If you're not watching 'Homeland,' you really need to catch up on this gripping drama (which I reviewed here). I already thought 'Homeland' was the best new show of the year, but Sunday's hour was in a different league from what came before it.
As I said in last week's Talking TV podcast, I was a little alarmed by a development in last week's episode -- I thought what happened between CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and former prisoner of war Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) might have been the kind of mistake that would force this promising show down cliched or unsatisfying paths.
I couldn't have been more wrong, and Sunday's episode proved that 'Homeland' knows exactly what it's doing. Within the context of a complex tale about the challenges of combating terrorism, 'Homeland' has proven it knows how to tell a rich, emotionally nuanced tale about the dangers of connection and the price of loneliness.
That's what occurs in 'Homeland' (10PM ET Sunday, Showtime), which would be worth watching if all it had going for it were the tremendous work being done by Claire Danes and Damian Lewis. But 'Homeland' also manages to be both an addictive espionage thriller and a compelling character study, as well as a well-constructed exploration of the difficulties and ambiguities of fighting terrorism a decade after Sept. 11. Without a doubt, it is one of the finest new shows of the year.
Danes and Lewis both portray guarded, damaged characters who have trouble knowing whom to trust, and the parallels and contrasts between them are fascinating. Lewis plays Nicholas Brody, a Marine who returns home after eight years as the captive of Islamic radicals, and his wariness may be the result of understandable re-entry difficulties -- or it may indicate something more sinister.
- Stop with the long hiatuses already! I don't get to see a new episode of V until March, and I'm being forced into leading a Glee-less existence until April. Give it up already! If you have 3 months between new episodes, it's a new season, why not call it that? You know what I have been doing for the past 11 weeks? Watching the first 11 episodes of Dexter. This week, I will be watching episode 12, and then the season will be over. It's efficient and satisfying. The networks need to get on board.
While they haven't yet made an announcement about other on-the-bubble shows, including Medium, Law & Order, and of course, Chuck, NBC's Ben Silverman has confirmed that Life has indeed been canceled. Life is just the latest victim of the Writers' Strike curse: ABC's Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone, and Dirty Sexy Money are among some of the other series that had their freshman seasons interrupted by the strike that began in November of 07, and won't live to see a third season.
Other second season shows, including the aforementioned Chuck, along with ABC's Samantha Who? and FOX's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles are currently on the bubble. The CW's Gossip Girl is one of the few shows that premiered during the 07-08 season that is definitely going to make it to the 09-10 one.
The strike spooked the networks and advertisers, and we're obviously feeling the effects now, over a year after it ended. What it boils down to is a lot of great shows are suffering-- and Ben Silverman is a dick.
With all of the starry-eyed, out-of-work Midwesterners who litter Sunset Blvd., one would assume that our television landscape would be similarly populated with corn-fed blonds. You would, however, be wrong. In fact, there are a ton of non-Americans who have come to Hollywood to take all of our primetime show-starring jobs.
What's fun for me is watching the shows to see who does a good version of an American accent, and who needs to spend a little more time with their dialect coaches. Below are nine stars who've jumped the pond to come to the good ol' U. S. of A.
(S02E01) Ten months. That's how long its been since we've seen a fresh episode of Life. After the last episode aired in November there was nary a word about the show, save for reports of its renewal and a bit about casting changes. This left fans of the show in a bit of a tizzy. For Life wasn't just a dime-a-dozen criminal procedural, but a show with an underlying story about conspiracy and the search for justice. By the time the show ended its very short first season we were cheering Detective Charlie Crews as he was able to get a semblance of his freedom back.
Now we enter season two. And, as usual, the following question comes to mind: did it carry on the spirit of season one? Well yes, and possibly no. Click ahead to find out.
Today was the very last day of the press tour here in Beverly Hills. It was "TCA Day," with members of the association (including me) going to the Warner Brothers lot to visit the sets of ER, Pushing Daisies, and Chuck, where we spoke to cast members and producers (Oh, we went to the set of America's Best Dance Crew, but let's just forget I mentioned that one). Then we bused it over to the Fox lot, where Joss Whedon showed us around the set of Dollhouse, and the entire cast of King of the Hill gave a table read of their 250th episode. All this fun will be in upcoming posts later this summer.
Despite some of the griping you may have seen from me, it's been lots of fun. It's just a very tiring experience. Case in point: On Monday, NBC decided to close out the press conference portion of the tour by having us sit through ten panels, five of them after lunch. Here's a wrap-up post that goes over some of what went on yesterday that I haven't already covered.
About 8 million viewers tune in weekly to watch geek-turned-secret-agent Chuck Bartowski solve crimes with his two handlers and to witness Detective Crews solve cases after sering time in prison for a crime he didn't commit.
(S01E06) Well, this was an interesting episode of Life. Rather than having the focus on Charlie and many of his day-to-day activities, we were treated to the life of Detective Dani Reese. I was a bit concerned about this when I saw the previews because this show is really still in its infancy and a shift in focus for just one episode can throw viewers off. However, as the episode progressed I felt more and more comfortable about the whole setup.
(S01E05) Suspect -- Where is Officer New Money?
Charlie Crews -- Detective New Money, actually.
Forrest Gump. As soon as they showed that feather drifting down to the ground, accompanied by that soft piano music, I immediately thought of the Tom Hank's hit of the 1990s. Then I thought that Forrest and Charlie were a little bit alike. Both have that innocence to them, but they are also quite worldly as well.
Then, a dead woman with angel wings came crashing down from the sky into a parked car (did you see the reaction of those bystanders as she crashed? Good stuff.), and the illusion abruptly ended. And so, another episode of Life comes to pass.
(S01E02) I'm trying to figure out Officer Bobby Starks, former partner to Charlie Crews. We know from the snippets of documentary that are interspersed throughout an episode of Life that Starks was one of the people who turned Charlie in for the triple-murder he didn't commit. Now that Crews is out of prison I'm not sure how Bobby feels about that.
I'm sure that he's feeling guilty about turning in his former partner, and he's doing his damnedest to make Charlie feel like nothing has changed between them. Hence, the reason he invited Crews to a barbecue under the premise that his wife wanted him there (Turns out, Stark's wife wanted nothing to do with the man who left his husband without a partner for four years). But, somewhere down deep inside, I have a feeling that Starks is really unsure of Crews' innocence and is rightfully pissed that he got away with it.
In today's crowded world of television, procedural crime dramas are a dime a dozen. Actually, make that a nickel a dozen, since there are so many of them. Each one is slightly different than the other, but they all have pretty much the same formula: a crime is committed (on or off screen), the police go in to investigate, clues are discovered, crack forensic and computer scientists discover even more clues, the wrong person is brought in for questioning, and the real culprit is finally brought to justice two minutes before the credits roll.
OK, so the networks have given their upfronts and they've sent out the screener DVDs. These are the pilot episodes of the new fall shows, in not-quite-completed form. Things could still change before they hit the networks this fall, but they give a good general sense of what the shows are about and what they're like.
Today Joel and I start with previews of some new NBC shows: Bionic Woman, Life, Chuck, and Journeyman. More networks and other shows coming soon!
(Photos courtesy NBC.com)
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