At least part of the excitement of anticipating a new season of Homeland is wondering which version we’re going to get: the tired, directionless Homeland of season 3, say, or the taut, exciting Homeland of season 5? I thought the move to Berlin last time round reinvigorated the show, taking it out of its America-centric bubble and allowing it to respond in something close to real time to developments in Europe. (The involvement of the refulgent Nina Hoss didn’t hurt either.) So I’m slightly disappointed that season 6 moves the action to New York, and a little perturbed that it’s set in the period between the presidential election and the inauguration: as I’ve said more than once, what’s actually happened in America over the past year has made it very difficult for drama to respond. You can’t outflank the actual President for idiocy, absurdity, or malevolence; and choosing instead to go with a female President, as Homeland has apparently done, runs the risk of looking like wistful liberal wish-fulfilment. But let’s see. Weekly reviews as usual, and once again Channel 4 should be commended for keeping us close to American TX (Sunday 22 January, Channel 4, 9pm).
And, starting at the same time, there’s a BBC drama which – I know, I know – might be worth a look: Apple Tree Yard, an adaptation of Louise Doughty’s bestselling thriller about a middle-aged woman who embarks on an exciting but risky affair. There’s some serious talent in the cast: Emily Watson, Ben Chaplin, and Mark Bonnar. It’s four episodes long, which sight unseen I’m prepared to bet will be one too many, but I might try to fit this in (Sunday 22 January, BBC 1, 9pm).