Fri 20 Apr 2012
‘HaMeyuheded’ (The Special, or The Special Unit) is a half-baked tentative of the Israeli TV industry to create a high quality crime drama, a genre which is extremely popular in Israel on the cable and satellite TV thanks to imports from the US and from the UK.
It is certainly not easy to compete in a genre which brought to the small screen series like The Wire or Prime Suspect which are fine pieces of TV and cinema work on any scale of values, making of the police section an universe populated by heroes which are hard to forget, and of the permanent was between the good guys and the bad guys much more than simple entertainment, action or detective riddles. This is not because the Israeli reality would miss a large number of themes and subjects that could provide material for such successful endeavors. On the contrary, the mix of people and religions, social and political conflicts in the area , and the human mosaic of people who have roots here for centuries or even millenniums and other who came here from the four cardinal points of the world is explosive and fascinating. It is rather the limits of the Israeli TV productions, the real economic lack of means and the limits imposed by the creators themselves that prevent this series to realize its full potential.
As in Rubicon, the American series that I watched almost in parallel and about which I will write soon in The Catcher, at the start of HaMeyuheded a new and young policeman is put as a head of a team following the sudden death of his predecessor. Also here we have a permanent mix of two story planes, the immediate cases that need to be solved in the day-to-day life of the unit and the longer thread which is impacted by the personal involvement of the head of the unit. The relations between the members of the team, each one with his own personality, all interesting and complex catch much of the attention of the viewers.
Here we can find the strength and the most interesting parts of HaMeyuhedet. Wonderful acting by Ofer Schechter, Shmil Ben-Ari, Gal Toren, Yael Sharoni, and Ester Rada make of each of the members of the team individual characters which are strong and difficult to forget. Sasson Gabai and Nathan Dantner borrow some of their time and talent for well conceived characters, and the rest of the distribution allows for episodic characters to show up in interesting supporting roles. All this micro-universe is nice to follow, sometimes even moving and beautiful but cannot sustain a detective series. The weak point is in the thin fabric of most of the one episode series, and in the lack of consistency in the following of the longer threads, some of which are left aside for many episodes of the season, some other left suspended with no resolution. This may be the preparation of the ground for a second season which I will certainly like to follow because the first season contained many promises, and also the last episode succeeded to bring up for once the short and long lived threads in one intrigue that was well written and contained also the so much needed percentage of suspense.