I’m not sure I can recall an Israeli crime drama before. The team at Walter Presents are always seeking out new drama for our entertainment, and it’s great that they’re spreading their net to previously untapped territories.
If you want to avoid all spoilers, stop reading this article now.
‘Manayek’ is about Izzy Bachar (nicely portrayed by Shalom Assayag), a senior police officer in the Israeli Police Internal Affairs unit. Izzy is approaching retirement, suffers chest pains, and is trying to give up smoking. He also has relationship issues with his partner, Eti, who is also a fellow police officer. She’s previously had an affair with another officer, and Izzy’s jealousy continually comes to the fore. But deep down, he’s a good man. He doesn’t like what he sees in with force and does his best to expose injustice wherever he witnesses it.
Following an assassination in a busy café, the perpetrator is caught by the police after a chase through the streets of Tel Aviv. He claims to have evidence of high-level corruption in the police involving a senior officer. When something like this happens, Internal Affairs – in the shape of Izzy -are called in to investigate, particularly as the killer is a former cop himself. But when Izzy speaks to him, he discovers that the senior officer accused is his friend, Barak Harel. Izzy refuses to take the case because of a potential conflict of interest. But his fellow IA colleagues want him involved, so they can exploit their friendship, and tap Izzy’s phone in the hope of getting evidence against Barak.
‘Manayek’ (which, incidentally, is an Israeli word for “rats” and is a derogatory term used to describe the police) doesn’t show the Israeli police in a particularly positive light, with brutality, internal friction and corruption rife throughout. The show has a somewhat drab and gloomy air of a 70s British cop show – everyone smokes, no-one smiles and it would appear that each person on the force has their own agenda. With the exception of Izzy, it’s hard to feel any degree of empathy with any of the ensemble. It is all rather depressing, if I’m honest.
The first season (which aired in 2020) runs for 10 episodes; and a second season is out already, so the show clearly has legs and has done well in its native Israel.
There are parallels with our own ‘Line of Duty’, particularly given the police corruption angle. But ‘Line of Duty’ is streets ahead in terms of quality, in my opinion. That’s not to say that ‘Manayek’ isn’t worth investigating, because it is. Izzy is an engaging character in a toxic world. But be warned – it’s not the most uplifting of series.
Walter Presents: ‘Mayanek’ is available as a boxset on C4 Streaming now.