Friday, September 28, 2012

TV's Best Series Homeland Is Back

Now I understand.
I've just watched the first two new episodes of the addictive series Homeland which returns to Super Channel Sunday night at 10.
And I now know why it swept the Emmys last week winning Emmys as best series of the year and Emmys for best series actress (Claire Danes) and best series actor (Damian Lewis). A total of six Emmys is amazing considering the  formidable opposition included Mad Men and Breaking Bad.
The series is that great.
Few people I know seem to be aware of the series. I think it's because Homeland is on the Canadian cable channel Super Channel.
 I always thought of Super Channel as a Western Canada service that split the nation up with First Choice. And that was true way back then --today these services are Movie Central (West) and The Movie Network (East).
The new Super Channel was founded in 2007 and is a premium television service for the whole country with Homeland certainly its brightest jewel.
Homeland is just amazing with incredibly textured performances and writing at a level almost never present in series television. I have to tread carefully here because there are huge surprises in the first new episodes involving both Carrie (Danes) and Brody (Lewis).
This new batch starts six months after the first season (which I still haven't seen).
Clare Danes stars as the brilliant but bipolar agent Carrie Mathison who underwent shock therapy and was fired from the CIA. Traumatized by what she saw in the Middle East she is now back with her American family and struggling mightily to jump start a new career teaching English to a class of immigrants.
Marine Sergeant Nick Brody (Damian Lewis) has parlayed his notoriety as a long suffering POW into a new career as a U.S. Congressman but still harbors deep secrets that Carrie suspected.
And Carrie's old mentor Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) who ignored her during her recuperation now has another job for her that her family hopes she'll turn down.
Brody has a 16-year old daughter Dana (Morgan Saylor) who correctly suspects her father is more than just another recuperating POW while his long suffering wife Jessica (Morena Baccarin) seems to enjoy his new found fame while lashing out at the daughter for her cynical attitudes.
Saul is terribly ambivalent about the way Carrie has been treated by the Agency and still considers her instincts to be first class and perhaps even better than his.
I've been watching Danes since she was 17 on My So-Called Life. As Carrie she projects that sense of bewilderment as if she's about to crack wide open at any moment.
Lewis also perfectly reflects the ambiguities of a character who is far less heroic than Americans have imagined.
Patinkin who has talked about leaving Criminal Minds because he found it too violent is here involved in story lines equally violent but far more unsettling.
Homeland courageously dramatizes the predicament of American spies set loose in a culture they can never hope to completely understand.
Some of the situations in the first two new episodes seem on the surface to be pat dramatic contrivances until exploding into acts of great terror and death.
In Homeland there are no real heroes, only victims on both sides.
I know I'll keep watching. I just have to.
MY RATING: ****.

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