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T.V. Review: 'Homeland' -- 4 stars



4 stars

In “Homeland,” Claire Danes stars as a CIA agent who’s as comfortable sneaking into an Iraqi prison as she is picking up guys in D.C. bars.

She doesn’t mind going rogue, either, hiring surveillance guys to wire the house of a freed American soldier, just returned to his wife and kids after eight torturous years in an Iraqi prison.

She’s heard word that an American POW “has been turned,” so while the brass is saluting Damian Lewis’ Sgt. Nick Brody, Danes is watching him 24/7.

While she gets an eyeful, she works with a mind too full, thanks to a mood disorder that’s got her gobbling pills. Which puts her on the same damaged plane as Lewis, who’s being trotted around for PR purposes, despite readjustment hiccups that hint at impending catastrophe.

This is one killer cast — the steely/curious Danes, who’s wowed us since “My So-Called Life”; the cheery/chilling Lewis, from NBC’s “Life” and HBO’s “Band of Brothers”; Mandy Patinkin, as Danes’ CIA mentor, in whom her confrontational-yet-needy character stokes an inner rage that’s electric; and Morena Baccarin, from “V,” as Brody’s dutiful Marine wife, trying to reconnect with a distant husband who exhibits numbness and a disregard for her soul.

“Homeland’s” first three episodes have plenty of sex and violence, and that’s where the revelations are stashed, as the characters react in unsettling ways. Small moments that seem to set up one sort of denouement often lead to other destinations entirely.

That shouldn’t be surprising from a crew that includes “24” producers Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa. Showtime lets them take their time to spin the serpentine story lines, gradually pulling us deep into one very sticky, scary web of intrigue.

On TV: “Homeland” debuts Monday at 10 p.m. on Showtime.


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