This autumn, we are being graced with yet another program that increases that warm, fuzzy feeling we all get when the words “Showtime Presents” appear on our screens.
The pilot introduces us to Claire Danes as CIA operations officer, Carrie Mathison who believes that recently freed Marine, Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) has been “turned” by the Al-Qaeda operatives that held him prisoner for the last eight years. He returns home to a hero’s welcome and a loving wife and family, but Mathison cannot ignore the intel she received just 10 months before of an American prisoner of war that is sympathetic to the terrorists’ cause.
First off, there is very little to say in criticism of the cast. Claire Danes has taken on a character more demanding and more raw than I can remember her portraying before and it looks like it’s second nature to her. Damian Lewis, Morena Baccarin and David Harewood have all also brought their “A Game” to this show, but for me it is Danes and her interactions with the great Mandy Patinkin that made this show great.
You may know Patinkin from his previous television work in Criminal Minds and Dead Like Me (if not, shame on you!), so you would be familiar with his relaxed, cerebral approach to his characters. Portraying a CIA division chief here, of course, he’s not quite as laid back as some of his roles. However, he does still bring a calmness to the screen that makes the viewer feel completely at ease. He is the perfect counterpoint to Danes’ character’s wildness and unpredictability.
By the end of the pilot. I did feel that maybe the writers had shown a little too much of their hand. Keeping the question of Brody’s allegiance open throughout more of the season could have left more options open to them, but before any more episodes have aired, I suppose I should not be too quick to judge.
Overall, the pilot of Homeland is entertaining, well paced, informative without obvious bouts of exposition, well scripted, directed and acted. Really, I don’t know what else anyone could ask for in a show of it’s kind.
The obvious comparisons to other governmental-force-based action/drama shows will no doubt be drawn left and right, but I see this as something altogether different to the likes of 24, The Game and certainly the more mystery-based X-Files and Fringe. In one episode, they have already shown a willingness to be edgier and more hard-hitting than anything else in the genre. Again, this would be down to the lack of constricting rules and regulations being inflicted upon the show’s makers by Showtime in comparison to a network such as Fox.
I’ll be watching Homeland with great interest in the coming weeks. If they can bring the same level of energy on a weekly basis, this could end up being something very special.
Watch/DVR/Forget = Watch
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