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Sleeper Cell: Season 1

4.3 out of 5 stars 531 customer reviews

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(Mar 14, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Sleeper Cell takes viewers behind the veil of an U.S. home-grown terrorist group, tracking the harrowing challenges faced by a FBI agent determined to learn its secrets. Having posed as a prisoner inside a federal penitentiary, a young agent (Michael Ealy) develops contacts that enable him to infiltrate an Islamic terrorist cell in Los Angeles. The cell is led by an intimidating, charismatic extremist (Oded Fehr), who considers all acts of violence moral when serving the greater good of his cause. But early in the investigation something goes wrong, placing lives - and the integrity of a three-year mission - in serious jeopardy.


As a praiseworthy effort to enlighten viewers about peaceful practice of the Muslim faith and lesser-known aspects of domestic terrorism, Sleeper Cell succeeds as a conventional thriller with its heart in the right place. Originally broadcast in late 2005, Showtimes's 10-hour limited series owes more to familiar Hollywood plotlines than to the precise realities of radical extremism, and authenticity frequently takes a backseat to well-crafted suspense. So, while it may not earn a high score in terms of absolute realism, the series works far better on an emotional level, beginning with the revelation that newly released prisoner Darwyn Al-Sayeed (Michael Ealy, from Barbershop and Their Eyes Were Watching God) is actually an undercover FBI agent and practicing Muslim, recruited to infiltrate a sleeper cell of Islamic radical extremists led by Farik (played by Israeli-born actor Oded Fehr, from The Mummy and The Mummy Returns), the mastermind of a Jihadist plot to detonate a chemical bomb in a crowded Los Angeles sports arena. Representing a broad spectrum of anti-American sentiments, Farik's band of holy warriors includes a hot-tempered Frenchman (Alex Nesic), a Bosnian chemist (Henri Lubatti), and a young, Berkeley-born American (Blake Shields) with a post-military beef against the U.S. government. While clandestinely reporting to his FBI handler (James LeGros), Darwyn is forced into deadly circumstances that continuously threaten to blow his cover and get him killed. His ill-advised romance with a single mother (Melissa Sagemiller) poses further threat to the integrity of his investigation, which ultimately involves everyone from local LAPD detectives to the senior staff of the White House.

As the terrorist plot unfolds, Sleeper Cell is by turns intense, dramatically involving, and philosophically illuminating as Darwyn struggles to reconcile his undercover activities (which connect him to murder, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, etc.) and his passionate devotion to Islam as a peaceful religion. With a number of Islamic consultants, writers, and directors, series creators Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris (the team responsible for Bulletproof Monk) have admirably attempted to balance national fear of terrorism with a very sympathetic and positive depiction of the law-abiding Muslim majority. In a subtle but somewhat one-dimensional performance, Ealy conveys the spiritual anguish of Darwyn's stressful situation, while Fehr provides stark contrast, portraying Farik as a smart, charismatic source of constant threat, ruling over his fellow terrorists with passionate conviction. As the series nears its powerful two-hour finale, their clash of ideologies plays out like an above-average episode of 24, sharing elements of Reservoir Dogs as each isolated member of the sleeper cell nears his individual fate. With plenty of surprises along the way, Sleeper Cell grabs your attention and never lets go, even when you're aware that a real-life scenario would play by a different set of rules. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Nine episodes including the two-hour finale, on three discs
  • Commentary by executive producers Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris on one episode
  • Commentary by executive producers Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris and writer Kamran Pasha on one episode
  • Deleted scenes with optional commentary by executive producers Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris
  • "Know Your Enemy" featurette
  • "Making of the Series Finale: A Production Diary" featurette

Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Ealy, Oded Fehr, Henri Lubatti, Melissa Sagemiller, Jake Soldera
  • Writers: Cyrus Voris, Ethan Reiff
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Showtime Ent.
  • DVD Release Date: March 14, 2006
  • Run Time: 659 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (531 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000CR7RCK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,412 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Sleeper Cell: Season 1" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 18, 2005
Format: DVD
In the shell-shocked aftermath of 9/11, Americans sought information about a culture and religion ensconced in an ongoing political dialog of the Middle East that received only sporadic attention in the media. Suddenly, people were asking, why do they hate us? A few years have passed, the war on terrorism settled into a predictable good guys-bad guys debate that yields few answers to a troubling question. Along comes Sleeper Cell to inform the public, a fictitious fanatical terrorist group infiltrating Los Angeles with plans to claim more lives for the Al Qaeda cause. Through the offices of an FBI undercover agent, Darwyn (Michael Ealy), the government monitors his activity within the rapidly evolving plot, the day of destruction more imminent in each new episode. The king of the villains is Farik (Israeli-born Oded Fehr), charged with the overall success of the mission. The other group members are Christian (Alex Nesic), a Frenchman who has found Allah; a bitter Bosnian teacher, Ilija (Peter Lubatti); and blue-eyed all-American boy turned Muslim, Thomas Allen Emerson (Blake Shields): "The history of Islam is written in two lines: One is the black of the scholars' ink, the other the red blood that the martyrs shed."

This series would be successful as non-stop action drama worthy of the accolades of the "24" aficionados, but the writers of Sleeper Cell add another level to this white-knuckle series, the subtleties of extremism contrasted with the true religion of Islam. Darwyn is a committed Muslim, sorely tested in his role as informant, ever on the lookout for an opportunity to spread the true word of Islam as millions practice it in America, without the taint of fundamentalism.
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Format: DVD
I loved this show so much because it was so much different than any other show on TV these days. Sleeper Cell dealt with the very sensitive matter of terrorists and I think they handled it very well. Not only that but I walked away from this show knowing a lot more about Muslims than I did when I started watching it. It was also very interesting that Tommy who is white was a Muslim and it was very interesting to see how it played out over the course of the show.

The show follows Darwyn who is an undercover FBI agent who tries to get recruited into the Sleeper Cell, a terrorist organization run by Farik. Darwyn is recruited to help Farik and fellow Muslims Khashul, Tommy, and Iilija as they plan to set of a bomb in LA. Through the ten hour show Darwyn must perform gain Farik's trust by ways that aren't legal and raise the eyebrows of the FBI. He also is in a relationship with Gayle who slowly starts to uncover what Darwyn is doing when he is not around her. The show is similar to Over There in being about a current conflict in the U.S. but it deals with the terrorists and a lot of it focuses on Islam. The authentic Arabic dialogue adds to the glory of this show and I think the acting was excellent.

My only problem with Sleeper Cell is that it was only nine episodes. The finale left me craving for more and I'm glad this DVD is priced so well, so I can relive the adventure as many times as I want. I hope that they include the Sleeper Cell: Know Your Enemy documentary with it and the additional special features look good. This was a great mini-series and I highly recommend it.
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Format: DVD
SLEEPER CELL is set in present day, post 9/11 America and capitalizes on the country's fear and paranoia about terrorist organizations. Michael Ealy stars as Darwyn Al-Sayeed, a muslim F.B.I. agent who has managed to infiltrate an Islamic terrorist cell in Los Angeles, led by Farik Al-Faris (Oded Fehr). Darwyn tries all along to uncover the groups plans of attack, trying to diffuse them or put a stop to them as best as he can with the help of his F.B.I. partner Ray (James LeGros).

SLEEPER CELL is a brave and intelligent show that delves into the grey areas and doesn't just look at the world in black and white, or good and bad. The show explores the reasons why the "terrorists" choose the path of Jihad, and also goes deeper into the lives of all of the characters to give us a better understanding of each one's personality. It also explains and teaches us about the rift that is within Islam, between those that wish for peace and say the Quran's true teaching is peace and love and those who wish to fight Jihad in the violent way.

This show manages to get a lot of points across and is handled with such sensitivity and compassion, I wish there would be more such shows on TV.

The cast is excellent, they all have a really good chemistry that makes you forget they are acting, which I think is the mark of a good production. Oded Fehr is just a tremendous actor, since The Mummy when he took on the small part of Ardeth Bay and created an unforgetable character. Michael Ealy slips seamlessly in this role, I cannot of anyone else who could have played Darwyn better, and Alex Nesic and Henri Lubatti make for great supporting characters.

The soundtrack is hauntingly good as well!

Its great to watch good intelligent TV, Sleeper Cell is such a breath of fresh air amongst all the other mind-numbing TV shows. Plus, it is such a riveting show that you keep on thinking about it, long after you've watched it. I'd give it 50 stars if I could.
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