Showtime's got great shows this year; first Weeds and now Sleeper Cell. On the surface it's a spinning-plates anti-terrorist drama in the vein of 24. Which makes for fun TV. But Sleeper Cell has more depth than that, particularly in the subtlety of the characterizations.

The script borrows from recent history to build a motley crew of terrorists intent on carrying jihad to America. Blake Shields is great as the unfortunate John Walker Lindh type. Alex Nesic is fun as the French Islamic radical who enjoys hookers and strippers. Both good guys and bad are drawn with complexities and imperfections that make the story compelling.

But the real standout is Michael Ealy. Mild spoiler, highlight to read: He does a great job as the conflicted undercover agent. By making our hero himself be a Muslim the show gives a much more nuanced story than the usual "kill the Muslim terrorists" shtick. He's also a fantastic actor, and quite handsome, so it all makes for good entertainment.

The show just finished its 10 hour miniseries run, but Showtime promises a rebroadcast January 10. And it looks like a DVD release is planned, too.

  2005-12-20 16:54 Z