Israel continues to be in the forefront of the best of international television. Gideon Raff, an Israeli screenwriter and one of the creators of Homeland (and the Israeli TV drama from Keshet Broadcasting, Prisoners of War, on which Homeland was based), has a new series, Tyrant, which was filmed in Israel. It begins airing on YES VOD on June 26 and will be broadcast on YES Oh on Saturdays at 10:15 p.m. starting on June 28.
It tells the story of Bassam “Barry” al-Fayeed (Adam Rayner), son of a Saddam Hussein-like dictator in a fictional, war-torn Arab country. Barry has distanced himself from his father and built a life for himself in the US, where he works as a pediatrician, is married to an American woman and has children. But when he returns to his homeland for his nephew’s wedding, he finds himself – reluctantly – drawn back into the world of political intrigue he fled.
It’s an interesting premise, and knowing that the writer from Homeland is behind it, as well as other members of the Homeland creative team, including producer Howard Gordon, certainly puts it at the top of my must-watch-next list. Director David Yates is known for having directed several of the Harry Potter movies.
Tyrant features some wonderful actors. Rayner is a British actor whose work has drawn much acclaim, and his character has a British mother, which makes his presence in the cast more plausible. Justin Kirk, whom some will remember as Andy on Weeds, arguably the funniest character on a very funny show, has a very different role here as a US diplomat stationed in the Arab nation. Several Israeli actors have key roles. Ashraf Barhom, who starred in The Kingdom and Clash of the Titans, plays the leading man’s brother. Barhom first drew notice in key roles in the Israeli films Colombian Love and The Syrian Bride. Moran Atias, a former model who has starred in such American films as Crash and The Next Three Days, plays Barhom’s wife.
The Israeli series Stoplight, about three friends in different stages of life, didn’t fare well when it was adapted for American television, but here the show is still incredibly popular and inspires a great deal of water-cooler discussion after it airs.
Now, Channel 1 is trying to duplicate the success of Ramzor with a new series Who Gave You a License?, which begins airing on June 24 at 10 p.m. (on Channel 1 and Channel 511 HD) and will be broadcast every Tuesday. It’s a broad comedy about three different women: An Arab cab driver with a heart of gold who has trouble controlling her car; a lesbian driving instructor; and a spoiled, wealthy young woman who has her own start-up but can’t drive. The series stars Daniela Doron, Shimrit Lustig, Niro Levy, Liron Vaisman, and Hanny Nahmias.
Listening to people who have just gotten divorced or are still going through the process talk about their lives can be like hearing a car alarm that won’t go off – you just pray for it to stop. But the folks at Channel 1 are hoping to bring out a more interesting side to these stories, something that we will all be able to relate to and that will keep us from immediately changing the channel, with its new series Marriage in Crisis, which airs on Sunday, June 22 at 9 p.m. on Channel 1 and Channel 511 (HD) and runs for five weeks. The show follows a group of people who are considering or have decided to get divorced, and accompanies them to a desert camping expedition where they contemplate the rocky terrain as they ruminate on their rocky marriages. As is the norm now for such shows, the participants represent a cross section of Israeli society, and include a Dead Sea salesman who has traveled the world but neglected his family at home; a ballet dancer and a Pilates instructor who are trying to get back together after a six-year separation; and a convert who became ultra-Orthodox. If you like reality shows in general, then you might want to give this a try.