Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Sleeper Cell

I like this new series Sleeper Cell on Showtime. The pacing and strong writing reminds me of the first season of 24.

The (admittedly improbable) plot centers around Darwyn Al-Sayeed, an African-American deep-cover FBI agent who does a stint in prison in order to gain entry into an Islamic terrorist group’s sleeper cell.

Darwyn is an interesting character for TV. He seems to be primarily motivated to oppose the Muslim extremists because he’s offended by their perversion of his religion. He has chivalrous tendencies towards females and children in distress, but though he says his religion forbids sex outside of marriage, he’s quick to fall into a sexual relationship with a white single mom who works at a nail salon.

As is the case in most of the best TV shows, the surrounding cast is what takes the show to another level. I appreciate the way that the show features a variety of Muslims. Darwyn, as an African-American Muslim, is not considered a “real” Muslim by an Egyptian in episode one. Christian, a Frenchman, converted to Islam because of his Moroccan wife, but he is estranged from her and he’s evidently more of a believer than she is. Tommy, a blond haired, blue-eyed boy from a rich liberal family, seems to have turned to Islam as a rejection of his privileged childhood. Ilija is a Bosnian Muslim who blames the West for allowing Orthodox Serbs to kill his people in the early 90’s. Lastly, the mysterious Farik, leader of the sleeper cell, has the ultimate cover -- he works in a security company and he’s passing as an Israeli.

The only problem with the show? They’re showing the episodes on consecutive nights in December! I think this show is flying under the radar, and that’s a shame.

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