STUDENTS’ CHOICE OF DRAMA ANTHOLOGY/ DRAMA MINI-SERIES/ FOREIGN SOAP OPERA

Illustration by Carla T. GamalindaA 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 latter should carry more weight.

THE NEW wave of local primetime television shows targets younger audiences. But their content—whether subliminal or outright—may not really be appropriate for viewers of all ages.

“Alyna” and “Kristine” are Tagalog pocketbook novels-turned-TV programs under ABS-CBN’s Precious Hearts Romances series shown during weekdays. “Alyna” is aired every afternoon while “Kristine” holds a time slot during the Philippine television’s primetime. On the other hand, GMA has recently released “Beauty Queen” as the newest addition to its primetime block.

Based on Martha Cecilia’s novel Dominic, “Alyna” tells the story of a girl who feels neglected when her father died. Played by Shaina Magdayao, Alyna ends up in an orphanage and later on blossoms into a beautiful young woman.

Eventually, she falls in love with Rex (Sid Lucero) who, in the course of their relationship, leaves her carrying their baby. Soon after Rex’s disappearance, Alyna chances upon Dominic del Carmen (Jason Abalos), a brooding man who captures her heart.

The show tackles controversial issues such as pedophilia and child abuse. But while these may be effective means of spreading social awareness on the existence of these taboos, some scenes are too much to comprehend for young viewers, considering that “Alyna” airs when most children arrive home from school. It has foul language and sexily-clad women seducing men, excessive drunkenness, and titillating acts, which do not really make “Alyna” a good show for youngsters.

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“Kristine”, on the other hand, tells the tale of forbidden love also based on one of Cecilia’s novels. A spin-off of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, it revolves around a bloody feud between two prominent families—the Fortalejos and De Silvas.

The Fortalejo sisters Emerald (Denise Laurel) and Jewel (Cristine Reyes) find themselves tangled in a messy situation that sprang from a broken pact between their family and the De Silvas when their late father, Roman (Christian Vasquez), decided to marry his true love, their mother, Ana (Angel Jacob).

The series features scenes of characters in compromising sex positions in bed and half naked. Although these did not lead to a love scenes, the obvious suggestion of pre-marital sex was quite exhibited. Skimpy outfits are seen all throughout the show, akin to young adult programs in the United States such as “The Hills” or “90210”, to rake in more viewers.

“Beauty Queen” is one of GMA’s shows in primetime starring Iza Calzado. The series offers a refreshing storyline in local TV as it generally spills the politics inside the world of beauty pageants. Aside from the excessive show of skin, the program also displays garish aesthetics and lack of wits among contestants, often observed in pageants.

Perhaps inspired by the hype of Miss Universe 2010 fisrt runner-up Venus Raj, it focuses on Maita (Calzado), a provincial lass whose childhood dream is to become a beauty queen. However, the story only gets more complicated as dark secrets are revealed but is made less grave by the presentation of common pageantry parodies seen in the question and answer portion.

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Primetime’s lack of new appeal

Aside from dramas, another big hit in local TV are the “fantaseryes” or fantasy series.

GMA’s “Ilumina” is a vivid story of an ancient war between two camps of magic folk—the white and the black. This is one of the few family-oriented series aired that are appropriate for general audiences.

“Ilumina” resembles the Harry Potter series as it entails a cursed magical birth, but instead of a chosen boy, it features twin girls who embody the struggle between the magical realm’s opposing sides.

On the other hand, “Imortal” is a fantasy series about werewolves starring Angel Locsin and John Lloyd Cruz. This time, vampires have been added to the show, imitating popular vampire movies and shows such as Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga and the popular HBO series, “True Blood”.

The story becomes tiring at some point because some scenes are obviously copied from “Twilight” and “True Blood”.

This program is also a let-down for Filipino culture as it totally ignores Philippine folklore about blood-sucking or shape-shifting creatures that could have been interjected in the story line.

The special effects of both “Ilumina” and “Imortal” still need improvement, something that is not unheard of in the country’s film and television industry. Prosthetics, make-up and visual and sound effects have always been some of its waterloos.

Considering the conservative nature of Filipinos and the general viewership of television, local TV stations have never really mastered the art of crafting shows fit for all ages, even on primetime. With the industry seemingly losing its own identity, isn’t it about time to break the mold in local TV? Alyosha J. Robillos

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