Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Super Channel's Prisoners Of War : Deja Viewing

So here I am watching the first episode of the totally compelling Israeli TV series Prisoners Of War.
When TV came along 60 years ago it was supposed to act as a window on the world for viewers.
But rather the opposite developed --Canadian networks prefer gobbling up U.S. series with some Canadian content tossed in every once in a while.
In fact I can't recall the last Israeli TV series I watched before Prisoners Of War.
And, yes, POW is brilliant on many levels. Super Channels is running the first two episodes back to back starting Wednesday July 10 at 8 p.m.
It's also somewhat familiar.
Because the equally fine U.S. series Homeland is actually based on it.
To really savour all the qualities of Prisoners Of War one must first be aware of all that Homeland is.
The two shows are vastly similar but also vastly different.
It's the difference between the American gloss and insistence on star turns by Mandy Patinkin and Clare Danes.
By contrast the Israeli original has very fine actors but they are totally unknown to me --and surely will be to most North American viewers.
The differences are totally cultural I should like to submit.
Because the problems with Palestinians are everyday occurrences to many Israelis.
Americans have only lately been tuned in to the horrors of terrorists operating on American soil.
The story of POW involves two Israeli soldiers coming home after years of confinement with the enemy.
In Homeland just one American returns --remember.
In POW  Nimrode (Yoran Tolledano) is back with a wonderful wife and two very young kids. Also returning is Uri (Ishai Golan) who finds his fiancee has married his brother.
The biggest difference is the complete lack of a character who in Homeland is Clare Danes playing Carrie Mathison.
I like POW because it is made on the proverbial shoe string budget --actual locations and a complete absence of gloss make it even more compelling for me.
The returning captives have been away for 17 years rather than the eight on Homeland. Their adjustments are far more dramatically cohesive without the melodramatic turns of Homeland.
So I'd say watch POW after Homeland and you'll come to admire both series for what both are.
But I think you'll agree that POW is superior fare and somehow much more authentic.
MY RATING: ****.

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