This article was supposed to happen last week. Step one was I watch the pilot episode of Showtime’s new series Homeland, step two holler ‘Woo-hoo!’ and step three write a glowing review because I was sure that this was a sure thing. But step two became a shrug and step three’s now lukewarm review was put on hold to give it another week. Now having watched the second episode, my trepidation has gone from terror alert orange to red.
Much like the Iraq war and Marcus Bachmann’s sexuality, I have my doubts about its sincerity. Appears great on paper: CIA analyst Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) received information that an American POW has been turned, and ten months later POW Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) is miraculously rescued. Carrie’s suspicions meet with resistance as she has a history of disobeying the authority of her boss David Estes (David Harewood) and mentor Saul (Mandy Patinkin). Also casting doubt to Carrie’s theory is a top-secret psychological condition known only by family.
Nicholas comes home a hero to his wife Jessica (Morena Baccarin) and two kids. Set in the present day, Nicholas has been missing for eight years and Jessica had found comfort with her husband’s best friend Capt. Mike Faber (Diego Klattenhoff). The government wants Brody bronzed on a pedestal waving a flag with middle finger wagging in the general direction of the Middle East as a symbol of the resiliency of the American spirit. Initially Brody is willing, but then nightmares and flashbacks cast unknown doubts and Brody recoils like a startled turtle.
I will say, without saying much, that Homeland is more like a scalpel dealing small methodical cuts where 24 was an industrial buzzsaw. The paranoia and general skepticism of our society are the same minus the Tom Ridge torture porn. Though I am unsure how the cat and mouse aspect will stay interesting without the sensationalism wrought by two-tone (he either screams or menaces) Jack Bauer.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is enough going on with Homeland to keep me mildly interested: great jazz score, well-acted and an intriguing story in the vein of The Manchurian Candidate. But I watch a lot of television, and this could quickly become a bubble show depending on how much a Dept. of Homeland Security fundraiser this turns out to be. No one wants to see our loss of privacy flaunted on TV by a possible crazy person. Even though we spent eight years doing exactly that.
Perhaps the show will find some new niche that twists itself away from the predictability thus far. I never saw Hatufim (Prisoners of War), the Israeli series where the source material is based but the American adaptation would most certainly have to be much different. Claire Danes as Jacqueline ‘Jezebel’ Bauer using her womanly wiles to protect us from another attack? I’m not sold, but if they can keep up the cloak and dagger while still building on the characters then not only will I turn, I’ll even let Donald Rumsfeld waterboard me. Just keep the water lukewarm for posterity’s sake.