Homeland

By David Knox on January 17, 2012 / Filed Under Programming, Reviews 34

Now that the war in Iraq is almost behind America, US television is probably ready to cope with the War on Terror as a background for episodic television.

The outstandingly-made Generation Kill and Over There were too real to become populist dramas.

Cable network Showtime now sets a conspiratorial drama, using the war as a backdrop to a saga on home turf. Homeland is based on an Israeli series Hatufim (which means ‘kidnapped’).

The hero of the story, in a dramatic sense anyway, is CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) who digs deeper into the rescue of Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), found as a Prisoner of War after eight years in Afghanistan.

While the CIA and the nation are busy celebrating his homecoming with yellow ribbons around old oak trees, Mathison is far more suspicious.

What happened to the other US soldier who was also captured with him? And how does it stack up with intelligence she received in Iraq that a US soldier has been turned into a “sleeper cell” by his captor, terrorist Abu Nazir?

Mathison not only has suspicions, but a hot temper to boot. Her theories land little joy from CIA Deputy Director David Estes (David Harewood) but Middle-East Division Chief Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) cautiously cuts her more slack.

Brody’s family, consisting of Jessica (Morena Baccarin) and two teenagers (Jackson Pace,
Morgan Saylor), try to welcome back a missing husband and father. There are mixed feelings about reviving emotions when they have already moved on.

In the hands of 24 producer Howard Gordon, Homeland cleverly lays out its plot like jigsaw pieces, hooking the viewer into its conspiracies as well as its characters.

With a rock-solid cast, the characters have depth, drawing upon dense backstories and directorial subtext.

Dane’s central character isn’t readily-likable. She’s obsessive, desperate and flawed. But the quest for truth raises her stock. We know there’s some truth there somewhere that only she can get to the bottom of.

Damian Lewis, last seen in the more offbeat series Life, is brooding as the all-American hero, but if there is more to Brody then he hides it well.

Patinkin is always understated and pitch-perfect as the voice of experience. Morena Baccarin (V) adds a touch of glamour but is also concealing a lie. The sum of the parts makes for a dynamic ensemble.

As a cable drama there are flashes of language, violence and nudity -all of them are justified by the story.

Homeland is said to be a personal favourite of Barack Obama’s and it’s not hard to see why -although it’s a little alarming the leader of the US Army favours a tale that appears to negate it. Yesterday it became a Golden Globe winner too.

TEN is launching the show well in advance of the start of the ratings season, which is a concern. Narrative dramas of this calibre require the viewer to hook in from the start. A dark, sombre piece will need every assistance to work on a broad platform.

I couldn’t help but wonder what show might have been produced if the genders of the two lead characters had been reversed. It was, after all, Jessica Lynch who was the first US Prisoner of War to be rescued from Iraq, taken to Germany and given a hero homecoming -all of which are mirrored in Brody’s tale.

Nevertheless, Homeland is made of strong stuff. It’s the first bull’s-eye for 2012. I’m looking forward to watching how it all unravels.

Homeland premieres 8:30pm Sunday on TEN.

34 Comments »

  1. Gob Blueth January 22, 2012 at 6:30 pm -

    I do not know if a series like this has enough gas to go more than one season without it becoming silly and drawn out ……but we will see.

  2. Denis January 21, 2012 at 12:37 am -

    Some observations that I know will not be observed
    • As Noel has stated the first 12 Epps and complete season one have been screened in the States, meaning the hardcore viewer has more than likely already watched through one means or the other some or all the first season.
    • The moves slowly but with momentum and would definitely benefit from a few double Epps. Screening in the beginning so today’s average viewer does not lose interest in the early parts where characters are being explored.
    • Not screening the second season until October 2012 is probably a death blow.
    • The last episode of season one is one of the best pieces of Television I have ever seen and having always liked Claire Danes her Golden Globe success was always a gimme.
    • Strange as it may seem I believe Ten would have been better off postponing it’s screening to make the time between 1 and 2 a little less, anyone who really wanted to watch probably would have anyway.

  3. DeeCee January 20, 2012 at 9:54 pm -

    Good call channel 10.

    It’s now looking like Homeland VS Tomic/Federer

  4. Kathy January 19, 2012 at 8:43 pm -

    I am going to rant & rave now as I cannot believe some of the negative comments some of you are posting in 2012 – I am sick of reading them.

    Why have I chosen ‘Homeland’ comments rather than others…. to tell you the truth, @JB set me off. @ JB : You cannot be serious. (please accept my apology for making you the highlight here) but at the beginning you said ‘Yep great show’. Why could you not leave it at that? Instead you had to add ‘that’s because it’s on Ten and no one trusts Ten anymore so why bother etc etc)

    In my opinion, Ten have invested heavily in ‘Homeland’ working for them, so rather than give them negative comments, why not support the show no matter what station it is on.
    I very much doubt Ten will be chopping and changing time slots with this show, especially knowing that it is one of the most popular TV Series in the US for some time.

    (Special note to the Ten Network – Do not chop & change the schedule no matter the ratings. Instead sell Homeland to viewers in a way that they will eagerly want to continue watching it each week. Make it exciting/watchable because at the end of the day, it is the best TV production for 2011. (Do not repeat it every 5 mins – instead sell it in a special way just like you did with ‘The Project’. I sell Homeland to my friends every opportunity I can.

  5. Susan January 19, 2012 at 1:41 am -

    Not sure why people are dissing channel ten. It’d be far worse if it was on nine as they’d air it for a couple of weeks and then move it to the graveyard shift. Xfiles became a hit on channel ten in Australia long before it was a hit in the USA, that success here saved it and gave it a season 2. The show can do fine on ten if they believe in it, allow it to build and treat it well. Sick of networks expecting a lot straight away and then dumping shows. Many of the biggest shows in history weren’t hits straight away but now they’re expected to be.

  6. Tvtragic January 17, 2012 at 11:10 pm -

    It’s such a good drama. I thought the war element might be a bit of a turn off but its barely noticeable. Very much a spy type thriller and I agree with CB, Clare Daines is freaking fantastic. Nice pick on her golden globe. I’ll be watching it again Sunday night.

  7. Jdude January 17, 2012 at 10:11 pm -

    Great show. Plays out like a really good conspiracy thriller, kind of like 12 really good eps of 24.

  8. Matt January 17, 2012 at 8:30 pm -

    Looks interesting but I am kind of sick of war stories.

  9. Guy January 17, 2012 at 8:12 pm -

    I have seen the first few episodes and stopped watching not because it’s not impeccably made but because of the storyline. I personally don’t like these sorts of shows. They are not for everyone and I too am surprised TEN has put this on the family friendly night. IMO it should be on at 9:30pm after NCIS on Tuesday. In saying this it does deserve all the accolades it’s been getting and i do hope it works for TEN but this is TEN we are talking about. If it were on Nine or Seven it would have such a better chance to succeed but we will see

  10. Cookie January 17, 2012 at 7:52 pm -

    at the risk of appearing ignorant…”their” should be “there”… ooops!

  11. Cookie January 17, 2012 at 7:45 pm -

    @ Chris. Sorry to have upset you. But their is no need to call anyone ignorant. I simply have no interest in anything that continues to glorify violence, war or anything that tells us we need to keep fighting each other. This is a series about a war that had nothing to do with terror and everything.to do with oil; a war that has devastated millions of families in many countries. I don’t need to know everything you may know about the show to know it is about the above – having seen the promos. That was enough to make me feel deeply sad that such war-glorifying crap keeps coming back into our lives. That’s all. I do not question the “quality of the show”; simply it’s overall subject matter. What surprises me is that 10 has gone for a ” family friendly” Sunday line up with YTT and Modern Family and then follows these with such a very un-family-friendly subject. I hope you enjoy it. I simply won’t be watching, That’s all. :)

  12. Harry January 17, 2012 at 7:30 pm -

    I’m going to watch it. Looks good.

  13. Matthew See January 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm -

    10 has made the first episode available to watch on its website ahead of its Australian TV debut at ten.com.au/homeland.htm

  14. Kevin January 17, 2012 at 4:37 pm -

    I’m sure the show is outstanding, but I don’t see it being able to regularly deliver a
    1 million minimum viewing audience that Ten will be demanding of it, at an 8.30 pm timeslot.

  15. Alex January 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm -

    It’s so overrated.

  16. Peter January 17, 2012 at 2:05 pm -

    Pretty much the only strong new show out of the US this season (to date, anyway) – I hugely recommend this.

  17. Chris January 17, 2012 at 2:02 pm -

    @cookie…you seem to know nothing about this show. It doesn’t glorify war at all and indeed givesa interesting perspective on how the US has handled the whole war on terror. Your ignorance is astounding.

  18. Jonno January 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm -

    I’ll speak for the great unwashed and say I haven’t seen an episode of this show but it ticks all the boxes and I can’t wait to watch it. Unless a network really screws with the show (like not showing all eps in a series), I don’t turn to the net or DVD box sets to watch programs beforehand.

    Life was a great series and Damian Lewis was superb. I was really disappointed it only lasted a season or two (compared to the dross that gets renewed). And anything with Patinkin in it is a plus – I don’t think Criminal Minds has been the same since he left. As for the subject matter, well, at least it isn’t another cop/hospital procedural. Can’t wait!

  19. JB January 17, 2012 at 12:28 pm -

    Yep great show. Haven’t watched the whole season yet. Seems most people here have already seen it too. That’s because it’s on Ten and no one trusts Ten anymore so why bother investing your time in a show when Ten will probably treat it like crap and chop and change timeslots. Still hoping it rates well for them.

  20. CB January 17, 2012 at 11:51 am -

    Having seen all 12 episodes of series 1, this is a compelling drama that only gets better with each episode. Claire Danes is simply amazing. Can not recommend it enough.

  21. BIlly C January 17, 2012 at 11:41 am -

    it’s great. It’s a pity for ten that everyone I know has already seen it!

  22. Tom January 17, 2012 at 11:34 am -

    Loved it too. Mainlined it about a week.

  23. Noel January 17, 2012 at 11:03 am -

    The first season is 12 episodes finished Dec 19 in States S2 E1 is scheduled to screen Oct 2012 in States

  24. brisvegas January 17, 2012 at 10:19 am -

    An absolutely outstanding show. I hope C10 do it justice. mind you, i found it ever so slightly over-racey in some episodes. Is this the first half of the first season, or is it a mini-season abd we’ll have to wait some time for season 2 ?

  25. Andy January 17, 2012 at 10:12 am -

    Agreed. Best new show of 2011 (yes better than game of thrones). Danes performance is outstanding. I cant remember a better performance from a female lead in TV series. No doubt Ten will edit it, change timeslots when it doesnt rate straight away and generally burn viewers until it ends up showing @ 9.30 on 11.

  26. MuchoTB January 17, 2012 at 10:11 am -

    If people stick around to episode 7 they’ll be hooked for the long haul.

    This is a great series but it’s rather slow to start. I recommend it – great show

  27. Blazza January 17, 2012 at 9:28 am -

    You would think ten will have edited episodes yea ?
    ive only seen the first ep and that was pretty enjoying

  28. Cookie January 17, 2012 at 9:11 am -

    OMG enough with the constant American war – ain fact any war! – and terrorism shit. I, for one, will not watch shows like this that keep telling us we should all be fighting one another. I hope it bombs…in fact I am pretty sure it will disappear from our screens in an instant.

  29. Darren F January 17, 2012 at 8:48 am -

    I saw this show in the States and it was must see TV. The story was compelling and so well told I couldn’t wait for the next episode. Claire Danes was astounding and thoroughly deserved her Golden Globe. I was surprised not to see Mandy Patinkin on the nominee lists though. His understated performance was brilliant. I hope viewers give this show a chance and tune in.

  30. chk chk January 17, 2012 at 8:35 am -

    Oh this is an absolutely wonderful series, can’t wait for S2… Claire Danes is well deserved of her acting win.

  31. robert January 17, 2012 at 8:25 am -

    “Jessica Lynch who was the first US Prisoner of War to be rescued from Iraq” – Actually the local Iraq hospital that was doing it very best to look after her tried to return her to the US Military at least once only to be shot at the US military. The “rescue” (fully recorded for later broadcast) was one of the single biggest stunts of the early part of the “war”. Fortunately Private Lynch refused to play the “victim” and support the war; and disappeared quietly into the background when she got home. PS: She did not “go down firing her weapon” as is often claimed by those trying to make the poor woman into some sort of ‘war hero” that they can sell to the US public.

  32. Bazza January 17, 2012 at 8:05 am -

    Much will depend on whether or not each episode adheres fairly tightly to the story arc, or whether it turns into another Jericho or V, where the storyline degenerates into a loose framework upon which episodes are poorly hung in. If we see bible-bashing or soap-opera-like character developments at any stage, we’ll know it’s the latter and that the series is now bound meet an untimely termination.

  33. Smarty January 17, 2012 at 7:51 am -

    too bad it’s on Ten

  34. Zee Kay January 17, 2012 at 6:59 am -

    Superb show. Really enjoyed it. I hope Ten stick with it and don’t drop it a few weeks in. Cast are brilliant. Love seeing Mandy Patinkin!

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