The Return Of 23 Shows You Should Be Watching: #17, Sleeper Cell
Hey, we’re back with 23 Shows You Should Be Watching. It’s taken me so long to do this damn list, we’ve had some shows end and others begin and force their way onto this list. In order to keep things moving and close the door on this particular feature, let’s dispense with the previous formatting and just rant a bit.
Okay, to start: Showtime, as a channel, is kicking HBO’s ass. For shows that are still running, Dexter and Brotherhood top anything on HBO except The Wire. And Sleeper Cell was the top of Showtime’s second tier, the kind of challenging terrorist-themed show that the networks wouldn’t touch.
Basic plot: terrorists are all around us, plotting our doom even as they watch us at the shopping malls and restaurants. Sleeper Cell tries to give us a look inside the mindset of what makes these men tick, and I’d bet that some of the impetus from the series came from those stories of the 9/11 hijackers living it up in strip clubs on the night of September 10.
Sleeper Cell doesn’t make terrorists sympathetic characters, but it does humanize them–which has the effect of making them even more terrifying. A trip to Dodger Stadium with kids is a cover for a reconnaissance mission; a mis-timed phone call to a relative results in horrifying consequences. The first season is much better than the second, which relies a bit too much on Roger Ebert’s Law of Character Economy. It sure looks like we won’t see another season, which is a shame, but you ought to check out Sleeper Cell Seasons 1 and 2 on your NetFlix, Blockbuster or iTunes. Good stuff.