Review: Homeland – Series 1

 
 

Homeland is without a doubt one of the best TV shows around at the moment, and the first season of the high-octane edge of your seat drama did not disappoint.The tagline for the show is “The nation sees a hero. She sees a threat.” The hero is the former POW Nick Brody (Damian Lewis) who has just returned to America after 8 years of captivity. The she is CIA agent Carrie Matheson (Clare Danes) and while working as a covert operative in Iraq was told by a dying informant who had no reason to lie that an American POW was a turned operative of Al-Qaeda. She is faced with the difficult choice of either bringing this information to the authoritative figures most importantly her boss David Estes (David Harewood) or sitting on the information in order to find solid proof.

She decides on the latter choice because her operation in Iraq where she acquired the information was not sanctioned so if she is mistaken it would mean her job. Add to that she is ignoring protocol in her efforts to prove Brody’s guilt while trying to keep her Bipolar disorder in check. Carrie Matheson’s job is not easy and throughout the series she comes to the verge of cracking which makes her being a trustworthy source of information that much more doubtful. Danes herself is brilliant in the role constantly on the line between career defining performance and overacting and in the end is 100% deserving the Emmy award for Best Actress that she received.

Lewis’s performance also earned him the Best Actor award and he is quite remarkable as a veteran struggling to fit back into society. Throughout the season we see Brody’s almost perfect façade come close to crumbling as he struggles between keeping his family together and keeping the secrets he has from coming out into the open. We are presented with many flashbacks that to his time in captivity that resolves a lot of the questions that we have from the moment he lands on US soil. “Has he been turned?” “Is there a terrorist plot?” These questions and more are cleverly dealt with by the end of the season. The show was written by the same crowd that made 24 and to say that the two shows are not similar would be a massive mistake. The storyline is fast paced, each episode leaves you wanting more and the action scenes cannot be beaten.

The show which is made by the network Showtime is based on an original Israeli TV show called Hatufim or Prisoners of War and I would advise everyone to watch that show. Gideon Raff was the creator of the original Israeli series and is also the guy who took the reins of Homeland and it is amazing how he can use the same story in what could be two different worlds. The Israeli series has the Brody character split into two characters Ari and Uri, and I think that actually adds strength to the performance by Lewis. If I was to be technical I would say that Hatufim is more realistic and human then Homeland, but what the latter lacks in believability is more than makes up for in intrigue and entertainment. I personally think it is a breath of fresh air especially considering how so much TV is now dedicated to the “reality” shows.

Another reason why you should watch season 1 of Homeland if you have not been convinced thus far is the fact that it actually stands out when compared to the number of TV shows do to with spies, terrorists and war following 9/11. Granted Dane’s Matheson has issues with authority much like Sutherland’s Bauer in 24, and she also has the similar one trustworthy friend in the organisation with Mandy Patinkin’s Saul Berenson. Add to that plot could be said to be too Hollywood. However, even with these criticisms the show is stellar. The two main characters are portrayed brilliantly as they constantly circle each other in a timeless dance of paranoia and mind games. The story races along at such a blistering pace that you would not even want to blink for fear of missing a crucial piece of information. I enjoyed the show so much that it was hard not to tell you what happened in every single episode! Showtime has in my opinion not had a TV show this good since they were airing The L Word, if you free time you should start watching the show and enjoy the ride that is filled with explosions, numerous twists and quality acting to make it all come together like the prefect jigsaw. To say that I am excited for Season 2 would be a massive understatement.

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