• Network: Showtime
  • Series Premiere Date: Dec 4, 2005
Season #: 1, 2

Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 26
  2. Negative: 2 out of 26

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Critic Reviews

  1. In theme and execution, in caliber of performance and level of dramatic tension, "Sleeper Cell" is an impressive, relentlessly gripping drama.
  2. TV Guide Magazine
    Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    This engrossing and unnerving nail-biter is a rare treat: a thriller with a brain and a soul.
  3. This is a first-rate series that explores the hearts and minds of terrorists even as it presents scene after scene of suspense and action.
  4. 80
    At times it plays like a hybrid of the ticking-bomb thrills from ["24"] and the moral thorniness that undergirds HBO’s excellent crime series The Wire.
  5. 80
    An eerie -- and excellent -- new series that makes ''24" look more than ever like a broadly drawn comic strip.
  6. Reviewed by: Diane Werts
    A rich character drama and riveting suspenser that makes Fox's "24" seem lackluster.
  7. 80
    Sleeper Cell moves with more sophistication than most crime dramas.
  8. Smart, thrilling and politically timely, "Sleeper Cell" works overtime to mix believable character drama with jolts of surprising plot twists.
  9. 75
    "Sleeper Cell" works as a smart, sharply styled thriller about a very serious subject.
  10. People Weekly
    Reviewed by: Tom Gliatto
    The second half builds steadily and surely toward a potential meet-and-greet with the apocalypse. [12 Dec 2005, p.39]
  11. "Sleeper Cell" is better than "24."
  12. Highly compelling most of the time.
  13. While it is more intriguing than gripping, the drama has considerable power in its best moments, many of which will come in the last episodes.
  14. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    Imperfect but chilling.... In the end, Sleeper Cell is every bit as nailbiting as 24, with one crucial difference: neither the terrorists nor the Feds are supergeniuses.
  15. 70
    Sleeper Cell is compelling television primarily for its excellent performances and chilling premises, rather than its plots. Alarming as these may be, they are rendered here with predictable rising and falling action, a bit of romance, and some tidily resolved conflicts.
  16. Most of the time, it's... pretty gripping.
  17. 60
    If one is looking for a TV drama that earnestly tries to reflect and speak to our lives and times, it would be hard to do better than Sleeper Cell.
  18. 60
    Despite the mostly awful dialogue, “Sleeper Cell” succeeds on the strength of its plot.
  19. Entertainment Weekly
    Reviewed by: Gillian Flynn
    All of Sleeper Cell's didacticism would be forgiven if it were more entertaining. [2 Dec 2005, p.67]
  20. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Despite laudable elements -- particularly the magnetic Oded Fehr as the cell leader -- [the] series is too uneven to dub this ambitious mission a complete success.
  21. Fehr's performance is worth noting, if only because his cool demeanor is frighteningly at odds with the insane rhetoric pouring out of his mouth. His portrayal may be the show's greatest point of interest -- that is, if you aren't annoyed by Shields, or hypnotized into a slumber by Ealy's never-ending "haunted past" routine.
  22. 40
    Sleeper Cell moves way too slowly to get anyone's pulse racing—except maybe the Arab American community, which will almost certainly protest, despite the writers' awkward attempts to give equal screen time to "good" and "bad" Muslims.
  23. Sleeper Cell tries laudably to entertain us and to complicate us simultaneously. But we also experience the Stockholm syndrome in reverse. The more time we spend with these people, the less we care about them.
  24. For all its putative complexity, then, its passing examination of radical Islam versus peaceable Islam, its allusions to Guantanamo Bay and the Iraq insurgency, "Sleeper Cell" feels more like "The Shield," the L.A.-based cop drama on FX, the characters talking in overly stylized, expository quips, the L.A. cityscape whipping past in convincing fashion.
  25. 38
    Cobbled together out of hundreds of undercover/caper movie clichés, Sleeper Cell is so absurdly detached from the real world, it makes 24 look like a documentary.
  26. The one thing “Sleeper Cell” does commendably is to suggest that there is a struggle going on for the soul of Islam, and that al-Qaida does not have the only say in the matter. But that message is swamped by predictable thriller filler and cheap production values.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 57 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 44 out of 57
  2. Negative: 9 out of 57
  1. Dec 7, 2014
    It is a common misconception that Sleeper Cell was cables first failed attempt to recreate the hit show 24, in a more extreme format, and thatIt is a common misconception that Sleeper Cell was cables first failed attempt to recreate the hit show 24, in a more extreme format, and that Sleeper Cell was the precursor to the smash hit Homeland. In reality, Sleeper Cell was a highly rated mini-series that was picked up for another year. The show was actually the inspiration for Homeland, as if one were to take Sleeper Cell and mix it with 24, the result would be Homeland.

    The story follows Darwyn Al-Sayeed (Michale Ealy), the FBI's best undercover agent, who also happens to be a Muslim, making him the perfect choice to infiltrate the domestic side of Al-Queda. Darwyn poses as a recently paroled Islamic militant, who wants to strike a blow against the country that imprisoned him.

    Through his prison contacts, Darwyn is connected to a mysterious man named Farik (Oded Fehr), who even the FBI can't identify. Through a series of tests, Farik introduces Darwyn to the rest of his cell and together they start to plan an attack on Los Angeles.

    Michael Ealy stars and played the role of Darwyn as if it were specifically written for him. Ealy is the kind of actor who is easily recognized from dozens of minor movie roles, but I've never seen him star before. The character he's playing, Darwyn, is basically Jack Bauer with a lot more self-control. He's cool and collected, but ready to take action at a moments notice, making for a great character.

    Ealy is paired with Oded Fehr, of the Mummy series, and he too was terrific. Obviously you need an actor with a Middle Eastern background to play this role, but Farik isn't you're typical Al-Queda, as he is able to easily fit into the suburban community. Farik is a ruthless killer, but also has a peaceful, caring side, that really comes across in the episode where they go to Mexico.

    Sleeper Cell has all the action and edge of your seat drama that 24 had, and more, because let's face it, This was a cable show. Thanks to a top notch cast, some well known Directors, and a great team of Writers, Sleeper Cell was a sleeper hit on Showtime, that was easily overlooked, because it was only on for a short time. Besides only having 18 episodes, Showtime originally presented the show in a very strange way, airing all the episodes on back to back nights. This means that combined, both seasons were on the air for less than a month, and in a time before on demand had gotten popular. That is why this series was so overlooked, but thanks to Netflix, Me and thousands of others have been exposed to this hidden gem, that is worth every second that you put into to watching it.
    Full Review »
  2. Apr 15, 2012
    What a bad show. The dialogue, acting, plot and music is all just horrible. Beyond unrealistic (in the worst ways).

    A friend recommended this
    What a bad show. The dialogue, acting, plot and music is all just horrible. Beyond unrealistic (in the worst ways).

    A friend recommended this and said it was similar to Homeland. This show is much worse and a far cry from Homeland. I'm surprised that the ctritic's and user reviews are so high.
    Full Review »
  3. DQS
    Jul 20, 2007
    Wildly uneven episode to episode, and character to character. The dialogue seems borrowed from Tom Clancy novels (which is not a compliment) Wildly uneven episode to episode, and character to character. The dialogue seems borrowed from Tom Clancy novels (which is not a compliment) and most of the characters are two dimensional (some less than that). If you're watching just for action - search elsewhere. If you're watching for a dialectic on America's confusion of Islam with Terrorism - search elsewhere. Full Review »