TV: The Rig (Season 1)

Given the current glut of quality content in the world, one shouldn’t go out of their way for The Rig, but voracious viewers seeking a quick diversion could do worse than this pulpy science fiction eco-thriller. Set in the North Sea, The Rig involves the crew of Kinloch Bravo, an oil rig nearing the end of a work rotation. The rig is captained by competent but haunted Magnus (Iain Glen), while Rose Mason (Emily Hampshire) is an ambitious oil company rep with a peculiar mix of finance and environmental sciences in her CV. These leadership figures are tested when the crew’s leave is delayed by a bizarre storm of fog ash, which disrupts their transport out. But the ash also seems to have a dangerous bacteriological effect on humans; its infection of a crew member named Baz (Calvin Demba) is just the first in a series of escalating crises hinting at a strange scientific mystery deep below the surface of the sea.

Melodramatic and humorless, The Rig is vaguely reminiscent of shows like Fortitude and The Kettering Incident in how it mixes supernatural phenomena with cautionary environmental themes. It never quite reaches the heights of those shows, hamstrung by handwavey science and disaster-film survival dramatics. (Indeed, on that score it’s more similar to The Head.) If you like that kind of thing, of course, The Rig’s unique bottle-show location and hokey but eerily realized concept combine in a reasonably engaging pressure cooker. Kinloch Bravo is only semi-convincingly rendered, hampered by obvious CGI work, but the artificiality actually works in the show’s favor, contributing to a surreal vibe. The performers are fine, with Mark Addy, Abraham Popoola, Rochenda Sandall, Owen Teale, and Molly Vevers bringing the more memorable supporting characters to life. Hardly a remarkable piece of work, but not a bad watch.

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