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Homeland: The Complete Sixth Season (2017)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 2/6/2018

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/13/2018

Television network executives and showrunners would love to have a crystal ball which would tell them how long their shows were going to be on the air. But, that is often impossible to predict. Some programs run for years, while others only have one episode make it onto TV. (And some never get past the pilot stage.) We can also ask how long a series should run. When Homeland burst onto the scene in 2011, it immediately gained attention for its timely storyline and garnered instant praise. However, once that initial plot was completed, should the show have bowed out? Were there any stories left to tell? We'll ask that as we look at Season Six of the show.

As Season Six of Homeland opens, we see that former CIA operative Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) is attempting to start her life anew. She now lives in New York City with her young daughter, Franny (Claire & McKenna Keane). Carrie works with attorney Reda Hashem (Patrick Sabongui) as part of a non-profit which assists individuals who have been accused of terrorism. When a young Muslim man (J. Mallory McCree) is arrested as a potential threat, Carrie and Reda leap into action to help him. Meanwhile, Carrie is also serving as an unofficial advisor to President-Elect Elizabeth Keane (Elizabeth Marvel). What Carrie doesn't know is that there are forces acting upon her who don't approve of any of her activities and who will use her position as an advocate to blow open a terrorist conspiracy plot which will threaten not only the career, but the life of the President-Elect. Carrie must join forces with her old mentor Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) in order to stop this.

As noted above, Homeland game out of the gate hot, as it was an instantly buzz-worthy show which took home several Emmys and Golden Globes during its first season. That inaugural outing introduced the idea of a soldier just home from the front, who had the potential to be a sleeper spy and the CIA agent who at first investigated him, and then fell in love with him. I never hid the fact that I was not a fan of Homeland early on, as the story simply didn't grab me and I found Carrie annoying. And, once the Brody plotline was done, I felt that the show had long-since worn out its welcome. And yet, it continued, placing Carrie in one uninteresting and repetitive storyline after another, where she found herself getting into the same old problems. Why wouldn't someone put this show out of its misery?

Therefore, it's incredibly refreshing that Season Six of Homeland makes some changes. Placing the action in New York City may not be original for a TV show, but it's a nice change of scenery for this series. Carrie's domestic situation is (relatively) peaceful and, for once, she doesn't have a needlessly complicated romance to get in the way. (No seriously, Carrie is single for the entire season!) In the earlier seasons, the drama felt like it was taken from the headlines, but it also felt very distant at times. This season feel very, very modern, as it looks at female presidential candidates, artificial manipulation of on-line news, domestic terrorism, racism, and there's even a version of "Info Wars". In many ways, this season feels more current than the others. There's also a nice storyline involving Carrie's old partner Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend), who is attempting to deal with the results of a stroke and PTSD. His plot is arguably the most compelling of the season.

While the overall direction of Homeland may feel different, the show doesn't feel very original. Why? Because it comes across as very similar to House of Cards. The scenes involving the debates between Keane, Berenson, and Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) felt as if they were lifted directly from an unaired episode of that now Kevin Spacey-less show. The double-cross and back-stabbing seen in this season may not be new to the series, but the way in which it involved the President-Elect and directly effected national policy had a very House of Cards feel to it. Also, I felt that this season got lazy when it fell back onto the old "Carrie is bipolar" story. This may have been quasi-original when the show first started, but it's been played out and the way in which it's brought up in this season is almost laughable.

In case you missed it earlier, I made the bizarre admission that I watched the first five seasons of Homeland, but didn't really enjoy them. Season Six is a true step forward for the show in my opinion. Yes, some of the old problems are there, and yes, it feels as if it's stealing from another show, but for once, I found myself hooked and I actually looked forward to clicking the "Next Episode" button. The season ended with an interesting cliffhanger, so I'm now looking forward to whatever happens next. I just hope that Homeland can keep moving in the right direction.

Homeland: The Complete Sixth Season has just the right amount of Uncle T-Bag on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The three Disc set contains all twelve episodes of the show's sixth 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 20 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The depth works well and the level of detail is impressive. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The subwoofer effects during the explosions work well, as do the surround effects during the riot scenes. There are also several moments in which the front and rear effects help to highlight sounds coming from off-screen.

The Homeland: The Complete Sixth Season Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras, all of which are found on Disc 3. "On Location: New York City" (2 minutes) has the actors and creative team comment on what it was like to shoot in NYC and how the city's personality was brought into the series. We simply get a lot of random thoughts on the storylines and locations from this latest series of episodes in "About Season 6" (3 minutes). "The Paley Center for Media Q&A with Cast and Creative Team from Paleyfest NY 2016" (56 minutes) is exactly what it sounds like, as we have the representatives from the show talking about many facets of the show.

Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long