From "Peking Express"/Network 13
18 Israelis humiliate themselves in embarrassing tasks in an exotic destination in front of the cameras.
Does that sound familiar?
In the not-so-distant days, shows like "The Race to the Million", "Survivor" or "It's Never Too Late" did exactly that, and guess what - both then and today, most Israelis don't like to get close to reptiles and sleep in outdoor conditions, but they really like to see Israelis Others make fun of themselves.
The seasonal round of programs that repeated this punch was routine, but if anything has changed here in the last few months, it's that routine is something we've already forgotten exactly what it looks like.
And this is perhaps the most important thing to know about "Peking Express", the new reality show of a network in this style: it was filmed before October 7, and was already before broadcast and was postponed for obvious reasons.
This is the first hardcore reality show that has been broadcast since the disaster, with all due respect to "The Next Star" - the swallow that allowed him to be thawed, or to "VIP Winning Kitchen" that came up just opposite, both much softer programs.
This is a heavyweight bet for Network 13: who has a head for the Israelis who complain about the heat or discomfort in days of war and mourning?
Who even has a head for light entertainment?
Isn't there something rude in all this?
A good reason to smile, isn't it?
Oz Zahavi in "Peking Express"/screenshot, Network 13
Even before these answers are answered, it is worth dwelling on the thing itself.
In the program, hosted by Oz Zahavi, nine couples are required to go through a series of tasks in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, without money or phones.
And what do you know?
It's just more of the same - cast as you'd imagine, frantically edited, a little less nasty than usual, still goofy ("getting to know the ancient tradition of the dragon in Southeast Asian culture" - yes, eh? Quite a curriculum), a little funny, a little Embarrassing, and unfortunately also very boring.
The first episode consisted of half an hour of people looking for rides and a little more people packing and unpacking bags, which is almost as exciting as watching paint dry.
At the heart of the matter are two concepts: Israeli audacity and money.
The lack of a second resource leads the contestants to use the first resource.
Some parable about the culture of abundance and social and cultural gaps is supposed to be hidden here, but all this translates into vulgar behavior and condescending comments to the faces of the locals.
Oz Zahavi, for his part, focuses on being Oz Zahavi, which is not a bad thing of course, but also not significant enough for viewers to care.
The whole stew is lukewarm and formulaic, and mostly induces indifference.
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And after all that, if we go back to the beginning, what really annoys about "Peking Express" is its smell, that almost nostalgic aroma of a stupid Israeli routine.
You watch Dahkot and Chaphaot in Cambodia on a central channel and understand: everything is normal.
The war, the abductees, the disaster, the breakup, the failure - all these live peacefully on television alongside the strange and amusing journey in Southeast Asia, and to enough people it no longer seems strange or pointless.
Therefore, even if "Peking Express" may be interesting as a garlic peel, it is actually a historical landmark.
This is the moment when Israeli television officially moved on from the shock of October 7, and continued into a new model, a split-attention screen: at eight in the evening our catastrophe, and immediately after it a fantasy about everything that could have happened if it had not happened.
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