Happiness is a warm dog

The amount of attention you pay to the screen depends a lot on which celeb you like best.

television 88 (photo credit: )
television 88
(photo credit: )
Anyone watching YES's Pa'am Bahayim (Once in a Lifetime) will come away with a smile on their face. The series, now in its third year, sends celebs off to distant locations to do things they'd normally not think of doing, at the same time offering insight into elements that make us all human. This year's search is for true happiness, and it sends the actors and musicians to sites as far apart as the North Pole, Costa Rica, Russia, the desert between here and Jordan, and a Haifa police headquarters. That's the charm of Pa'am Bahayim - an attractive mix of travelogue, celeb special and Survivor, with a great soundtrack and some gorgeous camera work that also relies on the popularity of its participants to keep us coming back. We caught the opening program recently, and came away impressed not only with the format, but with the willingness of the celebs to sign up for tasks that often play on their own dislikes and fears. For there was poor comedian/host Lior Schlein gearing up for his trip to the North Pole with fellow comic Guri Alfi, watching a show in which another man who'd gone on a similar expedition describes how he'd hacked off his frostbitten fingers. Yikes, pretty scary stuff, and not nearly as off-putting as model/hostess Moran Atias and her partner for the program Metal Dohan's preparations for life with the ultra-rich in an effort to see if having lots of money can bring happiness. Not even as bad as former Kaveret and Poogy star Gidi Gov saddling up with TV personality Gil Riva to head off to a guru's spiritual retreat in Costa Rica to see if true faith brings happiness. As for Hana Laszlo and Miss Israel 1999 Rana Raslan, their plans to join up with the Al Azazma Beduin clan for a camel trip to Jordan to see if living with the bare necessities would bring them happiness sounded a bit dicey, while comedian Dov Navon and the pregnant Rotem Abuhav were putting on their dress blues as they prepared to join the police to see if dedicating your life to an ideal is the key. As the unpleasant truth hit Navon aboard the bus taking them to police boot camp, he moaned: "This is just a bad sketch!" The fast-moving series tracked their preparations and departures, adding footage of what lay ahead, including Eskimo Tommy Inuak noting that "we have so much suicide" in Alaska. Oy. "What scares me the most?" Schlein asked himself rhetorically as he packed. After pausing a moment to consider, he said simply: "Death." Gov, meanwhile, was struggling with the whole touchy-feely idea of heading to the guru's digs. Happiness? "I don't think there is any such condition," he noted, adding - as we saw footage of the guru's followers doing just that - "people who automatically smile at me raise my anxiety rate to level 12." But there was nothing funny about Navon and Abuhav's induction into the police, who were all business. We loved the pacing, the beautiful scenery, Laszlo trying on about a dozen hats and wondering how she could get used to the desert when she already has more than enough hot flashes, thank you. "Where will I plug in my hair dryer," she asked, "In the camel's butt? There's no plug!" It was all great. The amount of attention you pay to the screen depends a lot on which celeb you like best, although the North Pole trek looks to be, ahem, the coolest. But for those of us stuck inside on a cold January night trying to figure out just why we're still in overdraft, taking flight with those facing even worse discomforts is somehow comforting. Take off with Pa'am Bahayim Sunday-Thursday at 9:30 p.m., with repeats the following day at 4:10 p.m.. Like many local shows, such as Survivor (nana.co.il), the show is also accessible on the Web: just go to walla.co.il and click under television. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will keep you coming back for more.