Now that Jack Bauer is emoting with ten year old kids, it’s time to call Carrie Mathison!
Based on an Israeli show whose English title is Prisoners of War (alas, I don’t have the time to watch this one), Homeland’s premise revolves around the aftermath of the rescue of US Marine Marcus Brody, played by British actor Damian Lewis, after 8 years in captivity. As Brody struggles to readjust to life with his family, including wife Jess (played by Morena Baccarin from Firefly, who has some pretty fruity scenes in the early episodes), CIA intelligence analyst Carrie Mathison, who is secretly bi-polar, acting on a tip-off from a man about to be executed in Iraq, seeks to find out whether Brody has been in fact turned by terrorist Abu Nazir…
The stage is set for a twisty tale of terrorism, counter-terrorism, betrayal, deceit and general manipulation.
One might, in fact, argue that Homeland is the spiritual successor to 24. It certainly shares an executive producer (Howard Gordon). However, there are a number of differences with the show:
· The characters here are painted in pastel shades rather than the poster paint of 24.
· More swearing and nudity. Jack Bauer never used the f-word.
o US cable operates on less restrictive content rules than network shows. In fact, I’ve started to call HBO “Here’s Breasts Often” and Cinemax “Skinny-max”. This is a Showtime drama and isn’t as bad.
· There is less magical technology and no appearances of spy satellites whatsoever.
· The US government is depicted in a lot darker and earthier tones than 24. They’re definitely a fair bit slimier.
· Characters do not bounce back from near-fatal injuries in twenty minutes flat.
o This isn’t a real time show, of course.
The good elements of this – an intriguing plot, wonderful performances from Damian Lewis and Claire Danes (Carrie), plus a general sense of realism that 24 at times [At times? – Ed.] lacked. The overall 12-episode run handles the story nicely without overdoing it in terms of length, while elements of the finale reach true greatness.
The bad? Episode lengths are a bit long for my liking, the early nudity is probably overdoing it (I know I’m sounding a bit of a stuck record in this department…) and I find a couple of the key backstory elements a little unconvincing for my liking. Finally, the conclusion left a lot to be desired, even if it worked dramatically. Call it sympathy for a lead character.
Overall – an enjoyable, but over-hyped show, saved from mediocrity by some excellent performances. I’ll be back for Season 2, but they’re going to have to find a very good way to get a certain character back into the action.