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Sleeper Cell - Showtime TV series
Hollywood reporter ^ | Barry Garron

Posted on 12/04/2005 7:27:57 PM PST by KeyLargo

Sleeper Cell

By Barry Garron

Bottom line: A riveting, edge-of-your-seat drama about danger in our backyards. 10-11 p.m., Sunday-Wednesday, Dec. 4-7 and 11-14 Showtime

From time to time, Washington announces that terrorist plots have been foiled, but is anyone really breathing easier? Although the orange alerts pretty much stopped after the last election, who knows whether all our security upgrades have made us safer or only left us with a false sense of security? These are among the nagging questions that arise in "Sleeper Cell," a bold and suspenseful 10-part miniseries.

The premiere is so filled with unexpected turns and surprises that merely trying to describe it without spoiling any of it requires walking a verbal minefield. In the most general terms, it is about a small group of single-minded Muslims based in L.A. determined to inflict a large number of civilian casualties somewhere in the Southland. Recruited from the U.S. and abroad, the members have no trouble blending in.

Authorities are not exactly oblivious to this cell. The FBI has figured a way to penetrate it, though there are risks, conflicts and the inevitable bureaucratic conferences over whether and how to proceed. In addition, writers/exec producers Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris go to great lengths in several episodes to pierce Islamic stereotypes and make clear that these radical fundamentalists operate on the utmost fringes of the Muslim faith, distorting the meaning of passages in the Quran to suit their purposes.

Oded Fehr is masterful as Farik, the secretive leader of the cell who insists on discipline and comes down hard on anyone who slips up. Ironically, Farik works as an executive of a security firm and coaches softball for the Jewish temple to which he belongs. The others have more menial jobs, such as driving a tour bus or managing a bowling alley. In the thrilling opener, Michael Ealy, who plays Darwyn, is the newest volunteer in the cell, a paroled ex-con and American black Muslim who must earn Farik's trust.

Some L.A. locations, such as Grauman's Chinese Theatre and Westchester, represent themselves some locations stand in for others. For example, the Northridge Fashion Center is used in the second episode to represent a Westside mall targeted by the terrorists for anthrax exposure. Presumably, there would be less at stake if Valley residents were the intended victims.

Nonetheless, this is a first-rate series that explores the hearts and minds of terrorists even as it presents scene after scene of suspense and action. Director Clark Johnson is adept at telling stories with urgency and heart, all the while capturing the nuance and subtlety that makes it impossible to dismiss sleeper cell members as one-dimensional caricatures.

Showtime, which has experimented with creative scheduling in the past, does so again with "Sleeper Cell." Original episodes will be shown at 10 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday next week and the week after, followed by a two-hour finale Dec. 18. In addition, Showtime will show two-episode blocks on Thursday and Friday and a four-episode marathon on Saturday.

SLEEPER CELL Showtime Cardboard Guru Prods.

Credits: Executive producers: Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris Producer: Ann Kindberg Director: Clark Johnson Teleplay: Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris Director of photography: Robert Primes Production designer: Mayne Berke Editor: Cindy Mollo Music by: Paul Haslinger Set decorator: Casey Hallenbeck Costume designer: Jolie Andreatta Casting by: Kim Coleman Cast: Darwyn al-Sayeed: Michael Ealy Farik: Oded Fehr Bobby Habib: Grant Heslov Ilija: Henri Lubatti Christian: Alex Nesic Tommy: Blake Shields Gayle: Melissa Sagemiller Agent Ray Fuller: James LeGros Marcus: Jake Soldera


TOPICS: TV/Movies
KEYWORDS: moviereview; showtime; sleepercell; terrorists
I am watching this new series on Showtime. Anyone else seen it so far? Comments?
1 posted on 12/04/2005 7:27:58 PM PST by KeyLargo
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To: KeyLargo
Read the book (Anderson, MD) in two hours.

They must *really* be padding things to make it an ten-parter.

I mean, Stephen King's The Stand was done in FOUR!

2 posted on 12/04/2005 7:31:19 PM PST by George Smiley (This tagline deliberately targeted journalists.)
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To: KeyLargo
Ironically, Farik works as an executive of a security firm and coaches softball for the Jewish temple to which he belongs.

Does this sound very likely to anyone?

3 posted on 12/04/2005 7:37:44 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: KeyLargo

Very interesting episode but not enough to get me to fork over my hard-earned money to Showtime and their left-leaning programming.


4 posted on 12/04/2005 8:06:50 PM PST by NonValueAdded (What ever happened to "Politics stops at the water's edge?")
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To: KeyLargo; George Smiley

Watched five minutes- too much cussing, turned it to Rodeo finals.
Four hours for The Stand....I could swear it was 6 or 8. Are you sure?


5 posted on 12/04/2005 8:25:21 PM PST by aspen64
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To: KeyLargo; George Smiley

Watched five minutes- too much cussing, turned it to Rodeo finals.
Four hours for The Stand....I could swear it was 6 or 8. Are you sure?


6 posted on 12/04/2005 8:25:22 PM PST by aspen64
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: KeyLargo

Free Showtime weekend, I watched some guy eat McDonalds three times a day for a month as a scientific study.
He was perfectly healthy at the start, but gained over 20 lbs and was a mess at the end.
Yeccch.


8 posted on 12/04/2005 9:20:55 PM PST by Senormechanico
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To: Senormechanico

Documentary called SUPERSIZE ME...I think it won an Academy award, or something. He has his own cable show on FX now.


9 posted on 12/04/2005 9:21:56 PM PST by Hildy (Keyboard warrior princess - typing away for truth, justice and the American way!)
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To: Senormechanico

I watched a show called Masters of Horror. They were right but it was more like Masters of leftist propaganda. Basically the show was about soldiers killed in Iraq returning from the dead to vote Bush out of office and give longwinded zombie speeches about the evil republicans. They had Anne Coulter beating Karl Rove with a whip in one sex scene between the two. And the undead Soldiers decided to kill all republicans when the Evil republicans decided to cheat at the ballot boxes. Yeah I will never have Showtime after that nonsense.


10 posted on 12/04/2005 9:26:41 PM PST by Sentis
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To: NonValueAdded

"Very interesting episode but not enough to get me to fork over my hard-earned money to Showtime and their left-leaning programming."

Thanks "Non" for an intelligent reply. At least you actually saw the episode before replying. How different than many posts!

I agree with you. I will not be adding Showtime to my subscription either.

Anyway most of these shows end up at Blockbuster, where you can rent them. That is, if you really want to see the particular program.


11 posted on 12/05/2005 6:09:55 AM PST by KeyLargo
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To: Cicero
I saw this last night and it was VERY believable.

The scary part was the Bosnian and the Frenchman as well as the blond American clean cut type.

12 posted on 12/05/2005 6:27:13 AM PST by McGavin999 (Reporters write the truth, Journalists write stories.)
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To: McGavin999
The scary part was the Bosnian and the Frenchman as well as the blond American clean cut type.

Interesting that the Bosnian ended up hating America because we did not intervene, while the usual complaint is that America does intervene where Muslims don't want us. I guess any port in a storm for America-haters.

I wanna see where this series goes.

SD

13 posted on 12/05/2005 7:16:13 AM PST by SoothingDave
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To: McGavin999

I'll take your word for it.

If this show turns out to be politically incorrect, though, and actually blames Muslims for being terrorists, rather than inventing some other excuse to exonerate Muhammed of all responsibility, I'll eat my hat.

I can think of all sorts of possibilities: 1) These are not REAL Muslims, and will be repudiated by their Imam; 2) They are not really motivated by their religion, but by poverty, deprivation, and American discrimination; 3) One or more of them is certifiably and inexplicably insane, and has dragged the others off course.

It would simply not be possible on TV to blame the Qran and the teachings of Islam for their behavior.


14 posted on 12/05/2005 7:54:49 AM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: aspen64
Four nights, as I recall.

Eight hours, I guess.

But they did have an 850-page book to work with instead of a thinner-than-average paperback.

15 posted on 12/05/2005 1:58:25 PM PST by George Smiley (This tagline deliberately targeted journalists.)
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To: KeyLargo
I watched the first episode last night. Looks like a good show. It appears to be well written and well acted. The fanatical members of the cell are just that, fanatics.

The main character is not just and FBI infiltrator to the cell, he is a practicing Muslim. He says something quite profound to his FBI contact, "This is about my faith and these animals have nothing to do with my true faith."

Darwyn, the main character answered "3/75th." When asked about his military service. I said, "Hooah!" aloud, causing my girlfriend to roll her eyes. 3/75th, you see, is my old unit!

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
What We Are About To Do Here Is What The Good Lord Would Call A Cleansing of the Wicked. I Call It A Good Old Fashioned Texas Ass Kicking.
16 posted on 12/05/2005 3:34:35 PM PST by speed_addiction (And the Lord said, "Who shall I send? Who will stand for us?" Said I, "Here I am...Send me.")
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To: Cicero
If this show turns out to be politically incorrect, though, and actually blames Muslims for being terrorists, rather than inventing some other excuse to exonerate Muhammed of all responsibility, I'll eat my hat.

Yes and no. It portrays the terrorists as somewhat sympathetic in the beginning but then something happens (I don't want to give it away) that destroys any sympathy anyone might have had.

This series looks good to me. I plan to watch it all.

17 posted on 12/05/2005 7:00:17 PM PST by Inyokern
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Comment #18 Removed by Moderator

To: KeyLargo
I saw the first two episodes because Showtime was free this past weekend. I'll have to find someone to loan me the rest.

I've been following Ethan and Cyrus for a while. I've know Ethan since we were Boy Scouts (quite a while ago).

19 posted on 12/07/2005 9:03:59 AM PST by Tanniker Smith (I didn't know she was a liberal when I married her.)
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To: KeyLargo

So far so good. Looking forward to future shows.


20 posted on 12/07/2005 9:07:13 AM PST by zeaal (SPREAD TRUTH!)
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To: KeyLargo

I also am watching it for free so far. I have recorded it to tivo but have only watched the first one. I was still getting it as of last night for free (Tuesday). One thing that was of interest to me is that they were showing the connection between skin heads (Neo-Nazis) and Muslim terrorists. Very few people understand the long standing connection between the two. (It goes back at least to pre-World War II because they both hate the Jews and Israel). There was also a tie between Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols (who I consider Neo-Nazis) and Middle Eastern terrorists in the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995. These connections have been covered up. (See "The Third Terrorist" by Jayna Davis). Then we also have the interesting connection between Andre Strassmeir and McVeigh. Andre is from Germany and I think his grandfather was one of the founders of the Nazi party. Again, I was glad to see this in the Sleeper Cell because it means the writers are doing their homework.


21 posted on 12/07/2005 12:59:07 PM PST by Nancie Drew
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To: Nancie Drew

I like what I saw of the first two episodes, but I am not going to subscribe to Showtime just to see the remaining episodes.

I believe that the writers have done a good job so far from what I have seen.


22 posted on 12/07/2005 2:15:55 PM PST by KeyLargo
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To: Nancie Drew

Last night it also depicted child prostitutes in Mexico.


23 posted on 12/07/2005 2:23:50 PM PST by eastforker (Under Cover FReeper going dark(too much 24))
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To: KeyLargo

This show is now available for download on itunes.


24 posted on 02/10/2006 3:49:09 PM PST by papertyger
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To: papertyger

thanks


25 posted on 02/10/2006 8:25:18 PM PST by KeyLargo
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