Aug 29, 2012

New Spy DVDs Out This Month: Homeland and The Looking Glass War

It's a good month for fans of the more cerebral side of the spy genre. This week sees the release of the best new spy series of the last season, Homeland, on DVD and Blu-ray from Fox Home Entertainment. Claire Danes stars as an obsessive CIA agent on anti-psychotics (a fact she's forced to hide from her superiors in order to retain her security clearance) who's convinced that a newly freed American POW (Damien Lewis) is not actually the war hero he's celebrated as but a turned Al Qaeda sleeper agent. Mandy Patinkin excels as her Agency mentor, who reluctantly turns a blind eye to her illegal surveillance operation. It's a thoroughly addictive, multilayered series not just about spies but spying itself, and the effect such a career and the responsibilities that go with it have on its practitioners. All of the characters are extremely well drawn, and all of the actors are compelling to watch. Homeland was fully deserving of its Best Series, Drama Golden Globe award (I hope it snags the Emmy, too), and I heartily spy fans who weren't able to see it on pay cable station Showtime to check out Homeland: The Complete First Season on DVD or Blu-ray. Trust me, after watching the exemplary pilot episode, you'll be hooked. Extras include selected episode audio commentaries, deleted scenes, the featurette "Under Surveillance: Making Homeland," and "The Visit: A Prologue to Season 2." Retail is $59.98 for the 4-disc DVD set and $69.99 for the 3-disc Blu-ray edition, though both versions are, of course, considerably cheaper on Amazon. (Seriously! At the moment, the Blu-ray is just $24.99! A bargain you won't regret.)

Meanwhile, a few weeks ago Sony reissued the long out-of-print John le Carré adaptation The Looking Glass War as an MOD title. Frank Pierson's 1969 film takes some serious liberties with the source material (and eliminates George Smiley as a character altogether, likely due to rights issues), but it's still well worth watching for fans of more serious spy fare. Even those who own the OOP DVD might be tempted to pick up this new edition, because the cover is a whole lot cooler than the old one, which sported a really shoddy Photoshop job. Christopher Jones, Ralf Richardson, Pia Degermark and a very young Anthony Hopkins star.

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