- TV Series
Afghanistan 2005. Kaboul Kitchen (a french restaurant) is the place to drink in Kabul. Jacky, the owner, is here to make money. His new roommate, his daughter, is here to save people.Afghanistan 2005. Kaboul Kitchen (a french restaurant) is the place to drink in Kabul. Jacky, the owner, is here to make money. His new roommate, his daughter, is here to save people.Afghanistan 2005. Kaboul Kitchen (a french restaurant) is the place to drink in Kabul. Jacky, the owner, is here to make money. His new roommate, his daughter, is here to save people.
Jacky (Gilbert Melki) has been running his restaurant there since before the post-9/11 turmoil. He sees himself as a contemporary version of Humphrey Bogart's Rick from Casablanca, coping with the Taliban, rather than Nazis. His clientèle is fellow expatriates from all nations, since he's about the only game in town serving otherwise-forbidden booze and pork dishes, with seating around a pool where women can swim or sunbathe as they would in the West. As fundamentalist backlash and fervor is ramping up, his gorgeous, estranged daughter (Stephanie Pasterkamp) suddenly arrives to work for a local charity. When his liquor supply is endangered, he's forced into partnership with a rather sociopathic army colonel (Simon Abkarian), whose friendship is as embarrassing and menacing as it is essential to keeping his doors open, and his customers safe from escalating religious threats.
The characters and situations have been finely honed, with valuable contributions from many minor players. These episodes respect the host country's diverse factions and pressures, replicate the uncertainties and fluidity of life there for outsiders, while delivering plenty of laughs, broad and otherwise.
One oft-cited axiom is that Comedy = Tragedy + Time. Hogan's Heroes, both incarnations of M*A*S*H and Good Morning, Vietnam debuted more than a decade after their respective wars had ended. Afghanistan is still a volatile quagmire not only for our troops, but those of many other countries, with no end in sight. That adds a level of unease to these 30-minute episodes, not only about what will happen on- screen, but how they may affect viewers elsewhere, and what real- life consequences may follow?
Perhaps this series' success was a factor in the decision to green- light HBO's new sitcom, The Brink, with Jack Black as an idiotic State Department underling in Pakistan, bumbling his way through Islamabad while our Secretary of State (Tim Robbins) desperately globe-trots to keep the Hawks in the Cabinet from triggering a likely Armageddon. Since that one stars the manic Black and airs on HBO, it's considerably more frenzied and hyperbolic. But the nuance with which Kaboul Kitchen's stories unfold and characters evolve makes one salivate over the arrival of Season Two, perhaps with hopes for more.
- Jul 23, 2015