Spangler." It's fun to say! And the character, as played by the terrific Michael Cristofer, reminds me of a boss I once had, a long time ago -- a WASP who was socially inept, self-absorbed, fearsomely connected and sharp as a whip. He was the eccentric boss we could all tell stories about for hours, but the key difference between him and Spangler was that I knew my former boss had a good heart. Truxton's, I fear, is a solid chunk of black granite. And Truxton, who's the head of an intelligence agency called API, is just one of 'Rubicon's' many memorable characters.

5. It is one of the most distinctive-looking shows on TV. Many have said that the TV is consistently better than film these days, and AMC's 'Mad Men,' 'Breaking Bad' and now 'Rubicon' -- which have different aesthetic styles -- all supply backing for that claim. Michael Slovis, 'Breaking Bad's' outstanding director of photography, helmed the Oct. 10 episode of 'Rubicon,' and it's a beautifully crafted melange of the sepia tones, unsettling angles and evocative compositions that have made the spy drama stand out from the cable crowd. Not only that, Slovis and his fellow 'Rubicon' directors shot New York City -- one of the most filmed cities of all time -- in a fresh way that reflects the isolation and paranoia that the characters feel.

4. Kale Ingram is one of the best TV characters of all time. As the manager of a bunch of twitchy intelligence analysts, Ingram -- 'Rubicon's' Ben Linus -- is the epitome of cool, resourceful control. Yet Arliss Howard gives him so many levels that you believe that the enigmatic Ingram does actually stand for something, even though you're never quite sure what that something is. Just watching this guy sweep his apartment for listening devices is somehow fascinating.

3. These aren't the same old spy stories. On other shows, operations take place in glamorous foreign locales, high-tech devices and/or fisticuffs save the day and information is available with the swoosh of a computer mouse. 'Rubicon' manages to build excitement around what API's scruffy, office-bound analysts do all day -- they sift through mountains of files, records and clippings to make educated guesses about what very bad people might do in the future. It took a few episode for 'Rubicon' to find ways to make that exciting, but now the sight of Miles running through the halls holding an important document is more exciting than an explosion on '24.'

2. All the characters are fascinating. As I said in a previous feature about 'Rubicon,' the show is often at its best when it is depicting the toll that the job takes on these analysts. You want people with compassion, determination and intelligence to do these kinds of difficult jobs, but all those qualities get worn down by the constant knowledge that a wrong guess could leave innocent people dead. API staffers Tanya (Lauren Hodges), Miles (Dallas Roberts), Grant (Christopher Evan Welch) and Will (James Badge Dale) deal with this pressure in different ways, and each survival method ends up being intriguing to watch, thanks to the show's great writing and the finely detailed work of the cast.

1. The show figured out what it's good at midway through season 1, and it deserves a chance to hone those skills in a second season. Executive producer Henry Bromell said in this feature that the show would recalibrate things slightly in a potential second season, focusing a bit more on week-to-week stories rather than an overarching, season-long mystery. Given how well 'Rubicon' is acquitting itself now, it deserves a chance to impress us even more next year.

And Robert Seidman of TV by the Numbers, my go-to site for analysis of Neilsen ratings, says my hopes for 'Rubicon' aren't entirely unrealistic. To be clear, they're somewhat unrealistic -- 'Rubicon's' ratings have not been great, and Seidman didn't seem to think a renewal was likely. But he didn't rule out the idea of the show getting a second season.

Here's what Seidman said when I asked him if the low-rated 'Rubicon' had a chance of coming back:

"Cable shows are hard to predict because there are so many different variables from network to network," Seidman wrote. "If 'Rubicon' was on USA, TNT or FX with those ratings, I don't think it would stand a chance of being renewed. Without a ratings turnaround, I'd bet against 'Rubicon' being renewed, even on AMC. But since it is on AMC, hoping that it has a puncher's chance isn't completely insane.

"Separately, I wonder if the performance of 'Walking Dead' [which premieres on AMC Oct. 31] will influence AMC's decision," Seidman continued. "I'm guessing 'Walking Dead' will wind up AMC's highest-rated original ever. But if it pulls only a 0.4 adults 18-49 rating, the 0.2 'Rubicon' has typically been pulling might not look as bad."

If you want to support 'Rubicon,' watch the show. Tell your friends to watch it. Watch it quickly if you use your DVR to record it. Send an email to AMC at amccustomerservice@rainbow-media.com telling the network you want it to come back.

You can also Tweet and Facebook your love. Hit up your favorite message boards and tell the world to spy on Will, Truxton and the rest of the API gang. Networks monitor social media and the Web, and that kind of buzz is really important to the survival of cable shows.

If you have creative suggestions on how to help 'Rubicon,' leave them in the comment area!

I will now resume work on today's New York Times crossword puzzle. Curse you, 'Rubicon,' for re-addicting me to those!

My previous pieces on 'Rubicon' are
here, here and here.

Follow @MoRyan on Twitter.

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toronto fan

I am patiently waiting for Rubicon and Mad Men to return, two shows that keep me on a very short leash! I am hooked hooked hooked. Bravo to AMC for showing some original for a change.

March 22 2011 at 5:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
toronto fan

I am patiently waiting for Rubicon and Mad Men to return, two shows that keep me on a very short leash! I am hooked hooked hooked. Bravo to AMC for showing some original for a change.

March 22 2011 at 5:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am absolutely crazy about Rubicon!!! There are enough dumbed-down shows, for Pete's sake (all the rest of them?!) -- give me the intelligent one with the super-interesting actors and intricate plots!!!

January 30 2011 at 4:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Patricia Berrini

Bravo to AMC for taking the initiative to create such a spell-binding drama. This show is a 'riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an enigma' to paraphrase Churchill when describing the former Soviet Union.
AMC: please continue to make a program that demands an intelligent and alert audience! I agree with the person who said it was impossible to multi-task while watching it!

October 25 2010 at 8:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ronald Lewis

Love Rubicon, find it very intelligent. The actors are all very good...all of them are NYC actors, I believe and that makes a big difference. In addition to Michael Cristofer and Arliss Howard(who play Spangler and Kale)the character of Ed Bancroft was facinating to watch also...I hope the show comes back.

October 22 2010 at 7:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Instead of emails, should we start sending tomatoes?

October 11 2010 at 10:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
betsy shipley

I have been watching every episode and am enjoying each and everyone.
Just wondered if any of the readers here have caught MI5/Spooks now airing on PBS on Sat. nights here in the S. Calif. area. They are now on season 8 or 9 I think.
Take a look.

October 07 2010 at 3:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I tried to get into Rubicon ... but after the first episode, it just became a royal bore. Well, it was a good way to kill an hour before Mad Men. God knows there is nothing worth watching on ABC, NBC or CBS.

October 07 2010 at 12:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i guess the enthusiastic viewers must be young. i did not find this show to be much different than other shows in the genre . and the name is a poor choice. i would not be surprised to see it go.

October 06 2010 at 10:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I like the show but the main character is too consistently depressed. The show needs a splash of humor to give it some much needed energy.

October 06 2010 at 7:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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