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M.K. 22 (2004)
A very funny Satire
This very funny and cleaver series is one of the best satire shows ever made in Israel and stands in league with the classics which preceded it ("Nikui Rosh" in the seventies, "Krovim Krovim" in the eighties and "Hachartzufim" ,the local "spitting image", in the nineties). Its writing style is something between the "string of sketches" form and an actual episode plot (each episode stands mostly for its own).
It originated in the cable TV rather underground channel "Beep" and from there moved on to the main stream commercial "Channel 2". But don't be mistaken this move to Channel 2 was not due and rather despite the fact that M.K 22 is relatively more subversive in comparison with the other high rating satires. It is not being politically correct many times for example when speaking about the Nagadim (professional soldiers who are not officers) in the IDF it hints to the fact that many of them are from Sephardic origin which is true in some cases. It also has a few very sexually explicit scenes. There are also some very violent scenes as well but the fact it is an animation series softens this scenes and makes them more digestible which explains why this format was chosen (just like in SouthPark its animation style mentor). One memorable scene is a TV Advertise (taking place on the moon in a fictional future) for a new High Tech Defensive Fence against Palestinian Terrorists which is so smart it lures the terrorist by whistling him and then sprays him with machine gun fire and then cuts him to shreds with a laser beam. This is of course a sarcastic remark about how the paranoia which sometimes grips the Israeli Defense Establishment can drive it to pour large sums of money on super high tech exaggerated military toys.
When I first heard of M.K 22 I was convinced it only deals with the military. Every Israeli who served in the IDF knows how this huge and bureaucratic organization can make such stupid and unreasonable decisions sometimes especially in the non fighting cores, and how the majority of people who don't posses the right character can sometimes go nuts in this environment run by rules and orders from not so bright commanders. Yes, the IDF can give a lot of comic material to make joke with.
But I was wrong, M.K 22 does center on the army but it also whips in every direction and deals with a lot of other issues in Israeli society: The Arab minority, the new immigrants from Russia and Ethiopia, Orthodox vs. secular, work immigrants, political corruption the sensational media and more. Just a few examples: A TV reporter who during an interview presses so hard on the woman she is interviewing just so she can have her crying in front of the camera.
The council of high orthodox rabbis devise a plan to make the secular youth religious again by using a giant robot with hypnotic skills called the RoboRebbe.
The corrupted construction contractor David Tapuh (whose character is based upon the business man who allegedly bribed prime minister Ariel Sharon) drives his Thai construction workers in the baggage of his car and when asked by the base commander where should he lodge them Tapuh answers they don't require lodging.
But without any doubt the greatest character is that of Abed the Bedouin Shepard who lives in a tent near the base. He is actually a spy working for the Lebanonese terrorist organization Hizballa but the base authorities (reminder this is suppose to be a top secret nuclear base) do not suspect him at all and regard him as harmless friendly neighbor. This attitude derives from the common prejudice Israelis have about the Arabs being primitive and unsophisticated in general and especially as enemies.
But Abed's tent is in fact a high tech communications center and his sheep are in fact intelligent flying robots designed to assist him. In one of my favorite scenes Abed listens to a mission impossible style recording of his operator assigning him with a new task. The monologue is given in Arabic and although it's suppose to be short and to the point set of orders it is full with zealous Jihadic rhetoric and sounds more like a Friday preach in the mosque. This is a good laugh of how much the Islamic terrorists are fanatic and brain washed with their hatred ideology. At the end of the transmission the operator declares the message will destroy itself but in the last minute he replaces himself with a suicide bomber that explodes instead of him. This last joke is directed to the fact that the terrorist leaders of course will send without hesitation their most unimportant followers to commit suicide bombings but never volunteer for the task themselves.
In conclusion, M.K 22 is very hilarious and venomous and does it very imaginatively. It's rather sad it has so few episodes. It's recommended watching it though I suspect most of the humor will be understood only by Israeli audience with knowledge about the local reality.
Ha-Shir Shelanu (2004)
A terrible show
Usually I would say a show as horrible as Ha'shir Shelanu isn't worth even mentioning for good or worse because even a negative criticism for it is a free publicity it doesn't deserve but unfortunately some people with minimum artistic understanding and zero artistic standards have chosen to leave their remarks in this site and even recommended people from abroad to watch it. watching this series i am afraid will undoubtedly damage the slowly emerging reputation of Israeli cinema and T.V making in the world. so for those of you who wonder: In Israel like in every other place bad TV is being produced when the ratings are good. The show itself is amateurly written and acted. The plot is stupid and unreliable like in every common soap opera and sometimes worse. The primary actors were certainly chosen only for their singing abilities which are their selves not that impressive except maybe for Ninet Tayeb's singing. What they lack in acting skills they try to compensate with dialogues being shouted (especially Maya Dagan) and spoke Vulgaricly. The more professional and famous actors in the show Like Hana Laslaw or Tuvia Tzafir are probably there because it pays well and sadly there are no many other options in the Original TV productions market in Israel. This is a common phenomenon. Take Hana Laslaw's Character for instance: it's obvious this Character is relatively more interesting and funny not because it was written so well but only thanks to the improvisation skills of Laslaw who seems to treat the show as it really is - An amateuristic acting/singing workshop were you can do a lot of fun and nonsense and even get paid for it! The dialogues are full of slang and street language (not cursing) not as a way of sending any artistic message but because the all thing is poorly written with no slight of effort to put any thinking into it. I am not asking of course that they speak Biblical or Talmudic Hebrew but rather insist on keeping standard and accurate Modern Hebrew. Finally I would say Ha'shir Shelanu is a series created so that some people will have an excuse to sing from time to time with a plot in between whose role is to connect one singing segment to another as such it's far far away from being the greatest Israeli TV series ever.