Somewhere between the Garden of Allah and the Sicilian village of Corleone, lies the fictional country Abbudin. This country had long been under the heel of a tyrannical despot, Khaled Al Fayeed. This man had two sons – the older was Jamal, and the younger one was called Bassam.
Bassam would leave his family for sunny Pasadena in Southern California and become a practicing pediatrician. He left Abbudin 20 years ago. He now has a wife and two teen age children, and has not returned to his homeland until now.
While he may be a member of the Al Fayeed family, he now calls himself Barry rather than Bassam. The occasion for his return is the wedding of his brother Jamal’s son. Burdened with some horrific memories,
Barry reluctantly agrees to return to his homeland and to be re-united with his family.
And that readers is your intro to the brand new FX TV Series called Tyrant which premiered tonight in the 10:00 PM slot. This opening episode ran for 75 minutes and included some flash backs to the events that changed both brothers forever.
What I learned in this episode is that Tyrant carries similar DNA to The Godfather. Abbudin may be in the oil-rich middle east, and the show connects to that via Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff, and Avi Nir who were the executive producers of Homeland, but there’s no way to not see the Godfather in this story.
Barry is the son who wanted out of the family business which was oppression. Jamal represents the Sonny Corleone figure who had awesome appetites for sex and violence. And the Godfather, or Tyrant is Khaled Al Fayeed.
Barry is played by Adam Rayner and Jamal by Ashraf Barhom, who you’ll probably recall had a major part in the film, The Kingdom. Without giving away too much of the pilot, or opening episode, we see that while Abbudin and it palaces, and its exotic feel and flavor, looks as if it has under gone a massive scrubbing for this wedding. Not seen, but their presence is felt, is an unhappy citizenry.
When Khaled says to Barry: After everything I’ve given the people, they say they want freedom, the handwriting is on the wall, and the aspirations may be unheard so far, but are hardly going to be silenced forever.
I’m not sure if this series will become as watchable as Homeland, but at least based on the pilot I’ve some reservations. First the characters seem stereotypical. Second the situations that play out before us come as no surprise. There’s plenty of visual clues that set the stage as well lots of expository statements which in some cases might have been better left unsaid. We will meet a General of the Army high up in Abbudin hierarchy. He looks primed to have an agenda of his own.
There’s a scarred journalist who was more than roughed up by the State Secret Police. This man knew Bassam (Barry) years back, and he chastises Barry for not returning sooner. There’s Khaled’s wife played by Alice Krige, and Jamal’s wife Leila, played by Moran Atias. Then there’s Barry’s family.
His wife Molly (Jennifer Finnigan) does a bit of hectoring Barry for answers. And Barry’s kids have their own takes on being someplace new and different. As does the US Embassy guy and his wife, who look like they are more concerned with having fun than taking care of business.
In short I’m saying, that by the conclusion of the pilot, we are left exactly where we expected to be. We knew what was coming so often in the pilot that very little could be called surprising.
Now before you take that as fact rather than opinion, I’m sure that this is a rather natural state of affairs for a pilot, or introductory episode. Just because the clues were broad and transparent, doesn’t mean that the rest of the series won’t be much more opaque. After all, they’re calling this a thriller, so that is to be expected.
Have a look at this video: Tyrant First Look for a bit more background and then you’ll be better situated to decide if this series interests you.
The Tyrant airs on Tuesday nights at 10:00 PM on the FX Network