If you believed the pre-show hype, you would have thought this was the 2nd coming of Glee. But despite all the hype and the denials of being Glee, ABS-CBN’s attempt at a musical soap opera falls short thanks to its own doing.
1DOL or Idol (whichever doesn’t get Freemantle Media on their ass) is the network’s newest teleserye starring the loveable pop star Sarah Geronimo as Billie, an overnight pop star who rises to fame thanks to a reality singing competition (called Singing Idol). Part of that popularity is thanks to her “loveteam” partner Vince (hunk and reality show alum himself, Sam Milby), with whom she of course develops romantic feelings for.
But it isn’t all happy times for the rising star. Her parents (played by Agot Isidro and Neil Ryan Sese) get caught up in a shady money-making scheme while working abroad and are now on the run. By a convenient turn of events, Billie and her parents are now believed to be dead, which allows them to go into hiding using fake names. Billie is now Jean and going to school in a small provincial town.
Okay. Sounds like a decent enough premise. But where do we go from here? And how does the show mess up?
Enter clichés left and right. From the poorly acted mean girls at the school to the standard procedure love triangle, 1DOL exposes its thin story and the fact that its premise may not be all that sustainable for months after all.
The already thin story takes a backseat to musical numbers. The show seems more concerned with choosing more songs to sing on the show than on actually writing a full, coherent story.
Musical numbers hinder the show more than help. Most of the time, the numbers are egregiously out of place; shoehorned into the show to fill its unreasonably self-imposed three-song-an-episode quota.
It doesn’t help that the show looks like it was filmed and edited with an iPhone.
The show is largely carried by Sarah Geronimo’s undeniable charm. Seeing her beautiful smile and hearing her infectiously cute giggle, you almost want to forgive the show’s shortcomings. Her vocal abilities are also undeniable, but it is almost like the series’ sole purpose is to showcase those abilities with no concern for any other aspect of the production.
But the material forces the actors to overact with over exaggerated expressions and movements that would even seem overkill on a theatre stage.
There is no question the show is pure fluff, but it doesn’t seem to think of itself as such. The show appears to be overambitious and fails miserably, like it is too serious for its own good. The show isn’t having fun when clearly the show should be all about fun.
There’s nothing wrong with being gooey and fluffy. If they can own up to what they really are, they would be a great contrast to the typical and tired heavy dramas of the past year.
Their disadvantage though is that Philippine primetime this time of year is uncharacteristically filled with Survivor, fairy-tales, and fantasies, as well as well written straight dramas in ABS-CBN’s Magkaribal and GMA’s Endless Love. A unique combination of shows that actually lessens Idol’s counter-programming-ness.
Though not as pointless as its lead-in series Noah and not as deep in trash as Kung Tayo’y Magkakalayo and Habang May Buhay from earlier this year, Idol needs to refocus itself to be anywhere near enjoyable.
Ultimately, my own love for Sarah Geronimo is not enough to overcome the series’ glaring shortcomings. Though if you believe the hype the network is spewing, the series has overtaken the country with fever. Sleep-inducing fever no doubt.