Showtime’s “Manchurian Candidate”-style CIA thriller pushes against the cliches of espionage TV
By Matt Zoller Seitz
Press Play contributor
The best new show of the fall debuts tonight — and I’m as surprised to be writing that as you are to be reading it, given that the show in question, Homeland, airs on Showtime (Sundays 10 p.m./9 Central), stars Claire Danes as a CIA analyst, is brought to you by a couple of the producers of 24, and sounds as though it could have been pitched as The Manchurian Candidate: The Series.
But set that aside, if you can, and look at what’s on-screen, because it’ll reward your attention. Very loosely based on the Israeli TV series “Prisoners of War,” it’s about CIA agents tracking a former Marine (Damian Lewis of Band of Brothers) who might be a terrorist agent. The show delivers the core elements you expect from a military/espionage thriller, including sex, violence, conspiracy plots and clever detective work. But this isn’t the new adventures of Jack Bauer or James Bond, or even a Tom Clancy-style geopolitical fantasy. The characters of Homeland don’t fall into the genre’s four major categories: superheroes, supervillains, bureaucrats and cannon fodder. They’re psychologically plausible human beings.
You can read the rest of Matt’s review here at Salon.
A critic, journalist and filmmaker, Matt Zoller Seitz is the staff TV columnist for Salon.com and the founder of Press Play.