"Homeland" also has loads of potential - it's probably the best new show of the fall - but has structural problems similar to those on "Dexter."

"Homeland" also has loads of potential - it's probably the best new show of the fall - but has structural problems similar to those on "Dexter."

It's a taut psychological thriller about an American soldier who is possibly collaborating with Islamic extremists to carry out an attack on U.S. soil.

When missing Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) is discovered alive - MIA since 2003 and presumed dead - after a raid, the CIA is ready to pat themselves on the back and present Brody as a hero.

But not Agent Carrie Anderson (Claire Danes). Ten months earlier she caused an international fiasco by breaking into a Baghdad prison to extract information from a soon-to-be-executed man. As she's dragged away by guards he whispers that, "An American prisoner of war has been turned." Believing there are no POWs, Carrie sits on this information while forced out of the field and back to a desk job in Washington, D.C.

As Carrie begins to investigate the man everyone else believes is a war hero, she quickly delves into unscrupulous practices and alienates Saul (Mandy Patinkin), the only person left in the CIA who trusts her. Carrie isn't exactly stable, and she often becomes obsessed with an investigation.

Danes - perhaps best known for chin-quivering over Jordan Catalano on "My So-Called Life" - is actually marvelous as the compulsive type who makes even the audience skeptical of her motivations and methods.

Lewis is also skilled at giving reasons he could be a terrorist while making us not want it to be true. He's a caring family man who dealt with a harrowing experience.

Created by two former "24" writers, "Homeland" will draw comparisons to that show, but it reminds me of a far superior counter-intelligence show, "Rubicon," because it's outstanding at conveying the overwhelming psychological effects of being an operative.

My lone quibble is that this storyline, like "Dexter," seems like it will be hard to stretch past one season. "Homeland" could feel repetitive down the road, but for now I'm hooked.