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Away from his ‘Homeland’
By HANNAH BROWN
03/07/2014
Gideon Raff’s new series ‘Tyrant,’lacks complexity.
 
People have been asking whether writer/producer Gideon Raff’s Tyrant will be the next Homeland, the series Raff produced and which was based on the Israeli television drama Prisoners of War that he created.

Perhaps it’s an unfair comparison, but Tyrant, which airs on YES VOD and YES Oh and YES HD on Saturdays at 10:15 p.m., is a drama with an intriguing premise, good performances and suspense, but it lacks the complexity that characterized Homeland from its first episode.

Tyrant is the story of Barry (Adam Rayner), the son of the dictator of an Arab, Middle Eastern country. Barry has left his homeland behind to become a doctor in Los Angeles. For 20 years, he has built a life for himself in the US, marrying an American woman, Molly (Jennifer Finnigan), and raising two children. But for no good reason except that it fits in with the show’s premise, he decides to return home for his nephew’s wedding. Although his children are excited about all the luxury and glitz in the palace and at the wedding, his wife seems inexplicably clueless about the possibility that the trip may be dangerous and that being married to the son of a savage dictator may have its downside.

It’s not revealing any spoilers to say that Barry finds himself drawn back into palace intrigues that he fled the country to avoid, or that his dishy sister-in-law, Leila (Israeli actress Moran Atias), once his girlfriend, starts eying him from the moment he steps into the palace.

Another Israeli actor, Ashraf Barhom, who has always been terrific whether he is playing a hero (as he did in The Kingdom), or a villain (he was the leader of a terror cell in Paradise Now, who sent young men to die and kill) is the standout in the role of the brother.

He’s a mega-villain: A spoiled, rich idiot who randomly rapes any women he wants and drives a red sports car, blaring classic rock anthems (like “Barracuda” by Heart). But it’s Barhom’s triumph that he manages to infuse the character with a little bit of edge, even mystery. The brothers’ childhood backstory, and the psychological trauma that has made each man who he is today, is revealed toward the end of the episode, and it’s a revelation that might have carried more weight if it had come later in the season, after we had gotten to know the characters better.

In spite of its flaws, Tyrant has an interesting setup, and I hope it will improve in the coming episodes. We can only hope that Molly will use some of her downtime while stuck in the Middle East to check out any news websites the regime hasn’t blocked.

Pop music fans will want to catch two shows on Channel 1. On July 6 at 10:30 p.m., a Paul McCartney concert will be broadcast. It features him performing songs from his latest album, Kisses on the Bottom, which are covers of classic pop and jazz tunes, including “The Glory of Love” and “It’s Only a Paper Moon.” Eric Clapton and dozens of other wonderful performers who played on the album appear in interviews.

On July 7, Channel 1 will present a Madonna concert, which features her performing in Miami on her MDNA tour.

HOT presents the seventh and final season of Californication, the show starring David Duchovny about a troubled novelist with writer’s block in Los Angeles. It will be broadcast on Mondays starting July 14 at 10:15 p.m. on HOT 3, and on HOT VOD.

YES Oh just started airing the creepy series, The Leftovers, which is being shown on Mondays at 5 a.m. (just as it is shown in the US) and again at 10:50 p.m. on YES Oh, and on YES VOD and YES HD. The premise is that 2 percent of the world’s population vanished into thin air three years ago. It’s a combination of a Stephen King drama and a play on the Christian idea of the Rapture, but while you’re watching it, you won’t think of anything but how scary it is.
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