Is Homeland The Fall Season's Best New Show?

Showtime's new thriller Homeland, based on the Israeli series Prisoners of War, is all about keeping up appearances, so let's hope the high quality of Sunday's series premiere was the real deal and not just some façade. The premise is dripping with intrigue: FBI agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) believes, based on intelligence she previously acquired, that recently freed P.O.W. Nichoals Brody (Damian Lewis) was turned by his captives and now works for the bad guys. But while the theme of pretending to be someone you're not obviously applies to Brody, the more interesting fraud is Carrie, an unstable agent who can't seem to convince others she isn't crazy.

Of course, the root of the problem is that Carrie IS crazy. When men talk about women being crazy, they have women like Carrie in mind. When Freud talked about people being crazy, he had women like Carrie in mind. And Danes brings the character to life with such believability that it's hard to tell whether she's acting or not. Seriously, she is intense. Before last year's Temple Grandin, the fantastic HBO film in which she played the titular autistic woman who helped revolutionize the slaughterhouse industry, Danes had disappeared from my radar; she was last seen regularly on My So Called Life and many folks remember her for playing Juliet in that horrible Romeo & Juliet film adaptation from Baz Luhrman. But now she's back in a big way, completely dominating Homeland with a performance that is so convincing it's unnerving.

Carrie is a purposefully flawed character in an ironic position: She knows the truth, but thanks to her steady diet of anti-psychotics and her perceived habit of making far-fetched accusations, she's difficult to believe. In the midst of a TV season where all the high-profile female characters seem to be serving drinks on planes and wearing bunny tails on their asses, it's nice to see a gritty lead female lead with real problems, and Danes's performance sells the show.

Homeland's pilot excelled in conveying information. Broken flashbacks slowly began to reveal what happened to Brody in Iraq, and the story changed with each snippet we saw. It's a format not unlike the one that made Damages such an addictive show to watch, though less elaborate and not the intended backbone of the show.

The actual backbone of show is comprised of two incredible characters in a showdown to see who will break down first. Will it be the FBI agent fighting against the odds, or the decorated war hero who's (possibly*) deceiving an entire nation? It's going to be a while until we learn the answer, but I'm dying to see how this plays out.

*I say "possibly" because I'm waiting for more evidence to surface before I decide on the truth. Brody may have punched his partner in the face, but there can still be more to the story. Isn't that half the fun of the show anyway—trying to decide whether he's the bad guy or not?

Notes:

– I love Damian Lewis (Band of Brothers, Life), but I think his best acting is yet to come. And Mandy Patinkin is excellent as Carrie's mentor. What a cast!

– If all that other stuff doesn't do it for you, Morena Baccarin got naked. It's so much more enjoyable to watch her play Brody's wife than it was see her play Queen Anna on V.

Claire Danes is a wonderful curser. My favorite moment was acutally in the "coming up on Homeland" bit, when she screamed out "F*ck this sh*t!"


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Just started watching this. On episode 10, but going back to read the recaps on this excellent show.
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I loved everything about this episode. The cast alone is kinda magnificent. Can't wait for more!
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So I listened to you for once and checked this out. It was pretty good... I'm excited to see where they take this. Normally I don't care for Claire Danes but she's always been good at playing crazy. Consider me interested.
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Intriguing show and wonderful actors doing a great job. Thanks, Showtime!
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I find funny this part of the news ^^ :

"before I decide of the truth"

Well I can't wait for you to decide and then it'll become the truth ^^

Anyway I love your post, you made one each time I like a show!

Thanks
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i will watch it for Damian Lewis. Still bummed about Life's cancellation 3 years ago
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I watched a different version of the the one that aired. I was just curious, did they edit the "feminine hygiene" shot? Although it was realistic, symbolic of her struggle to keep up with a professional career (not having enough time to shower and such), I thought it was a little for weird for TV.
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I love Claire Danes.



That's all I wanted to say :-)
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Love this!
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Hey Romeo & Juliet film adaptation from Baz Luhrman was great!
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love it
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Tremendous potential here.
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The best new show on the season. Along with "Person of Interest" .
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Wow, my sundays are getting more and more packed, too many good series on sundays :D
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Brilliant, just brilliant. Another reason why cable is 'winning'. Claire nailed it, Patkin was great and Damian Lewis like you said, his best acting is yet to come. I think Daines and Lewis going for each other is gonna be great. Even them just eyeing each other in the briefing was brilliant.
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The cast is phenomenal! This is one really gripping show. It reminds me a bit of the British mini series "State of Play" it grips you right from the start and you just don't know what to expect next. Brilliant!
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I put it in the top 3. Along with Person of Interest and Terra Nova.
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yes indeed!!!
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If you seriously think that Romeo and Juliet was horrible then I can never take any of your reviews seriously again.
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It was the second best in my opinion of course the best was The Secret Circle but that is just me.
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Excellent opener. Claire Danes should start preparing her Emmy speech now. Cable really is the only way for actresses to get really fantastic roles. If this show can sustain the build up established in this brilliant premiere its going to be a fun ride. Great acting from all of its principal cast , not everyone hates you Mandy, and its nice to see Morena Baccarin get another tough role she plays wonderfully. Premiere was the best pilot episode of this season which engaged the audience enough to anxiously await the next episode. Not a bad move releasing the edited version before the actual premiere; a smart move to get people talking before it aired. Success all the way around. Showtime has to be pleased.
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If you want to see a woman in a great lead role on network television, watch the Good Wife.on Sundays at 9 on CBS. Couldn't agree more with the rest of your post.
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F**k yeah!!!!! The Good Wife and Homeland both on a Sunday night. Best TV day ever!!!!!!!
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who tha f..k still believes that muslim terorist can hurt america,are we that stupid like the rest of the world thinks
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I believe Muslim terrorists could attack the US again. Am I stupid?
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I'm inclined to say yes. The actual threat and ability to HURT USA as a country is non existant. And as the tragic incident in Norway showed, along with the history of the US itself, the chances of a non-islamic attack is probably higher.

But hey, it's not as scary and headline attractive as the big evil muslim threat :)
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And also, you may have forgotten the possibility that the DOD may have stopped a terrorist threat after 9-11, we just don't know about it. Obviously they wouldn't tell us if the department did, neither would Al Gaeda post a video online saying "Well we almost got you!"



I didn't necessarily mean Muslims in general. I meant any group in the Middle East who has been persecuted by American Imperialism in general (there is a higher probability that that those persecuted are Muslims).
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There is a reason why there are no more terrorist attacks on the US: They don't have to happen, the fear of them is already widely spread. It has forced the authorities to give up part of our freedom. Terrorism has won.
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Are you kidding me?

No offense but "terrorism has won" - is a strange conclusion to make.

Don't get me wrong here, I am against any act of violence against any colour or culture. Be it morons flying into world trade center or long distance bombing that mis fires and kills X amount of people minding their own lives in a flash. Equally tragic, equally appaling.

But I don't think the agenda of the morons flying the planes were to have a part of your personal freedom taken away, I do think they have a more conclusive goal in mind, in whatever twisted ideals they are taught to follow.

You find it a loss, they still feel at a loss. So the winner?



Who ever wins on this conflict, arms dealers and other businesses that profit from the fear & war factory.

Not the blue-collars of either side for sure.
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Wohoo, good news from Nielsen: "HOMELAND delivered the network's highest-rated drama premiere in eight years".
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So much tension !

I loved it. The cast is truly amazing. Damian Lewis is so scaring. The interview scene was crazy. This will probably be a intense psychological thriller. Very good comparison Tim between this show and Damages : Lewis/Danes could be the very new Close/Byrnes.

"In the midst of a TV season where all the high-profile female characters seem to be serving drinks on planes and wearing bunny tails on their asses" ... you forgot "and staring into space to peep on memories-herself" :p
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Yes. It is BY FAR the best new show this year. Danes was brilliant. If she doesn't win awards (and I mean lots of them) for this then I'm going to release the Evil Monkey again. The whole show is already looking like Best Drama winner and Danes and Lewis should be taking home the Best Lead awards. I can't wait to see how this show is going to play out.
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Clare Danes was insane in that episode. Amazing! But I wouldn't go as far to say it's the best new show this fall. Acting wise, yes. But the camera work was uninspired, and the story seems destined to either rely too much on soap-like drama, or to focus too extensively on it's opening, limited premise.
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She's with the CIA, not FBI



Otherwise I agree, by far the best new show so far
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so intense.... absolutely the best pilot of a drama thus far... if they manage to keep the tension and interest up, it does promise... carrie made me think of a completely unhinged fringe-olivia
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At first I thought they oversold the "Brody is guilty"-story with the last flashback, but then I thought "But this may just be a build-up for a bigger mind-f*ck to come", which I hope is the case. Would love to see-saw back and forth between belief and disbelief, and I think they're leaning towards making the "alleged terrorist" more likeable and "trustworthy" than the heroic spy.

I'll probably stay tuned (even though I'm allergic to drama), mostly because I ADORE Damian Lewis in all ways. :)
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I agree, probably the best new show this season. I hope they keep it up - not like "Sleeper Cell" which went off the cliff in the 2nd season. But, as MikeMuller1 writes, there probably won't be a second season unless they find a new case for Danes. - I have to disagree with Tim's assessment of Romeo & Juliet as "horrible", though. This is one of the best adaptations of a classical play in the last 20 years with wonderful acting by both, DiCaprio and Danes.
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I liked the pilot a lot, but as others have said: I cannot imagine how the plot offers enough to produce a second season.
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No matter if he is a traitor or not - I can't see this going on for more than a season. There's a reason why it was a mini series in Israel, the plot is only so thick.
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Homeland is a prime example of why cable TV turns me on. This seems to be an extremely solid show. Great acting, interesting plot, and Claire Danes (one of my all time favourite actresses) has been given a fascinating role to play. I sure hope this show is a success, because it deserves it.



There is a great chance that the things we saw in the pilot are not all as they seem. Is Brody really a traitor? Is Anderson imagining some of the connections she sees because of her medical condition?
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When will it air in Canada? I want to see it!!
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I know I was really surprised to see that it wasn't airing here in Canada right after Dexter like it did in the US. Why am I paying for TMN when they lag behind?? Anyways I'll probably download the episodes, otherwise we'll have to wait until the new year (if we're lucky)
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I thought the premiere was excellent. I love Mandy Patinkin and Claire Danes is always excellent. I think Brody is a traitor, it would certainly make it more interesting. I'm looking forward to the rest of the season.
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I'm with you on the not-yet-deciding-whether-or-not-Brody-is-a-traitor thing. I also think that is half the fun of the show (or at least this segment/season/leg of the show). Fantastic cast, essentially all around, especially Mandy Patinkin, I am just such a big fan of his, ever since I saw "Dead Like Me" (another "Showtime" show, though this one was a Bryan Fuller vehicle). I'm looking forward to some great drama here. If I could make one wish, it would be that, while I understand the need for family/personal drama as part of a balanced show, I would like it to be mostly focused on the traitor aspect and not the Morena Baccarin was screwing his friend aspect (though she is not an unattractive lady).
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This was the new show I was most looking forward to, and it lived up to my expectations.



I have been itching to see Damian Lewis again since Life died, and the rest of the cast is great as well. I am looking forward to watching this one, it will get a full season for sure.
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Hmm I suppose I'll have to try it out afterall. I just love Claire Danes.
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I'm happy with it. Might just be Morena Baccharin, but I'm not sure I like her being stuck in the wife role. She's way too hot. It depends on what they do with her. I always liked the main guy from Life, too.
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Homeland was probably my second most-anticipated new show, behind Person of Interest. The two main reasons: Damian Lewis (awesome in both Band of Brothers and Life) and the cool plot synopsis. As for the pilot, it was fairly cool. Could have been better, but it didn't turn me off of the show. Favorite scene: Carrie watching Nick and Jessica having sex. Danes' cold, yet awkward expression while watching them was great. Made me laugh and feel awkward at the same time.
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This show is PURE propaganda and psyop.

Hated it. SO unreal and fake.
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"Pure propaganda" ??? Dude, did we watch the same episode ?

It's a first time that I see in an american fiction, the slight possibility that their war hero (and god knows how Americans are patriotic) could be a terrorist ! It's not about a bearded arab nor a crazy anarchist (at least not yet) but a fricking american war hero ! That's exactly the opposite of propaganda !
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Zzzzz.

9/11 was a MEDIA HOAX! 100% TV Fakery! The were NO PLANES on 9/11. NOBODY died on 9/11. NO images represent reality! 100% REALITY TV MOVIE HOAX!

Just like so much "terrorist" acts are psyop created and done by the FBI or the ATF, from Oklahoma City to the Shoebomber... lies and hoaxes.

(Reich)HomeLand Security is LIE!
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paranoid much?
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hmmm.... m'kay. Then where the fvck did the twin towers go? do you think they never existed either? I remember well visiting them in 1995
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Wow. It's The Troll King. Just wow.
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Who's the troll here? With no arguments.

Pathetic loser.
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Bla bla bla. Probably got the thumbs up from yourself.
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What a show. Watched the pilot online weeks ago and it blew my mind. Totally had this down as the 1st show to get a full season, if it had been eligible. Def tuning in next week.
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Yes, it is. Looks like a great show.



And the actors, sheesh. awesome. Claire Danes, Damian Lewis and Ms Wonderbooty herself - Morena Baccarin.
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