Not your father's FBI series

oded2Today's New York Times includes this report about Sleeper Cell, a 10-part Showtime series about a faithful Muslim named Darwyn (yes, we get it) who infiltrates a terrorist group. The Times mentions the producers' goal of high realism, but also must grant that, while some Muslim FBI agents exist, there's no way to know if any such agent has infiltrated a terrorist cell. Still, it's easy to sympathize with series star Oded Fehr (pictured), an Israeli actor playing a terrorist, and Cyrus Voris, one of the producers, as they discuss the show's idealism:

"You learn there are peace-loving souls in every religion," said Mr. Fehr, who once served in the Israeli military. "We have to respect and strengthen the peace-believers, and hopefully find a way turn the terrorists."

In that sense, the production, for all its violence -- including the Sopranoesque rubout of a cell member by his fellow crew -- is perhaps most ambitious for the idealism that courses through it.

"I don't know if a guy like Darwyn is out there somewhere in the U.S.," said Mr. Voris, a creator of the show. "But I sure hope so. Talk about wish fulfillment."

Besides which, Showtime has a bit to atone for while it promotes the hostilities of Penn & Teller toward all things religious (including Christopher Hitchens' whipping post, Mother Teresa).

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