‘Balfour’: An occasional review

Israelis are privy to the longest-running reality show, known as Balfour. As everyone knows, it is a thriller about a Mideastern state that is being hijacked by a mob that pretends to be a political party. America recently has had a shorter version, Red White House (RWH), which is scheduled for a climactic finale on January 20th.

Balfour has to its credit many innovations and surprise twists of plot. Veteran viewers recall episodes like “Hijacking the Media” and “Submarine Bargains.” There is even a subseries of episodes appearing randomly in the “Justice for Sale” rubric.

But today this reviewer wants to focus upon the apparent fact that Balfour credits part of its longevity to the amnesia of its viewers. This allows the producers to repeat many scenarios with different players and maintain interest as if something new was happening. In recent weeks we have seen “BossBoss” confronted with a rise in the polls of “BigBalls”.  Now the producers had BossBoss suffer apparent defections in the last “elections”, two in the tiny camp of ‘BigGeneral” and one to “Moustachio.” No sooner had it seemed – with very high ratings – that BossBoss was short a vote or two, than all three scampered back, and BossBoss was secure. The producer apparently knows his viewers, and is pulling  the same trick with the same increase in ratings. The episode called “Defectors!” starred “Hare,” a figure we now understand has been kept out of a full six months of episodes to enhance the “surprise” factor of his “defection,” and in the very next number “Mouse” defects and the ratings soar! Viewers are actually tantalized by the illusion that Hare and Mouse and company would join a government headed by anyone other than BossBoss. But then, this reviewer will not be a spoiler for the episodes at the end of March.

All this occurs in tandem with episodes of “Lockdown” that run the risk of reruns, but the producer has kept ratings competitive but featuring a vaccine. Featuring a vaccine? Everyone knows that a remedy is the kiss of death to ratings! But not in Balfour! By a careful treatment of the vaccine as a surprise and then, thanks to endless disinformation, as a controversy, the producers manage to keep viewers in suspense. Of course, viewers are by now addicted to the sub-series  “Trial,” and the defection, vaccine and lockdown scenarios keep viewers riveted to the next cancellation of the “Trial.”

The producers are to be congratulated for their foresight in making the venue of “Balfour” a barely democratic parliamentary system. The advantage of the dramatic flexibility of this setting  is obvious when compared to the nearly hysterical final episodes in “RWH.”

About the Author
Alan Flashman was born in Foxborough, MA, and gained his BA from Columbia, MD from NYU, Pediatrics, Adult and Child Psychiatry specialties at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, The Bronx, NY. He has practiced in Beer Sheba since 1983, and taught mental health at Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University and Ben Gurion University. He is currently CEO of Family Instiute of Neve Yerushalyim, sponsoring a first fully accredited post-masters training in family therapy for the Haredi community. Alan has edited readers on Therapeutic Communication with Children (2002) and Adolescents (2005) in Hebrew, translated Buber's I and Thou anew into Hebrew, and authored Losing It, an autobiography, and From Protection to Passover.
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