Screen Savors: Binging, vampires and the new Mideast

This week on TV.

December 4, 2014 17:12
3 minute read.
‘The Honorable Woman’ TV show


These days when people talk about binging, they’re as likely to be referring to marathon viewing sessions of television episodes as to out-of-control eating or drinking. There are just so many good television series out there that when you discover a new show in its second or third season, you may want to go back and see all previous seasons so you can understand what’s really going on.

I don’t see how a viewer could possibly tune in to The Good Wife or Homeland in their sixth and fourth seasons, respectively, and have any idea what to make of these shows.

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That’s one reason for binge-viewing.

Another is that television shows are now available whenever people want them, and some enjoy saving up their favorite programs for a period when they have time to savor several episodes one after another.

Many of us have found ways to see what we want when we want it by going to iTunes or other Internet sites.

But YES is trying to find a way to keep viewers using its network. It has just started a new service called YES Binge. It will incorporate YES Go and YES VOD and will feature every episode of dozens of the most popular series, such as Game of Thrones, The Wire, The Sopranos, Girls and Grey’s Anatomy, as well as Israeli series such as Blue Natalie and Lost in Africa. The service is free for YES subscribers, and let’s hope it stays that way.

Channel 1 is generally known for high-quality, serious documentaries, but for the month of December the channel will also be broadcasting some popcorn movies on Friday nights at 10 p.m.

On December 5, Channel 1 will broadcast the 2008 Sylvester Stallone movie Rambo, in which he revisits his iconic tough guy character.

During the following weeks, on December 12, 19 and 26, it will show the first three movies in the Twilight series. This is good news if you’re a tween girl who loves the series (its fans are called Twi-Hards) and bad news for almost everyone else. The Twilight movies are not vampire films as much as teen romance in which the perfect boyfriend just happens to be a vampire, and the guy you go to when you’re fighting with your boyfriend is a werewolf. The first movie has a bit of atmosphere – the Pacific Northwest has never looked so beautiful or mysterious. But the series got increasingly preposterous with each installment, and the leads grew less expressive with each outing.

One way to salvage the evening if someone you love wants to watch these films is to sit there and make snide remarks. The Twilight films are nothing if not good bad movies. So whether you’re a member of the tween target audience or not, there’s a way to enjoy these films.

The Middle East has become an increasingly popular setting for television drama – think of Homeland, set partially in the Mideast, and Tyrant. This month.

HOT Xtra VOD will be broadcasting The Honorable Woman, an eightepisode miniseries starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, beginning December 17.

Co-produced by the BBC and Sundance, it tells the story of a woman, Nessa Stein (Gyllenhaal), an Anglo-Israeli whose father was a weapons dealer and was assassinated when she was a child.

When she inherits his company, she heads back to Israel to try to turn it into a fiber-optics company that will connect Israelis and Palestinians. But she is sabotaged at every turn by intrigues and doesn’t know whom to trust.

The supporting cast includes Igal Naor, a gifted Israeli actor who played Saddam Hussein in a 2008 miniseries and has appeared in Steven Spielberg’s Munich; Lubna Azabal, the Belgian actress who starred in the 2007 Israeli film Strangers, and as well as the Canadian movie Incendies; Irish actor Stephen Rea, who was in The Crying Game and V for Vendetta; and Janet McTeer, a British actress who recently appeared in the films Albert Nobbs and Hannah Arendt.

The series has gotten rave reviews; and with that cast, it sounds promising. Stay tuned for a full review next week.

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