Screen Savors: The best show you never watch

'Hayidonim' uses outstanding animation, clever scripts to teach kids about Albert Schweitzer and others.

By ARYEH DEAN COHEN
September 27, 2007 06:38
3 minute read.
Screen Savors: The best show you never watch

alebert schweitzer 224.8. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Ever meet Albert Schweitzer's parents? What about the lady who lived next door to Shai Agnon when the Nobel Prize-winning author's home in Germany burned down? What - you're not watching Hayidonim ("The Ones Who Know") on the kids' Logi Channel? You don't know what you're missing. How could you - most of us aren't home at 3 p.m. when the program is broadcast, but our kids are. And if your kid isn't watching this show already, he or she should be, and you should watch it with them. Simply put, it's one of the most hysterical yet informative kids programs we've ever seen on local TV, and a great way to spend half an hour with your child, with both of you emerging entertained and informed. That's partly because of its two stars, Eyal Khitzis and Tal Berman of Eretz Nehederet, who offer up a bevy of characters so wild viewers will be in stitches throughout the show. The premise is simple enough: Tsuf (Berman) and Dotan (Khitzis) run a TV show which offers information about historical figures from both Israel and around the world. There's a love-hate relationship between them, with the stars in her eyes Tsuf - featuring Berman in a wild wig and a horrible speech defect that may require you to clean off your screen when the show's over - and the more serious Dotan clashing over just how their show should be presented to the public. She clearly gets on his nerves, leading him to turn to her with the by now ubiquitous, "Tzuf, man….." For the most part, however, the program's aimed at being informative, and here it succeeds in spades, thanks to the pair's clowning, outstanding animation, and a wonderful script. The episode we happened to see had the pair tracing two figures, Albert Schweitzer and Shai Agnon. First we got "Three Things You Didn't Know" about each of them, including some we didn't know, like the story of Agnon's home burning down. Schweitzer's bit came first, with us meeting his parents - Berman as his mother and Khitzis as his father, passing his Nobel Prize back and forth between them. Explaining how as a young boy Schweitzer already had a good heart, his mother said that when they passed vagrants on the street, "I would curse them and yell: 'Parasite!' and tell them to work." Dad: "Albert would cover them in a blanket and give them soup." Mom: "I would yell: 'Alcoholic! Get a hold of yourself, you social leech!' Dad: "So I would put on the blanket and eat the soup and go home. Mom: "Where I'd continue cursing, remember?" It's such inspired lunacy that makes the program so much fun. The characters commenting on the biographies of the historical figures include a chef, a doctor, a pair of stoned-out groupies, a cabbie, a high society woman and a couple of waiters, to name just a few. Interspersed are historical figures who fit the particular person being profiled, like the woman who lived next door to poor Agnon when all his writings went up in smoke. Played by Berman with a thick German accent, she said simply: "Hot! Hot! Burned down whole house, plus solar boiler, hall, the foyer and the DVD. I quite enjoyed it." Our particular favorite characters were groupies Maya (Khitzis with a strand of long hair in his eyes) and Eldad (Berman sporting the world's largest Afro), Eldad explaining: "When we found out Albert was in Africa, Eldad and I took a plane and a bus and a train and a cheetah - all to get to Gabon and get an autograph from Albert." Maya: "We told him: 'We came all this way from Israel to get your autograph, Mr. Albert Einstein.'" Eldad: "He said: 'But I'm not Albert Einstein. I'm Albert Schweitzer,' like he was so sure of himself. Maya: "And I said: 'I don't know that guy, but since we came this far, do you mind signing 'Albert Einstein?'" Along the way we learned that Schweitzer wrote a book about Bach and was a organist. The great animation showed him treating the sick in Africa, with his patients all crying when the date of his death was flashed. More importantly, we noticed that our kid was learning something, too. Not all the zaniness works, but most of it does, and as a learning tool, this program can't be beat. With occasional in-jokes aimed at adults, it's worth paying attention, and mom and dad get taught a few history lessons, too. The show's creator Giora Hamitzer and writer Yuval Friedman deserve a ton of credit for this brilliant program, which airs weekdays at 3. We adults should only be so lucky to get some equally fine shows of our own.

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