Spread it or skip it?
Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff are no strangers to Netflix; they created the hit Israeli series Fauda for service, which drew on the pair’s experiences in the Israel Defense Forces. Their new show, Hit and run, also draws inspiration from those experiences, but it adds something to the mix: A husband investigates his wife’s death in Tel Aviv, but soon ends up in New York, where he also works with his contacts. The series mixes well-known Israeli and American actors and sets while maintaining the bona fide action thriller the pair was established with. Fauda.
STRIKE AND RUN: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
Opening shot: The prisoners are busy in the prison yard. A prisoner with a bird tattoo on his hand waits in his cell. A guard tells him to come out into the compound.
The essential: Inside the compound, the prisoner is confronted with another inmate and he is beaten a few inches from his life. Three weeks earlier, we see this man, Segev Azulay (Lior Raz) in Tel Aviv, watching his wife, Danielle Wexler (Kaelen Ohm), perform with Israel’s prestigious Batsheva Dance Company. Segev, who runs his own tour guide business, and Dani have been married for about a year and are very happy. Segev’s daughter Ella (Neta Orbach) is in love with her stepmother. Everything seems to be going well in Segev’s life.
Dani returns to the United States to audition for a dance company in New York. It’s a trip that Segev doesn’t really want her to take, because if she gets the job, chances are he and Ella will stay in Tel Aviv. Dani receives a text before leaving for the airport, telling her not to ignore whoever sends it. She tells the driver, the friend of the Moshe family (Yoram Tollendano) to wait while she sees her friend Syd (Siena Kelly) and tells him to give her a note.
Then she stops in a cafe to get some coffee for her and Moshe. While leaving, she is run over by a car which stops momentarily then leaves the premises.
Segev receives the call and rushes to the hospital, but Dani is already gone. He has to call Dani’s dad, Martin (Gregg Henry) to break the tragic news, but the hardest thing to do is tell Ella. First, however, another family friend, Tali Shapira (Moran Rosenblatt) visits the hospital. She is a police detective and Segev wants her to investigate, as the police have no information so far. While investigating, she discovers that the car belonged to a local gang leader, whom she pursues through the streets of Tel Aviv.
As Segev goes to look for Ella and tells her about Dani, he looks back on when they met; she took him for a walk and they got along so well that she went with him to pick up Ella.
When he picks up Dani’s phone, he sees text messages and missed calls from the same number. And when he answers one of those calls, he’s shocked to find a man calling him by a loving name. That man is Assaf (Lior Ashkenazy), a married director of Mossad who only finds out through a report that Dani is dead. That’s when we find out in another flashback that Dani and Assaf were together when Dani met Segev.
What shows will this remind you of? Hit and run has the feeling of one of the many adaptations of Harlan Coben on Netflix, like The innocent. However, it’s not an adaptation of Coben, but an interesting mix of Israeli and American writers, actors and producers.
Our opinion : The idea of Hit and run came from Raz and Avi Issacharoff (who both created Fauda), who are executive producers, but the show is run by US producers Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin. Production is expanding not only to Tel Aviv but also to New York, and well-known American actors like Henry and Sanaa Lathan, playing an ex of Segev who helps him find Dani’s killers, are featured. It certainly makes for an intriguing mix, producing a thriller that feels a little different than most shows of this type in recent years.
Mike Barker, who directed the first episode, makes the series feel a bit Israeli, with zooms in and a few camera pans as the tension builds. And he makes sure to show Segev’s tattoos often, to give viewers a clue that he has a complicated past for a guy who drives tourists to Israel for a living. This is what makes things surprising but not shocking when he finds an intruder in his home after Shapira begins investigating the accident, and in the ensuing fight, he breaks her neck. A tour guide does not have this kind of training in their toolbox.
It’s a show that has a lot of action, like car chases and fighting, but it’s also thoughtful and deliberate. It takes time to go back and examine Segev and Dani’s relationship and examine not just the emotional underpinnings of what was going on without Segev’s knowledge, like his relationship with Asaaf.
Raz’s performance is both provocative and distraught, and he’s backed by veteran Israeli actors like Roseblatt and Ashkenazi. But he also performs well with American and Canadian actors like Henry and Ohm. It helps that this is based on an idea of him delving into his life in the IDF, but Raz certainly does more than just action-star level emotions in the most dramatic scenes.
The first episode sets up so many intriguing storylines: Was Dani an undercover informant who accidentally fell in love with her master? What’s going on with Segev? And why is he following the trail for clues about Dani’s death in New York? A first episode that asks so many intriguing questions is rare and makes the decision to watch easier to make.
Gender and skin: Surprisingly, none.
Starting shot: Segev brings Ella to her mother’s house, making sure she doesn’t see the dead intruder as they leave. After announcing the death of the intruder to Israeli 911, he returns home to see that the body of the deceased has been removed.
Sleeper Star: We will always give this to Gregg Henry, one of our favorite character actors. We predict that his role as Dani’s father means he’s pretty involved in what Segev reveals about Dani when he comes to the United States.
Most pilot line: We’re not sure we really need the first scene, where Segev gets beaten up in prison. We think he got in there to find someone. We’ll find out, but the initial front flash scene didn’t add much to the plot, and it’s now an overused device.
Our call: Stream it. Hit and run benefits from a beautiful international distribution, an interesting premise and opens up many avenues of history without confusing the viewer.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he’s not kidding himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writings have appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.