Homeland redux

 I realize that I’m swimming against the current here, but I was terribly disappointed in the last few episodes of the second series of Homeland — particularly the last episode, which I found nearly unwatchable.  At its best, the show tried to portray our anti-terrorism efforts as morally complex.  Some of the “bad guys” are almost human, and some of “our guys” clearly aren’t. But somewhere around the middle of the second season, all these complexities dropped away. The plot crossed over from standard TV borderline implausibility to the comically nonsensical. Suddenly, characters who actions have been driven by consistent moral principles (if not a respect for authority) start making shoot-from-the-hip decisions that follow no principles at all.  And the “bad guys” (on both sides) are reduced to one-note factories of evil. Worst of all, the show seems to have picked up the “reverse Casablanca” virus — the problems of the whole world don’t amount to a hill of beans compared to the problems of two little people.

I have no idea what Season 3 will be like, or even if I’ll watch it.  But it’s frustrating to watch a show with a certain amount of potential deteriorate to little better than a high-concept rerun of 24.

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The Hour

Those of you with BBC America on basic cable have access to this entertaining program about the early days of the BBC news hour, in the late 1950s.  It’s Mad Men without the glamor, or Newsroom without the snark.  It features Dominic West (better known to US audiences as McNulty on The Wire, here almost unrecognizable as a too-sure-of-himself newscaster), Romola Garai and Ben Whishaw (British actors who deserve to be better known here). The British may be a little too proud of their alleged devotion to free speech (see Rushdie, S.), but the program is well written and presents interesting issues in a thoughtful manner. The second season is currently running, but the episodes are independent and you can enjoy them even if you didn’t catch the show last year.