We’ve got a backlog of programs after our trip to Hawaii. We’ve now seen both episodes of the new Showtime series, Homeland, and it’s a good one, driven by the two leads, Claire Danes and Damian Lewis. Lewis disappears in his role, as he does so often. Danes, meanwhile, gives the appearance of having come a long way since the days of Angela Chase, but I’m not so sure the distance is that great. She’s pretty in a more grown-up way, and where Angela was one of the great representations of teenage life, Carrie Mathison in Homeland is an adult. But she’s an adult with problems; it’s not impossible that Angela Chase would have dyed her hair blond and grown into an irritable and obsessed woman. Danes/Mathison makes for an interesting comparison with Maria Bello as Jane Timoney on Prime Suspect: Timoney has more experience at being treated poorly, and has developed a much stronger sense of how to protect herself. Bello is already fascinating in a part that no one thought could ever be played, after Helen Mirren set the standard. But Danes is feeling her way; Carrie Mathison is not as strong, not yet at least, and so while one character on Prime Suspect tells Timoney that she has the worst personality of anyone in the world, it’s Mathison that is hard to watch. You never know when Danes is going to fall apart. It’s as fascinating in its way as Bello’s performance.
Beyond that, Prime Suspect is a generic procedural that will rise or fall on the back of Bello, while Homeland has a much stronger base in its story of national security in the 2010s. Grade after two episodes: A-.