My wife and I rented the television series Homeland on DVD from Netflix. Well, we asked for the first disc of the first year. Three episodes.
Homeland is the hot series, gathering rave reviews about its credibility and the slow way in which it unfolds everything.
Naturally, we were very surprised when we didn't find it slow paced or credible. We were sort of astonished about gaps in logic and realism. Our conclusion was the show was more about style over substance. We hypothesized that maybe we felt this way because we read novels and had a different idea about pacing, realism and credibility. Perhap we're affected by our recollection of history, too.
Adapted from an Israeli series, Homeland is about Sgt Brody. Held as a prisoner of war for 8 years, he's a surprise find when a cell is raided. Despite being unaware that he was there and basically stumbling on it by accident, the CIA team gives themselves a round of applause about finding and rescuing him. In parallel, a CIA field operative is told by a terrorist about to be executed that an American POW has been turned. Our sense of unrealism began shortly thereafter.
- Sgt Brody calls his wife, surprising her. Seems to me that if a POW has been discovered and rescued, someone in the military would have called her to let her know that happened. There were would be briefings to help her adjust.
Naturally, she was humping someone else when Brody called her. (Later we learn that this is Brody's best friend.) Amusingly, Sgt Brody identifies himself by saying, "This is Brody" when his wife answers the phone, confusing us about his first and last name. Guess that's just his style.
- After he and his family are swiftly re-united, Brody drives the Subaru home. We were pretty astonished by that, as well. Eight years in captivity and he's back behind the wheel. Apparently they live in the same home as eight years ago, which is plausible, and the route is unchanged, which is plausible, although different from my experience for suburban areas around military bases, and he remembers the route home. That's less plausible for a person who's been imprisoned, brutalized and malnourished.
Seemed like all his acclimation back into society and family was just glossed over. Go back and review how the adjustment process for the US Embassy hostages was handled.
And as a side note, Brody has well developed muscle tone and strength for someone imprisoned for eight years. Hasn't lost any hair or teeth. Amazing.
- Over on the CIA front, events are happening fast and illegally. The CIA agent believes that Brody is the turned POW. Full eyes and ears are planted in Brody's home by the edgy, disgraced CIA agent, a woman, using a CIA contractor. Then, in this slow paced, credible show, it's revealed in the first episode that she's had an affair with her mentor and she is on medication - medication that is a secret to the CIA.
She's also looking for Brody to make contact with a handler in the US right away. If so, that's much different than the slow, careful pace that Intelligence agencies usually take to set up a mole as reported by books about the subject, and much faster than terrorist organizations have been demonstrated to do in real life, let alone like novels such as Le Carre's world. This mastermind that set Brody up as a mole, turning him, and cleverly executing a plan over eight years is now going to make contact right away?
Oh, there was more. Once again my wife and I walked away with the sense that we're living in a much different place than the rest of the television viewing world and its critics. Finishing the DVD, we mailed it off, canceled the rest of the series, and returned to our books.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com