TV Recap: The Dovekeepers, Series Premiere

Written by Marley Ghizzone

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The Dovekeepers Plot Summary:

Based on the bestselling historical novel by Alice Hoffman, two Jewish women recount their lives leading up to the Siege of Masada to historian Flavius Joseph (Sam Neill).

Who knew being targeted for genocide and fighting for the survival of your people’s existence could be so sensual? Certainly not me. If all historical events were recounted this way, I would have gotten way better grades in high school.

So yes, some very sexy happenings in The Dovekeepers, which I obviously loved. However, it is a strike against what could have been a magnificent, and powerful miniseries. Alice Hoffman’s novel took a different perspective to the white male view of history. It recounted the fight for survival of four women during the Siege of Masada. The miniseries waters everything down to the bare bones of what could have been. Also, they were in a desert and no one was sweaty which makes me mad on principal.

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The women were reduced from four to two. The audience only hears perspective from Shirah (Cote de Pablo) and Yael (Rachel Brosnaham) who recount their lives after the Siege of Masada to a very judgemental Flavius Joseph (Neill). The show bookends scenes from Masada with the women taking turns telling their stories to Joseph which was the worst possible thing they could have done, I think.

Foremost, it creates an easy avenue for exposition which is always boring. Equally obnoxious it disrupts the flow and the rhythm of the story. Every time it cut back to Shirah (de Pablo), Yael (Brosnaham), and Joseph chatting I was forced to confront the cliche-filled 120 minutes that created the first half of this miniseries. When the action was actually in the Siege of Masada, I could almost forget the problems but then Joseph would pop up with a bratty, patriarchal fueled comment on Shirah or Yael’s life.

What this miniseries boiled down to was an attempt to bring to life a very pro-female strength and empowerment tale. It aimed to appeal to those looking for a perspective besides the male driven, white washed history we learn in school.

But alas, it miserably and awkwardly failed. The women showed some potential, sometimes. Instead of capitalizing on those moments the writers chose to comment, through Joseph, on their wild and insubordinate ways. They had cliche dialogue, most notably “I was a women of the desert, wild. I knew he was the lion that would take me.” I know that sex never goes away, okay? I am not a moron. But I feel like that wouldn’t be the thing you would be talking about right after everyone you know has just died horrible deaths- “Oh my god, yeah so everyone I love is dead. Bummer. Anywho wanna hear how I lost my virginity? It rocked my world if you know what I mean.” Utterly ridiculous.

Photo Credit: CBS
Photo Credit: CBS

Another problem I had was the weird CGI-looking dreams Yael kept having about a lion. Each time she had a dream it was just as jarring as the scenes with Joseph. It was so bad I almost set myself on fire but I thought, it probably means something important. It didn’t. The lion was the spirit animal or something of the guy Yael lost her virginity to. Excuse me while I fetch the lighter fluid.

After the two hours there was audible booing and visible tears at the poor execution of a brilliant idea. I will forgo watching the second half of the miniseries tomorrow night, opting instead to read the original novel I just ordered off Amazon.

Rating: 3 out of 10

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Marley Ghizzone is the current music editor and former Breaking News Editor for The Pop Break. Aside from writing news, Marley reviews television shows and the odd film. Pop culture is her drug of choice and her talents include binge watching entire seasons of TV shows obsessively fast and crying over fictional characters. Marley is a graduate of Rowan University. Follow her on twitter: @marleyveee