Screen Savors: What's bugging Tel Aviv

"I Never Promised You": A shallow show about shallow people.

By ARYEH DEAN COHEN
November 2, 2006 14:35
3 minute read.
Screen Savors: What's bugging Tel Aviv

tel aviv pub 88. (photo credit: )

The Iranians want to wipe us off the map. The Syrians just beefed up their defenses and are talking war. Enough munitions have been smuggled into Gaza to blow up Sderot 20 times over. But what do Tel Aviv's yuppies have on their minds? Removing body hair, the size of their girlfriend's boobs, and sex, sex, sex. That's certainly what you'd think about the denizens of the City That Never Sleeps after watching YES's new drama series I Never Promised You, which premieres tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m. on YES as part of the satellite company's new original drama campaign. In fact, that itself is almost as disorienting as what this program seems to say about the lifestyle of our young urbaan professionals. After all, it wasn't long ago that YES trumpeted its commitment to bring viewers the best of foreign programming, while HOT focused on local dramas. Now, however, the scheduling shoe appears to be on the other foot, with YES suddenly launching its own local dramas. Meanwhile, HOT's playing catch-up via its Video On Demand service, in which it just signed a deal to bring subscribers a slew of... HBO programs. This role switching may not be as confusing as trying to figure out why anyone would care enough to commit themselves to I Never Promised You - a shallow drama about shallow people. In fact, in a series where one lead character studies bugs, one's left wishing that someone had squashed this series on someone's windshield before it could develop any further. What makes the whole thing a shame is that there's talent going to waste here, particularly Guri Alfi of the comedy panel show Mishak Machur and Riki Blich, one of the stars of Shorts, who are about the best thing in this story of three friends - Tomer, Itzik and Udi - and the women in their lives. The series opens with Itzik (Eli Finish) and Tomer (Alfi), who work at the same amorphous hi-tech company, getting their chest hair removed at a local spa. This seems to set the tone for the entire episode. A search for deep internal truth would come up dry. Tomer, afraid he's losing himself at work, seeks an outlet in a creative writing class, where a blonde classmate gives the goofy, bespectacled guy the eye but says she's got a boyfriend. Cut to Blich, as Hila, in bed with Itzik, who critiques ice cream with her in bed after they do it, even though their sex life has hit its own Rocky Road. You see, poor Itzik - who regularly sleeps with Etty behind Hila's back - would love to settle down with Hila, but her boobs are just too small. Back to Tomer, who's told by the blonde after their second class that she's dumped her boyfriend and wants the incredulous Tomer to take her immediately home to bed. In one of the show's best moments, the clumsy Tomer tries to capitalize on his good fortune, only to have his hot-blooded conquest constantly remove his glasses, leaving him at least visually unsatisfied. Acting on Itzik's advice, he tries it with contacts on, which only overcompensates for his previous disappointment, forcing him to jump the gun and leaving her unsatisfied. When she demands that they try it in the rather empty living room of his new apartment, he apologizes, promising as he struggles to carry her there that "I just ordered a couple of couches from IKEA." Over to Udi, the bug expert, who's married to career woman Dana and would like to have one more kid, while she's against the idea. The type of woman who's got her husband's shirts all arranged, she begins to rethink her career track after witnessing a car accident, while he finds solace playing soccer with his two pals and wishing he could live on the wild side like they do. Back to Blich now, as we said, wasted in her role, although we did cheer when her Hila called mammary-fixated, bald Tomer back and told him she'd love to meet his request to enlarge her chest and move in, but only if he can first meet hers: getting matching tattoos of butterflies on his body, an earring and some long blond hair. Why should viewers care about these people? Your guess is as good as mine. Udi's discussion of the mating habits of bugs was more interesting than most of the action, which left us hankering for a National Geographic special on centipedes. While it's good to see YES trying its hand at local drama, there have been much better ones on cable and non-cable stations. And if Tel Avivians are really this shallow, Ahmadinejad won't need to bomb us - we'll just deteriorate morally and physically until the bugs take their deserved place at the top of the pyramid.


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