"Paul Levinson's It's Real Life is a page-turning exploration into that multiverse known as rock and roll. But it is much more than a marvelous adventure narrated by a master storyteller...it is also an exquisite meditation on the very nature of alternate history." -- Jack Dann, The Fiction Writer's Guide to Alternate History

Monday, January 9, 2017

Fauda: Beyond Homeland

The new season of Homeland will debut next Sunday - here's my review of the first episode - but if you want to see a series that makes Homeland look like, well, not a walk in the park, but is better than Homeland in just about everything it does so well, then see Fauda.

It's posted one season so far - 12 episodes, each only a half an hour in length - from 2015 in Israel, and it's now streaming on Netflix, and those episodes pack more of a punch than anything similar I've seen on television.   It's the story of an Israeli special forces undercover team, battling terrorists in the Palestinian territory, with dialog in Hebrew and Arabic, and English subtitles.

There are all kinds of twists and turns in the plot, and I don't want to spoil any of that for you, so I'll focus on the other highlights.   Characters on both sides are complex, multi-faceted, and believable. Family life and love affairs play significant roles, with especially astute portrayal of children in both Israeli and Palestinian families.  There's room for humor, as when an agent on a crucial mission has all he can do not to kill a taxi driver droning on about why he gave up cigarettes (with a punchline of the cabbie bumming a smoke off the agent at the end). The hierarchies of political and operational command unfold with subtlety and power.

As is always the case with these kinds of dramas, which are as thoughtful as they are violent, the question is to what extent a tough undercover unit can oppose and extinguish a terrorist operation without becoming terrorists, or adopting some of the terrorists tactics, themselves.   With death literally at hand in just about every scene, the stakes couldn't be higher.

Lior Raz is both co-creator and plays a lead role, and his performance is superb.  So is every other performance in Fauda.   Strap yourself in for a six-hour ride that will open your eyes and give you new understanding of a conflict that so desperately needs resolution, yearned for by almost everyone, or indeed by everyone but in different ways.

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