'Homeland': A stealthy success

In a fall season whose biggest stories have been an expensive dinosaur show and the resurrection of the sitcom, one of the best new shows snuck onto our screens with all the stealth of the espionage world it depicts. Homeland, which premiered last night after Dexter on Showtime, is probably the most serious yet entertaining, subtle yet gut-level entertaining, sly yet not "cool" drama to premiere thus far. As a Showtime series, it’s not a splattery-splashy as Dexter, but… well, thank goodness.

At the center of Homeland’s appeal is the fact that it is at once timely and escapist. The series takes seriously the notion that America is still very much a terrorism target, that the killing of Osama bin Laden may have driven our enemies both deeper underground and into a deeper rage. At the same time, unlike AMC’s admirable but cancelled after a season Rubicon, Homeland doesn’t lock itself away in musty rooms, shuffling papers looking for anagrams of "al Qaeda." No, when Claire Danes’ CIA agent Carrie Mathison hears that a Marine prisoner of war (Life’s Damian Lewis), held overseas and tortured for eight years, is being released, she leaped out of her office, did an end-run around her superiors (including an excellently restrained Mandy Patinkin as Carrie’s mentor), and bugged the guy’s house. She had a tip that "an American prisoner of war has been turned," and thinks Lewis’ Sgt. Nicholas Brody may now be that broken traitor in our midst. Read More...



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