Throughout the Fall TV season I will be giving my first impressions on many of the new pilots as they air. Keep in mind that these are not full-fledged reviews. One, writing about TV is not my full-time job (yet), so I simply do not have the time to invest in complete reviews for each and every show that airs this fall. Two, it is very difficult to completely make a ruling about a show based solely on the very first episode, especially when it comes to comedy. Showrunners will make changes, premises will be altered, and time must be allotted to find what works with the characters, flesh them out properly and match them with a proper tone. Bearing this in mind, I bring you my first impressions of Homeland (albeit a bit belated – my apologies).
Homeland – Showtime (Sundays, 10:00pm EST)
Wow, guys. I mean, just, wow. There was a lot of buzz about this show before the premiere – in fact, many critics were naming it the best new show of the fall on cable or network. Let me tell you, Homeland more than lives up to the hype. It’s rare that a pilot can let us into the lives of the characters so thoroughly while also paying close enough attention to story that it still feels like something is happening. And by the end of the hour, I was absolutely captivated. Homeland is about a CIA agent, Carrie (Claire Danes), who tends to go a bit rogue and just may be slightly psychotic, and an American POW, Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), who is returned home in the pilot after 8 years in captivity. Carrie had previously heard while on a mission that an American prisoner or war had been turned to the side of the terrorists and she thinks there’s a good chance that Sgt. Brody is that traitor.
From there, we’re off like a shot from a gun. A lot happens between Brody, his wife, and his best friend; between Carrie, her boss, and her mentor; and between Damian, his flashbacks to his captivity, and Carrie’s questions. Subtle curiosities from the beginning (“What’s the deal with the wedding ring?”) were answered down the line without bashing us in the head with to make sure we got it (hey, Terra Nova!). But at the same time, a lot is still being held close to the vest on the part of almost every character we’ve met. The story is moving at a great pace after just one episode, successfully laying out the exposition and laying the building blocks upon which this season will be built without being clunky in the least. And there are a few good “Aha!” moments towards the end of the hour that really move you to the edge of your seat. The verdict: A. The hype has been proven correct and I wish I could watch this show marathon style. More now, please!