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The Showtime Tv show, "Homeland" was developed by the showrunners Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa as the pair decided to bring a new spy thriller to the U.S. cable channel. The show is based on the Israeli TV action-drama, "Hatufim" and was drawn from the work already completed by the writers on the Fox thriller, "24."
"Homeland," tells the story of CIA agent, Carrie Matheson and her belief that a returned U.S. prisoner of war who was held in Iraq by Al-Qaeda for eight years. The pilot of the show begins with Carrie in Iraq where she is looking for an informant but finds herself dragged away by local people. The informant whispers to carry information we do not hear, but she later reveals explained an American prisoner in Iraq had been turned to become an Al-Qaeda operative.
In the present day, Carrie has been reassigned to the U.S. when she hears news of Marine Sargeant Nicholas Brody being released by Al-Qaeda after eight years of imprisonment. Carrie immediately begins to suspect Brody of being the turned member of the U.S. forces she was told about by her informant. Carrie watches Brody closely and spends her time looking for clues about his possible actions which could be seen as a problem for the U.S. As Brody speaks at a press conference upon his return to Washington D.C., Carrie notices he is tapping his fingers in a rhythmic way which she believes is his way of sending a coded message to the operatives in a U.S.-based sleeper cell.
Not only does the show focus on the possible links of Brody to a sleeper cell, but he also spends much of his time trying to rebuild his life after being away from his family for almost a decade. Brody's wife has already begun a new life with his best friend and fellow marine, Mike Faber and his daughters are torn between being happy to see their father and the problems his return poses.
Carrie is also hiding a number of secrets which she knows will cause her to be fired from her role with the CIA if she is discovered. Carrie is facing a race against time over the course of her life which includes the issue of her own secrets being constantly on the verge of being uncovered. As her investigation into Brody continues, the clues appear to back up the claims of Carrie that he is part of a wider sleeper cell. Brody appears to have his eyes on embarking on a career in politics as he spends his time monitoring the situation on Capitol Hill.
As Carrie begins to believe she is finding gaps in the story and actions of Brody, he confounds her beliefs by acting in a way you would expect from a person who has been in captivity for almost a decade. Brody is overheard saying he has a meeting which Carrie believes will be with his associate in Al-Qaeda but brody is actually meeting the wife of a deceased member of the U.S. Armed Forces who Brody was ordered to bury by his captors in Iraq.
The motives and actions of Carrie remain unknown with many of the acts she undertakes showing her need to achieve something in her career without taking into account the consequences for those she is handling. The net around brody appears to tighten as a new informant brings details of a link between himself, Al-Qaeda, and a Saudi Arabian Prince to Carrie.
"Homeland" was developed by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa from a similar show produced in Israel. Alex Gansa had come to the attention of various networks across the U.S. for the work he completed as a writer on the science fiction mystery show, "The X-Files" and for taking on the role of supervising producer on the teen drama, "Dawson's Creek." Gansa came together with Howard Gordon for the first time on the set of the Keifer Sutherland spy thriller, "24" which saw them both take on writing roles. By the final two seasons of the original run of the Fox show, Gordon had been promoted to the role of showrunner which he remained from 2006 until the final season.
Casting for "Homeland" led the creators to look at a series of actors to take on the role of Carrie, with Claire Danes the first actor cast in the main role. Danes had become famous in her role as Angela in the short-lived teen drama, "My So-Called Life." Danes had won a Golden Globe and Emmy for her role in the drama before switching her attention to feature films with roles in "Little Women" and her breakout performance in "Romeo and Juliet" directed by Baz Luhmann.
British actor, Damien Lewis takes on the role of Nicholas Brody and continues a long history of playing roles with an American accent. Lewis sprang to fame when he was cast by Steven Spielberg in "Band of Brothers" which came after he was seen by Spielberg in production of "Hamlet" on the London stage. After completing work on the Showtime-produced "Homeland", Lewis moved on to become the star of the HBO series, "Billions."
Showrunners Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa hoped the series would feel authentic in its locations of Virginia and Washington D.C. by filming in the nearby state of North Carlina. Over the course of the production, "Homeland" filmed in a series of locations, including Israel which stood in for many locations across the Middle East. The production has used a small group of directors to produce its shows including the feature film director Michael Cuesta who worked on the 2001 movie, "LIE."
"Homeland" has been broadcast by the Showtime subscription service in the U.S. with the show distributed by 20th Century. The partnership between Amazon and Showtime means the show will be streamed on the Amazon Prime platform in North America with the show finding a wide audience in Ireland and the U.K. where it is broadcast by RTE and Channel 4 respectively.
The show has received almost universal acclaim, particularly for its first seasons before many critics stated it went into a decline around season six. The first season of "Homeland" received a 92 percent rating on Metacritic and the prestigious TV Guide named the show the best of 2011 as its mystery over Nicholas Brody took many twists and turns. The success of the first season was guaranteed by the many top grades given to the pilot with the performances of Danes and Lewis singled out for praise by critics from "The Washington Post" and "Entertainment Weekly." The pilot episode received more than one million viewers which were the highest series premiere in the previous eight years of the cable network.
The opening title sequence of "Homeland" includes a number of photos of the character of Carrie as she is growing up with many showing the real-life childhood of actress Claire Danes. The actors in the show have won many awards for their performances, including Damien Lewis who won his role without the need to audition. Despite the fact the actors have become forever linked with "Homeland" they were not the first choice for either the role of Carrie or Brody. Instead, Halle Berry was originally attached to the role of Carrie and Ryan Philippe was tapped for the role of Brody. The realism of the first seasons of "Homeland" made the show a favorite of former U.S. President Barrack Obama who ordered the boxset for himself while still living and working in The White House. The pilot of "Homeland" was directed by series regular Michael Cuesta, but Oscar-winner Ben Affleck had agreed to direct until family issues forced him to step aside.