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. Continue reading

First Impression Review: TV5's Beki Boxer Lands Both Emotional and Comical Punches

TYPE OF REVIEW : FIRST IMPRESSION REVIEW
Basic first week set-up spoilers. For my Check-In Review, click here and for my Hindsight Review, click here.

TV5 continues its quest to gain ground on the two Philippine television behemoths. A couple of months into its “vertical programming” primetime scheduling format, TV5 still has a ways to go. But in the process of introducing its radical (for Philippine television) programming strategy, the network has been able to also introduce some creative and fresh programs.

The latest is the network’s charming and fun series Beki Boxer.

Described as a comedy with heart, Beki Boxer tells the story of Rocky, a young closeted gay man who is determined to win back his family’s honor and reputation by becoming a champion boxer.

While Rocky has always been more interested in the Miss Universe pageant and Barbies than GI Joes, he’s also always looked up to his father who was once a champion boxer himself. But one fight changed that all. Suspected of throwing the fight, Rocky’s father went from local hero to laughing stock overnight. And since then, their family’s been looked down upon and insulted. Continue reading

First Impression Review: A Lot of Potential in GMA's Rhodora X

TYPE OF REVIEW : FIRST IMPRESSION REVIEW
Basic first week spoilers.

Genuinely fresh and groundbreaking stories are hard to come by on Philippine television. But one of GMA Network’s newest dramas hopes to be one of those rarities.

Rhodora X starring Jennylyn Mercado aims to tell the story of the title character who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder, also known previously and maybe more commonly as Multiple Personality Disorder.

Now this is definitely not the first time a Filipino soap opera has a medical condition at the center of its premise. And the dramas that have tackled such medical-related stories have been on both sides of the spectrum and everywhere in between. ABS-CBN’s Budoy about a young man with Angelman syndrome was well-intentioned on paper, but was instead pretentious and heavy handed. TV5’s Positive about a man diagnosed with AIDS balanced typical Pinoy suds with a daring and unflinching look at the effects of the disease on the main character and the people around him.

Rhodora X appears to be following more in Positive‘s footsteps by exploring the disorder and its effects in a suspense-thriller setting. At least, that’s the impression you get from the first week and the pre-show teasers. Continue reading

First Impression Review: Stunning Visuals Carry GMA's Carmela Through First Week

TYPE OF REVIEW : FIRST IMPRESSION REVIEW
Basic first week spoilers.

GMA Network was not afraid to break new ground last year with My Husband’s Lover. And they don’t appear to be backing down from controversial topics in 2014 with Carmela, a fictionalized “ripped from the headlines” version of the sensational story of the beating of accused rapist Vhong Navarro that’s currently dominating the airwav…

Huh? No? It’s not? Oh, oops.

Well, that would’ve been a ballsy show, yeah? But really, Carmela‘s first week was a little more typical. Which is a surprise considering the series is created by much acclaimed Suzette Doctolero (My Husband’s Lover, Amaya) and has been hyped as a fresh, exciting concept.

Carmela‘s subtitle, Ang Pinakamagandang Babae sa Mundong Ibabaw (The Most Beautiful Woman on the Face of the Earth), suggests a much more interesting story even if its first week did not. Continue reading

First Impression Review: TV5 Goes Dark and Mature with Positive and For Love or Money


TYPE OF REVIEW : FIRST IMPRESSION REVIEW
Moderate spoilers.

TV5 has long had their foot in the door, but can’t seem to make their way inside what has become a duopoly between ABS-CBN and GMA Network. They hope to take another step into that inner circle with their new weekly dramas Positive and For Love or Money.

Yes, weekly. I’ve believed that for TV5 to really distinguish itself from the others, it needs to try something different with their programming line-up. They tried, to reasonable success with Wil Time Big Time as counter-programming to news and soaps in the evenings. They expanded by airing their own daily dramas opposite their rivals’ newscasts (to less success). But I think trying out weekly programs, like American television, or even trying a twice a week drama schedule like Korea would help the network set itself apart. They give it a try with these two new dramas.

But aside from their odd (for the Philippines) airing pattern, both Positive and For Love or Money take a much darker and mature tone to their stories that is certainly different from anything the other networks are currently offering. Continue reading

First Impression Review: NBC's Visually Stunning Dracula Needs a Little More Bite

TYPE OF REVIEW : FIRST IMPRESSION REVIEW
Moderate premiere spoilers.

Yes, I went there.

But it’s really the perfect way to describe NBC’s “reimagining” of Dracula. The 10 episode limited series is visually stunning and Jonathan Rhys Meyers is quite a looker himself of course (as is the rest of the cast), but the story leaves much to be desired. Without that “bite,” there isn’t much to get excited about or engaged in. At least in the first episode. Continue reading

First Impression Review: GMA's Ambitious Genesis Has Potential

TYPE OF REVIEW : FIRST IMPRESSION REVIEW
Basic set-up spoilers.

The plot of GMA’s sci-fi post-apocalyptic drama series Genesis is incredibly ambitious and legitimately fascinating. But as its premiere week showed, the limitations of Philippine production companies and TV networks can hinder even the most noble of efforts. Continue reading

First Impression Review: NBC’s Siberia Has Potential That Could Easily Go Either Way

NBC Siberia

TYPE OF REVIEW : FIRST IMPRESSION REVIEW
Basic set-up spoilers.

The amount of information you have going into the premiere of NBC’s Siberia will greatly affect your first impressions of the show.

If you want to go into the show cold, then read no further, though let me say the show has plenty of potential. Continue reading

First Impression Review: KBS’ Mysterious and Captivating Shark

Shark KBS

TYPE OF REVIEW : FIRST IMPRESSION REVIEW
Basic spoilers up to episodes 6.
For the spoiler filled Hindsight Review, click here.

Revenge is always an interesting and solid theme to build a drama series around, especially if done well. Most recently, it was the Song Joong Ki-Moon Chae Won series Nice Guy. But in 2005 and 2007 it was Resurrection and The Devil, respectively, that hooked audiences.

Now, KBS’s Shark (international title: Don’t Look Back: The Legend of Orpheus) hopes to follow in those footsteps as the third and final drama of the “revenge trilogy” from screenwriter Kim Ji Woo and director Park Chan Hong.

And after its first six episodes, it appears Shark is well on its way. Continue reading

First Impression Review: GMA’s My Husband’s Lover is Bold and Fresh

TYPE OF REVIEW : FIRST IMPRESSION REVIEW
Basic first week spoilers.

Himala! I wrote last month how awesome it was this last year without regular Filipino programming on our television. But here I am, back from the Philippines all but two weeks and GMA Pinoy TV has been turned back on.

Indeed, watching Filipino programming during our month-long vacation did make us miss it a little. Though only a little. Even Filipinos are fully swept up in the Hallyu wave, not only getting more excited about Koreanovelas on ABS-CBN or GMA, but even watching channels like Channel M which air subtitled Mnet music programs and tvN dramas. (Psy deserves a little credit for the invigorated interest in everything Korea in the Philippines, no question.)

The rest of the credit can go to Filipino teleseryes continuing to be uninspired retreads of the same storylines or mismong remakes of teleseryes that’ve aired not even a decade in the past.

Which is one of the reasons GMA’s My Husband’s Lover deserves a good look. Continue reading