Sep 162014
 
Title: Homeland: Season 3
Genre: Drama
Starring: Claire Danes,
Damian Lewis,
Mandy Patinkin,
Rupert Friend.
Certificate: US: Not Rated
UK: 15
Picture: 16:9 (1.78:1)
Audio Format: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English
Runtime: 12 Episodes,
10 Hours 16 mins
Extras: Featurettes,
Audio commentaries,
Deleted Scenes.
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Release Date: USA: September 9 2014
UK: September 8 2014
See If You Like: The Shield,
House of Cards

Disclaimer: Given the constant twists and turns of Homeland and the path the plot takes, this review will contain spoilers from season 1 & 2 (for scene-setting purposes), though season 3 spoilers will be largely avoided. If you haven’t seen the first two seasons skip ahead to the Picture section of this review, and simply know there’s a reason Homeland is a multi-award-winning show and one of the best US network TV shows airing right now; start watching, from the beginning, and you won’t be disappointed.

Series:

Set several months after the dramatic events of the season 2 finale, Homeland Season 3 begins with the entire CIA under fire from a senate committee investigating the bombing of Langley, the events which preceded it, and the actions of all agents involved. Ex-marine, turned Congressman, turned terrorist, turned CIA double agent, Nicolas Brody (Damian Lewis, Band of Brothers) remains on the run as the entire world suspects it was he who planted the bomb which killed over 200 CIA agents, yet CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes, My So Called Life) remains convinced of his innocence, and needs to persuade the world he’s innocent, whilst also catching the real men behind the bombing, and dodging the advances of the Senate Committee, and her fellow CIA agents; who all see her as the easy scapegoat for the tragedy, given her history with Brody, and mental health issues.

Interim CIA director Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin, Criminal Minds) is more central than ever this season and constantly working his own angles with eyes on those behind the bombing, though without spoiling, it’s impossible to go into much more detail; as there are so many plot twists and turns, unexpected events, and shocks during the course of the season that what you think is happening at one moment can get completely flipped around at any second; a testament to the terrific writing team behind Homeland.

Homeland‘s writing is so good, you won’t see the majority of the plot twists coming and need to be prepared to take residence on the edge  of your seat for the entire thrilling third season; which is not only brilliant and shocking in its revelations, but has a fantastic ability to keep going well past the point where many other shows would have fallen, stretched their premise to breaking point, or jumped the shark. While it may be a stretch to continue some plot strains, Homeland never panders to audiences, and even expertly drops some major characters when they’re no longer important to the main story (as evident with Brody’s absence from the first few episodes); meaning it not only stays interesting and relevant throughout, but can continue at a breakneck pace which has to be seen to be believed.

Yet while the writing team spin an engaging story, it’s the actors’ performances which really drag you in to Homeland. Possibly the finest actress working today, Claire Danes is breathtaking as CIA Agent Carrie Mathison, and the range of emotions she manages to convey as the headstrong, determined, and sometimes unhinged hero of the series is simply a wonder to watch (if you’ve see seasons one and two you’ll already be aware of just how good, and truly award worthy she is; and she manages to maintain the same impossible level of perfection once again in season 3), and while he’s often cold, distant, and difficult to work out Damian Lewis also delivers everything his character demands of him without question (constantly keeping you guessing about his true intentions, and what he’s going to do), even if the chemistry between the pair doesn’t always seem as strong as it possibly should be.

Mandy Patinkin is also excellent as the calculating CIA veteran Saul Berenson and thankfully gets to show his darker side (and have a couple of minor meltdowns, which are always highly enjoyable and undeniably gripping) during the course of the season, whilst Rupert Friend (Starred Up) returns as CIA Agent Peter Quinn and actually becomes a lot more rounded and likeable this time out.

There’s very little to gripe about with Homeland, seen as how the acting is first rate, the writing is brilliant, and the direction, soundtrack, locations, and set-dressing are all flawless. It does sometimes feel as if this season moves a little too fast; covering huge swathes of ground in next to no-time-at-all (flying past the speed of the first two seasons); though it’s needed to wrap-up what’s been a thrilling journey, and an excellent tale, which feels like it comes to an effective, well-earned conclusion at the end of season 3 (though for every panicked fan craving more, there will be a Homeland Season 4).

Epidode 306

Picture:

In terms of video quality, Homeland Season 3 is another solid release from Fox (not dissimilar to the recent Sons of Anarchy Season Six Blu-ray release); continuing to bring the stellar quality of the first two seasons’ releases; being both sharp, stable, and well defined throughout. Fine detail is strong, contrast is is both excellent and consistently stable, and fleshtones are always natural. There are one or two instances of aliasing, a little touch of noise, and some compression artifacts visible to those willing to hunt for them (and despite the strengths of the release the Blu-ray does look a good deal better), but overall the picture quality on the Homeland Season 3 DVD is excellent.

Audio:

As far as sound quality goes, Homeland once agains excels, as whilst this may not be the most action-packed mix (most of the action rests in the dialogue) the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix accompanying the DVD brings numerous subtle, and always appropriate, ambient effects, the odd bit of appropriate and weighty bass when needed, and remains consistently well levelled throughout; as evident when delivering the always clear, concise, intelligible, and well anchored dialogue on which the series rests.

Extras:

As well as a worthwhile audio commentary for the season finale, there are a number of deleted scenes (some more worthwhile than others), and a selection of featurettes covering both filming the finale in Morocco (certainly not to be watched before completing the season, as it contains major spoilers), and recreating the Tower of David  (an interesting short exploring the recreation, and the more prolific locations used/recreated this season); making for a decent, though not exhaustive, selection of special features which tick the boxes needed, and give fans a little bit extra, but are far from extensive.

The Bottom Line:

Picture and sound quality are both excellent, and there are a range of special features which delve into the making of the show and are sure to please any fan (even if they could’ve been a little more extensive), but what really makes the new Homeland Season 3 Boxset worthwhile is the show itself; a fantastically written, brilliantly acted show which will keep you guessing, and on the edge of your seat, for the full 10 hour runtime. You won’t find a series as well acted as Homeland (Claire Danes has seen to that), and season 3 manages to fully maintain the level of quality built up in the first two seasons; meaning this is not only a supremely watchable, utterly thrilling TV series, but that the Homeland Season 3 Boxset is a true must own.

Matt Wheeldon@TheMattWheeldon.

Homeland Season 3 DVD Ratings