Today it's Homeland, the show that may finally turn Damian Lewis into somebody that you've actually heard of. Hell, Claire Danes too for that matter. Danes hasn't done anything significant since Stardust, and T3 before that, and Lewis' career since Band of Brothers isn't anything to have a party over. But Showtime took a good gamble, and now Homeland is nominated for three Emmys, including acting nods for both. So I think what we might have here is a career revival coupled with a career boost.
Homeland makes 24 look like Spy Kids. But this isn't a Bond movie; this is an intelligent, collected spy thriller. You won't see any garotte-watches, laser pens, or caltrops falling from car trunks here. If you enjoyed Syriana or The Path to 9/11, then this is for you, but if you're looking for shootouts, you're going to leave disappointed. This is about a man re-adjusting to life outside of war...or is he?...while the CIA is trying to stop a terrorist attack...or is it?...that may or may not be related to him....or may it? A lot of scenes involve the process of gathering intelligence and piecing it together, which takes time. But it's never boring; twists come in almost every episode, and they never feel forced or hokey. The plot moves at a good pace, and slow scenes don't last long enough to make you lose interest. A minor plot hole or two doesn't come close to ever bringing it down.
Damian Lewis is one of the most underrated actors working today. I've been rooting for him to chomp his way out of acting purgatory and get a little spotlight shined on his name. Here he's doing his best work as a man re-immersing himself into suburban family life after spending eight years of hell in an Iraqi POW camp. He desperately wants his family to trust him, but it's apparent that there's something else going on under his carrot top. Lewis masters (or just has?) an eerie "dead-eyes" look that makes him perfect for the role. Much like in Dreamcatcher, he pulls off the quiet-psychotic with such intensity that you can't help but pay extra attention whenever he's alone in a room.
Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin are awesomely cast as the young, married-to-her-job CIA field officer investigating his case, and her soft-spoken fatherly mentor who can no longer keep her on a leash when she sees shit rising towards the fan. The subtle tone of the show is complemented by a smooth jazz opening theme and score, reminiscent of last year's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It gives the impression that no matter what happens, keeping your cool is vital, and loosing it can be your death.
This is the best thing to appear on my screen since Game of Thrones, and for me even surpasses Dexter as my favourite Showtime drama. The spy bar has been set, HBO, FX and AMC...or has it?
FIVE OUT OF FIVE STARS. I swear I'll invent a better rating system soon.