Unlike a number of Showtime series, "Homeland" does not wear its quirk on its sleeve.
Bowing on Oct. 2 after the season-six premiere of Dexter, "Homeland" presents a complex drama – with a multidimensional character for star Claire Danes, to be sure – but in measured tones.
Tension, rather than craziness, is its calling card. My first impression of it, based on a not-for-review copy of the pilot, was that it was a more accessible version of AMC's "Rubicon," another post-9/11 drama (that I quite enjoyed, for what it's worth) filled with intrigue but even more mental gymnastics.
Time and again, conversation about "Homeland" at the Television Critics Assn. press tour today (an early morning session that allowed Danes, Damian Lewis and Morena Baccarin to fly back to Charlotte, N.C. to resume shooting the show) returned to how television was a superior medium to tell this kind of story.
"I'd say one thing movies can't do is offer stories like this the breadth and complexity they deserve," exec producer Alex Gansa said, adding that the heart of the series was "psychological."
Danes, coming off Emmy and Golden Globe victories for HBO's "Temple Grandin," didn't hesitate to stay on the smallscreen.
"I have not read a character this compelling in a movie script in quite some time," said Danes. "I just gravitate to the most interesting work, and this was impossible to ignore.
"She is incredibly bright at times – dangerously bright – and formidable and focused, even compulsive, even myopic. She is also very sensitive and vulnerable. That juxtaposition is interesting."
The panel itself wasn't without its humor. Lewis, who plays an American soldier tortured by Al Qaeda (and suspected by Danes' character of being a "Manchurian Candidate"-like turncoat) said he didn't mind filming his harshest scenes.
"I have a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old – it's like a morning," Lewis joked. "I oddly enjoy it. I was being peed on a few mornings ago."
Danes, meanwhile, was asked if it was going to be weird to be launching this gritty drama while beauty ads featuring her played on television.
"I'm going to trap those terrorists with my very long lashes," Danes said with a laugh.