So I've had a chance to see the pilots for Homeland and American Horror Story. Both were pretty good. Both also clearly bear the seeds of badness within them. I'm curious to see how long Homeland can go without moving into the implausible excesses of 24, and how long American Horror Story can go before it a) kills everyone b) crosses over with Supernatural or c) just makes us tired of all its freaky shit.
American Horror Story: I liked the creepy teen boyfriend, the creepy busybody neighbour, the “don’t make me kill you again” line, the time distortion, the bodysuit.
I disliked: the fact that this family is portrayed as so dysfunctional from the start that I don’t think they have a chance of surviving. Also, while I’m sympathetic to their massive problems, I don’t find any of these characters likable.
I am indifferent to: the cabinet of curiosities in the basement, the mad doctor figure, the opening scene.
None of this matters. AHS is all about throwing MOAR STUFF at the audience, and as long as a high percentage of that stuff is interesting, I’ll watch.
Homeland, like S0 1 of 24, starts with a compelling premise: a CIA agent suspects that a freed American POW is now working for the terrorists. Unlike Jack Bauer, however, the CIA agent in question is struggling with a mental illness and may be psychotic. If 24 posited a vigilante American protector who is always right, Homeland posits a paranoid, delusional American protector who may be persecuting innocent people in the name of national security. Clare Danes turns in a fine, twitchy performance as the CIA agent, and it's nice to see her have a role that gives her something to do.
But on watching the pilot, I have a couple of gender-issue questions. The first, which may just be unfair, is "isn't it interesting that the first time we have a woman in the Jack Bauer role is also the first time we portray that role as untrustworthy and mentally unstable?"
Eh. That's just my thoughts on episode 1. Maybe subsequent episodes will make me feel churlish for having doubted the show. Or maybe not. Only time will tell.