Monday, September 22, 2014

Homeland Seasons 1-3

Jill and I have been urged by many, many people over the past few years to watch Homeland. We finally cracked last week (it was a trade with my Aunt, who promised to watch Inception) and binged the first three seasons. Thoughts below (possible mild spoilers, depending on how broadly one defines the term):

* For me, this show epitomizes "better than the sum of its parts." I think Homeland is good, albeit not great. But even that positive evaluation is pretty impressive given its raw materials. Three seasons'-worth of plot were driven by a ludicrously forced love story between two characters with almost no chemistry and whose motives were, to say the least, opaque. And both Brody and Carrie distinguished themselves by making awful and inscrutable decisions over, and over, and over again. Literally the only reason I ever rooted for them as a couple was so Morena Baccarin could hook-up with that Captain guy guilt-free.

* Speaking of Morena Baccarin, it is credit to her as an actress that there were very few moments in the series where I found myself squealing about Inara. Jill and I both agree that it is probably good for her that -- following Firefly, Stargate SG-1, and V -- she got a prominent role in a non-Sci-Fi show (though how big a step away "Spy Thriller" really is from her norm is up for debate).

* With apologies to Damian Lewis and his character, this show was far, far, far better whenever Nicholas Brody was locked in a box on another continent.

* Morgan Saylor did a great job as Dana. Dana, on the other hand, did a terrible job as Dana. Also, what is with shows featuring a family with two children, the younger of which is basically a non-entity? Mad Men (pre-Gene), Masters of Sex, I'm looking at you.

* Jill says she's more of a Claire Danes type. I personally favor Morena Baccarin (Inara! Sorry, couldn't help it). But we're both in agreement regarding Mandy Patinkin. I bet he's called "The Bear" all the time.

* Also -- Mandy Patinkin was Inigo Montoya? That's incredible and incredibly awesome.

* Has there ever been a series where "Stand down, acknowledge!" has been used so often, to so little effect? And it only took the show three seasons to become self-aware of that particular running joke.

* Homeland also confirms one my favorite tropes about lawyers on television. To wit, if you're a lawyer in a show about law -- well, I wouldn't call the portrayal accurate, per se, but it has some bearing on what lawyers do if what they did was browbeat potential witnesses by day and have sexual trysts by night. But if you're a lawyer in a show that isn't about law -- you're basically a superspy. At the very least you'll be a crack shot with multiple weapons, and you'll probably be proficient in running a high-stakes kidnapping ring, extortion racket, or intelligence-gathering operation. It's as if Hollywood thinks all law schools offer a mandatory 1L course in wetwork operations. Chicago does, but that's because human life and death can efficiently be reduced to a market transaction.

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