Showtime is kind of hit or miss with me. They have a number of hit TV series, half of which completely disinterest me and the other half slowly became uninteresting. I obviously loved Stargate SG-1, which got its humble beginnings on the network way back in 1996, and I also was a huge fan of Bryan Fuller’s Dead Like Me. But recently, I’ve become bored with Dexter, and stopped watching The Tudors before it finished. I watched the whole first season of Californication, but the second was stupid and I stopped watching. I never got into Weeds, United States of Tara, or Nurse Jackie. It doesn’t look like Tudors successor The Borgias will be up my ally either, despite gaining an appreciation for the time period thanks to a few ancient assassins.
So when I say that Homeland looks pretty interesting and I’ll probably keep watching, keep in mind that my opinion sometimes radically changes after the first episode.
Homeland is a gritty series starring Claire Danes as a CIA Analyst who has a whole host of problems, not the least of which is that she has just gotten a tip from an unreliable source saying a returning American hero has been turned to Al-Qaeda. Danes ignores this tip until she gets word of Nicholas Brody (played by Damien Lewis, of ‘LIFE’ fame – once again playing American despite being British), an MIA American officer who was presumed dead until he was round during a US military raid. Brody is getting the whole nine yards of returning war hero celebrity, which makes the tip not only politically difficult, but difficulty to follow up on. Fortunately, Danes has help from her division chief, played by Mandy Patinkin, who gives her some room to conduct unauthorized monitoring activities on the returning hero. What she discovers is that life sucks no matter who you are.
The show is definitely cut from the ‘24’ cloth, with prolific steadycam shots in poorly lit locations. Also, everyone in this show is screwed up. Danes’ analyst leads the pack on that measure, though Damien Lewis’ survivor of half a decade of torture certainly gives her a run for her money. The show tries to balance the two as best as it can, showing the strained family life of Lewis compared to the neurotic scrambling of Danes, who has yet to show up to a meeting on time throughout the entire pilot.
This is Showtime as well, remember, so there is sex. Morena Baccarin plays Lewis’ wife and the first thing we see of her in the show is her breasts while she sleeping with her (presumed dead) husband’s best friend. I’m not sure why it was necessary to include this scene. I know Showtime is that kind of network, but it did nothing to add to this show. In fact, the scene itself is almost less than a minute long and the point of the scene has nothing to do with the sex.
Anyway, the show is interesting, the actors put on good performances, and it’s always fun to see Mandy Patinkin on TV again. I enjoyed the first episode and I will continue watching to see how the rest of the show shapes up. I’m not really a huge fan of 24-style gritty spy dramas, but with the actors involved and the initially interesting hook, I may give this genre another go. Recommended.