Showtime's Homeland: The Pilot Passes The Scott Screen

Watched the pilot for Homeland on Showtime staring Claire Danes.  I try to review pilots with the same set of criteria.  1. Do I want to watch it again. 2. Was I surprised at least once. 3. Were the characters interesting 4. Was it dumb.  Each factor has an important key for me.  Homeland passed all the tests.  This was the best pilot I have watched for the 2011-2012 season.  I was so sick of shows that were in a hurry to tell me everything right away.   This pilot left many questions unanswered and that is a key element in creating an on going story. 1. Do I want to watch it again?  Yes.  They did what every pilot should do and they had their final scene make you wonder.  If you can get the viewer to be engaged and want to see what is next, you accomplished the main goal for a pilot.  The over arching story of Homeland is whether a returning soldier from Iraq is a hero or a terrorist.  The final scene of the suspect just staring at the US Capital building had all the wonder we need.  Do I think he is a terrorist or not?  I do but I don't know. I wonder and I want to watch Claire Danes get him.

2. Was I surprised at least once.  I was.  There was great use of flash backs.  And a surprise within them.  Anyone who knows me at all, knows I abhor spoilers.  I will not say what the surprise was.  If you have watched it you know, if you have not, you should.  But the show did take several small and believable twists that lead me to believe in the writers of the show.

3. Were the characters interesting?  This was probably the weakest link.  But I will say Claire Danes earned her Golden Globe in this first hour alone.  I have found the previews for Ashley Judd's character in Missing to be comical.  I just didn't buy Ashley as a Jennifer Garner Alias wanna be.  But Claire balanced between agent, stress, guilt ridden, sexual and pill popping woman.  It made me think she might have been able to play Star Buck on Battle Star.  Mandy Patinkin was great as her mentor and possible boss.  The show didn't really tell us Mandy's job which is good.  Remember a couple weeks ago how I tore up Smash because they had characters explain their entire relationship in one sentence. This show avoided that.  We will learn all about them, you don't need to understand everything in a pilot. There really wasn't a lot of character development and I really didn't bond with any of them, but it mostly used their first 58 minutes to set the plot. I am OK with that.

4. Was it dumb?  Not at all.  I believed all the major plot points.  The part that stuck with me the most was the wife's feelings (Jessica Brody played by the beautiful Morena Baccarin from Firefly) on the return of her husband.  For the most part premium cable shows can lose me with their use of sex and language.  The sex scenes in this show were absolutely necessary.  Compare and contrast Jessica's first sexual experience and her second sexual experience and you learn a whole lot more than any dialogue could have ever told  you.  I also buy the premise of the show.    Something that didn't happen when I watched VEEP.   I noticed the executive producers of Homeland were from 24.  Just like 24, this show uses our fears against us.  It is set in the world of terrorism that we are told to fear daily by FOX News.  I found each turn believable and I am ready to finish this season and go where they take me.  I have really enjoyed watching Claire Danes career over the years and I can't wait to see her kick some ass on this show.  Bring on Episode 2.

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