* Prices may differ from that shown
Homeland Season 1 was released in the UK on September 10, 2012
* 12 episodes
* 4-disc set (DVD), 3-disc set (Blu-ray)
* Language : English (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround)
* Subtitles: English with removable subtitles
Homeland - the TV series that took the US & UK by storm with its first season over a year ago. The plot is seemingly simple but completely original and is based around real life events in the part of the world where part of the series is set ie. Terrorists and al-Qaeda. The fact that the series is based around real life events and that deadly organisation makes the series a lot more enjoyable for me to watch.
The series kicks off when we meet Carrie -a CIA Counter-terrorism agent based in Iraq. The first scenes show her talking to a contact of hers who happens to be locked up in a prison there. The man then tells Carrie that an American prisoner of war is being held by al-Qaeda... and subsequently turned into a terrorist... unfortunately as Carrie tries to obtain more information from the man he is taken away and led to his death.
Back in America, at the Langley Counter-terrorism base, Carrie simply forgets the information because as far as anyone knows there are no prisoners of war in Iraq... then something out of the ordinary happens...
Carrie's boss, David, calls her and all of her colleagues in for an emergency meeting where a tape of an undercover operation by the Delta Force raiding a compound belonging to infamous terrorist, Abu Nazir. What is found gobsmacks everyone in the room... Locked away in a room in the compound they find a dirty man with a big overgrown beard who utters the words "I am an American" in their accent... It turns out the man is no other than Nicholas Brody - U.S. Marine Sergeant, who has been missing in action for some years and presumed dead.
Carrie discusses what she was told with her close friend and colleague, Saul. However the information she gives is played down by Saul because its unthinkable to comprehend an American solidier has been turned into a terrorist.
Nicolas Brody is flown back to the US - to his family... in particular his wife who had started dating Brody's best friend considering how everyone thought he was dead... and his son and daughter who were both very young when they last saw him. The start to live as a family unit again trying to adapt to having Brody back in their lives again after being away so long...
Brody, is now covered in physical scars and burns all over his body, which were done by his tormenters in Iraq. As well as this he is very angry with what happened to him... and also the fact that he was forced to help the terrorists kill fellow captured US marine Tom Walker. To everyone who comes across him thinks he is a hero and very brave for overcoming what he went through.
CIA agent Carrie however still believes something is not right about Brody and she believes this is the man who her contact refered to during their last conversation. However due to Carrie's mental condition which she also keeps secret from her employers sometimes her mind can be unreliable and she ends up getting too excited over things. But the question is, is Carrie right about him being a terrorist? Or is she really crazy... And what lengths will Carrie go to, to find out the truth about Brody and to connect him to Abu Nazir?
I have been terribly addicted to this series since it started. So much so that it came to a point where I just couldn't wait for Channel 4 to play the next episode that I started watching them online - they had already been on in America at this point and were very easy to find.
I love the series in the sense that unless you read episode guides and in-depth reviews you don't actually know from watching it if Brody is a terrorist or not. There was many times where I would watch and think he definetely is a terrorist and then something would happen in another episode and it would make you think twice. So in a sense the way the script is written is brilliant as its not easily guessed which in turn keeps you watching the next week.
All the charecters in the series are brilliant actors - in particular my favourite is Carrie. The fact the Carrie has a condition which makes her a bit unmentally stable has been written into the script with good cause as noted above it makes you unsure wheather Brody really is a terrorist or she is just loosing the plot. The actor playing Brody is also brilliant at his role in the sense that his mood is forever changing - happy one minute, shifty then angry... even with all the plausable explanations with everything that happens and his behavior.
The homeland soundtrack is played through the opening credit's at the beginning of each epiosde... the music type is Jazz and to me sounds a bit sad and haunting. The scenes that the music plays over shows many images including images of Carrie as a young girl watching terrorist events unfold on TV, Carrie as a young girl wearing a mask... Carrie as a young girl wearing a mask in a maze? Images of the aftermath of 9/11, a video of Barrack Obama talking about the war on terrorism... images of muslims... and then ends with the video of Brody looking up at the White House. The opening music and scenes are quite simple but give you a great idea about what the series is about if you didn't already know!
In terms of effects, you don't really see any special effects as such until towards the end of the first series. To me they are not spectacular where you are watching amazing stunts but that is not what the series is about - it is mentally mind bogging and doesn't need to use special effects to score points.
I would recommend watching this to everyone - I have even roped my family and some friends into watching it and everyone is very impressed with it. Last month the second season started on UK TV, and America are currently a week in front of us with the episodes... and its safe to say I am completely hooked on the second series too.
Homeland Series 1 is still quite a new DVD and the full first season can be purchased from Amazon at £21.98 which is cheaper than I have seen in any shops.
**What is homeland?**
Homeland is psychological drama developed by Howard Gordon and Jeffrey Nachmanoff, who also made the hit series 24. It followers two main characters Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody, a U.S. Marine who was held captive by Al-Qaeda as a prisoner of war for eight years. He returns home to America as a hero, and we follow him adjusting to life again. Claire Danes is Carrie Mathison, a CIA agent, who after an incident in Iraq has been put on a desk job to keep her out of trouble. While Carrie was in Iraq she discovered that a prisoner of war had been turned, so of course now that Brody has been found again she is sure he is the terrorist. Has Brody been turned? Or is Carrie just paranoid because of her condition.We learn through the series that Carrie has bipolar disorder, and she sometimes finds it impossible to do her job while containing her emotions. Carrie begins monitoring Brody convinced he has been turned by his captures, and poses a threat to the United States. As we move through the series it really does focus on character development, so we understand the thoughts they are having, and the motive behind their actions. All of the characters have their moral dilemmas, so I found myself not trusting any of them, and not knowing what was coming next.
There are a number of other characters in the show that play an important part in the story, but there are two main characters that the show is based upon. Claire Danes is absolutely amazing as Carrie. She manages to portray the right amount of cleverness, while still showing the problems that her disorder creates. You can see that she is perfect for her job, although some o her methods are very unusual. She has a main support in her mentor Saul (Mandy Patinkin) who we also learn a little about him through the series. We see the sacrifices he has made when it comes to Carrie. Damian Lewis is again perfect as Brody. He does an amazing job to pull off the tough character he portrays, while we still see sides of him that make us wonder if a normal person like him could really be plotting against his country. He provides the right amount of determination, while still showing the cracks from his trouble past. He struggles to adjust back to the real world, but we watch him grow. We see his troubles with family life, while his wife, daughter and best friend are all proving to worsen his difficulties. The whole cast of actors are perfectly picked. Each and every one of them seems perfect in their role and there is no wonder to why this series has won a number of awards.
My husband put a series record on this show and I did groan a little. I expected it to be another typical American series that I would be bored watching. Within the first episode I found myself hooked, and rather than my husband turning over every Sunday, I had a reminder set to watch it every week to grab my next fix. When series one finished I knew I would have to wait for season two, and so I decided I was going to invest in the box set to watch the drama unfold all over again. Each character has their own mini story, we learn about their moral dilemmas and how they go about handling it. Then all the characters also interlock making up the larger story. What I love about this program is the twists and turns it takes. As soon as I finally think I have the story figured out, something else will happen that makes me rethink everything again. It is a program you need to watch every episode to truly understand what is going on. Even the short scenes which seem insignificant while watching them make the pieces click together, and further episodes I think back and realise why they included that scene.
I find the acting is really good, there are parts that I think could have been close to being a little over the top, but the actors carry it well making each scene believable. They are not actors I really know, but I do rate them highly as they make the show what it is. There are a few gritty scenes throughout this series, and usually I would be cowering behind my hands at any sight of blood. I find it is done tastefully so even I can manage to make it through the short scenes of violence. With some of the story lines, I did think I would take an immediate dislike to some of the characters, but somehow they manage to show a side of them so that requires empathy. It stays focused on a main storyline, but cleverly introduces other mini stories in to the show to build the characters quickly. I do find myself caring for the characters, and hoping for the best possible outcome.
One thing I did notice is that there a cliff-hangers with nearly every episode. This was fine while I was watching it on TV as it just built suspense for the next episode. I do find when you're watching the box set it is of course far more noticeable and rather annoying. I also felt the finale was a little disappointing, as it was almost as if they were building up too much towards the next series. It is eventful and still interesting, but the obvious unanswered questions spoil it a little for me. They could have concentrated on series one more as of course it was the finale! The story develops very quickly, and I as a little shocked at how quickly we find a few things out. This is perfect for making you want more, as I found myself thinking well what's next then? They manage to fit so much into one series, and I can't wait to see the next.
There are a number of DVD extras provided with this box set, which include deleted scenes, a prologue to season two (very short ) and we get to take a look at how the creators came up with such complex characters. It is nice to see the motivation behind what happens in the programs, and the behind the scene looks are rather interesting. The deleted scenes are OK, but that is it. I was actually really excited to watch the deleted scenes, as I was left wanting more at the end of season one, but to be honest I can see why they were deleted. They do add a little something to the story line, but you're not missing much by not watching them. I find the best part of the extras is the comments from the cast and creators. They explain over the first episode how they came up with such complex characters, and I think this really helps to understand the story better. This by far is the best extra provided, and I really enjoyed watching it. The extras were not as exciting as I had hoped and not something I would buy the set exclusively for.
This show does cover many issues including of course terrorism, the results of war, the US government and day to day issues they face. It is stereotypical, but I find they touch the subjects in a respectful way and I find it enjoyable to watch. I am sure this program can be enjoyed by a large audience, and although I was a little sceptical at first I really do love it. It is rated 15 due to some sexual and violent scenes, so not one for younger viewers. My husband is not as keen on it as I am, but he still enjoys watching it. I could watch this series over and over again so it is a worthwhile buy. It comes in a 4 disc set, with a lot of extras. There are 12 episodes in total in the first series, and each is as good as the next. Homeland series two is currently showing on channel4, but you really do need to watch series one first. If you haven't managed to watch this I would highly recommend buying this DVD, and even if you have I bet you wouldn't mind watching it again. This set can be purchased on Amazon for around £20.
Stars: Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Mandy Patinkin
Producers: Howard Gordon & Alex Gansa
Release date: 1st October 2012
Original UK air date: 19th February 2012
A review of the series; a preview of the DVD...
Working on an illegal mission in Iraq, Carrie Mathison, a CIA officer, is told that an American prisoner of war "has been turned" before being arrested and eventually relocated to Langley under probation. Sometime later, a group of American soldiers find a white man held prisoner, long-haired and bearded, dirty and shielding the light from his eyes. This man is Nicholas Brody, a U.S. Marine that went missing some eight years before, and believed dead. He is rescued and sent home to be reunited with his wife and family.
In a fantastic pilot episode, the main plot and ideas of "Homeland" are introduced and explored. Carrie (Claire Danes) tells her associate and close friend Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) of her fears regarding the POW, and how she believes it to be Brody. Meanwhile, Brody is returning to America a hero and the U.S. government plans on using him as a symbol of hope, ultimately abolishing Carrie's chances of the CIA hearing her suspicions out. Brody's wife Jessica (Morena Baccarin), in the meantime, has been dating Brody's best friend Mike (Diego Klattenhoff), and is sleeping with him when she receives the call from Brody. Carrie plants cameras and microphones in Brody's house with the illicit and reluctant approval of Saul, while the family are meeting Brody at the airport upon his return. Brody, reunited with his family, must attempt to readapt to life, but having been a prisoner of Al-Qaeda for over eight years and with underlying tension stemming from Jessica and Mike's relationship, this is inevitably no easy task - and Carrie is watching over.
"Homeland" is loosely based on an Israeli series called "Hatufim" (translates to 'Prisoners of War') created by Gideon Raff (who also worked on this series), and is developed for American television by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa (two of the guys (mainly the former) who brought you "24"). It was produced by 'Fox 21', and although originally shown in the U.S. on channel 'Showtime' in early October 2011, it was eventually aired in the UK on Channel 4 from February 19th, 2012, due to an outstanding response from American viewers. It also went on to win the Golden Globe for Best TV Drama. The first season has recently finished in the UK, but a second season is well underway and is due to be aired only a few days after the Americans, this autumn. Let me tell you why this is excellent and exciting news, if the above plot hasn't already done that for you...
There are two dominant reasons why "Homeland" is one of the most exciting, thrilling, addictive and superb shows about at the moment. First is the fantastic premise, story and plot development - the writers have created a truly fascinating show. Second, the series is anchored by some sublime acting performances; most notably, Claire Danes and her portrayal of a Bipolar and reckless, but intelligent and brilliantly shrewd CIA officer. Her character is hugely absorbing; her work - and the dangers that it entails - is her life, and she is acknowledged as being extremely good at it. Yet she is hasty and impulsive, and deceiving - she's hiding at least one thing from everyone, including her boss David Estes (David Harewood) and close friend Saul. And most notably hidden is her disorder. But the Bipolar disorder, which in this case is hereditary (her father has it too), overrides and affects her mind, arguably for the better in some cases (I am in no way stating that Bipolar disorder is beneficial here - I completely understand the seriousness of the illness). She is shockingly sharp at times, and her recklessness often pays off (other times, not so much...). Claire Danes is just magnificent in the role, conveying the unstable yet energetic state of her mind perfectly. She would eventually win the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
The shows main motive is to get the viewer suspecting everything and everyone. The main question is 'Is Brody good or bad?', or rather, 'Is he a turned terrorist!?'. His character is more mentally unbalanced than Carrie's (which is saying something), and this is mainly due to his experiences in the past eight years, which, importantly, we are shown in dribs and drabs, the length and insights of which grow as the series progresses. Damian Lewis (his most notable role prior to this being Cpt. Winters in "Band of Brothers") is almost as good as Danes, playing Brody. He portrays a sick man well; a man who is lost and disturbed. He can sit in the corner of the bedroom doing nothing for hours on end - it's natural to him. And the way in which he treats his family, most predominantly his wife, fluctuates to say the least. His actions are mysterious at times, but not completely unjustified, and the viewer is confused as to whether one should feel sympathetic towards him. Do we believe Carrie - is Brody in fact a turned POW? Or is he simply a damaged solider, returning home to be given a second chance - a new life? Lewis was also nominated for Best Actor at the Globes.
The characters underlie the entire plot. The two leading roles are drastically opposed, but drawn together by parallels, and the result is engrossing. The series moves at a very fast pace and is constantly interesting. Carrie is ultimately the protagonist. To an extent, we know everything about her - Brody is the one with the secrets. His experiences hold the key to the golden question. Political themes are addressed, and sometimes beautiful messages are conveyed while nations are at war - but other subtle themes can be found too. Jazz overtones are omnipresent, hinting at the irrelevant (the first series doesn't give the viewer much reason to worry about it) disclosed past life of Carrie, but are often used to unify certain characters psyches. Emotions are evoked effectively through the use of montage, lighting and music throughout, and the producers often look to other methods in expressing characters' mindsets. Callery's soundtrack is pretty consistently spot on in this respect, although pre-existing music is used when necessary.
It's astonishing how much is packed into this series, both in terms of content (as aforementioned) and genre. Primarily, it is a political thriller, yet not so political that it is inaccessible to many. But also involved are elements of psychological study, action, spy, romance, violence to name but a few. Also worth noting is the sex in the programme. There are scenes of a sexual nature that become almost defining in the first half of the series; it almost appears as a selling point due to its insistent inclusion in consecutive episodes. But it rarely feels massively out of place, and adds to the appeal of the show. It's such a massive shame, however, that there are moments in "Homeland" that let it down. 95% of the time, it is absolutely enthralling. The other 5% is bogged down by some contrastingly poor acting (chiefly on Morena Baccarin's part) and some completely misguided scenes - cheesy moments, poor script etc. In overview, the show is flawed - too much so to award it anything more than 4 stars.
Despite some few, albeit obtrusive, drawbacks, I would completely recommend "Homeland". This is an absolutely superb first season, from the absorbing 'pilot' to the epic final scene - and every addictive moment in between. It is enormously exciting, and the wait in between each of the twelve episodes was almost unbearable. Lucky for you, this is out on DVD on October 1, 2012, so the waits between are unnecessary and avoidable. I would definitely urge you to purchase (or pre-order) this.
Also available (soon) on Blu-Ray.