Created by Michael Cuesta
Starring Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Morena Baccarin
It may surprise you to know that Homeland is a remake of an Israeli television series. If you pay any attention to global dynamics and what’s happening in that country it would probably be a little less surprising. Now, this version is of course highly Americanized, as it should be, and since it’s Showtime the nudity is amped up slightly.
In this season of the show a female CIA agent is told by a contact in the Taliban that an American POW has been turned just before he is executed. Months later she is still looking for this turncoat when a POW is rescued after years of captivity. He returns home to much fanfare with only one CIA agent looking at him with a skeptical eye. The episodes that follow question whether she is right or if he is actually going through some post-traumatic stress from the war and from being in captivity for so many years. He’s trying to find a way to reconnect with his family, including a son that barely remembers him and find his place in the world after being gone for so many years.
This is a series from the creators of 24 so everything you’d expect with that information in mind is true. The show is slick, fast paced, and each episode generally ends with a cliffhanger making you want more. That’s really what made watching it on Blu-Ray both a troubling experience and a great one. The experience was great because the minute I wanted more I could move to the next episode. The problem was that I could move to the next episode so I spent many hours digging into this series, all the way until the season was done.
Claire Danes successfully pulls off a multilayered character with a distinct belief system and many personal issues that get in the way of her judgment. Damian Lewis plays a creepy guy, almost too creepy really. A few times it seems like someone else should be noticing just how odd he’s acting. His wife played by Marena Baccarin does notice but rightfully attributes his oddness to the time he spent as a POW. Baccarin is a great actress and I hope she gets used for more than the troubled wife and cheesecake next season. Mandy Patinkin is a nice surprise in this season as well.
The 1080p presentation is worlds better than what we got when the show originally aired on Showtime. The image was compressed for cable so it featured plenty of glitches and artifacts. Here it’s clear as a bell. The skewed color palette is purposeful and well represented here. This is a near perfect presentation with deep blacks, great contrast, super detail, and well done skin tones. There are just a few places where the images aliases just a little keeping this presentation from being an absolute 10.
The surround mix here is solid throughout the episodes. This is a dialogue heavy show so it’s not the thing to throw in to demo your surround system. With that said there’s good use of ambient sounds, great use of score, and the dialogue is never inaudible. So, this mix does everything it’s supposed too.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The 12 episodes of season one are spread across three discs with the bonus material also on the last disc. The packaging is a slim amaray case and the art feels like that of a network television series such as NCIS. It seems like Showtime could’ve taken the art and packaging up a little.
The pilot episode features a full audio commentary with the producers and actors Claire Danes and Damian Lewis. Danes carries most of the commentary while Lewis barely speaks. There’s tons of dead air as the episode plays too. There are a few nice stories here and there but overall this commentary is deflating.
Week 10: A Prologue to season 2 is cute but it really ends up having no impact on the story that is to come in season two. There’s a half hour featurette that feels more like a marketing piece than a real documentary about the show and some deleted scenes. There are also some deleted scenes.
For such a gutsy show the bonus content is underwhelming. The show deserved more attention than it gets.
Homeland is a surprisingly great show. It’s dramatic and riveting without tons of shootouts and explosions. There is action of course but those scenes aren’t where the true edge of your seat stuff is happening.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
The Season 9/10
The Video 9/10
The Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 4/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10