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Homeland: The Complete Fifth Season (2015)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/10/2017

All Ratings out of





Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/27/2017

If you look back at the history of television, there have been plenty of long-running programs. Series in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s would run for decades and no one would bat an eye. (This may have been due to the fact that there were only three networks and having a series which went on for years simply seemed like the right thing to do.) Today, however, it seemingly becomes very clear when a show has hung around for too long. But, we may ask, what would inspire a company to cancel a show if it is still doing well in the ratings. At what point does quality trump commerce. The Showtime series Homeland capped off its third season with an event which brought the show's main story arc to a close and would have been a great series finale. And yet, here we are, checking out Season Five. Is it time for Homeland to end?

The fifth season of Homeland begins some time following the conclusion of Season Four. After years of being with the CIA, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) has left the agency and she is now living in Berlin with her daughter. She is the head of security for the During Foundation, and she's found romance with Jonas (Alexander Fehling). She's tried to leave her stressful life behind, but it's not easy when her boss, Otto During (Sebastian Koch), wants to travel to warzones. Meanwhile, a pair of hacks infiltrate the CIA, download thousands of documents, and leak them to the press. This leak brings Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) to Berlin to investigate. At the same time, Carrie's former partner, Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend), has become a sort of freelance assassin, receiving kill orders from Saul. Despite her best efforts to be away from the CIA, having her old colleagues in the area leads Carrie back into the sort of danger which she thought she'd left behind.

I hate to use the term "Jump the Shark", but one could very easily argue that Homeland did just this when Brody died at the end of Season Three. The series' raison d'etre was Carrie's investigation of and obsession with Brody, see when he perished, the show should have as well. But, someone had the bright idea that Carrie's adventures could continue, and thus we've gotten Seasons Four and Five. Season Four was an overly-talk jumble which took way too long to set up its main story, and Season Five is no different. The first few episodes are seemingly nothing but talking, and the story never gels. This season hits the ground running, never bothering to explain how Carrie got to Berlin or secured her new job or how she got involved with Jonas (Yes, I know that they work together). Just like Season Four, it takes far too long for something truly interesting to happen. Now, to the show's credit, once things start moving, the season becomes a bit more appetizing, but only because of the structure in which episodes end with key cliffhangers and you feel compelled to at least start the next one.

Homeland has always attempted to remain timely and Season Five is no exception. The stealing of the CIA files aligns perfectly with the hacking scandals which have rocked the world as of late, and the leaking of the documents to the press reminds us of Edward Snowden. Despite the fact that this season is set in Berlin, we still get plenty of politics involving the Middle East. These episodes ran in late 2015, but the storylines involving Syria feel fresh. But, this brings us to one of the problems with Homeland. This could easily be an entertaining story about spies. But, the show's insistence in ripping stories from the headlines often makes it get in its own way. The writers are so busy being topical that they forget about the basic tenets of pacing, suspense and plotting.

I've never hidden the fact that I'm not a fan of Homeland, and to me, the show continues to get worse. As it becomes more and more focused on political drama, it gets more and more boring. I thought that Season One was way overhyped, but at least it had some suspense. It feels like all we get now is more and more dialogue scenes. All that this does is lends more credence to the fact that Claire Danes is not a very good actress. The more talking which she's asked to do, the more we realize that her idea of acting is simply shaking her head as she speaks. In today's crazy world, it seems that it would easy to make a show about the ever-changing world of espionage and intelligence, but Homeland continues to prove that it is not.

Homeland: The Complete Fifth Season should have shed more light on the Chickenberg restaurant on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The three disc set contains all twelve episodes of the show's fifth season. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 22 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is acceptable, and the depth looks nice in the street scenes. This rivals HD broadcast quality. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The few explosions provide some very mild subwoofer effects, and the action sequences wake up the surround sound channels. The scenes in crowded streets inspire the front channels to show off noises coming from off-screen.

The Homeland: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray Disc contains only a few extras and they are all found on Disc 3. "The Evolution of Carrie Mathison" (11 minutes) explores who the character is, what motivates her, and, as the title implies, looks at how she has changed as the show has gone along. Through interviews with Danes and the showrunners, we see how Carrie has been shaped. "Homeland in Berlin: Beyond the Wall" (10 minutes) opens by explaining how the writing of the show is shaped by real-world events and then moves into the location shooting in Berlin.

Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long