STARVED for creative ideas – and ideas that work (read: make money), Philippine television has not only recycled old materials, it has also recycled the recycled. Now there’s a new trend: remake of remakes.

Hole in the Wall can make people laugh, but this is still another nail in the coffin of GMA 7 where, it seems, originality is a corpse.

GMA7’s late-afternoon treat provides audiences with excitement and hard laughs through an unusual yet amusing concept for a television game show that had originally come from Japan but which was later ripped off for the US and Indian TV screens.

With a P50,000 cash prize, the local version has participants divided into two teams and squeezing themselves into holes resembling the human form cut out of a wall made of styrofoam. Hosts are cross-dressing comedians Michael V. and Ogie Alcasid, who relentlessly poke fun at the spandex-geared contestants, especially when the latter are pushed into a water pool whenever they fail to fit themselves into the holes.

At least Hole in the Wall refrains from using the contestants’ blunders to win the laughs of the Filipino audience and prevents itself from turning into yet another tasteless, self-destructive gag reel.

Instead, the comedic skills of the two hosts are employed in a role-play skit carried all throughout the show. Dressed as a little girl, Alcasid plays Angelina, a spoiled brat whose incessant demands and tantrums pique his “yaya,” played by Michael V. The duo’s comic sense never leaves a dull moment in the show.

The competition is entertaining while stressing the value of teamwork: each group must prepare a cheer to introduce itself, and for members to be able to compete for the jackpot, they have to think for less than five seconds on how they are going to fit themselves in the hole, thus spurring creativity.

New deans take the lead

But then, do we really need another rip-off of a foreign television show? Local TV itself may be in dire need of creativity.

‘Zorro’ as masquerade

Students’ Choice of Drama Anthology/ Drama Mini-Series/ Foreign Soap Opera criterion

*A good dramatic show blends all the technical elements of television in order to depict realistically and critically the human condition, its struggles, its highs and lows. Christian dimensions are intrinsic in such a meaningful depiction. Therefore, between technical excellence and significant content, the atter should carry more weight.

Pulp fiction writer Johnston McCulley’s most celebrated creation has found its way to the Philippines, with a fully-tweaked storyline to suit local tastes. But let’s face it: this is not an adaptation of the novel, but more of an adaptation of the Hollywood versions that bastardize the novel.

GMA7’s TV adaptation of Zorro gives the masked hero a new setting, from turn of the 20th century Mexico to the latter years of the Philippines under Spanish rule.

The movie in fact is filmed in Bagac, Bataan, where a real estate mogul has created a fantasy land of old houses from the late 19th century and early 20th century transplanted from their original places in old districts of the country and brought to the Bataan coast shingle by shingle, nail by nail. The production design and art direction greatly contribute to the believability of the setting.

The character of Zorro is quite overused in foreign entertainment, and has had its wear and tear. In this version, TV writer Don Michael Perez. Perez makes the masked hero Antonio Pelaez, a young Filipino intellectual who was trained to protect his fellow indios from the Spanish civil guards.

Christ’s last words ring true

The story stresses the oppressive social hierarchy that reverberates in the contemporary era, as well as the rather overused themes of love and hope, personified in the character of Pepe, an impoverished little boy who was abandoned by his mother but still holds on to the aspiration of seeing her once more.

The predictability of the plot is further weighed down by the acting skills—or lack of—of lead actors Richard Gutierrez and Rhian Ramos. Often expressionless and frozen, their faces are pretty but empty. After some time, one wonders why Gutierrez has to hide his face behind a mask. But disculpe or lo ciento, at least, the mask knows how to act. James C. Talon


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