Rubicon is an American television series created by Jason Horwitch and produced by Henry Bromell that was broadcast on the AMC television network. The series centers on an intelligence analyst at a national think tank in New York City called the American Policy Institute (API) who discovers that he may be working with members of a secret society that manipulates world events on a grand scale. The series stars James Badge Dale, Jessica Collins, Lauren Hodges, Miranda Richardson, Dallas Roberts, Christopher Evan Welch, Arliss Howard, Michael Cristofer and Peter Gerety.
The series is influenced by conspiracy films of the 1970s such as Three Days of the Condor and The Parallax View, in which an innocent character is caught up in, and slowly unravels, a major conspiracy.
Rubicon debuted on AMC on August 1, 2010 as a two-hour, two episode block. With two million viewers, the August 1 premiere set a record as the most watched debut of an AMC original series at that time. However, after the two first weekends, the number of viewers dropped to 1.2 million, leaving a core of 1.0–1.3 million fans each weekend.
Due to low viewing figures, AMC cancelled Rubicon on November 11, 2010, stating that the show had been "an opportunity to tell a rich and compelling story, and we're proud of the series. This was not an easy decision, but we are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such a phenomenally talented and dedicated team."
The show's title refers to the river Rubicon in north-eastern Italy, more specifically to the famous idiom "crossing the Rubicon", which means to pass a point of no return, and refers to Julius Caesar's crossing of the river in 49 BC, which was considered an act of war, because crossing it with an army was forbidden by the Roman Senate (this connection is explained by Kale Ingram in a speech to Katherine Rhumor in episode #12 to help her understand why her husband killed himself). Executive producer Henry Bromell comments in press releases about the historic event, "They were always afraid that the Roman army would someday take over, which is exactly what happened," and continues, "And that's when the republic ended and the empire—which is a dictatorship—began."
The narrative of the show involves the main protagonist, an intelligence analyst, during his investigation into the mysterious death of his mentor, which is later revealed to be an act of a larger conspiracy committed by a secret society of war profiteers in corporate America, whose members may include his employer.
Creator Jason Horwitch conceived the show based on conspiracy films of the 1970s such as All the President's Men, Three Days of the Condor, and The Parallax View inspired by their slow-paced action and complex stories. After writing and producing the pilot, Horwitch left the show due to "creative differences." Henry Bromell was then promoted to show runner. With Horwitch off-board the production began on 29 March in New York City.
- James Badge Dale as Will Travers: a brilliant man with an aptitude for pattern recognition, he is the team leader for a group of analysts at a New York City-based federal intelligence agency/think tank, the American Policy Institute, the story follows. Will's wife and daughter were killed in the World Trade Center during the September 11, 2001, attacks. Will, who was supposed to meet his wife and daughter at the WTC on 9/11, but was late, is kept distracted and distant from his API co-workers by the tragedy. As a result of assisting Tanya with her crossword puzzle, he inadvertently deciphers an apparent pattern in the crossword puzzles of several U.S. newspapers, all published the same day, and reports his discovery to his father-in-law, mentor, and protector at the agency, team leader David Hadas. Hadas protectively assures Will that the pattern is likely of no value, and instead puts himself in harm's way by reluctantly passing Will's discovery on to a supervisor at API. After Hadas shortly thereafter is killed in a suspicious commuter train collision, the agency offers Will his father-in-law's former job. While in that position, Will soon finds himself slowly unraveling an apparent global oligarchical conspiracy that has threatening U.S. national security implications—all based on the apparent "go code" contained in the crossword puzzle.
- Miranda Richardson as Katherine Rhumor: the wife of businessman Tom Rhumor, she was left a widow following her husband's unexpected suicide. Determined to understand the mystery of the suicide, she turns to his best friend for help. Upon realizing that he cannot be trusted, she is forced to investigate her husband's death on her own.
- Arliss Howard as Kale Ingram: Will's enigmatic supervisor at API. Ingram has a history in U.S. Army intelligence and has many friends in the world of special operations. At API, he has tasked Maggie with oversight on Will and the rest of his team, and is in regular contact with the agency's chief, Truxton Spangler. His actions are cryptic as he guides Will through his early days as team leader. Although the series hints that Ingram appears to be involved in the conspiracy, he also helps Will by providing him with leads in his investigation, and warning him that his home and office are bugged. Despite being very secretive about his personal life and past, Kale invites Will to have dinner with him and his apparently live-in male partner at home. He twice mentions he was formerly CIA "black ops", and involved in a series of assassinations in Beirut in the 1980s.
- Jessica Collins as Margaret "Maggie" Young: Will's assistant. She appears to be romantically interested in Will, but has been unable to break through his emotional distance and attract his interest. She has a daughter named Sophie, and is estranged from her husband, though he is attempting to reconcile with his daughter. Maggie tries to help Will, but also works for Kale, delivering information about Will and his team. Eventually, Kale recognizes that her feelings for Will could compromise the information she provides, and he tells Will that she has been spying on him. Will, who was on the verge of asking her out, confronts Maggie and refuses to work with her further, though Kale reassures Maggie she will remain at API.
- Dallas Roberts as Miles Fiedler: member of Will's analysis team. An MIT graduate with a genius-level IQ, he is the most distracted and anxious member of the team. His behavior is compounded by his recent estrangement and separation from his wife and children, a fact he conceals from his co-workers, but which affects the quality of his job performance. An even-tempered and passive man, Miles respects Will as a boss, and clashes frequently with Grant.
- Christopher Evan Welch as Grant Test: the oldest member of Will's team. Impatient, irritable, and self-important, he resents being passed over as team leader in favor of Will. He clashes frequently with Miles and Tanya, using his seniority to bully the two on occasion. Married with two children, Grant's marriage is heavily strained by the demands of his job and the aggressive personality of his ambitious and emasculating wife.
- Lauren Hodges as Tanya MacGaffin: the newest member of Will's analysis team. She is the least experienced and consequently the most insecure, but very intelligent and also the most ambitious. She appears to have an alcohol/substance abuse problem. She regularly coming to work hungover and keeps small bottles of vodka in her desk. Kale is made aware of her possible alcoholism by Maggie, and he passes that information to Will. She also has problems with substance abuse, which comes to the attention of Spangler after she fails a bi-weekly urine test. Instead of being fired, as she feared, Spangler reassures her that the agency takes care of its own and offers her the help of a special drug rehab facility set up for "the intelligence community".
- Roger Robinson as Ed Bancroft: a genius and former API analyst whose intelligence and knack for pattern recognition exceeds that of Will. Prone to obsessive behavior, his compulsive drive to chart labyrinthine codes eventually caused an undisclosed nervous breakdown, forcing him into retirement and a permanently fragile emotional state. He remained a long-time friend of David Hadas, who kept him updated about the events at API. He begins to help Will solve the mystery surrounding David's death, despite Will's concern for the effect his exhaustive efforts may be having on his psyche.
- Michael Cristofer as Truxton Spangler: the formidable head of API and an executive of industrial titan Atlas MacDowell. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Spangler is an eccentric, awkward, but brilliant man with an unusual sense of humor and highly suspicious nature. He discovered Kale Ingram and his associate Donald Bloom during their operations in Syria, and uses their talents to his respective interests. He is zealously dedicated to maintaining API's independence from the government, and is initially fond of Will until he learns too much. Spangler is the brains of the conspiracy and uses the intelligence from API to anticipate or create international crises for profit as well as to monitor the participants in the field.
- Peter Gerety as David Hadas: Will's father-in-law and the original head of Will's team. He is preoccupied with superstitions and numerology, particularly bad luck and the number 13. After showing the crossword puzzle to Kale, he is killed in a commuter rail accident, an accident Will suspects was arranged to murder David.
- David Rasche as James Wheeler: a friend of Tom Rhumor and member of the conspiracy. He is initially sent to monitor Katherine Rhumor's actions following her husband's suicide, but his patronizing efforts backfire and prompt her to investigate Tom's death. Wheeler shows signs of remorse for his part in the conspiracy and lies about Katherine's activities to the conspirators out of guilt and romantic interest in her. Wheeler soon realizes that Spangler is having him monitored and he withdraws his contact with her.
The series debuted on AMC on August 1, 2010 with a two hour broadcast of the pilot followed by episode 2. The pilot episode was given two preview showings; once after the season 3 finale of Breaking Bad on Sunday, June 13 and again after the season 4 premiere of Mad Men on Sunday, July 25.
Rubicon has received generally favorable reviews, with a Metacritic score of 69 out of 100, based on 28 critic reviews. Most of the critics praised the show's cast and atmosphere, but many have criticized the lack of action, humor and answers about the puzzles in every episode. The show has often been compared to AMC's other shows, Mad Men and Breaking Bad, because of their success and originality, Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker ended his review with such a comparison saying "Rubicon doesn't have the glossy panache of Mad Men or the in-your-face confrontations of Breaking Bad, but I think that's a good thing. It establishes Rubicon as its own distinct creation from AMC". About the lack of action on the show, Scott D. Pierce for the Deseret News wrote, "For a show that's supposed to be a spy thriller, there aren't a whole lot of thrills in Rubicon." Maureen Ryan from the Chicago Tribune commented, "This pleasantly low-key drama has little trouble creating an atmosphere, but the pace is sometimes slack in the first four episodes." However, some critics found the lack of action as smart and creative, as Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker wrote: "Rubicon does it by creating an eerily quiet world in which small moments can generate great suspense. The discovery of a spy's clues planted in crossword puzzles, or Will's insistence that a guy is following him while we are shown that two different men are tailing him—these carry more dramatic weight than a score of car chases or martial-arts fight scenes."
After the last episode had been aired, Adam Kirsch in The New Republic highlighted that the series had two parallel stories that seemed 40 years apart: Will's unravelling of the conspiracy, which so much tries to recreate the 1970s conspiracy films in which nobody seems to know that emails, databases and USB sticks have been invented; and the work of the analysts, which is definitely set in our post 9/11 world.
Rubicon made appearances in several 2010 top ten lists. Therese Odell, of The Houston Chronicle, listed Rubicon as the third best TV show of 2010, while Time Magazine's James Poniewozik called Rubicon the ninth best show of the year. Rubicon also appears in Robert Lloyd's list, published in The Los Angeles Times, of the 10 shows that "made TV worth watching" in 2010, as well as in Maureen Ryan's list for TV Squad of the best TV of 2010.
In 2011, Rubicon was aired by broadcasters in several countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, Turkey, France, Slovenia, Spain, Japan, and Norway.
In 2012, Rubicon was aired in Belgium, Finland, New Zealand, Poland and re-run in Ireland. The show was also screened on BBC Two in the United Kingdom, after first being broadcast on BBC Four the previous year.
Season one promotion on AMC's Rubicon website included the “Intelligence Team Aptitude Test,” a personality quiz that told users which job they'd be best suited for at the American Policy Institute (the fictional intelligence agency featured on the show). Inspired by Will's discovery of a code hidden within newspaper crossword puzzles in episode 1, The New York Times created an original Rubicon-themed crossword puzzle prior to Rubicon's premiere which eventually became exclusively available on AMC's Rubicon website. Season one promotion also included “Maggie’s Blog,” a personal blog authored by one of the show’s characters, Maggie Young. AMC's Rubicon website also featured exclusive sneak peek and behind the scenes videos, trivia games, numerous photo galleries, episode and character guides, a blog, and a community forum.
Awards and Nominations
In 2011, Rubicon received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Main Title Design for Theo Daley (designer), Cara McKenney (producer/art director), Jeremy Cox (designer/animator) and Karin Fong (creative director).
- ^ Rubicon on AMC
- ^ a b David Bianculli (July 27, 2010). "'Rubicon': Smart Spies Who Connect The Dots". Fresh Air. NPR. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128794048. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
- ^ "AMC Sets Premiere Dates for Mad Men, Rubicon". TVGuide.com. http://www.tvguide.com/News/Mad-Men-Premiere-1017543.aspx.
- ^ David Zurawik (August 3, 2010). "'Rubicon' sets ratings record for AMC Sunday". Baltimore Sun. http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/zontv/2010/08/rubicon_sets_ratings_record_fo.html. Retrieved August 3, 2010.
- ^ TV By the Numbers, August 10, 2010: Sunday Cable Ratings: Rubicon goes unnoticed Retrieved 2011-07-02
- ^ TV By the Numbers: Rubicon ratings August 1 – October 17, 2010 Retrieved 2011-07-02
- ^ http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2010/11/11/amc-cancels-rubicon/71726
- ^ Moore, Jack. "The 'Rubicon' Was Crossed... Then Cancelled". Film&TV:Screen. Screenology. http://www.ology.com/screen/rubicon-was-crossed-then-cancelled. Retrieved 18 November 2010.
- ^ Rice, Lynette. "AMC Cancels 'Rubicon'". InsideTV. EW. http://hollywoodinsider.ew.com/2010/11/11/amc-cancels-rubicon/. Retrieved 18 November 2010.
- ^ a b Pierce, Scott (July 28, 2010). "'Rubicon' will require plenty of patience". Deseret News. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700051615/Rubicon-will-require-plenty-of-patience.html. Retrieved 11 September 2010.
- ^ Garvin, Glenn (August 1, 2010). "'Rubicon': New series tests limits of audience patience". The Miami Herald. http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/08/01/1753910/new-series-tests-limits-of-audience.html. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
- ^ a b Nellie, Andreeva (February 3, 2010). "'Rubicon' creator departs". THR. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/rubicon-creator-departs-20260. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
- ^ "Creator Departs AMC's RUBICON". GeekWeek.com. February 4, 2010. http://www.geekweek.com/2010/02/creator-departs-amcs-rubicon.html. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
- ^ "AMC's Rubicon Begins Production March 29th in New York City". February 4, 2010. http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news/2010/03/16/amcs-rubicon-begins-production-march-29th-in-new-york-city/20100316amc01/. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
- ^ "Rubicon Season One". Metacritic. http://www.metacritic.com/tv/rubicon/season-1. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- ^ Lowry, Brian (July 29, 2010). "Rubicon Review". Variety. http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117943247.html?categoryId=32&cs=1. Retrieved 11 September 2010.
- ^ Zalben, Alex (August 23, 2010). "Rubicon Is All Puzzles, No Answers". UGO.com. http://www.ugo.com/tv/rubicon-is-all-puzzles-no-answers. Retrieved 11 September 2010.
- ^ Belcher, Walt (July 30, 2010). "'Rubicon' is a slow-burning spy thriller". TBO.com. http://www2.tbo.com/content/2010/jul/30/na-rubicon-is-a-slow-burning-spy-thriller/. Retrieved 11 September 2010.
- ^ a b Tucker, Ken (August 1, 2010). "Rubicon". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20405964,00.html. Retrieved 11 September 2010.
- ^ Ryan, Maureen (August 12, 2010). "'Rubicon' provides a brooding spy tale for conspiracy fans". Chicago Tribune. http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/2010/07/rubicon.html. Retrieved 11 September 2010.
- ^ The New Republic, October 27, 2010: Why 'Rubicon' Is the Perfect Spy Show for the Obama Era Retrieved 2011-07-03
- ^ Odell, Therese (December 22, 2010). "Tuned In's Ten Eleven Best Shows of 2010". The Houston Chronicle. http://blogs.chron.com/tubular/archives/2010/12/tune_ins_ten_el.html. Retrieved 29 December 2010.
- ^ Poniewozik, James (December 9, 2010). "'Rubicon' – The Top 10 of Everything of 2010". Time Magazine. http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2035319_2034052_2034047,00.html. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
- ^ Lloyd, Robert. "2010 in review: Robert Lloyd on TV". Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/tv/la-et-2010-year-end-lloyd-pictures,0,7779623.photogallery. Retrieved 29 December 2010.
- ^ Ryan, Maureen (December 2, 2010). "The Best TV of 2010: The Top 10 Roster". TV Squad. http://www.tvsquad.com/2010/12/02/the-best-tv-of-2010/. Retrieved 29 December 2010.
- ^ Tara Conlan (11 October 2010). "Richard Klein on why BBC4 is the corporation's best-loved channel". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/oct/11/richard-klein-bbc4-controller. Retrieved 17 November 2010.
- ^ "UPC Ireland TV Guide". http://tv-guide.upc.ie/TV/Guide/Programme/14439012/Rubicon/RTE+Two/.
- ^ "Digiturk TV Guide". http://www.digiturk.com.tr/Dizi/Rubicon.aspx.
- ^ "Orange France Cine Max Rubicon page". http://p.cinemaseries.orange.fr/orange-cinemax/#/programme/393-rubicon-saison-1.
- ^ Pop TV Rubicon page Retrieved 2011-07-02
- ^ Vayatele
- ^ AXN Mystery
- ^ Fox Crime Rubicon page
- ^ "MTV3 Rubicon page". http://www.mtv3.fi/ohjelmat2009/alasivu.shtml?1460822.
- ^ "RTE2 Rubicon page". http://www.rte.ie/ten/listings/20415611_tv_Rubicon.
- ^ "Rubicon: API Intelligence Aptitude Test". AMC. http://www.amctv.com/shows/rubicon/api-intelligence-aptitude-test. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
- ^ "Rubicon: Crossword Puzzle". AMC. http://www.amctv.com/shows/rubicon/crossword-puzzle. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
- ^ "Rubicon: Maggie's Blog". AMC. http://blogs.amctv.com/rubicon/maggies-blog. Retrieved July 25, 2011.