Homeland. Good, wasn’t it?

Clare Danes in Homeland

Wow. I totally struck gold with that last post. I’ll admit I did no research before writing it and initially thought Channel 4’s bought-in US series Homeland was a two-parter. ROFL etc.

Yet here we are some 12 weeks later and the excellent series has just ended. Already I want to watch series two and am remembering why box sets after the event are a good idea. As the C4 continuity announcer said when the totally tense final episode of the first series ended last night, series two will appear on C4 sometime in the future. We don’t know when; it hasn’t even been made yet.

Why was Homeland such a hit? Because it didn’t strike any bum notes. On the relatively rare occasions that US drama producers make a good drama – when the drama is airing on a smallish cable network like Showtime and isn’t under pressure to get all schmaltzy – it is really good.

Our own Damian Lewis was excellent as the conflicted and last night very sweaty Sergeant Brody. Clare Danes was even better as the reasonably mad CIA agent Carrie living with bipolar disorder. More than Stephen Fry I suspect Danes will make forms of manic depression cool from now on, as in: “I’m just in my manic phase, it’ll pass.” [Cue insight of unimaginable profundity.]

Of course the nub of the series and of last night’s episode in particular was that there was method in Carrie’s madness. She did indeed crack the conundrum, she worked out the link between Brody and terrorist master Nazir just as she succumbed to anaesthesia and electro convulsive therapy which will wipe her short-term memory at the start of the second series.

I also loved Mandy Patinkin as Sol (that’s how all the characters pronounced his name, even if it’s meant to be spelled Saul). You had to feel for him last night, losing Carrie to ECT just as he lost his wife back to her native India earlier in the series. Like Toby Siegler in West Wing or Dr Green Bean in ER he’s the gruffly lovable, intellectual character totally wedded to his work and therefore unlucky in his private life.

Anyway, we got resolution in that mad Carrie did thwart a terrorist suicide bomber mission, even if she, the authorities and most of the people involved were unaware of the fact. Aside from some Mitchell and Webb-style camera work which could have been comic in other hands, scenes of Brody fiddling with his ball-bearing and explosive-loaded vest in the toilet of a secure bunker with half the US government a few feet away were tense indeed. My palms are sweating again as I think about it.

Great stuff. I now see why Lewis couldn’t say on Graham Norton’s UK chat show a few weeks back whether he would be in the second series or not. I hope he is, he’s brilliant in this part and a second series won’t typecast him forever. Just get on and make the thing.


Share

Homeland on Channel 4

Homeland on Channel 4

Damian Lewis as Brody in Homeland

So many things to post about but for now I’m thinking of Homeland, the US drama featuring Brit actor Damian Lewis that started on Channel 4 on Sunday.

I find Lewis an interesting actor. He’s not my favourite person to look at on TV but I always enjoy whatever he’s in. He definitely has talent (like he needs me to write this, he was nominated for a Golden Globe). He carrys off this American supposed war hero part without a flaw. The female lead Claire Danes actually won a Golden Globe for her performance in this drama as a rookie CIA agent who has been “dealing” with her issues via anti-pyschotic drugs since she was 22. I hope her story turns out to be just as interesting as Brody’s.

The Homeland plot revolves around a particular piece of contemporary American paranoia: that one of their own soldiers may have been “turned” by radical Islamic treatment and torture into a terrorist who is out to commit an atrocity on American soil. C4 is even running an online vote on the matter, such is the intrigue about whether Lewis’ character Brody is a friend or foe. For my money, at the end of episode one, I reckon he is a terrorist but we’ll have to stay tuned to find out.

Thanks to C4 for buying in this production. It made me miss Upstairs Downstairs on BBC 1 but I didn’t see the first series of that drama anyway. Amazing how the reworked classic has been eclipsed by Downton Abbey.

I admit I did get sucked into Call the Midwife and was one of the 9 million or so watching the final episode earlier on Sunday. In some ways it was middle of the road, mumsy, feel-good Sunday night TV. But you can’t argue with the lyrics of the closing song, “Why do fools fall in love?” And you can’t ignore something featuring Jenny Agutter. A part of me will always want to be her as Bobby in the Railway Children.

Share