'No Man's Land,' 'Saved by the Bell': What's new on TV?

The newest releases on Israeli TV and streaming services.

'No Man's Land' (photo credit: HOT/YES)
'No Man's Land'
(photo credit: HOT/YES)
"All killer, no filler,” is how Stephen King praised Fauda, and he might well use the same phrase to describe the new series, No Man’s Land, which is available in the US on Hulu and just started running on January 21 at 9 p.m. on Hot 3 and Hot VOD.
The series, which was created by producers who have made some of the best Israeli series, including Maria Feldman (Fauda), Eitan Mansuri (When Heroes Fly) and Ron Leshem and Amit Cohen who made Valley of Tears, delivers the kind of nail-biting suspense that can only be generated by a complex story.
It’s about a young Frenchman, Antoine (Félix Moati), who sees a woman in a news report from Syria whom he is sure is his sister, Anna (Melanie Thierry). But as far as he knows, Anna was killed in a terrorist attack in Egypt, although her remains were not recognizable. Driven to investigate, he heads for Turkey and before you can say “Bad idea,” crosses the border into Syria with some sketchy handlers.
Yes, the premise has similarities to When Heroes Fly, but there are two elements that are different here. One is simply the Syrian setting. The civil war has been raging there for a decade but few have figured out a way to dramatize the situation. The other is that Antoine has reason to believe Anna is working with a group of female warriors, based on real militias that operate in this area, most of which are apparently made up mainly of Kurds. I first saw these militias in a wonderful movie – a comedy, actually – called My Sweet Pepper Land by Hiner Saleem that featured a Frenchwoman among the Kurdish fighters. But these tough-as-nails female warriors, whom Antoine has to convince he is telling the truth, are interesting characters we’ve never seen before.
The series is in French, Arabic and English, with Hebrew subtitles.
Netflix’s movie offerings are its weakest section, but it has recently added two films worth watching from about 20 years ago: O Brother, Where Art Thou? by the Coen brothers, and Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight, both of which star George Clooney, who recently made the dour dystopian The Midnight Sky for Netflix.
Skip that and watch Out of Sight, one of the best adaptations of an Elmore Leonard novel. It features Clooney as a charming bank robber and Jennifer Lopez as the US marshal tracking him down. It has an amazing supporting cast, with some of America’s best character actors, including Albert Brooks as a white-collar criminal doing time, Don Cheadle, Catherine Keener, Luiz Guzman, Steve Zahn, Michael Keaton, Viola Davis and Vhing Rhames. Out of Sight made it clear that Clooney was a major star and had forever transcended his breakout role as Dr. Doug Ross on ER.
The Coen brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou? stars Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson, and it is also about convicts on the run, but is set during the Depression and the story is loosely based on The Odyssey – the Coens even gave Homer a co-writer credit. The title is a reference to a movie that figures in the plot of Preston Sturges’s Sullivan’s Travels. Holly Hunter plays Clooney’s long-suffering wife and John Goodman – who else? – is the Cyclops figure.
If you’re nostalgic for the 1980s-1990s series Saved by the Bell, you’ll want to check out the 2020 version, which is being shown on Yes VOD and Yes VOD Kids. It is being billed as a “reimagining,” not a reboot. It returns to Bayside High in California with most of the original cast, including Elizabeth Berkley, Mario Lopez, John Michael Higgins (who is now the school principal), Tiffani Thiessen and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (who is now governor). But there is a whole new cast of good-looking teens. It tries to appeal both to viewers of a certain age who remember the original and today’s tweens, and it’s an uneasy balance. You might want to try to get your kids to watch it with you, but be prepared for them not to get it.