Category: Homeland

Golden Globes: Claire Danes won't quit her day job

Claire danes
Claire Danes said she belongs on Showtime's critically acclaimed series "Homeland," not actually on the homeland security team.

“We should all be very grateful that I'm not in charge of homeland security,” said Danes backstage after accepting the award for best actress in a TV drama for her role as a CIA agent. “We would not be very secure.”

The Showtime series has been among the premium network's most celebrated new series and centers on Danes' brilliant but troubled government agent as she pursues a returning POW (Damian Lewis) she suspects of being a terrorist. She admitted to being deeply affected by the part.

"As an American, when I started learning about the CIA and the people within that world, I was really struck by their patriotism," said Danes. "It’s something I’ve taken for granted. I have learned through this story that it is something to take more seriously.”

Danes researched the role in a variety of ways -- reading books, interviewing psychologists and even watching YouTube videos. (In addition to her job as a government agent, her character also has bipolar disorder.)

YouTube "is a really valuable resource,” she said. “There’s a lot of material. Bipolar people who are up in the middle of the night … they talk to their camera, and they post it. I think I did more of that. I just gorged on their videos.”

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-- Yvonne Villarreal

twitter.com/villarrealy

Photo: Claire Danes in "Homeland." Credit: Kent Smith / Showtime 

 

Golden Globes: 'Homeland' wins for TV drama series

Golden Globes: 'Homeland' wins for TV drama series

“Homeland” won the Golden Globe award for best television series — drama. It beat out “Game of Thrones,” “Boss,” “American Horror Story” and “Boardwalk Empire” for the award.

The series finished its first season on Showtime in December. Based on an Israeli drama, “Homeland” features Claire Danes as a CIA agent convinced that an American Marine (played by Damian Lewis) returning after years as a POW in Iraq is a terrorist. It was produced by Showtime Presents, Teakwood Lane Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet and Fox 21. This is the series’ first Golden Globe nomination and win.

The Golden Globes are being held at the Beverly Hilton and are being televised on NBC. We'll carry all the breaking TV news and reaction here on Show Tracker.

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-- Joy Press
Twitter.com/joypress

Photo: Claire Danes arrives at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards Credit: Matt Sayles / AP

 

'Homeland' exec says writers can wriggle 'out of a box'

Homeland

[Note: There are some spoilers in this post about the recently concluded season of Showtime’s “Homeland.” Please skip if you’re really behind on your DVR viewing.]

The December finale of “Homeland’ didn’t polarize viewers the way, say the season's final episode of “The Killing” did. But some fans of the series — created by “24” veterans Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon as well as Gideon Raff, who conceived of the Israeli original — were divided about the way the first season ended.

Claire Danes’ Carrie was far from vindicated — in fact, she seemed to be going down a new path of memory loss. Damian Lewis’ Brody seemed to be positioned for an improbable spot in political office. And we still have no idea who might be the bad seed at the CIA.

David Nevins, the Showtime entertainment chief who put the show on the air, acknowledges how fans might feel a little squeezed by the new direction. But he said the show’s creators would find a way out when the series returned. “Alex and Howard are very good at writing themselves into a box, but they’re also very good at writing themselves out of a box,” he said in a recent interview with Show Tracker.

Nevins said that a finale for a serial mystery like “Homeland” meant walking a fine line between revelations and reticence: “We don't believe in closure, but we do believe in rewarding people for their time.”

At Showtime’s Television Critics Assn. panel on Thursday, Nevins continued the frank talk, saying fans were “justified” in feeling skepticism about whether the second season, which is likely to return later this year, could continue building the mystery without gving fans the sense they were being thrown red herrings. But he said that new revelations would keep the story moving forward.

One of the biggest questions is whether the wider intelligence community will know about Brody’s terrorist connections. To reveal that would be to rob the show of its woman-versus-the-world drama, but continued milking of that idea could get old.

Nevins did suggest at the event that the (romantic?) relationship between the two main characters would continue. “Brody and Carrie have only just begun,” he told reporters.

In other Showtime news, Nevins revealed at TCA that “Nurse Jackie,” “The Big C” and “The Borgias” will all return on Sunday, April 8. He also disclosed the network was producing a documentary about former Vice President Dick Cheney from independent filmmaker R.J. Cutler (who did the Anna Wintour doc “The September Issue”).

And Nevins told TCA that it's "a real possibility" that last summer's season of "Weeds" could be its last. Meanwhile, he said that “Dexter,” which in December ended its sixth season, could go beyond the planned eighth season. Maybe. "This is the likely endpoint, but I'm leaving open the possibility that plans could change," he told reporters.

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Photo: A scene from the first season of "Homeland" Credit: Kent Smith/Showtime.

Sizing up 2011's rookie TV series

“New Girl” Zooey Deschanel, with Jake Johnson

As the 2011 TV season tips into 2012, cable shows such as “Homeland” and “American Horror Story” have aired their explosive climaxes, while network newbies that survived the fall are just about halfway through their premiere seasons. Here’s a look at six series that showed early promise and how they’re living up to expectations.

New Girl” | Fox

The premise: Jess (Zooey Deschanel), an attractive but socially awkward woman in her mid-20s, moves in with three single guys after she splits with a philandering tool of a boyfriend.

The vibe: Hipster comedy that avoids coming off as hipper-than-thou.

References: “That Girl,” “Three’s Company,” “Friends,” “(500) Days of Summer”

Sample line: “Pink wine makes me slutty.” — Jess, having a night out with the guys to lift her spirits

Casting call-out: Cece (Hannah Simone), Jess’ best friend, exudes Grrrrl Power in the man cave Jess now calls home.

Performance/prospects: Averaging 8.2 million viewers per episode, “New Girl” will be back for a second season. The big question is will “New Girl” start feeling old?





“Up All Night” | NBC

The premise: Yuppie power couple Chris (Will Arnett) and Reagan Brinkley (Christina Applegate) trade Jell-O shots and last calls for baby formula and middle-of-the-night feedings when newborn Amy comes along.

The vibe: Modern love and marriage. And baby makes comic relief.

Referencing: “Mad About You,” “Mr. Mom,” “The Oprah Winfrey Show”

Sample line: “He just doesn’t understand. I just had a baby. I mean underneath this, I have a girdle and two pairs of Spanx on.” — Reagan to Ava, after accepting her well-meaning friend’s gift of a red thong

Casting call-out: Maya Rudolph in Oprah mode as Reagan’s friend/boss Ava, who seems to spend as much time at the Brinkleys’ house as she does at the television studio.

Performance/prospects: With what might be described as “tweener” ratings (averaging 5.75 million viewers per episode), the series was picked up for a full season in October. Whether this baby makes it to Season 2 … stay tuned.




“Homeland” | Showtime

The premise: Having gone missing for eight years in Iraq, Marine Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Damien Lewis) is rescued and returned to the U.S., where CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) suspects he has been “turned” by the enemy and tracks his every move. An overwhelming sense of paranoia and claustrophobia ensues.

The vibe: “Big Brother” meets “Nurse Jackie,” only Nurse Jackie is a pill-popping CIA agent with bipolar disorder.

References: “24,” life in these United States since 9/11

Sample line: “He’s lying!” — Agent Carrie, after Sgt. Brody aces a polygraph test in which he was asked if he had ever cheated on his wife. And she would know.

Casting call-out: Brody’s best friend and fellow Marine, Mike Faber (Diego Klattenhoff), who stood in as the man of the house while his buddy was in captivity — in more ways than one.

Performance/prospects: With its growing audience and critical acclaim, get ready for another season of white-knuckled viewing in 2012.



Once Upon a Time” | ABC

The premise: Fairy tale characters, including Snow White (Ginnifer Godwin) and the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla), are cast out of their idyll to the fictitious small town of Storybrooke, Maine, where they lose their memories and their supernatural mojo.

The vibe: Complicated storytelling and nostalgia for simpler times.

References: “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color,” “Twin Peaks”

Sample line: “Where are we going?” “Somewhere horrible, absolutely horrible.” — an exchange between Snow White and the Evil Queen, just before the denizens of the world of make-believe are transported to contemporary America

Casting call-out: Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), long-lost biological daughter of Prince Charming and Snow White, who leaves home and moves to Storybrooke at the urging of a mysterious, precocious boy named Henry Mills (Jared Gilmore).

Performance/prospects: With viewers numbering in the 10 million range, it looks like lightning should strike twice for “Once” and fans can expect a second season.



 

“American Horror Story” | FX

The premise: Cheating husband Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott) uproots his wife, Vivien (Connie Britton), and daughter, Violet (Taissa Farmiga), from Boston to live in L.A., where they move into a haunted house that they bought for a song. Suspended disbelief (especially on the great real estate deal part) ensues.

The vibe: Tennessee Williams throws a shower for “Rosemary’s Baby.”

References: “Saw” franchise, “Don’t Look Now,” “The Amityville Horror” (1979 version), “Poltergeist”

Sample line: "Is everybody crazy?” — Ben to Vivien, after a drop-in from a poisonous cupcake-bearing neighbor (see below)

Casting call-out: Neighbor Constance, played to the hilt by Jessica Lange channeling Blanche DuBois.

Performance/prospects: Nearly 3 million viewers per week have bought in to the ghosts and goblins that populate the series, and its fans are rabid. FX is hoping it scares up more of them come fall.





“2 Broke Girls” | CBS


The premise: Working girl Max (Kat Dennings) and newly destitute heiress Caroline (Beth Behrs) forge a friendship and dream of starting a cupcake business while working in a Brooklyn diner. Oh, and they share a tiny apartment with Caroline’s horse, Chestnut.

The vibe: “Two and a Half Broke Girls.” Bawdy and naughty.

References: “Alice,” “The Simple Life”

Sample line: “I forgot you’re Equestrian Barbie. You came with a horse.” — Max to Caroline, after Chestnut pokes his head through the back door of Max’s apartment

Casting call-out: ”Saturday Night Live” original cast member Garrett Morris dispenses free advice as the diner’s cashier, Earl.

Performance/prospects: A huge hit for CBS in terms of viewers and the ages 18-to-49 target demographic. The girls will be back for another season of sass while they scrimp and save for that cupcake start-up.

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— Wes Bausmith

Photo: Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson in "The New Girl." Credit: Greg Gayne/Fox

How did prime-time TV become an adulterer's paradise?

Damian lewis claire danes homeland

Adultery is nothing new on television, but the proliferation of cheating as a plot point is making prime-time TV look like an ad for Ashley Madison, the online dating service for married folks, where the message is, "Life is short. Have an affair."

On "Homeland," the Iraq War hero turned secret terrorist falls into a reckless affair. Central characters on "The Good Wife," "Revenge," "Boss," "Ringer," "Nurse Jackie," "Justified" and even "The Walking Dead" engage in infidelity.

Cynicism about marriage is one of the factors leading to an increased depiction of adultery. "People believe marriages don't work anyway, so seeing affairs on TV kind of serves as a model for how things can and will go bad," said Julie Albright, a sociologist at USC.

But showrunners insisted they don't treat the topic lightly. Liz Brixius, creator of "Nurse Jackie," said of her cheating heroine: "We've never used cheating to be juicy. We use it to show Jackie's living a double life and making terrible decisions."

Brixius and her team had to assure Showtime and producer Lionsgate that Jackie would, indeed, get her comeuppance in the new season this spring. "It was not an easy sell for us to have Jackie continue to skate by without suffering for what she'd done."

There's more on TV adultery in this feature.

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Primetime TV gets in bed with adulterers

'Homeland' sets new series record on Showtime

Homeland_111_2527[1]
The first-season finale of terrorism thriller “Homeland" was the highest-rated finale for a freshman series in Showtime’s history, with 1.71 million viewers for its 10 p.m. airing — and 2.03 million for the night.

The finale — which drew mixed reactions from viewers, judging from readers' comments on some of its recaps — was up 58% from its Oct. 2 premiere, which drew 1.08 million viewers. And it has helped the series elbow its way to being among the network’s elite, ranking as Showtime’s No. 2-rated series behind Dexter, the network said. But it still has a ways to go in usurping the top spot; “Dexter,” which aired its Season 6 finale Sunday, drew 2.23 million viewers at its 9 p.m. slot.

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--Yvonne Villarreal
twitter.com/villarrealy

Photo: Damian Lewis portrays Nicholas "Nick" Brody in a scene from the season finale of the Showtime series. Credit: Kent Smith/Showtime

`Homeland' finale: A critical salute

Homeland

Ever since Showtime’s remarkable new drama “Homeland” began answering its own central questions — yes, former POW Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) was indeed “turned” by the enemy and no, CIA operative Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) is not crazy (well, she is, but she is also brilliant and right) — the show’s biggest mystery was how, and if, it would manage to emerge from its season finale with both its stars intact.

Brody had delivered a stirring speech about the vagaries of courage during a family trip to Gettysburg, where he also picked up his suicide bomber vest, while Carrie, having gone on full bipolar wig-out after almost being blown up herself, was now a spy out in the cold. Even her beloved mentor Saul (Mandy Patinkin) seemed undone by the whiplash turn of events. How on Earth would Brody, and the show, survive its own intent?

I must admit that out of all the scenarios I considered, and I spent an embarrassing amount of time considering them, it never occurred to me that the switch would go on the fritz. There Brody was, following a letter-perfect plan, hustled into lock-down with the vice president, the secretary of State and a bunch of other bigwigs, sweaty and resolute and about to blow them all to smithereens when — click, huh? Click, click — the simple technology failed.

It was a huge and glorious cheat, saved from utter absurdity by some lovely breakdown symbolism — there were no paper towels in the bunker either — and Lewis’ almost supernatural ability to silently project the 715 types of emotion that might rise within a man who, ecstatically prepared to blow himself up, discovers he has been undone by faulty wiring.

Which he fixes, in a bathroom stall, reminding everyone that “Homeland” does share major genealogy with “24” and giving Carrie enough time (at least enough TV time) to race to the Brody home and prompt young Dana (Morgan Saylor) to call her father just as he’s about to pull the now-functioning trigger. Which he can’t do, not with his daughter on the line.

It was totally crazy, of course. Except that it wasn’t, at least not in the alternative universe of “Homeland.” Every big season finale is, by definition, a con, revolving around a big emotional event that the writers hope will both satisfy viewers and leave them hanging.

And from the moment it was revealed that Brody was indeed working for a known terrorist, “Homeland” entered an even more dangerous shell game — this character may be broken by torture or driven by a need to hold America accountable for its sins, but either way he has been, and will be, party to events that kill innocent people. Which makes him a whole new breed of lead character, neither antihero nor villain.

Throughout the season, creators Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa have been able to maintain the show’s fever pitch not so much through plot as through composition. “Homeland” overcomes its histrionics through nothing more or less than a remarkable sense of balance, beginning with its main characters. 

Both are damaged and focused, regretful and resolute, but where Lewis petrifies Brody, turning him into a man of roiling stillness, Danes take Claire to the other end of the emotional universe, rolling her eyes and champing her teeth like a fire-maddened horse. One alone would be ridiculous, the two together are riveting.

The finale stayed true to this particular blend of high drama and humanity. Although the season could have easily ended with the failed bombing scene, it did not. We saw the next day and the next, the repercussions stacking themselves up, the truth refusing to be unveiled in some cheap magician’s flourish because truth is rarely revealed that way.

It comes at us incrementally, and often without our noticing until it is too late.

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Photo: Damian Lewis and Claire Danes in an earlier episode of Showtime's "Homeland." Credit: Kent Smith 

Year in Review: Mary McNamara's top TV of 2011

Game of thrones Emilia Clarke Jason Momoa
For all the shows that premiered this fall, it was not a stellar season. Fortunately, the television landscape has many datelines, so, taken overall, it was a very good year. And here’s why:

“Game of Thrones”: HBO proved that nothing beats epic fantasy when it’s rooted in good story and great performances, which this show most definitely is. No doubt the dragons will be fun too, but with Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion and Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys, even dragons are just icing.

Margo Martindale on “Justified”: FX’s lyrical, Elmore Leonard-inspired drama about a U.S. marshal returning to his hometown to clean up a few messes took on epic and revolutionary proportions when creator Graham Yost introduced Mags Bennett (Martindale), a back-country mob boss the likes of which have never been seen. Martindale rightly won an Emmy for her astonishing performance, but it would have been better if she had won another season — for reasons that confound me, Yost chose to kill off Mags in the season finale. I may forgive him; I haven’t yet.

“Downton Abbey”: Julian Fellowes crossed “Upstairs, Downstairs” with his own “Gosford Park” to herald a new and glorious age of PBS period drama.

“Homeland”: Wrangling Claire Danes and Damian Lewis as two of the most complicated characters on television (not to mention the ever-mercurial Mandy Patinkin), Howard Gordon and some of his “24” team turned an Israeli hit into the first show to successfully mirror midwar America.

Al Jazeera: During this year’s rebellions in the Mideast, Americans found themselves glued to their laptops to watch on-the-ground coverage from Al Jazeera English. For a time, many lobbied to find it a permanent American home, which would be a very good thing.

Ted Danson in “Bored to Death” and “CSI”: It’s difficult to imagine another actor who could juggle the quaint-ish HBO comedy and the CBS behemoth at all, let alone with such agility. I am not a huge fan of either show but watch both for the pleasure of seeing a man so utterly in control of his craft.

AMC and “The Killing”: Veena Sud’s murder-mystery stumbled as it soared, and outraged fans and nonfans alike with its non-finale season finale. But around here, we give points for trying, and AMC continues to do just that, accepting its failures (“The Prisoner”) as down payment for its successes (“The Walking Dead”). Sud took on TV’s most popular and predictable genre and, for better and worse, made it her own. Also Mireille Enos is now officially a star, and that has to count for something.

“Parks and Recreation” and “The Middle”: Two wonderful shows that have been living in the shadows of “The Office” and “Modern Family,” respectively, finally seem to be getting the recognition they deserve.

“Louie”: Louie C.K.’s angsty, semiautobiographical FX comedy defines adult comedy — outrageous, sentimental, big-hearted, brave and true. And that duckling-in-Afghanistan episode just about killed me.

The not-so-best

Having recently endured, through circumstances beyond my control, back-to-back viewings of “Jack and Jill” and the latest “Twilight” movie, I cannot bring myself to use the word “worst” in connection with anything I have seen on television this year. But here are a few of the biggest disappointments (none of which, I am happy to add, involved Al Pacino).

OWN: I’m not certain what I expected from the new Oprah Winfrey Network, but I know it was more than a bunch of whiny reality series. When Rosie O’Donnell is your biggest draw, things are not up to the Oprah standard.

And the cable networks’ coverage of the jumpy Dow. Look, here we all are, alive and well, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse nowhere in sight, despite all the rumors to the contrary during that horrible week in August when the Dow bounced around and all the business pundits seriously lost their minds. Did none of you ever hear about Orson Welles and his “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast?

For more, here's an essay on TV in 2011.

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— Mary McNamara

Photo: Jason Momoa and Emilia Clarke in "Game of Thrones. Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO.

Golden Globes: 'Homeland' creators discuss the show's nominations

'Homeland' creators discuss the show's Golden Globe nominations

On the brink of its first-season finale, which will air Sunday, Showtime's "Homeland" scored three Golden Globe nominations.

The show might not have made the cut in the SAG Awards, getting snubbed when nominees were announced Wednesday, but good news came soon enough for the show's co-creators, Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa.  

"This morning was a lot better than yesterday," Gansa said. "For a first-year show, this is huge. The idea that it might give more exposure and get people to watch while the season is still happening -- or catch up on it -- is great."

The show scored a nomination in the drama category, along with nominations for its leads, Claire Danes and Damian Lewis. It's one of many cable shows dominating the nominations -- and Gordon and Gansa are happy with that.

"You know, there was a time when it was going to be bought by Fox or NBC," Gordon said. "'Does it have to be a CIA agent?'-- that was the running joke. We're glad it ended up on Showtime. The show couldn't reach its potential any other way."

It certainly has in the eyes of critics, who have praised the series, about a CIA officer (Danes) and her obsession with proving a former Marine POW (Lewis) has been turned into a terrorist, as one of the season's best new drama. With the season finale just around the corner, Gordon and Gansa were coy about where the story line will go from here.

"We're just starting to talk about that now," Gansa said. "We broached the subject of the second season at dinner the other night. But we can't tell you! You have to watch Sunday first. It's too tender."

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 -- Yvonne Villarreal
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Photo: Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in a scene from "Homeland." Credit: Showtime

SAG Awards: TV surprises and snubs

Melissa McCarthy of "Mike and Molly" and Showtime drama "Homeland" were surprisingly among the missing when the nominees for the 18th Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced
Melissa McCarthy of "Mike and Molly" and the Showtime drama "Homeland" were among the huge raves of the TV season, but both were surprisingly among the missing when the TV nominees for the 18th Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced.

McCarthy scored an upset in September when she won an Emmy for lead actress in a comedy series for the CBS sitcom, but on Wednesday she was left out of SAG Awards' outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series category (though she did get a movie nod for "Bridesmaids"). Those nominees include Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara ("Modern Family"), Edie Falco ("Nurse Jackie"), Tina Fey ("30 Rock") and Betty White ("Hot in Cleveland").

Other prominent actresses that were omitted included Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation"), Zooey Deschanel ("New Girl"), Laura Linney ("The Big C"), Laura Dern ("Enlightened") and Christina Applegate ("Up All Night").

 PHOTOS: SAG Awards top nominees

Meanwhile, Ed O'Neill and Jesse Tyler Ferguson were the only adult cast members of "Modern Family" who did not score an individual SAG nod. In addition to Bowen's and Vergara's nods, Eric Stonestreet and Ty Burrell were nominated for outstanding performance by a male actor in a comedy series. O'Neill and Ferguson were included in the comedy ensemble nomination for "Modern Family."

Also missing among major actors in the comedy categories were Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory"), Neil Patrick Harris ("How I Met Your Mother") and Louis C.K. ("Louie").

"Homeland," starring Claire Danes ("Temple Grandin"), Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin, has been one of the critical highlights of the season, but the show and its performers were left out of the nominations.

A major surprise in the drama category was the nomination of Patrick J. Adams in USA's "Suits." Lewis beat out more well-known performers, such as Hugh Laurie ("House") and Kelsey Grammer ("Boss").

Who do you think should have been nominated? Vote in the poll below or let us know in the comments.

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-- Greg Braxton 

Photo: Damien Lewis and Claire Danes in "Homeland." Credit: Kent Smith / Showtime

Showtime renews 'Homeland' for second season

Showtime renews 'Homeland'

"Homeland," Showtime's acclaimed espionage drama starring Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, has been renewed for a second season.

Showtime President of Entertainment David Nevins announced the pickup a few days after the premiere of the most recent episode, which scored the drama's biggest audience to date. "Homeland," which drew 4.4 million viewers in its first week, is the network's highest-rated freshman drama ever.

" 'Homeland' is just getting started," said Nevins. "Clearly, the overall audience growth from Week 1 to Week 4 demonstrated that this show is hitting a nerve in the cultural zeitgeist."

The series features Danes as a troubled CIA agent who is convinced that a U.S. soldier (Lewis) who is being hailed as a hero after eight years in captivity could be planning a terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

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 Photo: Damian Lewis as rescued soldier Nicholas Brody in "Homeland." Credit: Showtime

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