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'Rubicon' is a slow-burning spy thriller

WALT BELCHER The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: July 11, 2013 at 07:21 PM

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The new spy thriller "Rubicon" relies on suspense, paranoia, symbolism and a dark foreboding tone to tell its story.

Forget flashy gunplay and explosions. Those looking for simple James Bond-style action may not easily warm to this smart, complex drama about a possible global conspiracy.

"Rubicon" begins its run Sunday night on AMC, the home of "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad." The first episode, which has been shown in several sneak previews, airs again at 8 p.m., followed by a new episode at 9 p.m.

James Badge Dale stars as Will Travers, a talented-but-depressed intelligence analyst. He works for a Manhattan-based agency that sifts through information gathered by the FBI, CIA and others looking for potential threats to national security.

This unglamorous side of the spy game suits Travers. He has never emotionally recovered from the loss of his wife and daughter during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

The title refers to a river in ancient Rome that the military was not supposed to cross for fear of an insurgency. When Julius Caesar led his troops over, it marked a point of no return.

In the opening episode, Travers discovers a curious pattern in the answers to crossword puzzles published by different newspapers on the same day. It's not clear where this is headed because "Rubicon" itself is a puzzle.

Things are not what they seem in this world and not everyone at his agency can be trusted. When Travers' mentor (Peter Gerety) is killed in a commuter train wreck, one suspects foul play or something else (was he really on that train?)

Concurrent with the train wreck is the suicide of a wealthy man. His widow (Miranda Richardson) begins her own investigation. Somehow all of this will be tied together eventually.

"Rubicon" is a slow-burner that builds with each episode. There are some parallels to 1970s spy thrillers such as "The Conversation," "Three Days of the Condor" or "The Parallax View." Like those films, "Rubicon" will raise questions about the ethics and morality of spying.

The producers say the conspiracy will be solved in the first 13 episodes and a new puzzle will arise for the second season.

TYPE CAST: Former Florida State University football coach Bobby Bowden plays himself on the light-hearted "The Glades" crime drama at 10 p.m. Sunday on A&E.

"The Glades" is a new series filmed in South Florida. The episode has cocky police detective Jim Longworth (Matt Passmore) investigating a murder in the small town of Pahokee.

The body of a murdered businessman turns up in a sugar cane field days before the annual "Muck Bowl," a high school football game that draws national attention. But the Pahokee quarterback is a prime suspect.

TV DEBATE: Bright House Network's Bay News 9 will carry a debate at 8 p.m. Sunday with Republican candidates for Florida attorney general: former Hillsborough prosecutor Pam Bondi, Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and former state Rep. Holly Benson. A second debate with Democratic candidates for Senate U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek and Jeff Greene, airs at 8 p.m. Monday. Anchor Al Ruechel will moderate both.

TUNE IN TONIGHT

"Friday Night Lights," 8 p.m., NBC

Things heat up for Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) and his wife Tami (Connie Britton) before next week's season finale as the underfunded East Dillon Lions prepare to battle the Dillon Panthers, their wealthier, crosstown rivals.

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