The plot sickens

"Hamezina": See-through plot and cheap psychobabble characterize new Channel 10 reality show.

hamezima 88 (photo credit: )
hamezima 88
(photo credit: )
The kids are screaming. The house is a mess. The bills aren't paid. Your in-laws are coming for Shabbat. But wait! Just when you're ready to throw yourself off the balcony, someone yells: "Gotcha!" and out steps a camera crew and a smiling host, telling you it was all a put-on. Yeah, right. Like that might ever get you out of this mess. Dream on, or if you harbor such fantasies, tune in to Hamezima (The Plot), the latest Channel 10 creation - a reality show with a twist: what seems real to the participants is a fake, a situation drawn up by host and creator Ilan Sasson. Call it 24 meets The Truman Show meets Candid Camera or Fisfusim, since the situations, or at least the one presented in the show's debut last Wednesday night at 9 p.m., was supposed to be nerve-wracking, not just silly or embarrassing, as Allen Funt and Yigal Shilon did in their respective and similar programs. Indeed, this one feels more like Ashton Kutcher's MTV effort Punked, where celebs are put in tense situations, only to have Kutcher and his band of idiots leap out and laugh at the distraught actors or actresses. The difference: Ashton's situations actually seem real, the "fake" cops, barmen, or whatever playing their parts perfectly. Sasson's plot is more see-through than some of the clothes in the latest TNT summer calendar, and we're still amazed the four dolts who participated didn't spot them immediately. "With the help of dozens of cameras, we'll put people in situations they're used to seeing only in the movies," intoned the narrator. Yeah, bad B-movies. The "plot" had Merav, Golan, Irit and Tal all signing up to become private detectives, and heading off with one of the "detective agency" gumshoes to track a couple at a local by-the-hour hotel. Then came the pounding music and the on-screen build-up: "Tonight on The Plot: Cheating wives and husbands! A gun in the first act. A private investigator. A very dangerous hired killer who recently broke out of jail. And a clock that's ticking much too fast...." Add 24-like music and you've got... Dreck, mostly, even if they kept reminding us the action was being followed by MORE THAN 50 CAMERAS AND A MINI-HELICOPTER. We're surprised the show isn't sponsored by Fuji. Just the fake-out attempt itself would've been enough, but Sasson adds yet another dimension: analysis. At given moments, up pops an "expert" in body language or criminal law to discuss just how the participants are doing. So when the ridiculous spying on the hotel tryst gives birth to what appears to be a plan to murder the woman's husband, our criminal law expert reminds us that those listening in had a responsibility to call the police immediately. Like, DUH.... The height of this idiocy came when our four novice Sam Spades returned to the agency to warn their employer that the husband should be called immediately, lest he be murdered. The call was made, the husband answered, and then we heard shots, with the husband burbling over the phone in perhaps the worst acted fake death in Israeli television history: "Uhhhh...I've been shot... I'm dying...." Click. The cheap psychobabble that we suffered through earlier continued when the show ended, with the four freierim finally being told that dangerous criminal Herzl Barber - who reminded us of an insurance agent, actually - whom they saw pull a gun on them was actually just an actor. P-H-E-W!!!!! Collective sigh of relief, then on to Sasson who concluded by explaining that when faced with such a dangerous situation, "we only think about ourselves... and most of us would act the same way." Well, no. Most people with a pulse would've figured from the bad acting and dopey situation that something was afoot, Watson. Instead this hour of drivel was simply annoying, playing to the voyeuristic side of the audience without more than a modicum of humor or intelligence to make it palatable. We wonder who at Channel 10 gave the thumbs up for producing this ridiculous program. Whoever they are, they should have their hands permanently tied behind their backs. And why, when summer approaches, are we stuck with such ludicrous shows, usually on Channel 10 or Channel 2, usually completely mindless stuff? Do our TV tastes go on summer vacation? Anyway, we're sorry - there are no secret cameras filming the boys punching each other in the living room, and the man on the phone asking you when you're going to pay your electric bill really is from the electric company. But cheer up - compared to being forced to watch Hamezima, your life's a day at the beach.