TV Time: ‘Manayek’ mesmerizes and Sandler smirks

Manayek is the perfect series to turn to if you enjoyed the suspense of the intricate plot of Tehran.

 'MANAYEK' (photo credit: KAN 11/ROEY ROTH)
'MANAYEK'
(photo credit: KAN 11/ROEY ROTH)

The second season of Kan 11’s Manayek, a police corruption drama, starts running on June 23 at 9:15 p.m. (and will run on Sunday nights, as well as Thursdays, after which it can be seen via the website kan.org.il). It is another example of why Israeli television continues to have such an impact around the world.

It tells a quintessentially Israeli story of Izzy (Shalom Assayag), a weary Internal Affairs police detective who retires in the first season and, through a complex set of circumstances, is brought back into a highly sensitive investigation in the second season. He is a doggedly honest man who tries to chart a straight course in a labyrinthine world of cops on the take, Russian mobsters, Arab-Israeli drug gangs and veteran Israeli criminals. Manayek, the title of which is a very derogatory slang term for a snitch, makes these characters so real and vivid, and they represent law–and-order story archetypes, so that the series will work anywhere around the world. The first season has been shown in a number of foreign countries, to great acclaim.

Based on the early episodes released to the press, season two looks to be at least as good as season one, which ran in the summer of 2020. Given that nearly two years have elapsed, you may need a refresher before you watch the second season. You can do that by re-watching episodes from the first season, which are available now on the Kan website (kan.org.il). A shortcut tip: Watch the first 10 min. of that first episode and the last 10 min. of the final episode.

The second season continues the same plotlines as the first. In scenes reminiscent of the second season of The Wire, when homicide detective Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West) is taken off his regular beat and forced to ride the police boat, Izzy is sailing around the Mediterranean and working at his father’s fishing goods store. There is more going on in the episode than there is space to summarize, but the key figure is the equally incorruptible Tal Ben Harush (Liraz Chamami), a detective in Rishon Letzion who is pregnant, a plot development that involves an affair with a colleague.

When she learns that a body discovered is that of Roslan Manhamov, a Russian criminal mightily involved in all manner of illegal schemes, she vows to get to the bottom of it. But getting to the bottom of anything means stirring things up at the top, and the investigation is quickly taken away from her department by her ruthless superiors, who know she will uncover secrets they do not want exposed. She confides her suspicions to Izzy and keeps digging, no matter who warns her off.

JUST AS in The Wire, there are a lot of characters to keep track of, and if you forget for a moment who has done what to whom, just keeping watching and you’ll get it. The scenes that look at Izzy’s private life are artfully blended with the police plot, and he even gets fixed up with Tal’s heavily tattooed sister. Amos Tamam, whom Srugim viewers remember as Amir, shows once again that he is very good at being bad.

Manayek is the perfect series to turn to if you enjoyed the suspense of the intricate plot of Tehran, which just ended its second season last week. The episodes of Tehran are also available for free on Kan, and if you start watching, you may well end up binging them. It is also on Apple TV+.

 ‘OBI-WAN KENOBI’ (credit: DISNEY+/LUCASFILM LTD) ‘OBI-WAN KENOBI’ (credit: DISNEY+/LUCASFILM LTD)

Disney+ has officially launched and it is available at apps.disneyplus.com/il. Yes customers can sign up to receive a half year of Disney+ for free. Yes has been advertising this with a new video featuring Noa Kirel singing a song to the tune of Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero”, as she wields a vacuum cleaner like a lightsaber.

Disney+ held a star-studded party in Tel Aviv earlier this week, where mentalist Lior Suchard, TV personality Assi Azar, and actresses Yael Bar Zohar and Meshi Kleinstein sipped cocktails and nibbled sushi (both beef and vegan) and other treats, while executives from the network showed clips from Disney’s programs. Proving that the streamer is not just for kids, these included the series, Pam and Tommy, a miniseries that dramatizes the marriage of Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson and Motley Crue drummer, Tommy Lee, and The Kardashians. It also spotlighted the Star Wars prequel miniseries, Obi-Wan Kenobi, starring Ewan McGregor as a younger version of the title character made famous by Alec Guinness in the original Star Wars movie.

I gave it a try and liked it about as much as I have liked any Star Wars movie/prequel/series since the heroes left the saloon filled with brawling aliens in the first film. Let’s just say I am not the target audience for this kind of show, but I did find lots of other interesting offerings on the service, including The Dropout, a miniseries about disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, and the Beatles miniseries, Get Back, both of which I had been hoping to see for quite a while.

FOR MANY, though, it will definitely be about the children’s movies from Disney and Pixar and the Marvel and Star Wars content. Some have complained that not as much is available on Disney+ here as can be streamed in the United States, but the service says it will increase its offerings soon. For the record, we went through the same process with Netflix, which launched here with about 10% of the content it had available in the US and now it is roughly comparable to the US version.

The more you know about the world of commercial Orthodox pop music, the more you will likely enjoy Sisoo Vesimchoo (which is listed on the Internet Movie Database as For God’s Sake), a Kan series that runs on Mondays at 9:15 p.m. and all episodes are available on the Kan 11 website. It tells the story of a religious military entertainment troupe, and it aims for something in between a religious version of Avi Nesher’s The Troupe, his 1978 classic about a group of army entertainers, and a risqué Purim shpiel (Yiddish: play), with touches of The Big Lebowski and National Lampoon’s Animal House, and it often hits the mark.

It stars the very talented young actor, Neveh Tzur, who won an Ophir Award for Noble Savage, as an innocent religious recruit who dreams of being a soloist in the military troupe but finds himself replaced by an ultra-Orthodox YouTube star. Aki Avni plays the rather disgruntled commander of the troupe, who has lost his hands in a military operation and uses a prosthetic device. The New York Post columnist Cindy Adams is famous for her signature phrase, “Only in New York,” and this is certainly a series about which you can say, “Only in Israel.”

Comedians can often make the best dramatic actors, as Adam Sandler showed in the movie Uncut Gems, but now he is firmly back in his comfort zone with the Netflix movie, Hustle. He plays Stanley Sugarman, a disgruntled NBA talent scout who wants to coach. He has been promised a coaching job by the owner (Robert Duvall) of the 76ers, the team for which he scouts, but he ends up having to prove himself to the owner’s son (Ben Foster) by finding one more big discovery.

He is convinced that Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangomez), a young construction worker and father he spots in a pickup game on a playground in Spain, fits the bill. Sandler is hoping to spend more time with his family, and who wouldn’t if they had a wife played by Queen Latifah to come home to, as he does. Bo turns out to be hot headed and driven by love for his adorable young daughter. Guess how it all turns out? That it’s predictable is beside the point. It provides an entertaining 90 min. for Sandler fans and it features many NBA stars in small roles. Sandler smirks, smiles and always gets all the best lines, although Queen Latifah has her moments.