Pre-First Impression Review: My Wait for TV5's Baker King

Right up front, TV5’s Baker King is off to a very good start. The series, so far, is a faithful adaptation of the blockbuster Korean original with a careful, just right helping of Filipino flavor mixed in. (Full First Impression Review here.)

But let’s rewind a little bit first.

It was 2010 when Baker King, Kim Tak Gu aired on KBS in Korea to huge numbers, earning a “national drama” title, raking in awards and propelling the careers of its lead actors Yoon Shi Yoon and Joo Won. It captivated audiences around the world, myself included. In fact, I wondered if

it was my all-time favorite Korean drama.

Then in 2011, GMA Network aired a Filipino dub of the series. Drawing a similarly warm response in the Philippines, The Baker King not only regularly won its timeslot, but would regularly be the most watched show (both nationwide and in the capital region). And this was even when it faced off against the torture porn drama passed off as a family soap opera that, for some reason, enthralled Filipinos.

At the time, a full Filipino adaptation wouldn’t have been much of a surprise, especially for a series that attracted audiences as big as Takgu did. Fans of the series may have dreaded such an idea, but by 2011, both ABS-CBN and GMA had aired several local versions of Asian and Mexican dramas. (To varied success.)

But TV5 surprised Takgu fans in December 2013 when they announced a Filipino Baker King was part of its 2014 programming slate and not on GMA. There wouldn’t be any news on the series, however, until the sudden announcement last April that Baker King would premiere on May 18th.

The lack of any news on the project for more than a year and TV5’s stated shift toward less drama and more “happy” programs made the announcement a huge surprise.

As a fan of the original, I was definitely excited, but I also had high expectations for this adaptation. This would be only the second Filipino adaptation of a foreign series I watched the original run of. And that first experience did not go so well. At all.

Of course, I was still hopeful. I always want to give something a chance first.

It just so happened too that my family was in the Philippines for the month of May. I thought it’d be great to actually be in the Philippines when the series premiered. That would be a fun little experience, actually watching a show I’m excited about in the Philippines. But then I saw Baker King would air at 9:30pm. For a story that’s well-suited for family viewing (i.e, without the usual adultery, raping, shooting, and child abusing), a 9:30 (or later, knowing PBA overruns) start seemed a little counterproductive.

Being TV5’s first traditional drama series/soap opera/teleserye in a year and putting it into production so suddenly, they must have had big expectations for it. Especially since Tagalized American shows had been doing very well in the post-Wattpad timeslot (and at a relatively lower cost, of course).

And sure enough on premiere night, Baker King didn’t even start airing until past 10pm. Fine for us who would stay up, but it didn’t seem like a promising slot to make any sort of impact to help TV5’s bottom-line.

Being on so late and being in the probinsya where most people go to bed before 10pm, we ended up missing one of the premiere week episodes. It’s alright, I thought. We could just catch up once we got back to the States since of course the show would air on TV5’s international Kapatid TV5. Right?


Checking Kapatid TV5’s program schedule, Baker King was nowhere to be found. =(

I asked the intern running TV5’s @tv5insider Instagram account and they said they didn’t have the rights to air Baker King outside of the Philippines.

Of course.

Now, that shouldn’t have been a surprise to me after The Amazing Race Philippines, but it was definitely still disappointing. We subscribe to Kapatid TV5 (and it definitely costs a little more than spare change). But why must it always be the TV5 shows that I actually want to watch that aren’t ever allowed to be shown here?! Hmph. [/#twitterrant]

So our last week in the Philippines (2nd week of Baker King), we decided to sulit the few episodes of the show we could.

But much to my surprise once more, after turning on Kapatid TV5 the Sunday we arrived home, what was the first thing I see? A promo advertising Baker King premiering on the network the very next day, June 1st. Himala!

So I’m now writing my review after watching the first two weeks of the series. Though now 2 weeks behind the Philippine airing, it’s definitely better than nothing.

The late timeslot, especially on a network struggling to draw in new viewers, is not really known for giving any show much exposure. But so far, Baker King has done very well. It’s actually become the most watched non-PBA, non-Tagalized movie program on TV5. Which is definitely an accomplishment, all things considered.

Anyway, so far, this long journey to a Filipino Takgu has resulted in a very promising start.

On to the review!

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