For a country with bomb-detecting security scanners in every shopping centre and leaders who constantly talk about the Iranian nuclear programme, Israel’s latest television craze is surprising — a bomb-themed quiz show.
In Boom, contestants face a ticking bomb which, when it gets to zero, shakes the studio and causes them to lose prize money. Contestants win by answering questions correctly and snipping wires that would otherwise allow the bomb to “detonate”.
By appropriating one of the most dreaded objects in the Israeli psyche, a bomb, the show has gained a dedicated following. “It makes light out of something that has caused us so much grief, and this makes for a good gimmick and a really entertaining show,” said Michael Tzadiki, an entrepreneur in his 30s.
He added: “Although the bomb theme may seem inappropriate to outsiders, we learn in Israel not to have taboos.”
TV executives around the world have watched the phenomenon with interest, and decided that if it can work in Israel, it can work anywhere.
Keshet DPS, the company that makes the programme, has now signed deals that will lead to versions of Boom for the Fox network in America, for the Spanish network Atresmedia, and for France’s TF1. It is expected to agree soon on a Hungarian version.
But not everyone is impressed. Israeli journalist Marcy Oster wrote an op-ed asking how the public in Israel can accept the show “when our country’s recent past has been littered with the death and destruction caused by such bombs in cities throughout the country”.
Asked about her criticisms, she said that on the positive side, the success of the show demonstrates “the Israeli ability to move on with things and laugh at ourselves”, but added: “Some things just aren’t funny and I think this is one of them.”