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Channel 4 has high hopes for Homeland | reviews, news & interviews

Channel 4 has high hopes for Homeland

Channel 4 has high hopes for Homeland

Award-winning series probes the underbelly of the War on Terror

Damian Lewis and Claire Danes, embroiled in the shadow world of counter-terrorism

If you don't fancy any more masters-and-servants dramas on a Sunday evening, you can thank Channel 4 for bringing the excellent Homeland to its Sunday roster. Kicking off tonight, it arrives in the UK basking in Golden Globe glory, having picked up accolades for Best Drama Series and Best Actress in a Drama Series in last month's ceremony. The latter went to Claire Danes for her performance as CIA counter-terrorist officer Carrie Mathison.

The premise of Homeland is that US Marine Sergeant Nick Brody (Damian Lewis, also Globe-nominated) has been freed from eight years in Al Qaeda captivity in Afghanistan by a Special Forces raid. He was believed dead, not least by his wife Jessica, who has inconveniently become embroiled with his former best buddy. Brody is fanfared as a returning hero from the War on Terror, but Agent Mathison becomes convinced that he's the American prisoner she was warned about by an Iraqi contact, who has been turned by Al Qaeda and will be used to mount a terrorist attack on American soil.

Episode one offers plenty of evidence that Brody is damaged goods. He bears the scars from hideous torture, and his recollections of events in Afghanistan are seen to be flawed and evasive, not least regarding terrorist mastermind Abu Nazir. Is he, perhaps, a post-9/11 Manchurian Candidate? On the other hand, Agent Mathison is far from reliable herself. She's capable of brilliant intuitive insights, but her credibility is called into question by previous professional misjudgments and the fact that she secretly suffers from a bipolar disorder.

Homeland's direct antecedent was the Israeli TV series Prisoners of War (Hatufim in Hebrew), which has been adapted by producers Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa into what could be termed a mixture of 24 (on which both producers worked) and the recent CIA drama Rubicon. Powerfully written and skilfully cast - also aboard are Mandy Patinkin (pictured above) as CIA Middle East guru Saul Beresford and David Harewood as Mathison's sceptical boss David Estes - Homeland has "must-watch" written all over it. Interestingly, the BBC have pushed back Call the Midwife and the new Upstairs Downstairs to 8.30pm and 9.30pm respectively on 19 February, citing ITV1's decision to move Coronation Street to 8pm. But did Homeland's 9.30pm slot have anything to do with it?

The opening episode of Homeland reviewed on theartsdesk

Agent Mathison becomes convinced that Brody has been turned by Al Qaeda and will be used to mount a terrorist attack on American soil

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