Screen Savors: Yes, minister

Don't miss 'Polishuk.' Channel Two's political satire that features a real man of the people.

polishuk 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
polishuk 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Maybe if we really want to iron things out with the Americans we should turn to a minister who knows what he's doing - with vision, ambition and scruples. In short, Minister Ruby Polishuk. Haven't heard of him? Then you've been missing the best political satire program to come our way in years. Combining the outstanding acting of Sasson Gabbai, former Maariv editor Amnon Dankner as Polishuk's boss and the leader of the Mellel (verbosity) Party Humi Schalit, and the brilliant writing of Shmuel Hasfari, the series throws a satirical dart at our political system, the media and everything else. Veteran actor Gabbai (who, according to Keshet, took the part on a week's notice) plays Polishuk, No. 10 on the Mellel list and content, until now, as a low-level MK. But then infamy takes over. The current Minister for Advancing Social Affairs is caught as a pedophile. So Polishuk walks into Humi's office, and the position, just as the previous minister is being led out. When he goes to take a swing at Polishuk, his parliamentary assistant Tkuma (Shiri Gadni) pulls out her phone and threatens, "I'm taking your picture. This is a 3G phone. In a minute you'll be on Ynet." Justice Minister and party leader Humi - whose character is reminiscent of late Shinui chief and justice minister Yosef "Tommy" Lapid - drafts the minister's letter of resignation while his assistant explains to Polishuk, "In Mellel, you can't be a minister while you're being investigated by the police. We're not Shas or Kadima." Calling it, "the sweetest thing that's ever happened to me since Maccabi Netanya won the title in 1983," Polishuk is overwhelmed with surprise and joy. Driving home, he calls his father. "Dad, I'm a minister," he says. "You've got the wrong number," comes the answer. Having convinced his father that the job is for real, despite not finishing his legal clerkship, his father says, "Well, being a minister isn't really a job, anyway." Arriving the very next morning at his office, he's barred from the parking lot because none of the guards have heard of him. Then Tkuma gives him the lowdown on the ministry he's inherited. "A shit ministry that Shamir created as a punishment for David Levy and they forgot to disband." Meanwhile, Humi and his assistant Kozo (Guy Loel) figure Polishuk's a patsy who can do no harm, letting them focus on real problems, like an upcoming UN vote. Over the phone, Humi asks, "How many are voting for us? Against? Whores. Call the ambassador. I don't want the Justice Ministry to be blamed. Get the Foreign Ministry involved!" Slowly but surely Polishuk starts to work, even if the coffee machine doesn't. When a journalist turns up for an interview with Polishuk's predecessor, he lets her in. Before long, he's caused a major incident, misunderstanding her request to help people in Israel illegally. Hoping to extricate himself the gaff, telling a Channel 2 crew that he was off-base, Polishuk gets another call. Turns out his decision to ease conditions for the illegals has turned the tide at the UN. Go back and reverse the reversal, orders Humi, who naturally takes all the credit. If it all rings too true to our political reality, that is a tribute to Hasfari, whose script is simply brilliant. The introduction of real media folk - including an embarrassing interview with radio host Gabi Gazit about single mothers (which we can't elaborate upon here) - adds spice. But at the center of it all, is the amazing Gabbai. Watching him sit down at his desk, you can feel his character's passion for a position he never thought he'd obtain. Keeping it, however, will prove another matter. Polishuk airs on Sundays and Mondays on Channel 2 at 10:30 p.m.