First Impression Review: TV5's Jasmine an Engaging, Cinematic Experience

TYPE OF REVIEW : FIRST IMPRESSION REVIEW
Basic first episode details.

TV5 continues its efforts to bring fresh concepts to Philippine television with their newest 1-hour weekly drama series Jasmine.

A TV5 co-production with Unitel Productions and Ace Saatchi & Saatchi, Jasmine aims to be a dramatic thriller about Jasmine (played by Jasmine Curtis-Smith) and her mysterious and possibly dangerous overzealous fan.

The first episode opens with the title character at an awards ceremony where she has just lost the Best Actress award to her TV5 rival Selina Pascual (Marvelous Alejo). While Selina is on stage accepting her award, the stage lights come crashing down on her head.

Rewind about a week and we go through the 5 days leading up to awards night; Jasmine is trying to get over a fresh breakup, her manager wants her to do a mainstream project, such as TV5’s newest romantic drama “URLoved,” instead of another (not as financially beneficial) indie film and of her fellow TV5 artist Selina being a total bitch to her.

This is all while Jasmine begins getting messages from one of her fans under the screen name “maskara011.” First, they are harmless compliments and words of encouragement. But they later evolve into creepy messages of vowing to protect her and a very detailed fansite that seems to include private and personal moments. “Lahat ng ito, para sa iyo,” maskara011 says.

Pan out to see a hooded person with a paper mache mask in a room full of all-things Jasmine.

Jasmine has a very indie film sensibility to it. It has both film-like visuals and a cinematic pace that gives it a certain fresh appeal. That is in addition to the already fresh story concept as it focuses on the dirty inner workings of Philippine entertainment and on the ominous idea of celebrity stalkers and obsession, neither common topics on Philippine dramas.

It is a refreshing premise, but its execution also sets it apart from other primetime series.

The first episode isn’t perfect, but it is still very engaging. The finger pointing at the possible suspects of the awards show sabotage (of course, people all close to Jasmine), a computer shop scene that has Maskara popping up on the screen of a customer watching Jasmine’s wardrobe malfunction on YouTube and the odd choice of overexpressive delivery in an almost cop show spoof kind of way by Matt Padilla as Detective Ramon Ramirez all felt forced and awkward. And definitely unnecessary. Just let the story play out on its own.

But the introduction to Jasmine, the innocent and maybe naive Fil-Aussie trying to establish her career in the Philippines helps contrast with the impending dark, twisted ride.

I’ve already talked about TV5’s interesting and sadly wasted promotional and social media campaign. But I only just found out that it also includes the exact website shown in the series, JASMINEALLMINE.COM and “video” of the vandal defacing Jasmine and Alexis’ (Vin Abrenica) billboard.

These are such clever and creative extensions and support for the show, fitting perfectly with Jasmine‘s fictionalized reality. Jasmine Curtis-Smith basically plays a fictionalized version of herself in a fictionalized version of TV5, for example.

And the playing with the title and Jasmine’s name; from Jasmine to JasMINE is so creative and shows a lot of thought and effort was put into the series and its story.

If only the Philippine audience were able to fully appreciate such efforts.

Jasmine Curtis-Smith is a very bright and bubbly actress. She is naturally charming and likeable. And especially when playing a fictionalized version of herself, she does fine. The character Jasmine’s innocence and naivety may come off a little odd at first, but it slowly comes to work well with the idea that a nice girl next door, maybe one of the few “nice girls” in Philippine showbiz, is being hounded by a dangerous stalker.

Jasmine is a very cinematic experience. From film-quality visuals to its intriguing and fresh premise, Jasmine easily sets itself apart and has a very good opportunity to really be a compelling miniseries.

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