Who was it that said: “Don’t judge my brother. He is not a book.”
Of course, the quotation is a bastardization of the idiom “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” which cautions us from judging a person’s character based on appearances.
Among film critics, there is a saying: “Don’t judge a film by its trailer.”
And now that tele-seryes are a primary source of entertainment on television, I may as well add: “Don’t judge a soap opera on its first week.”
The twists and turns in the stories of the tele-seryes currently airing on primetime TV in both GMA and ABS-CBN are fine examples of why the viewers cannot pass judgment on a soap early on.
Beautiful Justice, for instance, started as a series with a lot of action. After several weeks, it’s now more of a drama. This is not necessarily bad because the show is able to maintain its suspenseful elements. To this day, nobody can tell who are the good and bad people in the story.
As for the technical side, Beautiful Justice is still sleek and visually-appealing. But the one thing that surely did not change is the fact that it is still way behind in the ratings game opposite FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano.
Quite disappointing is what became of The Killer Bride. It was very promising in the beginning, but the excitement had petered out. Blame this on the juvenile romance between Janella Salvador and Joshua Garcia. This love angle, of course, is to please but – who else? - the very demanding millennials.
This is such a pity because the series went off to a truly rousing start in the first week. Even the return of Maja Salvador’s Camilla character proved to be the most clever twist in recent local soap opera history.
Yes, the show’s creators had all of its followers fooled, but nobody complained. In fact, everyone applauded the writers’ ingenuity. I guess, everybody must have thought that Maja was returning as a ghost. But she’s there as vengeful human.
Sadly, the creative team has to pander to the tastes of young fans rooting for the love team of Joshua and Janella. And so, let the story suffer.
In the case of The Gift, I initially complained about the endless sorrows some of the characters went through in the story. The show is more exciting – and definitely more pleasant - to watch these days.
The turn of events may have been tragic for lead star Alden Richards who is now blind. But unlike his father in the series, TJ Trinidad, who wallowed in his misery, Alden continues to pick up the pieces and makes sweet lemonade out of the sourness of his existence.
Since I monitor the tele-seryes on primetime, I get to compare which show is better. And at this point, I can already tell you which is best. I will not include Ang Probinsyano anymore in my selection because that show is already so iconic, it deserves to be put in the Hall of Fame. Judy Ann Santos’ Starla, on the other hand, is still too new and raw to judge.
With that said, I hereby choose The Gift as the best primetime series on Philippine television today. Technically, it leaves much to be desired. The way poverty is depicted here could possibly drive our indie filmmakers to commit mass suicide.
While I salute its director for not resorting to poverty porn, I find it bothersome at the same time that the show went to the extreme end by depicting the less privileged as a well-scrubbed bunch fit to endorse beauty products on print and television.
No, I’m not encouraging the director to do stereotyping because I know a lot of poor people who are more hygienic than some rich friends I have. But what viewers see here in The Gift is Imelda Marcos’ version of the Filipino poor.
And even if Mayor Isko Moreno has cleaned up Manila, including Divisoria, this part of the city surely cannot look so immaculately clean, you can almost eat off the pavement. It’s so antiseptic – so unreal.
Perhaps there is a deliberate attempt on the part of the show’s creators to make The Gift look bright and glossy. Maybe they don’t want to subject the viewers to the real world anymore. After all, most of show’s followers had already suffered through the mess and ugliness of the metropolis on their commute back from work.
But in spite of my quarrel with the show’s visuals, I still say that The Gift is the most recommended program on primetime TV today. There are endless lessons in life to be learned here. The Gift, in fact, espouses true Christian values that should be taught among young people in this very materialistic world.
I bet I’m not the only one who thinks The Gift is an outstanding drama series. In the next Catholic Mass Media Awards, I’m sure it will be greeted with a resounding applause from the jurors.
As to the performances, my choice for best supporting actor is Martin del Rosario for The Gift. He plays villain here – far though from the Max Alvarado type of contravida. Already an Urian winner, Martin is truly an intelligent actor who gives a lot of dimensions to his villain part here in The Gift. He is not just bad, but also weak. He puts a lot of gray areas into the role, which is how fine acting should be. His runners-up in this category are James Blanco in The Killer Bride and Roderick Paulate in One of the Baes.
For best supporting actress, it’s a tie between Elizabeth Oropesa and Jo Berry. Oropesa is a three-time Urian winner with nothing more to prove, while Jo is a relatively new actress, who has already proven her worth in the successful drama series Onanay. The two make a wonderful tandem and it surely helps that their parts are well-written.
On the part of Oropesa, well, she is the queen of punchlines – with Jo Berry always quick on the uptake. Again, they make a perfect pair. Their runners-up in this category are Ariella Arida and Precious Lara Quigaman of The Killer Bride.
For best actor, it’s Alden Richards hands down for The Gift. Alden had always been a good actor. He is one performer who is great at internalizing his part.
In Ilustrado, for instance, where he plays the national hero, he imbibes the role so well that you can somehow disregard his American mestizo looks and start believing that he is the great Malayan Jose Rizal.
He is even many times better here in The Gift where he portrays the very delicate part of a disabled person. I’m sure he will get official recognition as best actor in next year’s awards race for television.
For best actress, Maja Salvador was originally a shoo-in for her Camilla de la Torre role in The Killer Bride. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make out her role anymore in this series. She herself must be very confused with what she is doing in the program.
I therefore choose Yasmien Kurdi as my best actress for Beautiful Justice. For one, there is consistency in her portrayal of Alice Vida, a wife who seeks justice for the death of her PDEA agent husband. It is a very demanding part that challenges her acting range. Thankfully, she is able to deliver. Given more important roles by GMA, Yasmien should be on her way to becoming a top dramatic actress.
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