I know this review is a bit dated, but hey, what an opportunity to watch the entire series on demand. Eh-hem, back to the post. Way to step up your game, Showtime. Last year they debuted a program entitled, Homeland. I admit, I was reluctant to watch it at first and it wasn’t until my wife insisted that we give it a try that I finally succumbed to this action packed thriller. Well … I’m glad I listened to my wife. For the record, she also insisted I watch Lost and that became my all time favorite program ever aired on television. She’s two for two in my eyes, but I digress.
Back to Homeland and why you should watch it. Were you a fan of 24 ? If you said yes, then this is a no brainer. This program involves the government, espionage, a possible terrorist threat, I could go on, but you get the picture. If you didn’t care for 24, you should still watch it. Many of the elements that might have turned you off to 24 – bad acting, ridiculous situations, bad casting, probably made you give up on that program. Luckily, there is none of that nonsense going on at Homeland; at least not in season one.
First off, you have some very solid acting. Clare Danes (remember her) makes a strong comeback in her role as Carrie Mathison, a quirky , but genius CIA operations officer who does her best to try and thwart a terrorist plot on U.S. soil. Damian Lewis (a new face to me) plays sergeant Nicholas Brody. He’s a prisoner of war for eight years, who was recently released and is now being suspected by Ms. Mathison to be the terrorist threat in question. Both actors do an incredibly convincing job in portraying their roles. They alone are reason enough to watch the program, but there’s so much more.
The program did a great job of keeping me tuned in each week and certainly intrigued enough to watch season two. Kudos to the writers! I will not reveal any spoilers, but season two will continue on with the initial story line intact; yet kicking it up to another level. Hmm, I’m not so sure you say. Well, if I still haven’t convinced you that this is better program than 24, let me give you my top three reasons as to why the programs, although similar, do not compare.
The acting: Granted, 24 had Jack Bauer played by Kiefer Sutherland. Say what you will about Kiefer, but he did do a fine job in portraying his role. He was the only reason I watched the program. Unfortunately for him, they did not support him with a strong cast. There was a reason they changed these actors every year. On the other hand Homeland has Nicholas Brody, played by Damian Lewis, another very solid actor. The difference here is that Lewis is supported by other terrific believable actors from Danes, to Morena Baccarin, to Mandy Patinkin. They make the program worth viewing.
The story lines: I know you have another terrorist plot twist that’s been done to death on television. The difference here is that Homeland does a realistic job of wrapping up this story successfully enough to make you want to tune into another season. The problem that 24 had was that it was far too long. Just when they wrapped up what you thought would have been a good conclusion to the story, they add another wrinkle, then another, and another, until it goes on far too long for you to care exactly what the original problem was in the first place. Apparently a lot can go wrong in 24 hours and for this program, it did.
The broadcasting company: I know this may appear a reach, but I really do believe 24 would have been a much better program if they placed it on a premium channel. Fox may be known for The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Idol, etc., but they’re not really known for great suspense programs. I think they do animated comedy better than anyone in the business, but when it comes to drama, they tend to add a certain amount of cheese to their programs. Showtime on the other hand has now put together some fine programs, from Dexter, to Weeds, to Homeland. They know how to produce a show and it appears that they’re willing to find talented writers to tackle these programs.
Bottom line, if you’re in the mood for a fast paced, action packed, thriller that will keep you glued to the screen, give Homeland a try. I know you may be turned off by the terrorist theme by now, but the acting, and writing will keep you interested until the very end. The best part, it won’t last a full 24 hours.
Showtime recently wrapped up their first season of the The Borgias (created by Neil
Jordan) and I thought it was an intriguing show. I had to admit, either through lack of education, or ignorance that I was not all too familiar with the Borgia family history. I am though a person of faith, so I was quite interested in watching Showtime’s version of how they portrayed the history of the papal office back in 1492.
Considering that Showtime recently concluded a very successful series in The Tudors (starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers) back in April of 2010, I’m sure they were anxious to get involved in another historical piece involving a controversial family. I was a big fan of The Tudors therefore I was eager to watch this new series. As to my opinion, I’m still on the fence. I thought the series started off a little slow, but it certainly picked up some steam along the way.
The main character in the story is based off of Pope Alexander VI, or Rodrigo Borgia, played by Jeremy Irons (1990 Academy Award winner for Best Actor in Reversal of Fortune). If this story is factually correct, then this was a very corrupt person. To think that a person of this caliber could rise up and become a Pope is very disturbing. Then again, thinking about the number of scandals involving priests and politicians these days, it’s not that hard to imagine.
Long story short, Showtime portrays Pope Alexander VI as a man who (to name a few) was guilty of adultery, greed, lust, nepotism, simony … I could go on, but I think you get the picture, not very Pope like. This was a man who desired power and riches more than any other trait, and from what I recall in the good book, not good qualities to have. ‘It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle‘, etc. His children appear to lust after one another, if not everyone else, and the family of cardinals despise him. If not for his effective diplomacy and political skills, his reign would have been short lived.
Showtime does a superb job in creating their series, whether it’s their detail to historical accuracy, or their musical scores, you immediately feel drawn into the program. The scenery is spectacular and captures the appropriate time period and of course, the costumes always appear authentic. I also applaud their effort in introducing new actors (to me at least) into production, from Holliday Grainger, as Lucrezia Borgia, to Francois Arnaud, as Cesare Borgia. Very capable actors who truly get into their roles and make their characters believable.
If you’re looking for a convincing historical portrayal of another contentious family, this series is for you. As they say in the promos, sex, murder, etc. If you’re hoping to capture The Tudors Part 2, you may be a bit disappointed. I know it’s hard to make an apples to apples comparisons (only one season vs. four), but for me, at least, it hasn’t measured up to my expectations just yet. Granted, I’m only basing this on eight programs (seems a bit short), but compared to season one of the Tudors, it lacks that punch. King Henry was quite the character and a tough act to follow. That said, I’m looking forward to seeing season two of this series to see if Pope Borgia can push me over the fence.