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(photo credit: courtesy)
We don't take cabs much, just when the old '89 Peugeot has one of its infrequent - we wish - breakdowns. But if we did have to cab it, we'd love to end up in the Monit Hakesef (Money Taxi) with host Ido Rosenblum, the lucky dog who dates Channel 2 anchorwoman Yonit Levy.
Ido's program, based on the US series Cash Cab, has him pick up fares and run them through a collection of trivia questions based on anything from Israeli movie and music to what continent is the island of Zanzibar located next to (A). (Answers below)
Easy questions earn passengers NIS 250 and up to NIS 1,000 for the harder ones. Ido mans the wheel as he braves Tel Aviv area traffic - and some of the nut jobs that end up in his back seat.
That can mean a trio of fellows just out of a neighborhood bar, so drunk they can barely sit straight to be caught on camera. Or a schlemiel like Sasson, who appeared in last week's special episode featuring previous losers, brought back for another chance.
Most contestants at least make it to their destination, where they get a chance to go double or nothing. But poor Sasson was such a dolt, he didn't know the ending of the ubiquitous slogan disseminated by vandals around the country: "na, nach, Nachman Me'Uman." He ended up hoofing it home. Not surprising for a guy who, last time, couldn't come up with Haim Bialik's middle name (B).
Passengers have one chance to call someone for help and another to ask a passerby for the answer. However, the latter didn't help when one contestant asked some people on the street which country had been chosen to host the 2014 World Cup. They answered England (C)â€¦ wrong!
However, a fellow cabbie helped Erez, another returnee who lost last year, by correctly telling him that French President Sarkozy is married to Carla Bruni. Despite Erez's insistence that her last name is "Brownies," Ido threw the dog a bone and sent Erez home a winner.
Our whole family immensely enjoys watching this show, gathered around the screen to watch scruffy and sexy Ido deal with his passengers. On the recent Independence Day special, a whole group of Italian tourists were in the cab and actually fared quite well.
You have to admire Ido's patience with some of the folk that get in his cab. To the program's credit, it does represent a cross-section of Israelis. The Independence Day program, for example, included some Jaffa Arabs. Moreover, it's hard not to give high marks to a program on which one can actually learn something - even if it is the name of the Teletubbies or who Begin called, "the man with the hair on his face," with Ido providing a hint, "it wasn't Golda" (D).
There's welcome dramatic tension when Ido offers the passengers the chance to double their winnings, over which they often argue. And then, there's that cathartic moment, should they win, of crazy celebrations on the street that are so fun to watch.
But the most fun are the losers, like Sasson, who didn't know that Chag Ha'orim (festival of lights) refers to Hanukka - he thought it was Shavuot. And you have to tip your hat to the female threesome back on the program after last year's loss. They actually wrote an answer they expected on their hands before being picked up by Ido. They got that question but crashed out at the end, leaving with nothing but dÃ©jÃ vu and the experience of having taken yet another ride on the Monit Hakesef.
Monit Hakesef airs on Channel 2 on Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
Correct answer to trivia questions: A)Africa B) Nachman C)Brazil D) Yasser Arafat
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