First Impression Review: GMA's Stunning Ilustrado

TYPE OF REVIEW : FIRST IMPRESSION REVIEW
No spoilers. Click here for my Hindsight Review.

There are high expectations for anyone who attempts to bring a subject like Jose Rizal to the big or small screen. Being regarded as one of the greatest national heroes of the Philippines (if not the national hero), a dramatization of his life carries a big weight on its shoulders.

There is an inherent gravitas with a subject like Jose Rizal as well as the time period of the Philippine Revolution. If the pieces do not fall into place, then any such attempt to bring his life and one of the most important times in the country’s history to television or film will end up being a complete failure.

Thankfully, GMA’s Ilustrado manages to meet those high expectations and then some. Continue reading

First Impression Review: TV5's Fresh, Toe-Tapping Trenderas

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

After the excellent Beki Boxer and the unique thriller Jasmine, TV5 presents another fresh television offering with the musical series Trenderas.

Starring Isabella de Leon, Katrina Velarde and Lara Maigue, Trenderas tells the story of three young, talented singers and best friends in their quest to become the Philippines’ next singing stars. The title, a portmanteau of the words “Trending” and “Tinderas” explains their humble beginnings as palangke vendors who apparently hit it big when a performance of theirs goes viral.

But that’s to be revealed later. The pilot episode introduces us to our eclectic mix of main and supporting characters through the blending of musical performances and flashbacks during the auditions of the fictional Pinoy Pop Icon reality-singing competition where the three friends (now rivals) are vying for one spot on the live shows. Continue reading

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