Weekly Binge: Homeland
Welcome to the Weekly Binge, where we take a closer look at the shows worth your time. And by that, we mean a lot of your time. In the spirit of focusing on shows to obliterate those nights and weekends otherwise spent on more "productive" pursuits ("productive," as in "less interesting"), we bring you Showtime's Homeland, returning for season four this Sunday.
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? Season four begins Sunday October 5 at 9:00 p.m. on Showtime. The next day, episodes are available on demand and on Showtime Anytime. Previous seasons are on Vudu, Amazon Instant Video, and iTunes, as well as DVD, Blu-Ray, and Showtime Anytime.
How long will it take? All three seasons consist of twelve episodes each, with a grand total of 36 episodes in all. Give it a good two to three weeks to take this one in in all its glory. Or, if you're serious about catching up by Sunday, you can do a season a day, starting Thursday.
What do the critics think? All three seasons are Certified Fresh, with season one coming in at a perfect 100 percent, season two at 97 percent, and season three at 84 percent on the Tomatometer. Most of the critics are hooked: Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal said, "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 wrote in his season two review that "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 Emmy-winning performance as Carrie Mathison.
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 any specific films, if you enjoy political thrillers, you may also like State of Play, Body of Lies, Zero Dark Thirty, and Fair Game.