Screen savers: A sad sack's success

Meir Suissa hasn't had it easy, which makes playing himself in Channel 10's Karov L'Vadai so easy.

Not much goes right for Meir Suissa. When trying to pay the bill in a trendy Tel Aviv caf , his money rolls under the table, which he then knocks over. His wife and kids have left him. He can't reach his glasses on the nightstand in the morning. Yes, Suissa, who starred in the original version of the movie Ha'lahaka and has since had a checkered career in the Israeli entertainment business, hasn't had it easy, which makes playing himself in the entertaining new Channel 10 offering, Karov L'Vadai (Almost Certainly) so easy. With nods to Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm and Lisa Kudrow's The Comeback, both featuring individuals playing themselves, Suissa mixes his cantankerous side, which keeps getting him in trouble, with his sweet side to charm viewers and model Miri Bohadana, his co-star, as well. Naturally, things don't start off too smoothly in their unfolding relationship. Even their agents don't see eye to eye at first, staring each other down in a lovely early scene in which Bohadana's agent stood alongside her elegant town car, while Suissa's stood alongside... a motorcycle and side car. Out-of-work actor Suissa is then seen trying out for a butter commercial in a hysterical scene reminiscent of the whisky ad shot by poor Bill Murray in Lost in Translation. When his agent calls to suggest Bohadana might be just the person to star opposite him in Suissa's new play, the oafish actor, not realizing she's in the room with the agent, hollers: "She's a model; let her go do coke in the bathroom." But fate often takes a hand in the romantic comedy, with the influence of some of Woody Allen's sweeter movies clearly felt. So here's Bohadana walking into the same caf where Suissa's sitting, allowing him to beg forgiveness ("it's not my decade") and move their relationship along. There are other obstacles, however. Miri's dating a hunky but stupid wannabe actor, who watches old telenovellas for inspiration. Suissa, who's relied on lifts from friends to get everywhere, decides to take driving lessons. When the hot-blooded female driving instructor tells the nervous Suissa to "rely on his instincts," he snaps: "My instincts tell me to get out of the car." Before long, the infatuated. garrulous instructor - who keeps up a steady commentary on the human condition as she sees it, even in bed - is practicing more than parallel parking with him. Ironically, now it's loser Suissa who's having sex, while Bohadana's beau is sacked out and snoring when she gets home. Nonetheless, it's clear Suissa longs for his family, whose picture is on his refrigerator door, whom we're told have left him as part of "a temporary, unlimited separation." His house is a mess, and it's clear this loser deserved what he got. Despite his attempts to make up, Suissa's boorish behavior during rehearsal almost drives Bohadana away again, until fate plays another card. When her boyfriend loses her dog, Suissa - out for another driving lesson with his hot-blooded teacher - finds Buff in the middle of the road, and returns the pooch to a delighted Bohadana. "Where did you find him?" she asks tearfully. "He called me," snaps Suissa. "I also do dry-cleaning if you need anything else." Now, it seems, their relationship is cemented for good. She kicks out the boyfriend, he shows the stop sign to the horny driving teacher. Can they make this impossible match-up work? Tune in and see. That's the basic premise of this well-acted, well-written series, which also features fun music, a delightful opening, and two stars who really appear to want to make their new series work. While the previews showed perhaps too many nods to Woody - Suissa chasing down a cockroach for Bohadana appears to have been lifted completely from Annie Hall w- this Channel 10 series is a pleasant way to spend a Wednesday night (10 p.m.), and will almost certainly put the bespectacled actor's career back on the right track, while proving that Bohadana is more than just a pretty face.