Piggy, Polanski and implausible tragedy

Coming up on the small screen: The Muppets appear in a mockumentary going backstage with Miss Piggy as she films a reality show about her life.

The Muppets (photo credit: PR)
The Muppets
(photo credit: PR)
Could there be a better time to relaunch The Muppets, the classic series that made Miss Piggy a household name all over the world? In this incarnation, The Muppets is a mockumentary, going backstage with Miss Piggy as she films a reality show about her life. Like the original, it courts viewers of all ages with knowing in-jokes for adults and silly songs and slapstick (and, of course, cute Muppets) for the kids.
Miss Piggy, Kermit, Fozzy and the gang can be seen on Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. (kind of a late time slot if they’re counting on getting many kids) on HOT Plus starting December 3 and on YES VOD.
Throughout the month of December, HOT is showing some of the best movies of the 1980s. On December 1 on HOT Prime at 10:30 p.m., you can catch Roman Polanski’s Frantic (1988), one of his most purely entertaining and underrated films. It is perfectly timed to get audiences enthusiastic about his work before a tribute to the director at the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on December 7.
Polanski is a controversial and complex director, who survived the Holocaust on his own as a child in Poland and who lost his first wife, actress Sharon Tate, to Charles Manson and his gang. In 1977, Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor in the US, and then fled the country before sentencing.
Because of his past, there are people who will never be able to enjoy his movies. While I understand their point of view, I could never imagine ignoring his work, which includes such classics as Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown, as well as The Pianist, for which he won an Oscar for Best Director. Had he accepted the award in person, he would have been arrested.
His past is very much present in Frantic, the story of a doctor (Harrison Ford) who goes to Paris with his wife (Betty Buckley) for a conference, only to have her disappear shortly after they arrive at their hotel. It turns out she has been kidnapped, but the French police and the US embassy staff don’t believe him. The only one who can help him is a sexy, amoral young woman (Emmanuelle Seigner, the second Mrs. Polanski), and she takes him on a journey through the Paris underworld. While Harrison Ford has never been a more charismatic and vulnerable man of action, in some way he seems to be an alter ego for Polanski, and both of the women in the movie represent aspects of the wife the director lost.
The movie flirts with cliches but, at the same time, channels the spirt of Hitchcock.
Israeli actor of the week on Homeland: Oshri Cohen, who plays a bodyguard for Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) at the Israeli embassy in Berlin. Known for such films as Joseph Cedar’s Beaufort and Shay Kanot’s popular comedy Kicking Out Shoshana, Cohen just played a gigolo confused by his spiritual impulses in the recent miniseries on YES Drama Johnny and the Knights of the Galilee.
The Leftovers, the TV series about what happens when two percent of the world’s population disappears overnight, is winding down its second season on YES Oh. One of the most popular series in the United States, its episodes are aired on YES at 4 a.m. Monday mornings to coincide with its US showing and theoretically cut down on piracy. It is then rebroadcast on Saturday night at 10 p.m. All the episodes of Season Two are also available on YES VOD.
Although it is well written and well acted, I found the first season relentlessly downbeat with no payoff – why agonize over a tragedy that will never happen? Even a zombie apocalypse looks relatively plausible by comparison. But many fans find it addictive and engrossing.
The first season was about how a small town in Upstate New York coped with the sudden loss, and Season Two looks at a town in Texas where no one disappeared, and then adds characters from the New York town who arrive in Texas.