Shervin Alenabi, left, and Niv Sultan in “Tehran” 2020. IMDb photo

“Tehran” is an Israeli spy thriller television series created by Moshe Zonder for the Israeli public channel 11.

Somehow, the first season, 2020, moved in among that year’s COVID-tainted flotilla of all-American hit shows to make people forget: “Jeopardy,” “Seinfeld,” sitcoms, “Bachelorette,” etc., one after another. Candy for the pandemic soul.

So “Tehran” floated by this reviewer who was looking for a laugh, but somehow, this classic, nerve-jangling espionage thriller seems to have piled up a heap of fans, pulling in big Rotten numbers. So…

This week I discovered it. For the new viewers like myself, who missed it, “Tehran’s” first season sports a menu of Israeli and Iranian actors, with names like Tamar, Mohammadi and Faraz, with nary a Smith, Jones or Brady in the bunch.

It’s best to ignore all the Iranian names and keep your eye on what they do when the others aren’t looking.

What we get is a basket of the best Middle Eastern actors assembled since “Homeland,” some who have blended in various other semi-spy thrillers since that ground breaker left. You’ll recognize a few, who threatened Carrie, but just keep watching.


But be aware that you’re coming aboard a big ship of nail-biting action with new blood and eyes, and when you watch the final episode of season one … You’re gonna need a bigger boat.

“Tehran,” coming into the 2022 season gets that we’re older and hipper. It walks us down the maze of intel offices, back alleys of action and blood letting, so expertly laid out by creators Moshe Zonder, Dana Eden and Maor Kohn, that there’s not a moment for meditation.

Opening of season one:

Tamar (Niv Sultan) is a Mossad hacker who infiltrates Tehran under a false identity to help destroy Iran’s nuclear reactor; when her mission fails and she’s trapped in a new life, Tamar must plan an operation that will place her loved ones in jeopardy.

Cut to the finale episode and hold onto your chair arm, pillow, bedmate or what ever. The Israeli fighters are in the night sky and Tamar is typing as fast as she can.

That’s where this reviewer is now, ready to make fresh popcorn and move on.


A tip. Don’t start it before bedtime and don’t rush to season two, there be monsters and dragons here.

In season two, blonde, blue-eyed Glenn Close comes aboard as Marjan Montazeri, all glamour and no boiled rabbits in her hat. Glenn Close?

Okay. Breathe.

Tehran streams on Apple TV+.

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

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