The Philippines’ GMA Network has had its share of successes and failures, as does any television network. But rarely have they assembled a primetime line-up quite like this one. A quartet of well-written, engaging dramas well worth anyone’s time.
Legacy continues its fast paced storytelling, sprinkling in witty one-liners and guilty pleasure catfights along the way. Meanwhile, as has been the case many times before, Dong Yi, the acclaimed Korean epic drama, shows how Korea gets it done with sprawling production and great writing.
These past two weeks added two more pieces to GMA’s primetime puzzle. Last week was the premiere of Biritera, about a talented little girl on her way to singing stardom.
While it may not be breaking any new ground, Biritera is a solidly written and produced family drama. GMA continues introducing fresh young faces with Roseanne Magan taking on the title role of the young songstress Roseanne Capitolio whose dream is to become a successful singer.
The twist to her story (which again, isn’t necessarily new territory) is that she, nor her adoptive mother (Angelika dela Cruz), knows she has an older brother, Andrei (Dennis Trillo) who is the lead singer of one of the biggest bands in the country and her idol. Having given his newborn baby sister to a rich woman (guest star Claudine Barretto) in exchange for having her pay for his dying mother’s medical bills, Andrei, now an adult, continues to hold out hope that he’ll find her one day.
It is a simple premise, but like any underdog story, you find yourself rooting for Roseanne and pulling for her success.
Having accomplished leads Dennis Trillo and Angelika dela Cruz in clean-cut bida roles helps greatly in forging a connection to the story this early. After his recent roles in TV and film had him taking on more maangas, bad boy hero characters, it is a welcome change to see Trillo in a more good guy, older brother role.
For Angelika dela Cruz, this is her first opportunity in a long time to be the heroine instead of the kontrabida. And while she may be effective in villainous roles, dela Cruz has shown she is capable of much more.
While Biritera may be a harmless family drama, it would be nice to see both Dennis Trillo and Angelika dela Cruz given great material, not to mention a promising and witty young cast. Though a simple premise, the first two weeks have shown Biritera can be a fully satisfying drama with opportunities for depth.
The other final piece arrived this week with My Beloved about a young woman who unknowingly falls in love with a sundo or angel of death. The fantasy-drama vehicle for the proven tandem of Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes opened with an explosive week.
My Beloved‘s first week has been just as fast paced as its fellow primetime neighbors. Though largely setup and foundation work for the series, the episodes were still engaging. A guest stint by Rio Locsin as a mentor and 2nd mother helped endear Marian Rivera’s Sharina to the audience quickly. Plus there were the two bus crash scenes; one in the pilot and another, more spectacular one two days later.
While I may not be the biggest fan of the so-called DongYan “loveteam,” they’ve proven more than capable of carrying shows. And Marian Rivera is fresh off of her strong, possibly career performance in Amaya where she proved she’s got the dramatic chops to go along with the bubbly and taray characters she’s played before.
It’ll be interesting to see how they can maintain that writing quality, as well as budget considering they staged one of the most stunning crash scenes on Philippine TV
Possibly the best part about My Beloved is the unknown. There isn’t a clear endgame for the series. Sure, we’re all expecting that traditional main couple happy ending. But with a premise such as that of heaven and hell, it would be a waste if that was all the show is going to be.
Heaven and hell is definitely not a new concept, though maybe not as touched upon in the very religious Philippines. American drama Supernatural has been doing it for years and last year’s 100 Days to Heaven presented a bright and lighter adaptation of the concept. But My Beloved has an opportunity to be both a love story and a look “behind the curtain” of the Filipino faith and belief system.
The first week showed brief instances of levity, which is fine. But what My Beloved needs to keep doing going forward is maintaining its understated, yet quick pace. This isn’t the battle of one-liners like Legacy or musical interludes on Biritera.
Both Biritera and My Beloved are solid, promising shows. And couple them with Legacy and Dong Yi, you’ve got a pretty strong line-up. Probably GMA’s strongest primetime line-up in a very long time. And it looks like the ratings are starting to reflect that.
An effort has been absent through their last couple of uninspired primetime offerings. So it should bode well for GMA if they can maintain this strong start the rest of the year.