I love, love, love this family-friendly series! With no swearing, nudity or sexual innuendo, it still manages to be funny -- why can't we get more of this in the States? For those who have missed this wonderful series, the main characters are:
Amaar -- imam of the mosque. He was a lawyer at his father's Toronto law firm before he decided to become an imam.
Yasir Hamoudi -- a rather secular Muslim who owns a construction company and shows up for Friday prayers. He is the one responsible for finding a place to have a mosque -- a difficult task that is solved when he rents the parish hall of the Anglican Church (you really need to see the first season!). He is the consumate romantic, passionately devoted to his wife.
Sara Hamoudi -- Yasir's wife, who was an Anglican until she converted to Islam when she married Yasir. Her devotion to Islam is limited to Friday prayers.
Rayyan Hamoudi -- raised by secular parents, the daughter of Sara and Yasser is an outspoken feminist doctor who is also a devout Muslim who wears the hijab (headscarf). When her parents stray too far off the path, Rayyan is there to remind them of Islamic behavior.
Babar Saddiqi -- brilliant economist & fundamentalist Pakistani Muslim who butts heads with Rayyan and Amaar (whom he doesn't consider a "real" imam becaus he doesn't have a beard). He is raising a teenage daughter by himself because his wife divorced him.
Fatima -- Nigerian Muslim widow who runs a cafe. She wears hijab and often agrees with Babar or Rayyan on topics related to Islam.
Fred Tupper -- the local conservative (to the point of paranoia) talk show host. Always looking into this wierd religion & a bit paranoid about his Muslim neighbors. It doesn't stop him from hanging out at Fatima's cafe, though!
Rev. McGee -- the lovable leader of the Anglican church where the mosque has its home.
This season introduced love stories -- Babar falls in love (briefly), Rayyan falls in love (less briefly). As always, we learn about Islam without realizing how much we are learning. The first season seemed to have more of that, but now that the audience is (presumably) more knowledgeable, there is not as much focus on differences. My personal favorite is "Ban the Burka": a new woman shows up at the mosque, wearing the niqab (face veil). All that can be seen are her eyes. Naturally, Babar, the fundamentalist Pakistani Muslim falls in love with the wonderful, modest Muslim woman. A truly hilarious episode, especially when he is trying to get Yasser, the consumate romantic, to teach him how to talk to a woman -- something he never learned in his first marriage. (Yasser: Well, how did you meet your wife? Babar: On our wedding day.).
My second favorite has to be "The Five Year Plan", where we find out a bit about where various characters were five years ago -- nice bit of background and explains some of the current day actions.
Also good are the episodes about the "No Fly List" and "Spy Something or Get Out", which both touch humorously on government perception of Muslims -- and Muslims perception of government.
"Mercy Beet", "Wheat Week" and "Welcome to Mercy" were ok, but not as much fun for me. Fortunately, they are a small portion of the 20 episodes in this set -- and even the worst isn't that bad. I find there is always something to like in an episode.
The introduction of J.J. near the end of the season built some nice romantic tension, as he is obviously a rival for Amaar. Up until now, there has been no romantic interacton between Amaar and Rayyan, but he is an obvious choice (young, handsome, etc) for a match for Rayyan. Then J.J., whom Rayyan remembers as a geeky kid, comes to town. Guess what? The geek has grown into a tall handsome man. How is Amaar going to handle this? Or doesn't he care? (Watch the show to find out!)
The show has just finished its 5th season and I can't wait for it to be out on DVD so I can buy it! Highly recommend this series for the whole family!