In “Tyrant” (10 p.m. Tuesday, FX), a Pasadena pediatrician (Adam Rayner) goes home for the first time in 20 years to attend his nephew’s wedding.
The twist: Home is the Middle Eastern dictatorship of Abbudin, which his father rules with an iron fist.
Bassam Al-Fayeed, known as Barry to his friends and patients in Southern California, grew up second in line to follow in his father’s footsteps. His older brother, Jamal (Ashraf Barhom), has been groomed from an early age for the country’s “presidency.”
Barry found many of his family’s practices disgusting, fled that life as a teenager and never looked back.
But during his reluctant homecoming, a crisis erupts that causes Barry, who’s seemingly more American than anything else, to stick around and help sort things out.
“Tyrant” is alternately compelling and clunky.
The drama starts interestingly enough, and the subject matter offers plenty of fertile ground considering there’s certainly nothing else like it on TV.
But it’s more than a little odd that everyone in Abbudin exclusively speaks English, especially since other FX dramas, i.e. “The Americans” and “The Bridge,” are swimming in subtitles. And, really, the producers couldn’t find anyone with even a smidge of Middle Eastern heritage to play Barry?
But there’s an even bigger obstacle standing in the way of “Tyrant’s” ultimate success: Barry has teenage kids, and “Tyrant” is run by Howard Gordon.
Gordon is best known for having overseen “24,” which gave the world Kim Bauer, and “Homeland,” which irritated the world even further with Dana Brody.
“Tyrant,” meanwhile, features pouty 17-year-old Emma (Anne Winters) and 16-year-old Sammy (Noah Silver), who can’t stop making eyes at one of the family’s male bodyguards.
If Gordon’s history is any indication, things are about to get ugly.
For those kids and viewers alike.