TV Highlights

What was on Friday 12th September

Tyrant

FOX - 9pm

Who's in it?

The creator of Homeland reverses the situation in this latest drama, going from West to East instead of East to West. Adam Rayner was Barry Al-Fayeed, the prodigal son returning to the land of his tyrannical father.

In a nutshell

If The Godfather had been about a brutal Middle Eastern dictatorship instead of a mob dynasty, would it have been Tyrant? That's clearly what Tyrant itself would very much like to think, as it's basically the same story in a hotter setting. In the Michael Corleone position of being the peace-loving exile from his violent family is our protagonist Barry, who's lived an ordinary life in the US for the past 20 years. In the place of Michael's fiery, lusty brother Sonny Corleone, we have Barry's fiery, lusty brother Jamal.

And in place of daddy Vito Corleone, there was their patriarch father, all brooding and rueful. Last night's opener saw Barry take his family back to the old country for a wedding, and we're presumably about to witness Barry's slow, Michael-like corruption as the series goes on. The only snag is that it's actually less a new Godfather and more a sort of depraved Dallas, full of stock characters (whiny teens, over-emotional wives, barbaric Arabs) and sudden twists (Barry killed a guy when he was a kid). Not that it matters: it's too darn compelling for us to quit now.

What's the verdict?

What can we say – for all its faults and plot holes, for all the wooden characters and cheesy dialogue ("I don't know who you are anymore") – Tyrant is as irresistible as any OTT soap. So maybe it has learnt one thing from The Godfather: how to give us an offer we can't refuse...

4/5

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07-07-2011