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Homeland: The Complete First Season(TV) (2011)
Carrie Mathison, a brilliant but volatile CIA agent, suspects that a rescued U.S. POW may not be what he seems. Is Marine Sgt. Nicholas Brody a war hero...or an Al Qaeda sleeper agent plotting a spectacular terrorist attack on U.S. soil? Following her instincts, Mathison will risk everything to uncover the truth - her reputation, her career and even her sanity. Packed with multiple layers and hidden clues, Season One offers something new every time you see it...watch carefully.
For more about Homeland: The Complete First Season and the Homeland: The Complete First Season Blu-ray release, see Homeland: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on September 8, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Damian Lewis, Morena Baccarin, Jackson Pace, Morgan Saylor
Directors: Michael Cuesta, Lesli Linka Glatter, Clark Johnson (I), Guy Ferland, Daniel Attias, Jeffrey Nachmanoff
» See full cast & crew
Homeland: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review
The domestic terrorism thriller for adults.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, September 8, 2012
The first and greatest of the post-9/11 terrorism-related TV series, Fox's 24 had a good run but faltered in its last few seasons, with increasingly ridiculous and repetitive storylines. I mean, it's pretty hard to top saving the country from a nuclear holocaust, but the show's writers certainly tried. Since 24's cancellation, two of those writers—Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa—have now moved to Showtime to run a new series that feels like a more grown-up, even-paced version of their former project. Loosely based on the Israeli series Hatufim—a.k.a. Prisoners of War—Homeland is a slow-burning thriller that plays out over weeks instead of a single frantic day. The result is inherently less action-packed than 24—where each ticking minute was its own miniature cliffhanger—but satisfyingly more character-centric, not to mention far more plausible. At the show's core is the observation that no one thinks or talks about POWs after they've been rescued and return home. No one wonders how their years of torture and isolation may have affected them. No one asks how they reintegrate with their families, who may have long presumed them dead. And no one worries about the possibility of a U.S. soldier being "turned" by the enemy.
Homeland stars Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison, a former CIA field op who overstepped her bounds in Iraq and got shuffled back to Langley to work a glorified desk job at the Counterterrorism Center. You can see why her superiors pulled her off the front lines. She's got a brilliant mind, but she's flighty and impulsive and something of a loose cannon. What they don't know—and we do—is that she suffers from bipolar disorder, and has her doctor sister filch sample packets of meds for her in order to secretly treat it. You can bet that—sometime in the first season—her mental imbalance rears its mood-altering head.
The series opens with a flashback to Carrie's final mission in Iraq, where one of her local informants confidentially reveals that an American P.O.W. has been turned by Al-Qaeda. Months later, Carrie's suspicions are piqued when Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody—played by Band of Brothers' Damian Lewis—is rescued from a terrorist camp after eight years of abuse. He's welcomed home as a hero and propped up by the vice president as proof that the war on terror is still worth fighting, but Carrie is convinced that Brody is the turned prisoner. The thing is, neither her by-the-books boss, David Estes (David Harewood), nor her mentor and wary advocate, Saul Barenson (Mandy Patinkin), put much stock in her hunch. Ever the rogue, Carrie sets up her own highly illegal surveillance of Brody's house, with cameras secreted away in (almost) every room.
Without getting into any spoilers—this is a show with twists galore—Homeland skirts cleverly around the is-he-or-isn't-he-a-terrorist question, which isn't completely solved until late in the season. The particular genius of the series is the way it constantly breaks our expectations and makes us reconsider the characters' actions and motivations—Brody's especially—from other angles. Nothing is exactly what it seems, and even the reveals are often couched in further mysteries. Just when you think you've got a handle on what's going on, some new piece of information dislodges your grip on the show's reality.
The cast is uniformly excellent, and their finely drawn characters really make the series. Brody, the reluctant military hero, is thrown into a media feeding frenzy, with the press circling his suburban Virginian home 24/7, effectively turning him into a different sort of prisoner. Adding to the unease is Brody's family situation; his young son doesn't remember him, his teenage daughter is a brat, and his wife—played wonderfully by Morena Baccarin, sporting the same short-cropped alien mother haircut she had on V—has been sleeping with his best friend Mike (Diego Klattenhoff) for the past two years, long-convinced her husband was dead. Given the sudden circumstances, she calls off the affair and tries to readjust to having Brody home, but it's a slow, painful process for all points of the awkward love triangle.
Make that quadrangle. After surveilling her suspect for weeks, Carrie inexorably begins to develop feelings for Brody, feelings that jeopardize her work and cloud her judgement. Their paths cross professionally—Brody's brought in to the C.I.A. for questioning—but their relationship quickly escalates and turns personal. In one of the best episodes of the season, the two retreat to a cabin in the woods for a tense romantic tete-a-tete, each withholding secrets and suspicions from the other.
The series puts a keen emphasis on psychological drama—Carrie and Brody are both mentally wounded individuals—but fret not, suspense fans, Homeland also packs plenty of danger and espionage action, especially in the latter half of the season, when a terrorist plot unfolds in and around the nation's capitol. The last three episodes, in particular, are as white-knuckle as they come; if you don't get sweaty palms here, you must be immune to narrative suspense. Drawing on their 24 experience, Gordon, Gansa, and their stable of writers have crafted a thriller that's easily one of the best new shows on television. If you're wondering what to watch during the long, hard Breaking Bad hiatus, you couldn't do much better. Blow through season one on Blu-ray and tune in to Showtime on September 30th for the season two premiere.
Homeland: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
Shot digitally with high definition Arri Alexa cameras, Homeland makes the leap to Blu-ray rather easily, with a 1080p/AVC-encoded presentation that's clear, clean, and free of distractions. If you've seen the series on Showtime you basically know what to visually expect, although, compared to 1080i broadcast quality, the Blu-ray discs boast far fewer compression and motion artifacts. If you look closely, you'll spot some source noise in darker indoor scenes and nighttime exteriors, but you'd never notice it from a normal viewing distance. What you will notice is the show's sharp lensing; the level of clarity here is excellent throughout, with fine detail easily visible in facial textures and clothing patterns. Tonally, the picture is excellent too. The series features a realistic color palette—sometimes stylized slightly with a warm or cool cast, depending on the mood of the scene—and the image is rich and dense, with strong blacks and tight contrast. There are occasional moments when details in the shadows get crushed, but never oppressively so; this seems like an intentional part of the show's look. Overall, a fine-looking series, and one that uses its high definition resolution to the fullest.
Homeland: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
This ain't 24, so don't expect non-stop action, but Homeland's sound design is plenty engaging and punchy when it needs to be. Presented here via lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround tracks for each episode, the mix is adept for a television series, with strong dynamics and a decent amount of rear channel engagement. Of course, many of the show's scenes are quietly domestic—you'll hear lots of tense living room/bedroom conversations—but when the intensity ramps up, the audio definitely keeps pace. Gunshots pierce through the soundstage. Explosions detonate outward, sending debris flying. Crowds panic. Even during the relative downtime, you'll often notice environmental ambience coming from the surround speakers, whether workplace clamor at the C.I.A. or suburban outdoorsy sounds. Dialogue is always cleanly recorded and easy to understand—even in the more hectic situations—and the scenes are often propelled along by original music from three-time Emmy winner Sean Callery, who also scored 24 and currently works on Bones. Although there are no dubs on the discs, you will find optional English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles, which appear in easy-to-read white lettering.
Homeland: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Homeland: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If the cancellation of 24 has left a domestic terrorism-shaped hole in your heart, check out Homeland—it's slower and less intense, but it's psychologically smarter and far more emotionally gripping. The show's first season delivers plenty of twists, and the implications of the finale will have you jonesing for the start of season two, which premiers on September 30th. Fox's Blu-ray release features stellar picture and great sound—plus a fantastic half-hour making-of documentary—so those thinking about picking this one up shouldn't hesitate. Highly recommended for all fans of sharp, grown-up television.
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Homeland: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
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• Homeland: The Complete First Season Blu-ray - June 15, 2012
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will bring Homeland: The Complete First Season to Blu-ray in August. The premiere installment of Showtime's Golden Globe-winning spy drama stars Claire Danes (Romeo + Juliet) as Carrie Mathison, a troubled CIA agent convinced ...
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