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« Jimmah Strikes Out | Main | Tape Conversion »

Sleeper Cell

Last week at Shabbat dinner, I met a fellow visitng from New York, who was working for Showtime on their series, Sleeper Cell. "Better than 24," he said. "So, the terrorists, they're...," I tried to ask. "Yes, they're Muslim, but they're not all Arab." "Hmm," I averred.

Well, the DVDs are out, for those of us unwilling to pay extra for what's mostly premium crap. While I'm not willing to agree that it's "Better than 24," the mere assertion of which plants doubt, that's mostly because it's a completely different animal. While Jack Bauer (reverent pause), has only one day to save LA and uncover conspiracies of increasing complexity, size, and scope, Sleeper Cell is more like Wiseguy.

The language is a lot rougher, the (brief) sex scenes are more explicit, although for some reason the violence is probably more explicit on 24. But the story is more subtle, and while the terrorists are clearly the bad guys, and the Muslim FBI infiltrating is clearly the good guy, he's got to deal with bureaucracy and ignorance in trying to get his superiors to play their cards right. At times, this borders on cliche, but at other times, there's real insight.

One episode shows how drug trafficking and prostitution are helping to fund terror rings, using our own vices against us. At the end of episode 4, Darwin (the FBI agent), informs his handler that "it's not just a war on terror, it's a civil war within Islam, and [the moderate Imam] and those like him are the only ones that can win it." There's a lot of truth in this, and while the outspoken moderate Imam has yet to appear outside of Hollywood, the outspoken moderate Muslims in LA, Denmark, and Holland could use real politicians saying more of this sort of thing.

Each season seems to be 12 episodes, and I've only been through the first DVD, but on the whole, I'm impressed.

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