House Arrest / Домашний арест

Published: August 11, 2019

House Arrest (Домашний Aрест) is a Russian comedy TV series, produced by Comedy Club Productions and first released on August 16, 2018. It played on the TNT comedy channel in Russia.

The series is about Arkady Anikeev, the mayor of Sineozersk who gets arrested for taking bribes and finds himself placed under house arrest. As he has maintained his official address at his childhood home, a communal apartment, he then is forced to return to his roots. With his former childhood nemesis, Ivan Samsonov, he ends up plotting to restore his status and make his friend the new mayor of the city.

The series ran for one season with 12 episodes and is directed byPeter Buslov. It was praised by a truly original and very Russian series (most successful Russian shows are often remakes of shows from abroad). The writing is believable and the characters are relatable while the subject matter touches on something that comedic series had never so directly faced before: social problem and corruption.

The show won the “Best Comedy Series,” in 2019 awarded by theAssociation of Professional Film and Television Producers.

Below, you will find the series premier, a synopsis of the first episode and a brief analysis of the series and its critical reception.

Watch the series premier on YouTube (Russian only; no subtitles):

For more information, check out the show’s official site.

 

Synopsis

The series begins with the busy daily life inside the fated communal apartment in 1986. The bell rings, and the young version Ivan Samsonov, played by Alexander Novikov, eagerly runs to open the door. Samsonov’s father enters with a box and a suitcase, having just returned from a trip to Europe. While he is handing out gifts for everyone: bras, bubble gum, and cheap toys, whose quality everyone marvels over, the young version of Arkady Anikeev, played by Peter Natarov, is doing his homework in an adjoining room. He is kept there by his grandmother, who is apparently both a strident communist and a deeply religious woman. When she leaves the room, she locks him in. Anikeev attempts to reach a spare key from the top of a wardrobe, but he falls and brings down the woman’s shelf of icons. Furious, she kicks him out, giving him what he wanted: a chance to see the goods from Europe. The boy attempts to steal a toy car from the table, which has been given to young Ivan, and Ivan seeks retribution by shoving Arkady’s face into the toilet. Arkady vows he will someday be so powerful that Ivan will “kiss his butt” for penance. The episode then fast-forwards to 2018.

The grown-up version of Anikeev, now portrayed by Pavel Derevyanko is the mayor of Sineozersk, announcing his intention to run for a second term. Standing by his side are his wife Vika, portrayed by Olesya Sudzilovskaya, and his Deputy Mayor, Pavel Osipenko, portrayed by Sergey Burunov. As Anikeev leaves, he is met by a group of students protesting the apparent planned destruction of part of the town’s historic monetary to make way for a new shopping center. Leading them is associate professor Marina Sergeyevna, played by Marina Alexandrova. Pretending to side with the group and blame incident on his staff, Anikeev declares the issue solved.

Back at his office, Arkady meets his childhood nemesis Ivan Samsonov, now played by Alexander Robak. Samsonov explains that he is now working at a construction site and still lives at the same communal apartment. He comes, hat-in-hand to ask Arkady for help in securing a better job. Anikeev says he can, but Samsonsov will need to fire his boss first. Samsonsov calls and, egged on by Anikeev, very rudly does so. Anikeev then tells Samsonsov that, to secure his help, he will need to literally kiss his butt, having apparently never forgotten the childhood encounter. Samsonsov refuses and Anikeev has his security guards remove him.

Samsonov arrives back at the old communal apartment, where his family tells him that he should do as Anikeev asked to improve their situation. Eventually, Samsonov relents and goes to see Anikeev again. To further embarrass Samsonov, Anikeev calls his secretary and bodyguards into the room to witness the deed. Samsonov does what he needs to and, afterwards, Anikeev refuses to fulfil his end of the bargain and again Samsonov is dragged off by security.

As Anikeev is driving to meet his mistress, he gets a phone call from a businessman about the bribe Anikeev was promised as part of the shopping mall deal. Anikeev then goes to a restaurant, meets the man, accepts the bribe, is caught on tape and immediately arrested by federal agents.

Marina, meanwhile, is told by her boss at the university, who is also her lover, that she will have to give up her fight to save the monetary or the city administration will force him to fire her. She quits instead.

Samsonov is then again shown fighting with his family about his work when he sees the news about Anikeev’s arrest on the television. Federal Agents then ring the bell, and Anikeev is delivered to the apartment, fitted with an ankle bracelet, and left. He is told he will live there until the end of the investigation. Anikeev tries to apologize but, as pay back, Samsonov breaks one of his fingers and then announces that he will be the house slave while there. Anikeev attempts to better his situation by offering the family essentially everything they want, and even agrees to put everything in contact this time.

While he is writing, Anikeev’s wife and the Deputy Mayor arrive and reveal to Anikeev that they have been lovers for some time. The arrest was made after the Deputy Mayor tipped off federal agents and, because all of Anikeev’s wealth is in his wife’s name, Anikeev is now literally left with nothing. The Deputy Mayor even intends to take Anikeev’s place as mayor.

After the new couple leave, it becomes clear that Anikeev now has nothing for Samsonov. They fight again and Anikeev is run into an old sewage pipe, which bursts, and then contents of which spill over the fighting men. After cleaning up, they have some vodka together and Anikeev decides that he can reclaim his power by making Samsonov the new mayor.

At the end of the episode, it is revealed that Marina also now lives in the apartment, adding a new plot twist. The episode ends with Marina drafting a public petition to save the Sineozersk monastery.

 

Analysis

House Arrest is able to mix social commentary into nearly every scene while impressively not losing its overall comedic mood or seeming forced or over the top. The series effectively touches not only on political corruption, but also on marriage, social mobility, and housing, all issues of concern to many Russians. The cast also vividly portrays their characters, making it very easy to absorb and follow the plotline.

Most of the reviews online are positive with a rating of 8.4 on kino-teatr.ru and 8.1 on IMDb.

The negative comments appear to be around two issues, immorality shown by the characters and slow plot development.

One comment on kino-teatr.ru says “I do not understand how you can admire a show, in which even children swear…The country has clearly gone mad” And another from IMDb who give 9 out of 10 stars says “I took a star of perfect rating, due to a bit slow story development at the beginning, and less than perfect acting of teenage actors, who couldn’t hold their own against their grown counterparts.” However, the poster continues with “Still they were very good. Highly recommended.”

In addition to the “Best Comedy Series” award, House Arrest also won “Best Scenario Work,” “Best Director,” and “Best Casting Director,” etc. in that same year.

About the author

Tanya Tanyarattinan

Tanya Tanyarattinan is a third-year, Thai international student at the University of Denver, double majoring in International Studies and Economics with minors in Russian and Japanese. She is currently studying Society, Business, and the Arts in St Petersburg with SRAS’s Home and Abroad Scholarship. With an interest in pursuing a career in politics, she travels to see how the world works from different perspectives. Her next stop is Berlin where she will complete her study abroad year. In her free time, she likes to play games and try new food.

Program attended: Home and Abroad Scholar

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