Of late, I’ve been really impressed with the American TV series “Homeland”, starring Damien Rice and Claire Danes. The basic concept is very “now”, but it’s all very twisted, and plays with preconceptions.
The basic premise is simple. An agent of Homeland Security is told by an informer that an American prisoner-of-war has been turned, and is going to be used for a terrorist attack in the US. When the American soldier, Nick Brody (played by Damien Lewis) is released/saved after years as an Iraqi prisoner-of-war (POW), the agent is obsessed with trying to prevent that attack. But is Brody actually going to commit the attack? Or is it all a big double-bluff?
The most contentious (so far – I haven’t seen the final three episodes yet) piece has been where the show revealed why Brody might have been turned towards the terrorist cause – an American attack on a ‘terrorist compound’ that killed women and children as ‘collateral damage’, including one child that Brody had grown close to. It’s pretty dark and shocking, particularly for a series made in the US.
Series like this are the ones that (in an ideal world) TV drama should all aspire to be. Homeland, West Wing, Fringe (to a degree), Dollhouse, Sons of Anarchy, Shield – they’re all there, but there should be so many more. We should be able to identify the bad shows as ones that are away from the norm, not vice versa.