Last year’s breakout cable series seems to be having a sophomore slump. (Or so goes the buzz on Season Two, not seen here.) But it may just be a delayed reaction/consequence to Season One which ain’t all its cracked up to be. The basic idea, borrowed from an Israeli series called PRISONERS OF WAR (look for it on HULU), is dandy: Iraq war vet (Damien Lewis) returns home after eight years in captivity and is crowned hero of the day. But Claire Danes’ CIA agent thinks the guy’s been ‘turned,’ a terrorist in suburbia, hiding in uniform. There’s a load of good performances in here (heck, even Mandy Patinkin is a treat) and lots of believable Wash, DC atmosphere, but the triple-twist plotting & turnabout character revelations start to grow wearisome long before the first season teases us with a faintly ridiculous explosive (non)ending. You can spot exactly where things start to go wrong about a third of the way in when Lewis’s vet takes a lie-detector test and needlessly lies about a roll in the hay he’s just had with Danes. There’s no reason for him to lie about his infidelity except to allow Danes to see how he might be lying about more important questions on the test. It keeps the plot mechanics going, but confuses the creation of situations with the creation of drama, a common mistake/misstep on more than a few of these open-run cable shows. Soon, you’re noticing three or four similar dodges in just about every episode. Guess HOMELAND doesn’t share a couple of producers with 24 for nothing.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: That could be Steve McQueen on the poster with Claire Danes . . . if Steve had red hair.