If you missed Season One of Showtime’s TV series Homeland, now is a good time to catch up, as Season 2 begins September 30, 2012. I didn’t watch Homeland until the season wrapped, but once I started, it was really hard to walk away. It’s nothing like anything I normally like–it’s a real-life drama, which usually I find boring and not “escapist” enough for me. But tight writing and good actors made this one stand out. Like Django Unchained this year, Homeland was last year’s biggest promoted new thing at Comic-Con–its banners were almost billboard sized and could be found everywhere you looked. Why promote something that is not “genre” at Comic-Con then? I think it goes back to the actors.
The lead is Damian Lewis, star of the short-lived but brilliant two-year series Life, where he co-starred with Sarah Shahi, who went on to star in USA Network’s successful series Fairly Legal. Lewis is British, but you wouldn’t know it from his roles in Life or Homeland. In Life he was a cop wrongly convicted of a crime and jailed for it, to later get off and come back to the force after winning a giant settlement against the state. In Homeland, he is an American soldier held captive in war in the Middle East. In captivity he converted to Islam, and when he returns to the States he is a hero, but was he “turned” to become a double agent? We find out answers to several questions in Season One.
His co-star is the award-winning actress Claire Danes (Stardust, Terminator 3, Princess Mononoke, Shopgirl), who is brilliant as a CIA agent who is tracking a message from an informant that she believes points to Lewis’s character as a spy. She is a mess. She has a mental disorder that she takes medicine for and this contributes to what may be paranoia or an incredible insight into the reality of what is happening. She uses illegal and uncommon methods to make her case, which land her out of the system and left to sign up for electric shock therapy to try to repair herself.
Then you get to the two key supporting actors. None other than Inigo Montoya from Princess Bride, Mandy Patinkin (Alien Nation, Castle in the Sky) plays Danes’s character’s boss, who looks after her but only so far, has his own life problems by being overly devoted to his job, and commits a strange and unthinkable act toward the end of Season One. Firefly’s own Morena Baccarin (V, Stargate SG-1, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Justice League) plays Lewis’s character’s wife, who waited for her MIA husband to return before becoming romantically involved with his best friend, leading to much of the conflict at home for Lewis’s character.
So the actors alone–familiar in several ways to genre fans–are enough to give Homeland a try. Once you do, you will probably get hooked, too. And if you don’t believe me, trust Jonathan Frakes, who recently commented that he and his wife get excited about each episode of the series.
Here is a brief trailer for Season Two of Homeland, released by Showtime (the original version was pulled by Showtime from YouTube for some reason):