Life, without drama, can be boring. For many Pinoys, drama is a major component of existence. To illustrate this point: If you’re single, there is the drama of being alone; if you’re a student, the drama may be of failing grades, peer pressure or young love; as an adult, the drama of marriage, parenthood, sex, economics, religion, politics and even the wrath and warmth of Mother Nature.
This is why the latest dramas of ABS-CBN television shows are reportedly topping the ratings game starting with Walang Hanggan, which stars superstar of the moment Coco Martin; Princess and I with the much-loved teen stars Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla; and Lorenzo’s Time with the oddest yet lovable pairing of Carmina Villaroel and Zaijan Jaranilla.
As expected, the Kapamilya network’s fiercest and most formidable rival, GMA 7, also launched in succession its original drama shows that it hopes will swing the audiences. Its mid-afternoon offerings are Kasalanan Ba Ang Ibigan Ka? and Faithfully, early prime My Daddy Dearest and the primetime showcases Makapiling Kang Muli and One True Love.
This “drama queen” strictly monitored and watched these offerings, and here is an earnest report about the most recent Kapuso TV shows.
My Daddy Dearest
In this drama-comedy-fantasy show, Ogie Alcasid is Bong, a widower who goes back to his old self as a happy-go-lucky womanizer, which leaves his daughter Daisy (Milkcah Nacion) feeling unloved and neglected.
His life takes a 360-degree turn when his daughter wishes him to become a mom, and this becomes reality, thanks to the power of a pixie princess, Winnie (Pauline Luna).
Of the many shows launched in said time slot, the public’s response to the program is “lackluster.”
Why this is so? One, the pairing of Jolina Magdangal and Alcasid as husband and wife fizzles off as they have no chemistry whatsoever.
Also, Nacion (the tot in the TV flop that was Iglot) is no longer adorable. Her dramatic scenes are cumbersome. The screen time she shares with Alcasid seems unauthentic; you just cannot feel the usual “father and daughter” vibe that pulls heart strings.
The pixie angle is a puzzle. Why a major network wants the public to accept as truth the world and powers of pixies as problem solvers of children is not comprehensible. Children nowadays are more informed and emotionally intelligent. Thus, it is paramount to give them more realistic story lines that address issues about parent-child relationships and growing up issues.
There are many available literature and films that can serve as inspirations, especially on daddy and daughter plot lines that are packed with real-life lessons without resorting to “fantastical” elements.
Makapiling Kang Muli
Hyped as the “biggest” drama series of the Kapuso network, this soap is written by Des Garbes Severino and made under the direction of character actor Ricky Davao, with the “prime time king” Richard Gutierrez as Martin, Carla Abellana as lawyer Leilani Angeles, Rancho Paradiso’s heir Mark Anthony Fernandez as Louie Valencia, Sarah Lahbati as Graciela Montes with veteran actors Phillip Salvador, Rio Locsin and living legend Gloria Romero as Señora Soledad Silvestre.
Davao was most confident in stating publicly that the series can establish supremacy on primetime television as it boasts quality in terms of story and performance. He said: “We’re very proud of our work in this project. This is not a typical soap opera. The twists and turns in the plot and the character presentation will be enough to glue viewers till the end. Everyone gave his best.”
Unfortunately, having been pitted against the remarkable Walang Hanngan, it lagged in the ratings game, and the public’s interest waned during its first month of airing.
Lately, despite the “publicity slant” of Gutierrez “making bakod/ligaw” to Lahbati and that the characters of Leilani and Martin have joined forces to plot and plan the grandest revenge against the Silvestres, the Kapamilya program remains hard-wearing proof of its strength — an extension until October with additional stellar wattage from Eula Valdez.
A melodrama happening inside a “ranch” is not a very “relatable” to most televiewers. Men donning hats, with their macho yet awkward cowboy pomposity, and women (the roles of Locsin and Lahbati) as subservient puppets are not very appealing. Local cowboys alienate even the most rabid of followers.
Truth be told, the principal Makapiling Kang Muli turn-off is its male lead, Gutierrez. Surrounding him with acting heavyweights such as Romero, Locsin, Fernandez and Salvador only heightens what he lacks in the acting department.
For all his good looks, and I’m sure the amount of direction that Davao gives, Gutierrez fails to deliver. Even his supports, such as Paolo Paraiso and the newbie Benedict Campos, act better than him.
It seems the “twists and turns” of melodrama have not been “riveting enough” to beguile audiences.
GMA 7 must seriously evaluate the projects they give Gutierrez. They must accept his limitations and assist him to correct his flaws. Acting, after all, can be learned. After this soap, it is imperative that he enroll himself in a master class for acting in theater for him to get the most basic tools (voice, posture, units and objectives, character analysis) and in film (immerse him in classes with other directors he has not worked with and for him to choose roles that are unconventional, characters with the darker personalities). He cannot play the knight-in-shining armor all the time. He must shed this “godly” and “princely” persona and put his feet firmly on the ground.
One True Love
The most promising TV partnership of Alden Richards and Louise de los Reyes topbill the romantic drama about young lovers belonging to dissimilar social classes.
Richards is Tisoy, an orphan with a heart of gold in love with Elize de los Reyes, the only daughter of Raymond Bagatsing as Carlos, a businessman with a checkered past, and Leila, played by Agot Isidro.
Adding further complication is Jean Garcia’s character Ellen, Tisoy’s biological mother who thinks Elize is her own.
Both the youthful leads are ecstatic with the “break” and “trust” given to them and are both optimistic that they will have their own share of following.
The optimism of the duo did materialize; One True Love has become a Kapuso primetime favorite.
Ratings-wise, it has remained “dependable.” The romantic drama’s greatest strengths, aside from the reliable and winsome pairing, are Garcia and Isidro.
Jean has found her match in the person of Isidro. Every time they have a heated confrontation, one observes that the actresses are playing for truth. The palpability of the anger is so intense. The emotional exchanges are so extreme yet never border on over acting.
Also, Isidro plays her Leila with the perfect mix of chutzpah and chic. Never has there been a TV villain that really affects a viewer.
Praise must also be accorded to Richards and De los Reyes because they were able to deliver and shine in some of the soap’s most excruciating dramatic sequences with a great deal of truth and intensity.
Kasalanan Bang Ibigan Ka?
If the ABS-CBN soaps dominate the evening prime time slot, the afternoon prime slot belongs to GMA 7.
Since the arrival of Kasalanan Bang Ibigan Ka?, the public has been most supportive. According to reports, there was a day when the drama received over 40 percent in ratings, a feat that has not been duplicated by any of the Kapuso’s evening offerings.
Geoff Eigenmann, the soap’s prime actor, says, “The main focus of the soap is the father and son relationship, and the bizarre love triangle involving them. The father is played by my real life dad Michael de Mesa and Jackie Rice is my girlfriend in the show.”
The actor further adds, “I am surprised and happy to be working with my dad, and the story is kind of close to home, my parents became separated, and for awhile I became a bitter son.”
“Both the Eigenmanns are very good actors,” enthuses Jackie Rice. “Na-pre-pressure ako; bata pa ako,’ di naman ako ganoon kagaling. Maalaga sila, especially si sir Michael because he is also a director.
Kasalanan becomes an interesting TV view because of the father and son tandem. The TV screen ignites every time they share a scene together. The nubile Rice also shows marked improvement since her last lead role in Sisid.
Also, the forever competent Jennica Garcia acts a great foil to the appealing Rice.
The afternoon melodrama continues to be a favorite because, as Geoff quips, “So many things are happening plot-wise; in a snap, ang bilis-bilis.”
Love, treachery and revenge take center stage in Faithfully. This afternoon guilty pleasure gathers the biggest assembly of Kapuso starlets — Maxene Magalona, Isabel Oli, Vaness del Moral, Michelle Madrigal and Isabelle Daza fighting over for the affection of one man, the ultra-sexy Marc Abaya as Kevin Qiuillamor.
“It is overwhelming!” exclaims Abaya as he talks about being the soap’s alpha male. “The trust given to me… keeps me on my toes… it’s truly difficult loving two women and leaving one for the other. Sana hindi lang sila maasar sa akin.
“Faithfully has no black and white characters, only human, gray people,” adds Marc. “The goal here is to make people empathize with Kevin’s dilemma. He’s not here to destroy someone. He is just human foolishly in love.”
Why viewers are faithfully attracted to the soap is because it has become some sort of a platform that highlights the acting prowess of all the actors and actresses involved.
Making good impressions among the starlets are Madrigal, Del Moral and Oli, who never disappoints with her con-artist/femme fatale Megan Briones.
Abaya has no reasons to fret. Despite all of his character’s failings, Kevin has been forgiven and embraced, and it’s all because of Marc’s earnest portrayal.
GMA 7 need not despair if some of their drama heavyweights are turning out to be lightweights. What they must do are: research for stories/plotlines from literature, folklore, oral tradition, theater or the cinema (Walang Hanggan was loosely based on Hihintayin Kita Sa Langit) that may serve as backbone/guide/inspiration.
Re-think the market. Enough of satiating the wants of Aling Tacing and Mang Victor — they are already blissful with the afternoon prime. For the evening, think of the yuppies, members of the academe, bored matrons, the emerging young market looking for “edgier, funnier, or even whoa! plots” they get from cable networks (ex. HBO’s Game of Thrones, the sex-drama-vampire anthology True Blood) and syndicated, US imported programs (Supernatural, Once Upon A Time, Grimm, Revenge, Modern Family).
Learn something or a lot from all the Korean contemporary dramas, romantic comedies and costume/historical TV programs that you import. The network’s pool of writers can learn so much from their script writing and plot machinations.
Re-package/challenge your actors/actresses. Give them roles that will further bring out their potential and encourage them to take risks.
Hire/strengthen your core group. Scout for new writers, brainstormers, artistic and creative collaborators.
Hope springs eternal, after all, for the Kapuso network.