Streampix: ‘Homeland’ Stars Enjoy ‘Life’ After ‘Life’

"Homeland." (Showtime)

With the third season premiere of “Homeland” on tap for Sept. 29 on Showtime (and Xfinity On Demand), its three celebrated stars—Emmy/Golden Globe winners Claire Danes and Damian Lewis and dual nominee Mandy Patinkin—are set to reprise their roles in the critically acclaimed post-9/11 tale of a marine hero-turned-terrorist-turned-double agent, itself an Emmy winner for Outstanding Drama Series and a two-time Golden Globe honoree for Best Television Series-Drama.

When we last left them at the end of the series' second season, a bomb had just destroyed CIA headquarters in Langley, with the slain Abu Nazir having framed Lewis' Sgt. Nicholas Brody for the crime, sending him on the lam, destination unknown. Patinkin's disgraced Saul Berenson was released from detention just long enough to take control of the agency after the demise of nearly all of its top echelon of officials. Meanwhile, Danes manages to convince us at any one moment she's either the most instinctive, clairvoyant CIA agent ever, or one of its most paranoid and out to lunch…depending in large part on whether she took her meds that day.

From Internet speculation about the upcoming third season, it is apparent that Lewis’ Brody will be MIA, apparently a fugitive from both parties as he tries to figure out which side of the fence he really is… or whether he will continue balancing on the edge.

Danes’ breakout role in “Homeland” follows her comeback in the made-for-HBO movie “Temple Grandin,” in which she played the title role, the real-life woman with autism who paved the way to understanding, and overcoming, the disease, by introducing the humane handling of livestock on cattle ranches and slaughterhouses. Danes took home an Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award for her performance. Still, before that, she was probably best known for her groundbreaking, Golden Globe-winning, Emmy-nominated turn as Angela Chase in the TV series “My So-Called Life,” which ran for just two years and 19 episodes in 1994-‘95 on ABC, but developed a fervent cult following. Created by “The Wonder Years”/ “thirtysomething”’s Winnie Holzman and produced by Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, the show paved the way for a slew of more sophisticated, realistic coming-of-age high school TV sitcoms like Judd Apatow’s “Freaks and Geeks,” “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” “One Tree Hill” and “Veronica Mars.” Danes’ precocious Angela Chase was not your normal, lovesick teenybopper, though she did have an inexplicable crush on Jared Leto’s brooding bad boy Jordan Catalano, while studiously avoiding the ardent entreaties of Devon Gummersall’s earnest Brian Krakow. The show was notable for introducing perhaps the first outwardly gay character on a prime-time network sitcom in Wilson Cruz’s Rickie Vasquez. The show still holds up and all episodes are now available on Streampix.

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London-born Damian Lewis, he of the piercing blue eyes and tiny mouth (as mocked by Saturday Night Live’s Taran Killam), may seem to have come out of nowhere, but astute TV watchers will know him from Golden Globe-nominated role in Steven Spielberg’s HBO series about World War II, “Band of Brothers,” and as the star of the short-lived CBS series, “Life,” which aired on NBC for two seasons from 2007-2009, but was derailed by the writers’ strike and a number of different programming slots. Lewis was remarkable as Charlie Crews, a detective released from prison after serving 12 years for a crime he didn’t commit and returning to the force after receiving a large settlement. He emerges, exonerated by a DNA test of an alleged triple-murder with a fondness for Zen, fresh fruit and an obsession with solving the crime for which he was framed, incorporating the same wide-eyed stare and uncomfortable pauses that characterize Sgt. Brody.  Certainly worth a second (or first) look, the two season of “Life” are now available in their entirety on Streampix.

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Mandy Patinkin’s Saul is one of the most compellingly complex characters on TV, but it’s only one of several award-winning roles he’s had on TV series like “Chicago Hope” (earning a 1995 Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series) and the American Playhouse production of “Sunday in the Park with George”  (winning a CableAce award). Patinkin is also a skilled Yiddish crooner and comic actor, earning a 1996 Emmy nomination for his guest role in “The Larry Sanders Show” episode “Eight,” celebrating the fictional program’s eighth anniversary. Patinkin played himself and launched into a hilarious dressing room argument with Noah Wyle over their respective shows Chicago Hope and ER that culminated in all of  them (along with Rosie O’Donnell and George Segal) dropping their pants, a memorable bit that can be seen here as part of the complete “Larry Sanders Show” collection on Streampix. 

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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