I can only guess that The Brink came about from someone saying "Hey! Homeland needs to be funnier!" Then whatever producers were around at the time decided to watch Homeland, before this person followed up with "Okay. Intentionally funny!"
With Homeland Season 5 soon to begin shooting, it's strange to think that HBO's response to it isn't a gritty, well researched hard hitting investigative drama, but a wacky, lighthearted, almost Apatow-esque romp. If there's anything that convinces me of the sheer unstoppable confidence of HBO, it's that they can look at the model set out by Homeland, and think "needs more Jack Black!"
The trailer seems pretty standard for this kind of comedy. An opening alludes to it being more serious than it is, then a bunch of official looking people wonder who could possibly save them from this situation, then cut to... Jack Black. He's not even doing anything funny; he's just there. This is because Jack Black is poison to seriousness, which makes him perfect for this kind of comedy, IF it's executed right.
It is a little strange to think that Jack Black is assuming a similar role to Carrie Mathison from Homeland. Being promised Claire Danes and getting Jack Black is like being promised a fine soufflé and getting Reece's Pieces cereal. Not a bad thing, but come on! Claire Danes!
The Brink maybe exploits its wacky factor over Homeland a little too much. One part of the trailer has two pilots dosed up on something or another, and the joke basically equates to "ha ha they're on drugs!" I'm not sure why Tim Robbins reduces my ability to take anything seriously, but somehow he does. And hey, they cast Carla Gugino from Spy Kids, and some other things that aren't Spy Kids!
Does any of this mean that Homeland Season 5 may have to goof itself up in response? No. No its doesn't, though it does mean that there is a strange form of competition, as something else is occupying the genre.
What's most impressive about this trailer for The Brink in that, despite being what is essentially a parody of Homeland, the show doesn't shy away from the fact it is still about the grim world of international security and geopolitical conflicts. Allegedly, The Brink seeks to be centred around a different realistic, grounded crisis in the world with each season. That's pretty admirable of something that's just a few rungs up the goof ladder from something like Johnny English.
Even more impressive is the fact that The Brink is a comedy about conflicts in the middle East that isn't chock full of stereotypes. Yeah there's a defence looking guy who tears up Jack Blacks diplomacy papers and appears kind of intimidating, but one of the main characters is played by Indian-American Aasif Mandvi. Now, I understand that could be the equivalent of saying "hey, my friend is x, how can I be racist?". Casting certainly doesn't excuse a show traipsing through any subject matter without care, but it's nice to see a product that isn't scared of itself. Perhaps the reason Homeland Season 5 is moving to Berlin is that maintaining such a politically contentious setting like Islamabad is simply exhausting.
You know a genre has truly ripened when it is able to be parodied. Homeland Season 5 will in no way be in competition with The Brink, but it will have to tread carefully. The arbiters of Homeland shouldn't be worried that their viewership will be stolen, but I'm sure they're highly aware that, with whatever they do in Season 5, there is now a show out there ready to make fun of them.