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(photo credit: Courtesy)
If you've been struggling - as I have - with the question of whom to vote for in the upcoming election, tune in to The Race to the Prime Minister's Office (Hamerutz L'rashut Hamemshala). I'm sure, after just one episode, you'll jump on the Elad Stefansky bandwagon.
Stefansky leads the Kol Ha'am (All the People) Party. While mythical, the party might as well be real, seemingly miles ahead of some of those weird, one-issue parties.
Unlike the slogans of some of his more established rivals, like Labor's "Hamsa, hamsa," you just can't beat Stefansky's unassuming campaign slogan. He wants to be PM, "Simply because he really wants to be."
He may not really be running (darn!), but his TV mockumentary is one of the most charming offerings to appear on local screens, particularly Channel 1, in a long time.
The concept has Stefansky deciding to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming prime minister - and naively setting out to do just that.
After failing to win a spot on Labor's list - despite handing out humous and pita at the polling station - Stefansky heads home to his girlfriend and dog on his bicycle, his Israeli flag tucked dejectedly under his arm. But Elad is not easily denied. Acting on his girlfriend's advice, he forms his own party.
His first task is to accumulate 100 signatures. "What's your party going to do?" asks one potential supporter. "Ummâ€¦ to make things better," Stefansky says. That proves way too outlandish to get the man to sign.
There are also obstacles that the mainstream candidates (such as Barak, Netanyahu and Livni) do not face on the campaign trail. In the midst of canvassing, our hero receives a call: someone's got to walk the dog. Soon, he's holding his canine with one hand while chasing voters with the other.
"Something's missing," says Elad, "I need direction."
The next scene, which takes place in his parents' kitchen, is right out of Seinfeld. Elad's ideologically split mom and dad spew every right-left argument at each other while their son huddles in the corner. Eventually, he leaves as confused as ever.
Undaunted, he decides to call people on the phone at random to ask, "What's bothering you, what would you change?" One person offers, "I want there to be an Ethiopian prime minister." To which Elad acknowledges, "Sorry, can't help you there."
Hysterical calls to the operator and a cab dispatcher, played with deadpan perfection, didn't help much either. So, he summons his friends in search of their advice.
There's Lily, an expert on security ("because everyone's afraid of her"), Ido, the economic expert ("he has a lot of money") and culture expert Hagit, ("she's a great dancer"). Together they develop the party name and platform.
But, following a street poll in the Carmel Market, Stefansky discovers a serious issue hitherto unrecognized: his name is too long.
Later, everyman Stefansky, clad in jeans and a "Beer" t-shirt, approaches former NRP MK Shaul Yahalom - one of several actual political personalities - for advice. Yahalom dismisses the platform as sounding, "like you just made it up yesterday."
"It was," Elad replies, to which Yahalom offers some advice, "Wear a tie - you need a little style."
This interaction leads to the candidate deciding that it's "time for a revolution," and he shaves off his beard.
Upcoming episodes are to include Elad in search of a sports jacket, learning to speak proper Hebrew from language expert Avraham Koor and meeting with former MK Yossi Sarid.
Stefansky's sweetness and lack of guile are the total antithesis of most politicians. Thus he's a character that viewers will root for in the hopes that this political ugly duckling becomes a swan.
The combination of real figures in sometimes-scripted situations is great and the music is outstanding.
In this time of national stress, Elad Stefansky and Hili Ziv, his real-life writing partner, have created a lovable character whose virtues those conventional candidates would do well to emulate.
The Race to the Prime Minister's Office airs on Channel 1, Monday nights at 8:30 p.m.
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