#5- Homeland (2011-Present) 2 Seasons
I was a year late to this smash hit, but as they say, better late then never. I had heard from a friend that this was the best show on TV (not the best, but 5 aint bad). Like with every other TV show I was stubborn to get into Homeland. It wasn’t until my brother and a friend finally said, “Look! You need to watch Homeland, shit is dirty”. I trusted their opinion and haven’t looked back. If you read my “Honorable Mention” (if not, http://btlsports.net/2013/05/15/the-top-5-best-tv-shows-on-television-honorable-mention/), I left The Walking Dead out of the Top 5 because as of right now, it was fluttering in mediocrity. Homeland was the exact opposite. If any show has the “most potential to be the best show on TV and under 3 seasons” label, it’s Homeland (Thrones is also in that discussion). What I saw in the first 2 seasons was a combination of superior drama mixed with twists and turns that left you speechless at times. In 2 seasons Homeland has ascended through the TV ranks like a draft prospect at the NFL Combine. And the way they left Season 2 with the bombing at the CIA building is stuff of legend. I was completely blown away (pun intended). I have no idea where they’re going with Season 3, and that is a good thing. One of the marks of a great TV show.
If the “WOW factor” is Homeland’s calling card, the acting isn’t far behind. Damien Lewis does a great job as the POW Marine Nicholas Brody (although there is no way in hell he deserved the 2012 Emmy over Cranston. It’s as big of an atrocity since Al Pacino got robbed for Godfather Part II). Claire Danes as Carrie is probably the best acting job on the show. Playing the smart, head-strong, slightly delusional and sometimes downright crazy CIA agent is no easy task. Her performance at the end of Season 1 and Season 2 was simply outstanding. But I think the heart of the acting chops lie with the strong supporting cast, from Saul Berenson to David Estes and everyone one in between, the depth to their characters and stories keep them noteworthy and not just fluff. The villain Abu Nazir is one of the better ones on TV. His speech in season 2, when Carrie is his hostage, about his people’s will to fight sent chills down my spine. You almost felt that he was just in his actions and that there would be no failure to “their cause”.
And as a testament to how strong the show is, Nazir is killed off in the second to last episode. Most of the time the show’s story is not strong enough to withstand that loss. The whole face of evil and the villain is wiped away. Everybody and the audience too is lulled into a false sense of ease. But the bombing at the CIA funeral just shows that even in death, Nazir’s reach is never too far away. As Brody said. “Nazir would’ve died a thousand deaths to make this day happen.” Now, as the POW Marine/Muslim terrorist/politician/converted US countrymen/most wanted fugitive on American soil, where does Brody go from here? He’s gone through all that, nearly killed the entire oval staff and now is to blame for the second worst terror attack in US history on the most guarded estate and the very symbol of the country’s war on terror. He has no choice but to run but at the same time, he has to make it on his own. But Carrie is going to some how play both sides and clear his name right? You want edge of your seat drama, few shows do it better than Homeland.
I love shows like this. Everything that happened is not out of the realm of possibility, when it comes to US counter-terror and Islamist extremists, anything goes. And what’s even better is when the show can separate from their main calling card, Brody as an unknown terrorist working against the US, to now the most wanted man even though he is wrongly accused and hiding from the US. They flipped the script without losing their credibility and the audience. Being able to do that gives it all the potential in the world to climb the ladder to the Pantheon of television. Question is, can they build on their own success and not play out the same ole same ole. It’s tough for a show to keep getting better and better. To reinvent what they do from time to time while still holding true to their roots. Nip/Tuck couldn’t, The Walking Dead is having trouble. Heck even The Wire tripped up, but they recovered (masterfully I might add, talk about out doing yourself). Homeland has a solid base to start, it’s up to them to make the leap, the leap that’s only reserved for best. Ball is in your court Brody.
Stay tuned next week as I reveal #4 and #3 on BTL’s list.