Unless you were living under a rock, you probably noticed how Israeli TV dramas took Netflix and HBO by storm.
Whether it’s the sentimental acting of Michael Aloni as Akiva in Shtisel, The action-based Fauda or Yael Grobglas clever portrayal of Petra in “Jane the Virgin,” people are buying into the Israeli TV industry, much to the excitement of many Israeli viewers.
But what if I told you that this artistic revolution could never happen without the existence of Israeli science fiction shows?
Many of the Israeli actors you binge on (Aloni and Grobglas included) launched their careers by acting in sci-fi shows written and directed by Giora Chamizer.
In a country that deals with absurdities and terrorism on a yearly basis, these shows provided the Israeli Y Generation escapism and enrichment, and sow the seeds for their growing awareness and involvement in a changing world.
So without further ado,
Here are the three Israeli science fiction shows you should know:
This Netflix twin sci-fi drama is based on “Ha-Hamama,” being the first Israeli sci-fi show to get a remake by a streaming service. The heroes of the plot are Alex and Haley Woods, who lose their astronaut mother in a rocket explosion. Following this personal tragedy, they enroll into a private boarding school, aimed to empower future leaders. Just like Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, the school is divided into competing houses, and the two siblings find themselves on polar sites, thus becoming rivals.
As mysterious, “Twilight Zone” oriented events occur, students from both houses reveal a deadly scheme to take advantage of earthquakes for monetary gain. This unique psychological drama is putting old rivalries and allies to the test, delivering by that a crucial aspect of Israeli life under conflict and crisis, through escapist means of fictional sci-fi story line.
2. The Eight
The Eight depicts the tale of an ingenious crew of exceptional Israeli teenagers, each being an expert in their field: Adam the multilingual genius (portrayed by Michael Aloni,), Roni the math geek, Avi the unstoppable hacker, Dori the brilliant engineer, Natasha the Impressionist painter, Mika the gifted musician, Aya who has phenomenal memory, and Nini, master of chess and a strategic genius.
Aya and Nini hold a secret identity: they are in fact 10 years old, and became 15 as a result of an experiment orchestrated by their dying father, who invented the mysterious turbo time machine that boosts the aging process.
Following the surreal experiment, the eight kids are gathered by Adam’s father to form the secret project, “The Eight.”
While the kids use their abilities to solve riddles and crimes, they are unaware of the project’s true purpose: using their brain activity to produce Lamda waves, a rare form of energy capable of performing wonders.
As a result, a variety of super villains, ranging from a joker like tycoon psychopath, dangerous sect, and mad scientists attempt to exploit the Eight’s powers for devious goals.
However, these sci-fi elements were rather the trigger that enabled the Eight to create emotional connection with their audience: Brave friendships and temperamental loves stories (Hint: This is where Michael Aloni acquired his unique ability to deliver charming, well put dialogues with a female partner).
The rare chemistry and charisma of the Eight ensemble cast has rightfully made the Israeli Y generation fall in love with them, and grant the show its stance as a cult series.
3. Timers (aka The Island)
Following the success of “The Eight,” Giora Chamizer took its mystery, Intensity and drama one step further. “The Island” is an epos that draws elements from science fiction, post-apocalyptic scenarios, Greek tragedies and psychological thrillers.
“The Island” might seem like a show about time travel, when in fact it uses this theme to trigger complex narratives and emotional connection to its characters.
The story begins with the ultimate Armaggedon: a gigantic asteroid is crushing on earth on September 9, 2009, wrecking every piece of civilization expect one small island, in the midst of the ocean.
Eddy and Sylvia, owners of an almshouse for recovered teenage criminals in Jaffa were able to predict the upcoming disaster due to their holding of a mysterious red book that reveals pieces from the future, and they dedicate their lives to prepare their son Tommy for the apocalypse.
On Doomsday, Tommy is ordered to wait in the Jaffa port marina for the arrival of Dylan, a messianic figure who’s destined to save earth.
When Dylan doesn’t show up, Eddy and Sylvia quickly smuggle Tommy and his friends from the almshouse to the island, for a mission that will seal the world’s fate.
As the kids find themselves in a situation that walks on the fine line between Lord of The Flies and a summer camp, they learn about the existence of Timers — time travelers from the futuristic human civilization that survived the catastrophe on the island, who can use their powers to alter Israel, while forming alternate histories and multiple plot lines.
While in “The Eight,” love stories were a driving force of the plot, in “The Island,” these romances can determine whether earth and humanity will continue to exist at all. Yael Grobglas portrays the peculiar Ginny, who must fall in love with Chief (a timer from the future), in order to conceive Dylan.
Similarly, Dylan’s own romantic choices have crucial influence on the future of mankind.
When every move is able to generate a parallel history line, it’s no wonder how relationships between friends and family receives biblical significance.
This element allows “The Island” to examine themes such as determinism vs. free will, demonstrate social criticism and satire by means of dystopia, and make the viewers ask questions about their own life choices.
By melding Israeli cultural nuances into fantasy and supernatural circumstances, Chamizer has created a fabric of sensitive, elaborate sagas that present the human spirit in a bright new light.
**Pictures provided by Giora Chamizer.