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.
That’s not to say the series is a total loss. In fact, it does well with the limited resources available and still has a lot of potential that Joyce Bernal and Co. should definitely tap.
Genesis tells the story of Isaak (Dingdong Dantes) who is tasked with rounding up a chosen group of people who will represent the Philippines in a domed city built to protect what will be the surviving members of humanity after an incoming asteroid will trigger an ice age that will kill everything on Earth. (*deepbreath*)
But this is also a soap opera. So we have Isaak hoping to reconnect with the love of his life Raquel (Rhian Ramos) who has believed Isaak to be dead for the last five years after then-President of the Philippines framed him for an attempt on her life and conspiracy against then-Vice President fell in a quake-induced hole when the first meteorites hit Earth in 2007 (and triggered increased activity within the Earth’s faults).
Now the Vice President’s daughter (Lorna Tolentino) is the Philippines’ Commander in Chief and owing her life to Isaak, gives him the important mission.
A solid setup, definitely. And likely 10x more complicated than anything else on Philippine primetime today. I only wish the Philippines had the resources to make it fully work. Special effects in the Philippines will never be any good and for certain scenes in the first week, they could’ve helped a lot, most especially in a scene where Isaak is debriefed on Operation: Genesis using holograms. The disaster scenes as well as scenes of Isaak being led into an underground command center were all green screen… and it looked like it. Too much so.
But the special effects and CGI did what they needed to do in the first week. What will be most interesting, writing-wise, moving forward is how they decide to make do with less special effects.
It should be time for the human aspect of the story, which is always a tricky proposition on Filipino primetime TV. You certainly don’t need special effects heavy episodes moving forward. And plenty of high concept American dramas have worked around low budgets to tell stories that are just as compelling as those with more bells and whistles and explosions.
So it’s all up to the characters Isaak is supposedly going to meet over 13 weeks. Will the focus mainly be on Isaak trying to win Raquel back from her abusive husband (who rapes her, of course)? Or will that be balanced equally with the higher concept aspect of the story? The race to summon the chosen ones while exploring the moral dilemma of letting millions of other people suffer through the end of the world?
There is so much potential in this premise, GMA should definitely shop this premise to foreign markets because it could be a huge show with a bigger budget and more experienced showrunners.
Still, GMA deserves kudos for trying something this ambitious especially when other networks (and many times, GMA included) are content with the same ol’ stories. Genesis has the potential to be something special. But it could just as easily be the opposite.