Greg Dixon 's Opinion

Greg Dixon is deputy editor of Canvas.

Greg Dixon: Homeland nothing to write home about

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Post 9/11 metaphor: The two aggravating stars of Homeland, Claire Danes (Carrie Mathison) and Damian Lewis (Nicholas Brody). Photo / Supplied
Post 9/11 metaphor: The two aggravating stars of Homeland, Claire Danes (Carrie Mathison) and Damian Lewis (Nicholas Brody). Photo / Supplied

I am going to let you in on a secret. But first you must promise to sit down. I don't want you falling over and doing yourself an injury, so kindly take a pew before you read on.

Sitting? Good. Here we go then: awards, gongs, prizes, honours, decorations, accolades ... whatever you want to call them, well, they mean nothing.

Actually I'm wrong. They're worth less than nothing, because what they really are is an elaborate marketing exercise in disguise, they're advertising in drag.

So if you read or hear or watch something that says so-and-so or such-and-such won an annual industry gong for this-that-or-the-other, ignore it because such awards are as significant as a pile of horse muck.

Don't believe me? Well, keep sitting while you take a good, long look at Homeland (TV3, Mondays, 8.35pm), the Emmy Award-winning drama that began screening again last week.

It cleaned up, it stole the show, it mopped the floorboards with its competition at the Emmys. And yet it must be one of the most annoying shows I can remember watching. It's like having a full body rash.

The principal point of irritation, an irritation bordering on infuriation, is Claire Danes who plays Carrie Mathison, a CIA agent who at the start of this season is living with her sister and father after being tossed out of the agency at the end of first series.

Carrie is, well, nuts. We know this because in the first season Danes went about establishing Carrie's mental illness with what I can only describe as insane levels of overacting.

Every scene featured the same twitching, face-pulling, hair-flicking, wildly smirking over-the-top performance from Danes as she made damn sure even the dimmest, most chowderheaded viewer was alert to the terrible, terrible inner turmoil Carrie is living with.

It was an awful performance, so naturally Danes won the Emmy for outstanding lead actress two weeks ago.

Then there is Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a marine who was captured and held in prison by Al-Qaeda for eight years. The first series of Homeland turned on whether he was or wasn't a terrorist, whether or not he had been turned by terrorist leader Abu Nazir while in captivity.

Which is a pretty good set-up for a thriller, except that Brody must be the most half-hearted terrorist imaginable - and he's played with such passivity by Lewis that we really have no idea of the terrible, terrible inner turmoil Brody must be living with, what with having sold out his country and family and all.

Actually, the only time Brody sounds a little bit scary and committed to the destruction of the Great Satan is when he's praying to Allah (he converted while in captivity) - though this is mainly because his Arabic sounds exactly like Klingon.

And then there is Saul, Carrie's (former) CIA mentor and Yoda figure. Actually that's not quite right. It's more that if Carrie is Frodo and her quest is to stop Al-Qaeda getting the one ring to rule them all, Saul is bleeding Gandalf.

And finally there is the story. The plotting, which runs at breakneck speed, is gossamer, an extremely fragile construction that threatens to explode at any moment due to extreme levels of implausibility.

Did I say it was irritating?

But yet in the States and elsewhere, Homeland has been talked up as the best post-9/11 drama yet. I disagree. Homeland is actually TV's best post-9/11 metaphor yet, where Carrie is America and America is a mad, paranoid, overacting blonde who - despite everyone around her telling her she's a mad, paranoid, overacting blonde - just knows the world is out to get her.

* Do you agree? What do you think of Homeland? Post your comments below.

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

Greg Dixon

Greg Dixon is deputy editor of Canvas.

It has been said the only qualities essential for real success in journalism are a rat-like cunning, a plausible manner and a little literary ability. Despite having none of these things, Canvas deputy editor Greg Dixon has spent more than 20 years working as a journalist for the New Zealand Herald and North & South and Metro magazines. Although it has been rumoured that he embarked on his journalism career as the result of a lost bet, the truth is that although he was obsessed by the boy reporter Tintin as a child, he originally intended to be an accountant. Instead, after a long but at times spectacularly bad stint at university involving two different institutions, a year as a studio radio programme director and a still uncompleted degree, he fell into journalism, a decision his mother has only recently come to terms with. A graduate of the Auckland Institute of Technology (now AUT) journalism school, he was hired by the Herald on graduation in 1992 and spent the next eight years demonstrating little talent for daily news, some for television reviewing and a passable aptitude for long-form feature writing. Before returning to the Herald in 2008 to take up his present role, he spent three years as a freelance, three as a senior feature writer at Metro and one as a staff writer at North & South. As deputy editor of Canvas, his main responsibility is applauding the decisions of the editor, Michele Crawshaw. However he prefers to spend his time interviewing interesting people -- a career highlight was a confusing 15-minute phone interview with a stoned Anna Nicole Smith -- and pretending to understand what they're going on about. He has won awards for his writing and editing, but would have preferred a pay rise.

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