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Series premiere: Homecoming

Picture of man watching big screen tv to represent TV reviews

When I first read the description for Homecoming (on Amazon), I wasn’t sold. A drama about a case worker helping veterans readjust to home life. There weren’t a lot of details in what I saw, and I couldn’t see where the show could go…they can beef up the honour, sure, but what kind of drama could they have that people would actually want to watch? Because PTSD flashbacks aren’t exactly “must see” TV week-in and week-out. Maybe it could take a Touched-by-an-Angel, wholesome viewing storyline, but even that would seem false if everybody’s life is suddenly better in 60 minutes. It also didn’t seem gritty enough for Amazon.

Imagine my surprise to watch the first episode and to find out the main star is, wait for it, Julia Roberts. I mean, holy crap on a stick. That is a BIG get for a show. And on that basis alone, I’d be willing to upgrade it from CANCELLATION to RENEWAL. Everybody wants to work with Julia Roberts.

But I watched the premiere / first episode called “Mandatory” and I won’t be watching anymore. I have almost no idea what the show’s about, and while I don’t mind a “slow to build” storyline, this one is almost glacial.

As near as I can figure out, Julia plays an administrator of a mental health facility for returning soldiers. She has been hired as the “point person” to run the facility, but the guy behind her is a used car salesman trying to do business with the Department of Defense. At first, she just seems inept, new to the job, not really sure of herself. She walks the first patient through “intake”, notes that he’s there voluntarily, and that there are really only three mandatory elements to the “process” — he eats his meals there, he attends some workshops, and he has regular check-in sessions with her. It isn’t clear if she has a therapeutic background, but she does seem to legitimately care about trying to help them. Meanwhile, the guy running the business side is basically flying by the seat of his pants to get everything up and running, using a converted office building, etc., and oh, by the way, did he remember to ask her to do background checks on the food services people? The businessman/owner is really anxious about an upcoming presentation to DOD, and that they will “have the data” that she will gather from the soldiers.

The soldiers are in rough shape, very much the PTSD issues you would expect, along with general transition issues. But that isn’t enough to hold attention, as I mentioned, so there’s a time jump…it is four years later, she’s working as a waitress, and an auditor has come to investigate allegations that the program didn’t run smoothly, which makes her VERY nervous and defensive.

Obviously something happened, and with some of the content of one of the sessions with the lead patient, you could see how it could have been something severe. These soldiers are scary dudes with issues and she’s poking around in their heads.

But it’s not enough. I don’t care about Julia (gasp!) or her character, there’s just not enough there to see why I would care. She was a doctor, now she’s a waitress, she was trying to help, now she doesn’t want to…it’s not enough. I didn’t see enough of any of the patients or the businessman or anyone else either.

Maybe there’s a fabulous mystery to unravel, but I’ll never know. I’m out.