Homeland season 1 Blu-ray Review
‘Homeland’ is the perfect blend of intensity, drama and mystery that we really haven’t seen on the small screen since ‘Lost’ went off the air. The first season reminds me of an episode of ’24’, which makes sense because two of the writers from that show now run ‘Homeland’. I don’t make that statement to be insulting to ‘Homeland’, only to point out that the show is much slower and more methodical than what you might expect from a drama about domestic terrorism. But the slow buildup and detailed writing make the intensity that much more believable because we’re following along and figuring things out as the characters are, never really knowing for sure what’s going on.
We see the events through the eyes of Carrie (Claire Danes), a C.I.A. agent that learns in the first episode that an American prisoner of war (POW) has been turned by a hunted terrorist and is going to commit a terrorist act himself. About a year later, Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) is found alive after eight years as a POW. Carrie believes that Brody is the POW she was told about and that sets off an is-he or isn’t-he mystery that carries through the entire season.
There are some other things going on as well. Carrie isn’t what she seems to be and is hiding a mental illness from the entire agency. That simmers in the background until the end, when it starts to boil over. Although we don’t know exactly what’s going on with Brody, we do know he has plenty of issues on his own, most notably with his wife, who had a relationship with his best friend while Brody was gone. He’s also being pressured into running for political office in order to capitalize on his newfound fame. Things get even more complicated when Brody and Carrie actually meet, making their entire relationship more confusing. But the best relationship came between Carrie and her C.I.A. boss, Saul (played brilliantly by Mandy Patinkin). They have a great student-mentor dynamic that becomes more and more important as the series progresses.
But the whole thing is so fascinating to watch unfold. Keeping Brody’s true loyalties a secret for the entire season made everything much more interesting as we’re trying to decipher little clues here and there. When we learn early on that Carrie has a mental illness, it makes the audience question everything she’s thinking, which was another great tactic. I found myself re-watching certain scenes, trying to find little clues to what was going to happen because nothing in the show is as it seems. It’s one of the few shows that would hold up well upon repeat viewings.
As much as I liked the first season of ‘Homeland’, I don’t know if I could give it a hearty recommendation to everyone. Although there are action-packed moments, the show itself tends to be more of a slow drama. I like the fact that nothing is spelled out for the audience, but others may get frustrated that as the episodes go on, there tends to be more questions than answers. The good news is that virtually every question is resolved by the end of the season and season two promises to have just as many open issues.
Video: Every episode looked wonderful, with the blacklevels coming through well. ‘Boardwalk Empire’ is a dark show, but thankfully the transfer quality didn’t suffer because of it.
Audio: The audio was also very well done.
Commentary on Pilot episode with Howard Gordon, Alex Gansa, Claire Danes and Damian Lewis: This was a really interesting commentary and worth watching, though it’s sad they only did commentary on one episode.
Deleted Scenes (13:00): These aren’t anything exciting and were rightfully cut.
Week Ten- Prologue to Season Two (3:52): A short, weird little clip that features Brody going to meet Claire in the hospital.
Homeland Season One: Under Surveillance (33:45): A documentary that goes over how the show was created, the casting, the writing, character development which features interviews with the cast and crew. This was great to watch and definitely the gem of the Blu-ray release.