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Pat Stacey: Homeland's good bits outweigh those plot flaws

Luckily, we still have Homeland, which has bounced back with a run of great episodes.

There are still implausibilities scattered around, the chief one being that no intelligence agency in its right mind would ever trust Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), who’s not in her own right mind half the time, with anything more taxing than sorting the mail.

But maybe it’s time to stop expecting Homeland to be something it’s not and embrace it, far-fetched moments and all, for what it’s been this season – a taut, highly entertaining thriller pitched somewhere between John Le Carré-lite and the high-octane nonsense of 24.

Judged on those terms, season 4 has been an absolute cracker. Last night’s instalment picked through the debris of the previous week’s brilliantly executed (no pun intended) invasion of the American Embassy.

The US has cut off relations with Pakistan. The Embassy has been folded up and evacuated. Redmond (Michael O’Keefe) is dead and so is Fara (Nazadin Boniadi), slaughtered by monstrous Taliban leader Haqqani (Numan Acar).

CIA chief Lockhart (Tracy Letts), who’s about to be replaced, has given Carrie five days to track down Quinn, who’s gone rogue and is waging a one-man crusade to get Haqqani. He comes within a whisker of it, too.

Having whipped up outrage by posting footage of Haqqani murdering his own nephew on the internet, Quinn is about to detonate a massive bomb under the terrorist’s car as it leaves his compound but relents when he spots Carrie at the scene.

Carrie is about to act on impulse and shoot Haqqani herself, but wait – who’s that familiar face in the back of the car? It’s none other than perpetually shady CIA black ops expert Dar Adal (F Murray Abraham).

Some of this was barely believable, and yet it was still a terrific episode, throwing a last-minute curveball that forced a complete rethink about where the season has been headed all along. In a lower register, it also showed us a different Carrie.

Shattered by a Skype call from her sister to say their father has died (a nice way for the writers to incorporate the sudden death of that fine character actor James Reborn), she’s no longer sure of her convictions. It’s shaping up nicely for the big finish.

I didn’t have room last week for the hilarious Brian Pern: A Life in Rock, a follow-up to the brace of episodes that went out on BBC4 in February. Sadly, there’s just three this run – all the more reason to catch it before it’s gone.

We’ve had mock rock-docs before, notably This is Spinal Tap and The Comic Strip’s Bad News Tour, which actually pre-dated Tap by a year, but never done more lovingly than here.

Simon Day is marvellous as ageing prog-rocker Pern (an affectionate spoof of Peter Gabriel, who’ll either be giggling or gagging if he’s watching), struggling to stage his unreleased musical version of The Day of the Triffids atop Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for moths endangered by wi-fi signals.

Wonderful supporting cast, too, including Nigel Havers and Paul Whitehouse as Pern’s disgruntled former bandmates, and Michael Kitchen as his foul-mouthed manager.

Everyone has a ball, but no one more so than Sir Roger Moore as the album’s narrator. “It never got released and I never got paid – the bastard!” Rock on, Brian.