Weekly Binge: Homeland

We give you what you need to know to dive into the popular shows everyone's talking about.

Welcome to the Weekly Binge, where we'll be taking a closer look at the shows that are worth your time. And by that we mean a lot of your time -- we'll be focusing on the shows that will obliterate those nights and weekends that would otherwise be spent on more "productive" pursuits (and when we say "productive," we mean "less interesting"). So without further ado, let's try to convince all the fence-sitters to take the plunge and get all caught up on Homeland!


Homeland

American Horror Story

What's the premise? A bipolar CIA officer fears that a former POW has been compromised and is planning a terrorist attack on American soil.

What's it like? If the action in Homeland feels familiar, that's because one of its creators, Howard Gordon, previously worked on 24. Gordon co-developed this government thriller with Alex Gansa, whose credits include The X-Files and the 1980s version of Beauty and the Beast. Take the political intrigue and action of 24, add the strong yet flawed female lead of Nurse Jackie, and shake well.

Where can I see it? New episodes began Sunday September 29 on Showtime, and will continue through mid-December 2013 at 9 p.m. EST. The next day, episodes are available on Sho.com and the Showtime app for Apple or Android devices for current Showtime subscribers. Previous seasons are available on Vudu and Amazon.

How long will it take? Both season one and season two are 12 episodes long at around an hour a pop (no commercials, so it's a true hour). With only two seasons under its belt, it would be easy to indulge in the whole thing over a weekend.

What do the critics think? All three seasons are Certified Fresh, with season one coming in at a perfect 100% on the Tomatometer. Most of the critics are hooked: Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal says, "Once you watch the first episode, it's going to be hard standing the wait for the next," while Mike Hale of the New York Times writes "the combination of adult intelligence and crisp action is still pretty much unmatched on American television."

Why should I watch this? If ever there was a series that consistently left you with your mouth agape in shock at the end -- and sometimes, even in the middle -- of each episode, this is it. The season one finale will leave you with a cliffhanger so huge that it'll feel like Christmas morning to have season two readily available to watch. And for all of you My So-Called Life fans, if you felt Angela Chase disappeared from your screen much too soon 20 years ago, you'll want to tune in to watch Claire Danes's winning performance as Carrie Mathison. Oh, and did we mention this Emmy winning show just got renewed for a fourth season? Feast away!

What's my next step? Homeland is based on the Israeli series Hatufim by Gideon Raff, whose inspiration came from moving back to Israel after living in Los Angeles for eight years. "Home" looked and felt different than he remembered, and he harnessed that sense of general apprehension to write a sharp government thriller. Although Raff didn't draw from -- or was necessarily inspired by -- any specific films, if you enjoy political thrillers, you may also like State of Play, Body of Lies, Zero Dark Thirty, and Fair Game.

What do you like about Homeland? How would you explain it to a newbie? Any big predictions for season four? Get in on the conversation here.

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