Two episodes into “Homeland” (Showtime) and still no sign of Brody. Which means that this show about the eruptive intersection of the personal and political is still not quite itself yet as it continues its third season.
With its focus narrowed to a close study on Claire Danes’ increasingly unhinged, bi-polar Carrie Matheson, off her meds and making scenes in restaurants, the show looks more than ever like a psychodrama played out against an espionage backdrop – which I think is pretty much why people love the show. Here, the people caught up in the fight, on both sides of the political divide, react like normal human beings to horrorific events that tend to get shrugged off by the super-heroic Bonds and Bournes, handing off metastasizing resentments to their offspring and amplifying the vicious circle of violence.
The screws are being tightened on Carrie and Saul by a self-aggrandizing U.S. Senator, portrayed by “Killer Joe” playwright Tracy Letts, whose committee is supposedly investigating CIA culpability for the earth-shattering kaboom that obliterated most of “Homeland’s” supporting cast at the end of season two. The far-fetched implication that the Senator’s efforts could lead to the dissolution of the CIA at least serves to justify the apparent duplicity of Manny Patinkin’s ultramensch Saul Berenson, previously an icon of loyalty and reliability, his soul the program’s principle arena for the tug of war between personal bonds and the sense of duty of a good soldier.
An interesting parallel is being established between Carrie and Dana (the excellent Morgan Saylor), Brody’s troubled daughter, the only other character on “Homeland” who can be relied upon to blurt out exactly what she’s thinking. Dana, too, is in the grip of an unsanctioned attachment with a soulful leaner-against-walls, played by apprentice “Dexter” sociopath Sam Underwood. So far this relationship seem to function as a placeholder in the emotional chemistry of the show for the missing amour fou-lishness of Carrie and Brody, which had better resume soon lest the fans rebel.
The pilot episode of the reboot of “Ironside” (NBC) surprised me at least once, with the appearance as a surly cop of actor Pablo Schreiber, indelible as the bullying prison guard George “Pornstache” Mendez on Netflix’ “Orange is the New Black.” Schreiber ‘s sarcastic sneer lends some much-needed thuggish conviction to the cookie cutter roughshod methods of these task force police, kicking in doors and trampling civil liberties. The backstory of the titular ace detective in the wheelchair, played in the 1960s by Raymond Burr and here by Blair Underwood: The bullet that severed his spinal cord was fired this time by his still guilt-wracked partner (Brent Sexton) in a friendly fire incident. Well, the show must be docked at least ten coolness points, however, for not using Quincy Jones’ original “Ironside” theme music, which made it into “Kill Bill” by way of the landmark Shaw Brothers kung fu drama “King Boxer” (aka. “Five Fingers of Death”), which in 1972 was the first Chinese martial arts movie released commercially in the U.S. We hope this oversight will be rectified in the near future.
If you’re curious and know a few words of Hindi, you can watch online the entire first episode of the Indian adaptation of “24.” The star of this venture is long-time Bollywood leading man Anil Kapoor, best known stateside for playing the quizmaster in Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire.” Kapoor also played a Middle Eastern president targeted for assassination in the eighth season of the U.S. “24” and purchased re-make rights to the show for his production company in Mumbai. No subtitles, but it is an impressively slick and detailed reproduction of the show’s trademark moves, from the multiple POV boxes to the flickering LED readouts.
Of course, the only really important news in TV at the moment is the run-up to “The Day of the Doctor ” on November 23rd, the 50th anniversary of the debut of world’s oldest television program in 1963. This milestone will be marked by the global simulcast of a 50th anniversary special featuring outgoing Doctor Matt Smith (off to play the title role in a West End musical adaptation of “American Psycho”), previous Doctor David Tennant and a mysterious “future Doctor,” portrayed by John Hurt, along with companions Jenna-Louise Coleman and Billie Piper. Smith will officially hand over his bow tie to incoming Time Lord Peter Capaldi on the program’s annual Christmas special in December. Simonize your watches.
“Ironside theme” video:
“Doctor Who” video: