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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Return of the Prisoner Of War: Homeland

Poonam Saxena, Hindustan Times   January 11, 2013
First Published: 23:39 IST(11/1/2013) | Last Updated: 23:41 IST(11/1/2013)

A few international shows do come to our TV screens at the same time as they open abroad, but mostly we end up seeing them a couple of seasons (or more) later. Even so, many of them have built up loyal viewers and fans. (A good example is Grey’s Anatomy, which – though it was shown here from season one when it was already many seasons old abroad – has become one of the most watched international series).

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Now Star World is bringing the American show, Homeland, to our screens this coming week. For those of you who don’t closely follow what’s happening in the TV world abroad (I know, there are better things to do than keep track of what TV show is playing in which season, especially when not all of them are worth the effort), Homeland is an award-winning series based on an Israeli show called Prisoners of War and it’s already finished season two in America.

I watched season one of the show in advance so this is a sort of preview-cum-review. Homeland is about an American Marine, Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), who comes home after being held prisoner by the al-Qaida for eight years. He returns to a hero’s welcome in his country, but there’s someone out there in the shadows spying on him. A CIA officer Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) suspects that Brody may have been ‘turned’ during his years of captivity and, in fact, might be a terrorist.

Without giving away too much of the suspense or plot, let me just say that this American series is tight, gripping, engrossing – even if it’s so, well, American. That Brody comes back a changed, damaged man after being held prisoner for so long is hardly surprising (he’s like a stranger even to his own family). But Brody is not the only one who’s damaged. Even the CIA agent, an attractive blonde (given to constantly fiddling with her hair – almost like a nervous tic) is also borderline psychotic, especially in her ruthless, single-minded obsession to prove that Brody is a terrorist. (Someone should seriously try to figure out why so many female characters in American shows are self-obsessed, neurotic and irrationally stubborn, with more behaviour issues than you’d find in a psychology manual. And while they’re about it, they might like to shed some light on why most teenagers are so stereotypically sullen and rude).

Of course, the other dampener is the fact that the show is bound to be heavily censored. I can’t see how even one of the sex scenes or the torture scenes will be permitted on Indian television. But I think it’ll still be worth watching.

I wrote about the opening episode of Star Plus’s Nach Baliye last week and I dutifully watched the next episode too (yes, the much-publicised episode where Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik did a dance). I’m aware that the show has got excellent ratings but the sheen seems to have already dimmed. The two hosts (Karan Wahi and Gautam Rode) try hard, but that’s the problem. They try too hard without getting there. Of the two, Karan is better but Gautam can get grating. It’s not easy being a lively, entertaining anchor without coming across as silly or crude. Maybe Manish Paul and Ayushmann Khurana should start coaching classes.

 

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