Villordsutch reviews Hostages: The Complete Season One…
Times have certainly changed in the households of the average British television viewer. Gone are the days when our murder mystery and thriller quota was easily filled with Inspector Morse and a dose of Poirot, and we now search further afield for dramas that truly grip us and keep us talking for weeks on end. These days the detectives also don’t have to proclaim they come from Belgium and have a funny accent, the show can be in its native tongue of Norwegian, Dutch or Flemish with subtitles which for years were the bane of most British viewers, and now we have Hostages to watch, a show from Israel (with more subtitles).
You may have already seen another version of Hostages from the US that was shown on Channel 4 back in 2014, starring Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott. This however is the original 10-part Israeli version currently being aired on BBC 4, in which we find the brilliant female surgeon, Dr. Yael Danon (played by Ayelet Zurer), discovering that her family has been kidnapped the night before she is due to perform surgery on the Israeli Prime Minister. The hostage-holders have one demand: “Kill the PM on the operating table or her loved ones die.”
I have to admit I went into this show with a rather blinkered view of who the kidnappers may be, I was expecting some angry group of Palestinians and was rather surprised to be greeted by something completely different – four Israeli’s clearly with a different agenda with disposing of the current Prime Minister. However I’m sorry say this was the most interesting point of the series, as the rest barely fails to raise any interest after the opening episode.
There are numerous reasons for this; either because of the story failing to move over the ten episodes, the family having no bond on-screen they make you feel that they wouldn’t feel anything if anyone was actually killed, odd moments added throughout the story which seemed to make no sense – e.g. the father knew the kidnappers were coming because he owed money – and it would help pay off his debts – but the kidnappers didn’t know about his debts, the gardener was killed but then he actually wasn’t, and the drugged dog came back to life after a number of days without any issues or the reviving injection. On top of this we had poor acting from the certain cast members which was grating on the inside of my skull and whoever was in charge of the continuity needed a slap – one case in point was the blood on the Soldier’s face; these are some of the many moments across the episodes that I’ve listed here. I’m also wondering why when the family came near a phone or when the son was locked in his room with internet access they didn’t contact the police!?
I feel the big issue for this series however is the fact that it’s being billed next to dramas like The Killing, The Bridge or any other Nordic Noir when this Israeli drama really isn’t; it’s not even a cousin of those. I felt no tension, no dread and no worry for any of the family members when a sticky situation came up as I knew they were getting out as everything was too safe; not even the dog was allowed to die. You could see the censors had been at this and highlighted that only bad people can be killed in this wicked world.
I’ve not been put off by Israeli drama mind you as in amongst these episodes two people stood out as clear wheat amongst the chaff. Ayelet Zurer and Jonah Lotan where the two driving forces in these episodes, and both brought life, emotion and energy to the screen; their names would attract me to a production again without a second thought.
Hostages (Season One) isn’t the best introduction you could have to Israeli drama. It lacks in everything you truly want from a drama which albeit sounds cliché are tension, dread, death, shocking twists and an outcome which leaves you satisfied and/or shocked. With Hostages you’ll be finding it difficult to tick any of these off.
Hostages (Season One) is released on the 16th March and is available to buy from Arrow Films priced £16.99
Villordsutch likes his sci-fi and looks like a tubby Viking according to his children. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.