Plot: What’s it about?
Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) has spent the past eight years held captive by Islamic fundamentalists, during which time he was tortured, interrogated, and mentally broken. While he is now free from that horrific ordeal, the life he left behind has changed in his absence. His wife had an affair with his best friend and he struggles to reconnect with his children, the youngest of whom doesn’t even remember him. As he battles those issues and a potent dose of PTSD, he also has to contend with CIA Agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes). Carrie is consumed by her work, to the point she has to take anti-psychotic medication, though she keeps that a secret. She doesn’t see the hero in Brody that others do, instead he believes he was indoctrinated by his captors and now serves as a sleeper agent. As both push themselves to the brink, will Brody prove he is the tortured hero or will Carrie uncover a more sinister truth?
The premise of Homeland isn’t that original, but it is relevant and is well crafted. The slow burn is effective as the season unfolds, though the plot feels stretched thin at times. Even so, the show manages to keep you hooked in throughout the season and never fails to entertain. I think my main issue with Homeland is that the writing is so blunt. Instead of subtle clues that sprinkle doubt, the show relies on spoon fed plot threads. This lessens some of the tension, but the series still works well. The show centers on the interaction between Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, so those two needed strong performances. This is some of Danes’ best work and Lewis is also quite good, with both able to play off each other to great effect. The supporting cast is also impressive, with a number of great efforts in smaller roles. Homeland feels current and that helps the series a lot, but overall it fails to ignite to the levels of the best dramatic shows. Even so, it offers an above average season that is loaded with good moments, so for fans of television dramas or thrillers, Homeland’s first season is recommended.
Video: How does it look?
The episodes are presented in 1.78:1 widescreen. The show looks excellent here. The visuals look slick and refined, with remarkable depth. I found detail to be impeccable in most scenes, with the kind of intense fine detail we’ve come to expect from HD presentations. The colors are bright and natural, aside from some visual design tweaks here and there, while contrast is spot on and never wavers. So in the end, simply an excellent visual presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included DTS HD 5.1 soundtrack is good, but not quite great. The surrounds get some solid use, usually from the music and the more action driven moments, but this isn’t as dynamic as I’d like. A little more punch at times or a more creative mix on the atmospheric elements could have done a lot of good here. Even as it stands, the soundtrack is active and effective, it could use that extra little push. I found dialogue to be clear and consistent, with no volume issues whatsoever. This release also includes English, Spanish, and French subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The extras here include audio comments on the pilot episode, some deleted scenes, a behind the scenes featurette, and a prologue that leads into the second season.