FULL OF HISTORY AND FEAR: PALMACH IS ONE OF THE BEST YOUTH SERIES WE’VE SEEN
THIS SERIES ON THE TIME OF THE PALMACH COMES TO THE SCREEN AND WITH IT, OUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE FIRST PERIOD YOUTH SERIES – TURNED OUT TO BE A SUCCESS
April 5, 2020
Palmach, which aired today (Teen Nick on yes, YES VOD kids and STINGTV) is a period adventure series that takes place in 1946, two fateful years before the State of Israel was established, in a seemingly innocent training farm that actually serves as a secret training camp for youth recruitment to Palmach, and a base for special operations unit against the British. The heroes of the series are Emil and Eleanor (Abraham Arenson and Naya Beinstock) - a brother and sister who have just arrived in Israel as illegal immigrants and are forced to hide on a farm – which they discover that is a hidden training camp for the Palmach. They will meet a cohesive group of civilians, who at first mock their strangeness and literary Hebrew, but later they will join, train and fight together for the establishment of the state in the face of common dangers and a surprising secret that emerges later.
A youth Series on the establishment of the state? Turns out, it is genius! Something about the atmosphere of nostalgia, the fact that this is a real set of events that happened right here, brings the story of the Palmach’s world to kids who might have trouble concentrating in history class- and it seals the deal with action, suspense, and excellent work. This makes young viewers connect more and also want to know more about it. It’s the kind of series that when you hear a certain idea or the name of something or someone that exists - you search it on Google to find out more about it (like "illegal immigrants," "the night of the bridges," "the Black Sabbath," and more) and it’s another hysteric (and historical) positive landmark for the show.
As the first episode opens, a slide shows that the plot may scare the viewer at times and therefore perhaps it is best to watch it with another person - the truth that it is indeed scary. Although the writers have refined events for this age group, it is still a story that cannot be told and passed on without creating the harrowing moments with the British, their screams (some of which were reminiscent of German Nazis) and the real dangers to the lives of the Palmachians. It’s good that they don’t hesitate to tell the reality of the story, it is more terrifying and has more stakes than your average youth series.
Usually, in series for this audience, the heroes are a group of young people trying to save the world through some sort of crisis that doesn't always make sense - here it is - a true story with something that really did happen – it happened here – and its crazy. Many teenagers belonged to the underground and fought to establish the country - it certainly highlights how a series like this is so important. Despite it taking place in the past, this series is definitely groundbreaking and I wish we would see more series of this kind in the genre. Who knows? Maybe we won't really need history lessons after all, and can learn about important events this way? The truth - it is a great way to learn history when everyone is quarantined.
Zionism, the establishment of the state, the affinity for the homeland, the innocent period that dealt with people's relations and manual labor - without using technology, devices, and distractions – are all a part of this youth series - and the show also promotes a balance of using technology – not in a forcible way- because in the past it simply did not exist.
The young (and mostly new) cast does an incredible and believable job - many of them seem to have really been taken from that era. The excellent Avraham Arenson and Naya Binstock are huge actors, as is the rest of the young cast including: Tal Grushka, Alona Saer, Neta Roth and Gal Frank, and of course those whom we have already become acquainted with, and they did not disappoint this time as well: Omar Hazan (and mustache), Aviv Pinkas and Dolev Messika. There is also the pleasant surprise of Yael Shelbia, who turns out to be a talented actress in the main role. We admit that we were a little apprehensive about this casting – but our worries were for nothing; she has just proved she can be a professional actor as well. It is also worth noting the locations; the art, the cinematography and the costumes definitely bring in the atmosphere and are excellent as well.
The preoccupation with history makes this series one of the best youth series we've ever seen, based only on the first few episodes – we hope it will continue to impress throughout the season. Of course, we do not forget that a youth series will also be expected to include various obvious love triangles, which will probably end up in clichés, and the “stupid” British soldier lends to some comedic moments but they aren’t believable for this kind of story (but are needed in this genre). However, all these are dwarfed by the main topic of the show that makes it unique among the landscape of shows. The viewing experience reminded us of the same feelings that we went through watching "The Island" (another period show) and even a little bit in "Neighborhood 2" (when Racheli went back in time) - these series were very successful, so the success here will come quite easily. Furthermore, there is a sense here of an adventure fiction book that works really well on screen, like a realistic Hasamba (the book series about youth fighters for Israel) In short, a proper, believable and well-made youth series. Highly recommended.