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Title: Prisoners of War - Season 1

Movie: :4.5stars:
Video: :3stars:
Audio: :3.5stars:
Extras: :2stars:

HTS Overall Score:68

What I love about film and TV the most is finding those hidden gems. Those movies, or shows, that you normally wouldn’t have given a second glance but ends up being one of your best viewing experiences. This is how I feel with Shout! Factory’s “Prisoners of War”. I like foreign films, but foreign TV shows I don’t usually keep up with. On a whim I decided to review “Prisoners of War: Season 1” and was thoroughly impressed. It happens to be the show that “Homeland” is based off of and I have been rather pleased with its success as a TV show, so I was really curious to see how similar in feel the two are. Color me VERY surprised when ended up liking “Prisoners of War” a LOOOOOT more than its shinier, polished U.S. counterpart. While “Homeland” is great TV, “Prisoners of War” takes the idea of returned P.O.W.’s makes it real for the viewer in a way that Hollywood has failed.

17 years ago, three Israeli soldiers are captured and held behind enemy lines. Now after almost two decades of trying and struggling, the Israeli government has finally come to an agreement for a prisoner exchange. Thusly, Nimrode Klein (Yoram Toledano), Uri Zach (Ishai Golan), and Amiel Ben-Horin (Assi Cohen) are finally reunited with their families. One minor problem is that Amiel is present in charred body remains only, having died before his release at the hands of his captors. Uri, Nimrode and their families greet the shattered wrecks as they come back home after these 17 years, only to realize that neither side are the same people. Uri comes home a complete mess of a man, filled with paranoia, fear and humility only to find out that his fiancé, Nurit (Mili Avital) had married his brother Yaki in his absence. Nimrode comes home to a wife who spearheaded the campaign for his release only to find that he’s no longer the same person. To make it more interesting, his family is about as messed up as he is. His daughter Dana is messed up rebellious teenager who’s constantly out toking up and messing around with every older man she comes across and their youngest son Hatzav wasn’t even born when Nimrode was captured and doesn’t even know this war torn man coming home. Amiel’s sister, Yael, is a complete and total psych case as she grieves the loss of her brother. After so many years of fighting and hoping for his release, all she has is remains and a broken heart. Seeing Amiel around every corner she starts to lose her grip on reality, finding comfort in the illusion that he’s still alive and kicking.


The story focuses mainly on the 2 survivors and their respective families. When you come home from 17 years of being abused and tortured at the hands of a ruthless enemy, you’re not going to be the same person that you left. After losing your dignity and sanity, it’s a hard rode to rebuild what you lost, and make something new of yourself. Uri agonizes over the loss of his fiancé and does what he can to put back together his shattered reality. Nimrode SEEMS to have it the easiest, with a wife who desperately loves him and a family, but he feels isolated and alone from them. To make matters worse the military psychologist seems to think that the two are hiding things from him. With that many years under pressure a person is bound to crack, its human nature and with the discrepancies in the two’s debriefing stories he’s bound and determined to find out just exactly what it is they’re hiding.

As the story unfolds in a very stead, but riveting pace, we see that there may be something to the claims. Little bits here, little bits there unfold between the two’s attempts at rebuilding their lives. A hidden secret that only the two of them know, the reason why they can’t look Yael in the eyes and the suspicions of a psychologist fuel this tale of torture, betrayal and lies that had me staring at the screen for a rapt 8 hours.

The Episode Rundown is as Follows

The Return
Hamachon: Part 1
Hamachon: Part 2
Letter from Mom
Take Care
The Diary
Picture from Captivity
Ve'Sahvu Mitsraim
Awake at Night
The Tombstone



Video :3stars:
The 1.78:1 MPEG2 encode given to us by shout factory is a mixed bag. Most of it isn’t due to encoding issues, but there are a few present. The picture tends to mediocre, even by DVD standard with some interlacing and use of faster frame rates that give off an odd picture. The detail in the show is squashed by a VERY soft looking image that appears mushy and devoid of most detail. It’s not a horrible train wreck of softness, but VERY surprisingly so with modern cameras being used. It gives the show a very rough and raw picture that shows some decent colors, but nothing wild. Blacks are crushed and colors are muted due to the overt softness of the picture. Some macroblocking is shown in fast movie scenes along with the ever present interlacing. I can’t verify whether it was shot this way on purpose, or not, but it’s not going to be one that stands out as top of the line video presentations.

Audio :3.5stars:
The 2.0 stereo dolby digital track is what I like to call “satisfactory”. Without those surround channels it’s a fairly flat mix, but on that is very dialogue based and puts a lot of emphasis on said dialogue. The levels are evenly balanced and leave very little to complain about. There’s minimal LFE blended in to those two channels and even some decent ambient panning effects with the mains. Again, it’s nothing that will knock your socks off, but it does a decent job and shows much more polish than the video showed. Without being able to see the original sources I can’t tell if it was shot and recorded this way on purpose, so It’s hard to point fingers for the lackluster video and audio presentation.

Extras :2stars:
• An Open Wound : the Making of "Prisoners of War"
• Episode Commentaries

Overall: :3.5stars:

“Prisoners of War: Season 1” is one of those hidden gems that I truly ended up really enjoying. The show doesn’t have the same “Hollywood flair” that so many of our TV shows have in the U.S., but the raw “real” feeling is completely engrossing and outclasses “Homeland” in every way, but the production budget. The actors live and breathe the characters, making it very difficult to discern who the “actor” is and who the character is at the end of the day. Raw emotion and pain seep through every pore and the show’s slow and steady pace never feels too slow, or loses your attention. Every minute of the show counts for something and slowly unpeels the onion minute by minute. If you can find this I highly recommend checking out the show. It’s well worth the watch, despite the low budget for the video presentation.

Additional Information:

Starring: Gal Zaid, Yael Eitan, Salim Dau
Created by: Gideon Raff
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 MPEG 2
Audio: Hebrew Dolby Digital 5.1
Studio: Shout! Factory
Rated: TV-MA
Runtime: 530 Minutes
DVD Release Date: July 8th, 2014

Buy Prisoners of War - Season 1 DVD on Amazon

Recommendation: Must Buy

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