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"Intelligence is largely a failure business." --Kale Ingram.
It's usually a TV show's job -- really, any story's job -- to get us to care about the characters' predicaments.
During the course of its first season, 'Rubicon' did with thoughtful, intelligent flair. After a muddled beginning, this drama found its hushed voice and its graceful stride, and by the end of last week's episode, when Will collapsed after he and his team failed to find Kateb in time, we cared.
If you gave up early in the AMC show's debut season, come back. As I wrote here, the conspiracy aspect of the show is proceeding at a satisfyingly brisk pace, but 'Rubicon' is often even more effective as a psychological study of thoughtful individuals doing an odd, difficult job.
Being an intelligence analyst is "a very strange life," 'Rubicon' star James Badge Dale said in an interview. "In some ways, it's the antithesis of the human experience -- you voluntarily put yourself into a void, into a vacuum."
Dale, who plays analyst Will Travers, and executive producer Henry Bromell spoke recently about 'Rubicon' and its dual identities as a unique office drama and a meditation on personal and political trust. Read on for much more (non-spoilery) intelligence from Dale and Bromell, as well as an exclusive clip from Sunday's episode ( 9PM ET, AMC).
In the last couple of weeks, the pace notably quickened as well, and the show featured the kind of multi-layered, ambiguous yet compelling storytelling that is that hallmark of AMC's flagship dramas, 'Mad Men' and 'Breaking Bad.' Star James Badge Dale had a featured arc in the third season of '24,' another intelligence-oriented drama, but 'Rubicon' is the show that has really allowed the actor to shine.
How do you follow up two of the most acclaimed television series in cable history? If you're AMC, whose 'Mad Men' and 'Breaking Bad' have both pushed the boundaries of small screen drama, you veer off into another direction entirely.
'Rubicon,' which has its two-hour premiere on August 1 (a sneak preview followed 'Breaking Bad's' season finale last month and 'Mad Men's' premiere last night), may seem familiar to anyone who's enjoyed '70s-era paranoid conspiracy thrillers à la 'The Parallax View,' or 'The Conversation.' Yet the 13-episode series -- created by Jason Horwitch ('Medical Investigation,' 'The Pentagon Papers') and starring James Badge Dale ('The Pacific,' '24') -- reflects a moody, modern, post 9/11 sensibility and, not incidentally, continues AMC's tradition of slow-building, intricately detailed story-telling.
TV Squad recently visited 'Rubicon's' main New York City set. Read what we saw and learned, after the jump ...
This summer's TV landscape is full of new reality shows, new cop shows, even a drama or two that are worth checking out, but what's the one new series that you must see, the one that promises to be as compelling in episode two and subsequent installments as it was in its pilot, and, more importantly, that is likely to make it to a second season, and thus is worthy of the time investment of your faithful viewing?
(E08) If it seems like forever since 'The Pacific' spent any time with John Basilone, that's because it has been. As Basilone himself said, it's been more than a year since he saw action. Since he couldn't just go back into the heart of the war, he asked for the next best thing: the opportunity to train the next batch of marines who'd be heading out to back up his friends still on the line.
Other than a brief interlude with Sledge, who's back at base camp with a Snafu slipping toward hypochondria, we spent the entire hour with Sgt. Basilone. In doing so, the writers and producers managed to find yet another facet of the war to show us. The emotional struggles of a soldier away from the war, and the conflicting ties that pull him in both directions at once.
This week, I finally saw the value of the opening narrative with Tom Hanks interspersed with interviews with the World War II veterans. They're presented to offer background information for the events to come. Most of us have never seen anything like the war in the Pacific, so we wouldn't know about things like the intricate tunnels the Japanese used on Peleliu.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, look for last season's cliffhanger plots -- the Draper's splitting up and the disbanding of Sterling Cooper -- to be addressed immediately, making the premiere a game-changing episode.
Meanwhile, AMC also announced that its latest drama, 'Rubicon,' a conspiracy-driven show about a New York City-based government intelligence agency, will premiere Sun., Aug. 8 at 10PM. The series stars James Badge Dale and Miranda Richardson.
(E05) Another week and another wholly different experience in the Pacific front of World War II. Whereas Guadalcanal was an island oasis, and eerily quiet when the 1st Marines landed, the island of Peleliu was a far different story. From an ocean of cannon-fire and ships to a sea of the dead, dying and injured on the beach, it was warfare from the word "Go!"
Eugene Sledge finally made it into the war, joining Leckie and company in the 1st Marines Division. He hooked up with them on the island of Pavuvu, where we left them last week. Leckie returned as well from his stay at the hospital, and they got to enjoy some wartime camaraderie before shipping out.
Sledge even got some time with his friend from back home, Sid Phillips. The care in which the producers of 'The Pacific' have given to each of these very different wartime experiences has helped to create one of the most diverse and thorough looks at war that I've ever seen.
With Basilone off selling war bonds and banging bar blondes, and Sledge learning the difference between "Bob" and "Tojo," it was Robert Leckie and the 1st Marines tours of duty that took center stage. And through these venues, and this Division, the writers and producers were able to showcase the psychological toll that war can have on battle-beaten soldiers.
Leckie was pretty strained already going into their tour on Gloucester, after his disastrous love affair on Melbourne. He was also on the outs with Lt. Larkin, which certainly didn't help matters on the ground.
(E01) Just as Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks collaborated with HBO in 2001 to bring us the European World War II epic 'Band of Brothers,' they've joined forces again to take us to the other side of the war with 'The Pacific.' Another ten-part series, like 'Brothers,' 'Pacific' is based on true military figures and events depicted with some dramatic license, but with attempts to be as accurate as possible.
One of the first things the production team did was establish just how different the Pacific front was from the European one. The image that dominates most dramatic presentations about the fight against the Nazi forces of Germany is the military arrival on the beaches of Normandy; a veritable trip into hell.
In contrast, the 1st Marine Regiment's arrival on the beaches of Guadalcanal is a temporary reprieve from the hell of the naval warfare going on just offshore. Everything about this first episode established the atmosphere, tension, anxiety, beauty and horrors of fighting in a tropical paradise.
The team that brought you 'Saving Private Ryan' on the big screen in 1998 and miniseries 'Band of Brothers' to HBO in 2001 has returned with a lavish, detailed, docudrama companion piece to 'Brothers' that promises to do for the fight against Japan what 'Ryan' and 'Brothers' did for the war in Europe: make it come alive for those of us too young to remember.
And they've spared no expense in doing so. According to the Hollywood Reporter, costs for 'The Pacific' have been estimated as high as $200 million, making it the most expensive single event in TV history. Then again, it costs a lot of money to manufacture 3,000 uniforms on 1940s-vintage sewing machines so that they'll have the right texture, or to paint 80 tons of white sand black to replicate the volcanic beachscape of Iwo Jima. That's the level of detail and authenticity the filmmakers were going for in trying to restage the Pacific war.
Read on for more of what to expect from Hanks and Spielberg's latest historical epic.
Guest stars. Think of them as spiking the punch. Sure, it's bright red, tasty, and fun to drink already. But dump in that flask of rum and it gets even better. Of course, the type of rum makes all the difference. You start playing around with the cheap stuff that comes in the non-descript plastic container and costs less than a gallon of milk, then you're begging for a headache and hangover. But if you suck it up, mortgage the house a second time, and fork over the newly acquired funds for a juice-box sized bottle of the spiced stuff from an unpronounceable coastal Puerto Rican village... well, you're gonna have a good night.
That being said, five guest stars who didn't give me a headache and a hangover:
1.) Bob Saget [Himself, Entourage] - Saget guested as one of Vince's new neighbors midway through the second season. If we're to believe that Saget's part as himself was true to life, then he's a woman-loving, sex-crazed, brothel addict. As Turtle so wisely put it, nothing is more embarrassing than being "cock-blocked by Bob Saget".
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