Post-Sept. 11 fear and regret loom over the gripping new season of the Emmy-winning terrorism drama
The Israeli series, which is also less of a thriller than Homeland, highlights the adjustment families must make after loved ones return home from such a traumatic experience. The theme was much on the minds of Israelis while Gilad Shalit was being held captive in Hamas-controlled Gaza. Repatriated last October after being held incommunicado for over five years, Shalit visited the Homeland set when part of the new season was being filmed in Israel.
Prior to Hatufim, the reintegration of Israeli POWs into fast-paced Israeli society had never before been fictionalized in an Israeli TV serial. It was so popular that a second season is premiering on Israeli TV next month.
Working with Hatufim creator Gideon Raff, Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon adapted and produced Homeland as the American version for Showtime. Both Gordon and Gansa were part of the creative team that produced the hit 24, which also focused on a renegade counter-terrorist, Jack Bauer, and a team of homeland-security officials charged with protecting the nation from terrorism.
Gordon and Gansa’s learning curve attests to the differences in the two dramas. The Twin Towers were smoking, and memories of the Sept. 11 attacks were still fresh, when Jack Bauer routinely tortured recalcitrant suspects to prevent terrorists from nuking Los Angeles. But Bauer’s casual embrace of torture and other illegal counter-terrorism tactics sparked controversy and outrage among some viewers and reporters as distance from that traumatic event grew.
While 24 was driven by its nail-biting narrative and suspenseful endings of each episode, the first 12 episodes of Homeland, though hardly devoid of thriller moments, focus far more on relationships. If 24 was all about a thrilling plot, Homeland is far more about characters. Carrie and Saul are patriotic, brave, and often heroic, but they can also be cowardly, misguided, and duplicitous. Carrie crosses most professional boundaries, most notably, by sleeping with Sgt. Brody, the Marine she is surveilling. Carrie’s complex feelings for him—and also for Saul—coupled with her creative if unorthodox tactics, are the emotional driver of the series. What 24 and Homeland share is the ticking-bomb endings of each broadcast hour—drama that has made both President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton into fans.
Early in Season 2, Saul and the CIA will draw Carrie back into action for a crucial mission for which only she is qualified. And so for another thrilling season, we will be able to watch three of television’s most compelling characters and the gifted actors who portray them wrestle not only with America’s enemies, but with their own internal demons. Homeland is, as 24 was for what seems already a different era, a barometer of our times.
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The world’s most famous detective, returning to TV tonight, is the embodiment of the non-Jewish Jew