“Tehran,” is the new series from Israeli television. It is a high-octane, well-done, and entertaining affair. Its creator is Moshe Zonder whose series “Fauda” has been a hit on American television. “Tehran” is available on Apple+.
“Tehran” centers around Tamar Rabinyan, an Iranian-born, Israeli-raised spy. He is sent back into Iran on her first deep-cover mission to help coordinate an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear program. Rabinyan is expertly played by Israeli actress Niv Sultan, who immersed herself in a Farsi language course and Iranian culture.
She’s feminine and not the badass female operative that we’ve been seeing more often. Although trained in the Israeli martial art Krav Maga, she’s not Charlize Theron’s “Atomic Blonde” character or even Rona-Lee Shim’on’s “Nurit” from Fauda.
Rabinyan will encounter numerous obstacles on the way, including a romantic entanglement with a student activist, reconnecting with her estranged family members in Iran, and more.
Rabinya’s nemesis, Iranian Revolutionary Guard security head Faraz Kamali, is played by Iranian-American actor Shaun Toub, who also played in “Homeland” and “Ironman.” Toub is excellent at the role.
Faraz turns out to be the perfect foil to Tamar: He is a hardcore counterintelligence operative who is excellent at his job. There is no stone that he will leave unturned and is willing to go to any means to accomplish his mission. He makes it his own personal mission to track Rabinya down.
But while Faraz is dogged in his determination to catch the Israeli spy in their midst, he’s also a victim who learns the Israelis will go to no end to protect their operative.
Now, forget the fact that much of the drama that plays out is often improbable and sometimes over the top. The fact that “Bond, James Bond” has entertained us for more than 50 years is proof that the entertainment value more than makes up for realism.
For example, the series ignores the fact that hackers today, can hack Iranian anti-aircraft systems without having to secretly infiltrate the country. This would make for nearly as dramatic or entertaining television. Additionally, real-life intelligence will no doubt roll their eyes at some of the events that play out in the series, but secret British operatives driving Aston-Martin sportscars aren’t exactly the way to secretly infiltrate the world’s resident bad guy organizations either.
The timing of the release of “Tehran” must have been certainly helped by the recent events in Iran: In June, mysterious explosions befell many key Iranian installations including the Islamic Republic’s Natanz nuclear complex. They were considered “accidents.” Of course, whenever anything happens to any country in the Middle East, it is immediately blamed on Israeli intelligence operations. This shows how deeply the Israelis are ingrained in the heads of their enemies.
The political message communicated in the series is similar to the current U.S./Israel political take on the Iranian regime, i.e. that there is no room to negotiate with it.
This does not play well with the mullahs in Tehran. Indeed, regime hardliners called the series blatant anti-Iranian propaganda when it was released on television. On the other hand, opposition members said it was too sympathetic to the regime. But the series also shines a light on the younger generation protesting for more freedom from the strict adhering to Sharia law passed down from the Supreme Leader.
Just like “Fauda,” there are plenty of plot twists and climactic cliffhangers in “Tehran” to satisfy the suspense angle. A nice touch is that each episode begins seconds after the previous one ends. The series was shot in Athens. It blends Farsi and Hebrew with a little English but is shown with subtitles.
Check it out on Apple television+, or if you’re like me, visit someone who has it… It is a series well worth watching.