Under the Radar

'Homeland' Inspiration: 'Prisoners of War'

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Prisoners of War is the Israeli television series that's the basis for Homeland. The first season is out this week on DVD.

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As he describes in the above clip, series creator Gideon Raff sold the rights to the former 24 showrunners Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa before he'd filmed his first episode and Israel and Raff has worked with the Americans on Homeland throughout its run on Showtime.

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Prisoners of War offers a much different take on the same premise. While Homeland focuses on the CIA agents trying to figure out what's going on with an American soldier rescued in a military operation, the Israeli series focuses more on three hostages brought home in a prisoner exchange and the effect of their return on their respective families. Imagine Homeland if Brody and his family were more of the focus and Carrie was kind of a background player.

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There's still plenty of intrigue to go with the family drama. One of the POWs has apparently been killed by his captors, so the Israelis get two live prisoners and a body bag. Israeli intelligence has its doubts about what happened to the two men during captivity and questions begin to emerge about the dead prisoner over the course of the season.

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The actors mostly speak Hebrew and there are English subtitles. For anyone needing detailed background on the Israeli political situation, there's a making-of documentary and the first three episodes come with a commentary track from Raff and director of photography Itai Neeman that gives valuable background. Season two follows on DVD in September and Raff says he's currently writing a third season when he's not working on Homeland.

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