On The Wings Of Love finally ended its fantastic seven-month run last week. As much as I want this show to have a season 2, Clark and Leah deserve their peace after all they’ve been through. It was must-see local TV for me for its last two months. Thanks a lot Tonette Jadaone and Jojo Saguin, now there’s a gap in my heart that aches every 9:30 – 10:15pm (oo dahil laging naeextend).
Kidding aside, more than just being entertaining, the show experimented and did things that I do hope the TV network bigwigs will consider in producing the next batch of teleseryes. Here are a few things that I took note of:
1. THE FILIPINO AUDIENCE NOW HAS A DIVERSE PALATE
We’ve somehow touched on this in the most recent The Streamline Podcast episode; on how the treatment of our local romance films and TV shows had progressed from latin american telenovelas to more western and asian drama-infused. We can all praise the internet for that! Streaming or downloading your Breaking Bads and Baker Kings exposed Filipinos to other forms of storytelling and characterization that we haven’t seen yet in local TV. This made us generally more appreciative of entertainment.
It was nice that a teleserye like On The Wings Of Love was able to get the attention of Filipinos even though it didn’t involve rich guy-poor girl leads, villains (Simon’s an antagonist but not a villain), revenge plots or abandoned warehouses–the standard tropes you’d see in a local teleserye.
2. TIME TO BREAK OUR TRADITIONAL CHARACTER MOLDS
What if the man in the relationship’s the nurturing one while the woman was the driven one? What if we have gay characters that aren’t caricatures? Not only did On The Wings Of Love subverted our traditional notions of males, females and LGBTs in media but it also fleshed them out. Yes, Clark and Leah were good-natured people, but they were also selfish and often insecure.
On episode 03 of All About OTWOL, I applauded how the writers approached the characters of Tita Jack and Mama Lou. Even though they were lesbian and gay, their sexuality wasn’t milked to play up the story. Tita Jack, even though she might be typified as a butch lesbian because of her looks, was as nurturing as any mom can be to Jigs and Clark. In the same vein, Mama Lou wasn’t typified as the loud parloristang bakla sa kanto, he was calm, composed and a voice of reason in tenement uno (the loudest resident award goes to Bebeng). [These characters reminded me of an episode of Netflix’s Master of None wherein Aziz Ansari’s character tried to fight his right to audition for an Indian character in a TV show without the stereotypical Indian accent.]
3. TRY OUT NEW WAYS OF STORYTELLING
Again, the Filipino audience of today’s more appreciative of creative ways of telling the story. Not every detail needs to be part of the dialogue or explicitly said or shown in-frame. Here are some of the things that they tried out:
Used spoken word poetry in key scenes to intensify the mood (Juan Miguel Severo’s piece in the finale was hella great)
Utilized teasers to mold expectations of the audience (damned San Fo teasers!)
Used animation as preface to a major turning point in the story (a classic Antoinette Jadaone technique 😉 )
Tatang Sol and Tita Jack conversations to help the audience process the motivations of Clark and Leah
4. GAWIN MONG LIGHT (AND UNEVEN)
Honestly, I have a hard time categorizing OTWOL, it wasn’t a pure comedy nor was it a pure drama. It did make good use of both. Throughout its run, it mixed up the comedic highs and dramatic lows to make a satisfying viewing experience. I can’t even call it a teleserye because the term is so heavily associated with a more serious tone. I guess I should just call it a good primetime TV show?
5. THE CONVERSATION IS ALMOST AS IMPORTANT AS THE PRODUCT
You know a show is great when you have an intense desire to discuss it with another person afterwards. Cable channel, AMC, capitalized on this insight and created companion talk shows that air after each episode of The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad (for season 5.2). It helped audiences process the things that happened considering how intense these shows can be.
OTWOL, may not have a companion talk show but it had #otwolistalk. OTWOL’s prod staff scoured the internet to feature reactions of viewers either either via video or via their website. Promoting content created by fans help in showing that the show values the support its fans are giving therefore encouraging fans to invest more on the TV show.
On The Wings Of Love is about to end in a week’s time. If you have any friends that want to get into the show before its finale, Nenz took note of the 10 (out of all 138 episodes) crucial episodes to put any OTWOL newbie up to speed.
You can watch all of OTWOL’s episodes via iWanTV for free. All you need to do is to register.
Note: We know that choosing only 10 from the current 138 episodes would be difficult, so we prioritized the episodes that will help newbies understand Clark and Leah’s story as well as their personalities and values. Again, this isn’t the BEST or MOST KILIG episodes of OTWOL. These episodes were chosen to help newbies follow the current story.
If you have any builds or comments, feel free to comment below!
#1 August 10, Arrival
Key Events: Leah’s US visa application is approved, while current boyfriend, Jigs, is denied.
Why this episode is important: Aside from being the first episode of the series, it gives us a background of the Olivar family, why Leah has this strong sense of family and why she dreams of working in San Francisco. The audience is also introduced to the show’s adage: kapag mahal ka, babalikan ka
#2 August 28, Hindi Pwede
Key Events: After much prodding, Clark finally opens up regarding his complicated relationship with his father.
Why this episode is important: It’s also equally important to know Clark’s story. This episode helps us understand Clark’s character and his difficult upbringing. Clark opening up about his childhood to Leah also signaled progress in their relationship; from business partners to friends.
#3 September 17, Most Approved Kiss
Key Events: Leah’s green card finally gets approved, while Jigs’s visa re-appeal is also approved.
Why this episode is important: Clark and Leah’s first kiss and a glimpse into the roller coaster relationship that they’ll experience after developing feelings for each other.
#4 October 1, Aminan Night
Key Events: With Tita Jack, and Jigs’ insistence, already asking for their divorce plans, Clark and Leah, with the help of Monette and Cullen, finally admit their love for each other. Also, Nanang’s husband dies. Moreover, the infamous Clark and Jigs topless showdown.
Why this episode is important: The episode establishes that they’re not just a couple on paper anymore. And the episode also sets up Nanang’s return to haunt Leah and the other Olivars.
#5 October 6, Fight For Love
Key Events: Leah decides to leave Clark and San Francisco to go home to the Philippines after meeting her supposedly dead mother.
Why this episode is important: This is a turning point in their relationship and the start of Clark’s pursuit of Leah’s affection. The episode also shows the lengths Leah will do to preserve her family.
#6 October 28, Hero
Key Events: Clark saves Bebeng from a fire at tenement uno
Why this episode is important: After going through Tatang’s gauntlet of challenges, Clark finally gets Tatang Sol’s approval. Also another proof that Clark will go through great lengths to prove he’s worthy of Leah’s love.
#7 November 10, Finally Yours
Key Events: Leah finally agrees to commit to Clark
Why this episode is important: Leah realizes that she can be more than her Nanang, that she doesn’t need to put aside her personal dreams for the welfare of her family.
#8 January 15, Moment Of Truth
Key Events: Tatang and Nanang finally meet again. And with Tatang’s weak heart to deal with, Clark offers the idea to postpone their Church wedding.
Why this episode is important: The episode wherein Leah starts to deprioritize her relationship with Clark to focus on her family’s needs…again.
#9 – 10 February 10 (The Breakup), February 11 (Heartbroken)
Key Events: Clark and Leah’s heated argument that led to their break-up.
Why this episode is important: These two episodes expose a dimension of Clark and Leah that they’ve tried to suppress for the longest time: Clark’s insecurity and Leah’s ambition.The decision of the writers to set aside two episodes to fully explore the two leads’ personalities just really makes good quality Filipino TV. Props to Nadine and James!
Yes, as viewers we all root for Clark and Leah because they’re the protagonists of the TV series. But have you ever thought why the other characters in the OTWOL universe care so much about their relationship? Like why do the tenement peeps help Leah and Clark out so much? Well there’s one detail I’ve noticed that may point out why:
Aside from Bebeng and her husband, Clark and Leah are the only couple that have a stable and live relationship.
Don’t believe me? Let’s go through the relationships of the other characters of the show:
And if we do some basic number crunching we get this:
We can see here that the OTWOL universe is far from having a world full of working romantic relationships. More than 80% of the relationships are either dead, broken or not even present. Maybe that’s why it’s hard for me to really consider On The Wings Of Love as your standard romantic teleserye, because aside from Clark and Leah, romance is pretty much absent in the show universe.
WHERE DOES CLARK AND LEAH COME IN?
Show viewers want Clark and Leah to work because, because they’re the main couple and they’re played by a loveteam. Moreover, some would also want a reminder that love still exists. The same thing also applies to the characters of the show, in a universe full of broken and failed relationships, they also want to be reminded that love exists.
Especially when you consider how Clark and Leah while growing-up, didn’t have role models on how to maintain a romantic relationship. Clark’s parents were absent or died. In Leah’s case, Tatang and Nanang were separated, as well as, Tiffany and Adrian. It’s amazing how they’re still pulling through.
This makes me understand why the people of tenement uno would go through great lengths in helping out the couple (and also Tiffany and Tolayts!). Clark and Leah aren’t just neighbors to them, Clark and Leah symbolize some form of hope to them and to the other characters.
I don’t know if this was intentional but this again supports why I praise OTWOL’s writers’ room so much. Good job!
(Edit: I added my thoughts on the possible direction OTWOL will take based on the previews they’ve teased during last night’s episode [episode 120])
With the introduction of Paulo Avelino as Sir Simon aka “Mr. Hitler” on On The Wings Of Love, it seems that the writers are setting-up a possible third-party to go in-between the already solid relationship of Clark and Leah. And they have not been subtle with this idea, giving hints in episodes that Simon will eventually form some kind of affection towards Leah. With the proliferation and oversaturation of kabitseryes not so long ago, some people are understandably not chill with this idea. At a character standpoint, is it inevitable that Leah will also develop feelings for Simon? Let’s try to figure this out by examining her current men, Jigs and Clark. Similarities between the two may point out what Leah looks for in her man that could help in understanding her set-up with Simon. But before that, let’s establish first what we know about Leah.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT LEAH
So we know that she’s determined and family-oriented. She went out of her way to pursue a visa and work in the United States just so she can send money to her family. We also know that she’s generally a warm and caring person to everyone, hence she’s well-loved at Tenement 1.
When she arrived back in the Philippines and got a job as a copywriter, we saw that she’s also career-driven, willing to pour in the hours and tolerate Simon’s strictness to create the best ideas for her firm.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT HER MEN
So how do these traits affect her type? Let’s see how Jigs and Clark stack-up:
We can see some similarities between Jigs and Clark:
She likes her men physically fit. Like six-pack abs fit.
It seems that she prefers men who had a difficult childhood. Men, who to some extent, didn’t experience the same warmth and love she received from Tatang Sol. Like she wants to make-up for that lost love via her warm personality. Surprisingly, Jigs and Clark react positively to Leah’s warmth. It probably compensates for the lack of affection from a mother figure they experienced as kids.
She somehow gravitates to men who’re emotionally distant or cold. I guess she finds it a challenge to find a way to get through to these guys.
Most importantly, she’s attracted to men who share her dreams. While they were still together, Jigs and Leah both dreamed of going to America. With Clark now, they both dream of being successful in their own endeavors; Clark as a furniture-making dude, while her as a copywriter.
So let’s add Simon to the picture. Let’s see if these things still ring true:
Physically fit? CHECK!
Didn’t have a warm childhood? CHECK!
Emotionally-distant? Called Mr. Hitler? OF COURSE CHECK!
Has the same dreams? HELL YEAH CHECK. He’s at the top of his game right now. He has successfully lifted himself from the streets of Cebu to the board rooms of Makati. It seemed obvious that Leah would gravitate towards him because she can learn a thing or two in achieving her copywriter dreams (she literally said this on episode 119). Papunta pa lang si Leah, pabalik na si Simon.
In general, it seems that Leah’s new man is always more successful than the last. Clark’s more successful than Jigs while Simon’s more successful than Clark. And it’s funny how the last man can always sense that Leah’s unconsciously crushing on a new guy. I’d guess that Jigs was insecure of Clark because Clark was a better version of Jigs. Clark already lived and worked in America plus he got to spend time with Tita Jack, Jigs’s mom. Clark’s currently insecure of Simon, because Simon’s a better version Clark. Clark feels he could also have been like Simon if his parents didn’t leave him and had the same educational opportunities as Simon had. He knows if he had the same opportunities and upbringing, he and Leah could have been better fit.
So yes, at a character level, it makes sense that Leah will develop feelings for Simon. It’s not just some absurd ploy by the writers to introduce a third-party to extend the story. If Thursday’s preview was any indication, Leah just realized that she might have more than just professional admiration towards Simon.
(Does this make Leah tanga or kereng-keng? Not really. This makes her character more believable and human. It’s normal for you to admire someone other than your partner. It’s harmless unless you reciprocate.)
VALID BUT IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE
Even though this is the very first piece I’ve written about OTWOL, I’ve admired the show’s writers’ room for a long time. They have been more progressive in handling OTWOL’s story compared to its contemporaries. I won’t drop names, gerahin pa ako. But here’s a list of things that they’ve done better than other teleseryes:
Has multiple plots (i.e. A plot: Clark and Leah, B plot: Leah and family, C plot:Tiffany and Tolayts, etc.)
A diverse cast of characters that fleshed out the show’s universe
A good mix of drama and comedy, or a good sense when to lighten or intensify the mood
A neatly developed love story (hindi love at first sight)
Yes it’s marketed as a love story, but it’s basically a show about the Olivar family
Has a spoken word artist recite poetry regularly in mainstream television
Now after establishing these points, I find it hard to believe that they’ll anchor the current Clark and Leah story arc to a third-party issue.It just doesn’t fit this progressive direction OTWOL has in storytelling; especially when they had already used it to develop the Clark and Leah pairing at the start of the series. Do remember that Clark was the third-party between Leah and Jigs. Moreover, the show has already explored the possible effects and fallout from this kind of set-up (remember that episode when Jigs cried?). What else do we need to explore?
Yes, I know that in the end it will still be Clark and Leah. However, if they’re planning to break-off their most awaited church wedding just because ABS-CBN asked for more episodes and Paulo Avelino needed a new project, then they’re betraying the story and series that they’ve presented and developed. And at a story level, breaking-off the wedding because of an unwanted guest betrays the growth that Clark and Leah’s relationship has already gone through.
I don’t know who suggested this detour in storytelling but an intensified Simon-Leah pairing could possibly be detrimental to the brand and to the caliber of storytelling they’ve already reached.
A POSSIBLE STORY FLOW
The writers don’t need to break-off the wedding if the point of introducing Simon is to prove that Clark and Leah’s love will prevail forever and ever. I know I’m not in the position to suggest what the writers should do, but I’m just a concerned fan as any. So here’s a possible story flow:
Simon will make moves on Leah. That beso on Leah’s birthday is one.
Deadma si Leah. She knows that her relationship with Clark weighs more than whatever admiration she has for Simon.
Clark will take notice of Simon’s moves, would feel insecure and confronts Leah
Leah will assure Clark that she only admires Simon because of his success. Simon may be successful but Clark is far warmer and family-oriented than Simon—you know the traits of the perfect hubby.
No big fight whatsoever.
TULOY ANG WEDDING.
TULOY ANG NEXT STORY ARC OR THE END NA.
SAN FRANCISCO PREVIEW REACTION: DO WE REALLY NEED CLARK AND LEAH TO BREAK-UP?
No. I know it adds nostalgia because they’re going back to where they first met and an additional layer of romanticism because of the “pagkahaba-haba man ng prusisyon, sa simbahan pa rin ang tuloy” saying. But my question here is, at a story and character standpoint, DO CLARK AND LEAH NEED TO BREAK UP? I don’t know how it has come to this. Is it because of pressure from the execs to extended the story? I’ve already expressed my reverence to the writers in this piece, that I cannot believe that this is the ending they wanted. It just doesn’t make sense. TANAW NA NATIN YUNG SIMBAHAN, BAKIT KAILANGANG LUMIKO PA?
We don’t know the reason why they’ll break-up but here are possible guesses and my arguments why each guess doesn’t hold up.
“Tanga si Leah kasi pipiliin niya si Simon pero iiwanan rin siya sa huli”: I’ve already stated my case that it goes against the storytelling and the quality of OTWOL’s writing.
“Pipiliin ni Leah ang career niya kaysa kay Clark”: Why do we need to tackle this theme? A woman needs to decide whether or not to pursue her career or to pursue the man she loves? Why must Leah choose between career and love? Clark’s fine balancing his budding furniture business and his relationship with Leah, but Leah can’t? That’s unfair to Leah’s character.
And if they do want to discuss this theme, they could use Simon to explain to Leah the loneliness of choosing career over love. Simon may be successful but he sure isn’t happy with the unconditional positive regard he doesn’t receives. No need for additional drama.
“Baka naman dream sequence lang”: I believe in the writers so much that I don’t think they’ll use a cheap tactic to play with the emotions of the audience.
FUN FACT: 120 episodes na ang OTWOL as of Jan 22. If you watched all episodes, you’ve spent 60hrs watching the series. With that much time invested as a viewer watching Clark and Leah form their relationship, do you still want them to have that break-up?
Two weeks ago at CES, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced that Netflix will be available in another 130 territories, including the Philippines. We already gave Netflix a truly Filipino greeting by rejoicing via the #NetflixPHshows twitter trend and then complaining afterwards about the apparent small PH library and its incompatibility with our crappy internet. However, Netflix in the Philippines has far deeper implications than just having another streaming service available. Let’s go through them:
Video On-Demand in the Philippines just got serious
Do remember that Netflix is the BIGGEST name in video on-demand streaming. And when the biggest brand decides to play in your territory, you know there’s a chance it can disrupt the current market.
Here’s a very, very loose analogy: remember how it was such a big deal that the Pope visited the Philippines? The whole of Manila stopped for nearly a week when the Pope visited. Classes and work were suspended, traffic routes were changed, everyone suddenly wanted to visit Luneta, and local politicians suddenly wanted to work efficiently! His visit straightened the crap out of people.
So imagine Netflix not only visiting but staying in the country. Think of how much that can change the market’s behavior. I don’t have figures for this but I’d at least think that the interest for VOD somehow rose. And with more interest, meant a chance for the established outfits such as iFlix, HOOQ, iWantv and ABS-CBN Mobile to expand their shares. But aside from being on the offensive in bulking-up their user base, these outfits must now also defend their current base. Surely these people who are already into VOD would like to try out the biggest VOD brand and might eventually decide to leave their current service for Netflix.
What to expect: Expect iFlix, HOOQ and the others to start aggressively selling themselves. Like probably start hyping their advantages versus Netflix (i.e. lower subscription fee, local content).
Will alliances be made or broken?
With the granddaddy of Video On-Demand services here to stay in the country, it maybe just a matter of time before the local networks start associating themselves with Netflix. Telco giants, PLDT-Smart and Globe, welcomed Netflix by assuring their subscribers that they can access Netflix via their current value-add services. In the TV network front, TV5 has a deal with iFlix to stream TV5 shows, GMA has a deal with both iFlix and HOOQ while ABS-CBN is sticking to their ABS-CBN Mobile and iWantv services. Will any of these networks break their current deals to try and reach Netflix?
What to expect: Expect the TV networks in the coming months (or years?) to try and strike a deal with Netflix. With their great expansion, Netflix is open in distributing and creating local content. For example, Netflix in partnership with Japanese network, FUJI TV, created Atelier, a jdrama about an underwear company.Can we hope for a JaDine or KathNiel Netflix show distributed worldwide in the future? Perhaps.
#NetflixEverywhere Is A Step Towards Globalization
Remember in the early 2000s how US shows used to be delayed when they air in the Philippines? I remember watching season 03 of The OC on ETC back in late 2005 even though season 03 ended in the US mid ’05. Shows had to be delayed due to contract agreements between the US-network companies and the local networks, and differing time zones. The best thing networks can do now is to have the show air the same date as the US premiere. No doubt this lag in airing eventually contributed to the Filipino’s patronage of pirated DVDs then, and illegal downloading and streaming now.
And with the spread of social media and global culture, it also became more important for some pinoys to illegally download or stream globally-celebrated shows to not miss out in the global conversation. Waiting for the next episode of The Walking Dead or The Vampire Diaries a day or hours after shown in the US eventually feels archaic in our time.
And this is where Video On-Demand services come in. In theory, you can watch these series at the same time, given that it is “on-demand”. However, it still depends on the agreements between the show producer and the VOD services. For example, the latest episode of On The Wings Of Love is usually available in iWantv an hour after it was aired on ABS-CBN. Same day, yes but still delayed by some figure of time.
This is where Netflix comes in. Not only is Netflix a VOD service, but Netflix also creates their own content like House of Cards, Orange Is The New Black, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Master of None etc. What Netflix is doing is cutting the contract agreement step of syndication and just offering every single episode of their shows upfront. In other words, Netflix gives its users total freedom on how they want to consume their shows. And to sweeten the pot, most Netflix Original content were arguably the BEST shows of last year.
So the announcement of #NetflixEverywhere meant that it is the first TV/movie network to be simultaneously operating in almost all countries. In the bigger scheme of things, this is the first step towards the globalization of entertainment. People around the world can watch Matt Murdock a.k.a. Daredevil, pummel the dregs of Hell’s Kitchen AT THE SAME TIME if they want to. No more worries of being behind the global conversation. Probably, no more trips to your friendly neighborhood dibidi guy. Probably, no need to wait for someone to upload each episode on PirateBay.
What to expect: Prepare yourself in seeing more people on your social media newsfeeds watching and waiting for the next seasons of House of Cards, Daredevil or Master of None.
A Possible Change In TV Show/Movie Quality
Some Filipinos complain about the “mababaw” quality of local TV. Well, you guys might just be in luck thanks to Netflix. With their global expansion, Netflix is open in creating shows and movies that have a global flavor to them. That’s why they have the world-spanning series of Sense8 or Marco Polo and movies like The Ridiculous 6. These shows may not necessarily rate highly with US critics and audiences but may be big in other markets. And if the local networks like ABS-CBN, GMA and TV5 want to get their share of the Netflix pie, they might need to change how they create and tell their stories to sell in a global scale.
What to expect: A small chance in happening but a change in the production of local TV shows into a more global format. Fewer episodes? Short storylines? Presence of story arcs? Seasonal series?
A few thoughts on my Netflix experience so far:
Netflix recommends at least 3mbps of bandwidth connection to watch in Standard Definition. Not really the case. We’ve been using our 2mbps PLDT DSL connection and we’ve only encountered buffering mid-show twice or thrice (still waiting for that FIBR connection).
Yes, even while I was downloading app updates and podcast episodes on a different device.
If you don’t own a smart TV but have a PS4, I suggest you download the Netflix app so youu can watch Netflix on your TV.
Yes it’s true that the Netflix PH library isn’t that big. iFlix and HOOQ arguably have bigger libraries but AGAIN they don’t have the Netflix Original series.
My advice, get Netflix if you like their original content. If you’re out for local PH content, you won’t find them here.
Starstruck and Pinoy Big Brother have proven to be artista-making machines for the last ten or so years. There’s a good chance that the talents you’re currently watching on local primetime TV had their start in either one of these shows. Both shows returned last year, so I wanted to figure out which of the two programs is better in producing talent. Going in, I instinctively thought that PBB was better since they produced primetime talents such as Kim Chiu, Gerald Anderson, Robi Domingo, et al. But on the other hand, Starstruck also produced the likes of Jennylyn Mercado, Cristine Reyes and Paulo Avelino. So maybe there’s more stuff to dig through.
Like any person who likes to “overanalyze” things and have tons of time in their hands, I decided to delve deeper to put my “overanalyzing” mind to rest. So I searched for all the finalists of all the concluded seasons of Starstruck and PBB to check who had a TV, movie, theater or music opportunity in 2015. This assumes that my definition of a “successful product” would be a talent that continues to have an artist career in the entertainment industry (i.e. Starstruck winner Steven Silva had his stage debut while PBB alum Jessica Connelly released an EP with Filipino producer CRWN December last year)
Disclaimer: Yes, my data came from Wikipedia again. Yes, it’s not the most credible source to get from but it’s the most complete by far. IMDB isn’t different because it’s also user-contributed data (and incomplete). Talent center websites such as the ABS-CBN talent center site is incomplete and not updated. I’d appreciate it if you can direct me to a better source!
THE BASIC STUFF
Let’s start with the groundwork first. Although Starstruck started two years earlier, Pinoy Big Brother, has accomplished twice the number of seasons and has went through more than twice the contestants (90 vs. 239). The number of seasons and all can be attributed to the nature of the two shows. Starstruck is a flat-out talent search. Which meant that you need to have the talent and/or potential to even be considered in the show. On the other hand, PBB is a reality TV show about forcing 12+ random people to coexist in one house. As what I’ve discussed in my previous write-up, having talent can raise your chances of becoming a Big Winner, but it’s not a strong requirement to be a housemate. That’s why thousands upon thousands of people audition for PBB, all you need is an identity and a backstory.
So based on this data, what percent of these alums are still active?
It seems that roughly half of the contestants who came from Starstruck had entertainment opportunities last year! That’s roughly a +30% compared to PBB alums. This goes back to the amount of people coming in the PBB house and not have the talent and staying power to stick in the entertainment industry. And if you look at the spread of alums who are still active, Starstruck has a better spread. This just meant that as long as you get into the final 14 of Starstruck, there’s a big chance that you’ll have an active entertainment career. If you check PBB’s on the other hand, you need to fight through and reach the Big 4 to get a respectable chance to have a steady entertainment career.
What we can get here: Starstruck would have more requirements than PBB but would give you a significantly better chance to have a place in the entertainment industry. On the other hand, it’s easier to be an housemate though it would be more difficult to have a place in the industry.
Next up, a deep-dive on the type of TV and Movie opportunities alums received this previous year.
TV/Movie Opportunities in 2015
In terms of sheer amount of opportunities, Starstruck alums received twenty-six more opportunities than PBB alums. If divided to all the current alums, a Starstruck alum would get ONE more opportunity than a PBB alum (3.44 vs. 2.40). If you just count the number of opportunities given to Starstruck alums, Arci Munoz and Miguel Tanfelix led the segment with 7 opportunities. 2015 was a big year for Arci, having a lead spot in Pasion de Amor and a special participation role in A Second Chance. And these are just her TV and Movie opportunities. Data excludes her endorsements like being the Ginebra Calendar Girl for 2016.
However, not all opportunities are created equal. Some opportunities have more weight than others. Going back to the Arci Munoz example, being a lead in a teleserye weighs more than just having a special part in a movie. So I added weights to each opportunity to have a clearer picture. In the spirit of full disclosure here are the weights that I used:
With this table as your guide, we can see that even in terms of quality, Starstruck alums receive better opportunities than PBB alums. With a 2.4 weighted opportunity advantage, they might have received an additional opportunity in an anthology series or a guest appearance.
And when you factor in the quality of opportunities, Jennylyn Mercado of Starstruck had the best opportunities, be it from Starstruck or PBB alums with 25 pts. She did star in two films (The Prenup and #Walang Forever) plus lead roles in two teleseryes (Second Chances and My Faithful Husband).
In the side of PBB, Melai Cantiveros was one of the contestants in season 1 and a had co-host role in season 2 of Your Face Sounds Familiar. Though low profile, PBB All-in 2nd Big Placer Maris Racal had a prolific year as a supporting actress in teleseryes (Ningning, Oh My G!) and movies (The Breakup Playlist, Halik Sa Hangin).
What we can get here: Overall, Starstruck alums are given better opportunities in terms of quality and quantity. A possible reason for relatively lower opportunities for PBB alums is that PBB’s parent channel, ABS-CBN, actively get talent from other programs. ABS-CBN is known to still produce talent via Star Magic (top of mind, Julia Barretto and Janella Salvador) and through their Goin’ Bulilit graduates (top of mind, Kathryn Bernardo and Julia Montes). In other words, PBB alums have to compete with more talent compared to Starstruck alums. And aside from the really established PBB alums like Kim Chiu and Gerald Anderson, most PBB alums are more often given supporting roles or special participation opportunities. Prime example, PBB 737 Teen Big Winner Jimboy Martin is part of It’s Showtime‘s Hashtags dance group along with other PBB 737 alums, Zeus Collins and Jameson Blake.
How about we further dive into these TV opportunities? So we know where the alums get their opportunities
We can see here in Table 3.3 that overall, Starstruck alums are given more TV opportunities than PBB alums (119 TV opps vs. 86 TV opps). If you go through the opportunities based on quality in 2015, we can see that PBB alums were given equal opportunities to be cast as a lead, support, extended et al. But if you compare it to Starstruck, alums were given more opportunities as lead or part of the supporting cast. Hell, they had been cast significantly across different roles more than PBB alums. This confirms my guess that there’s just too many people to compete with in roles.
How about in movies?
In terms of movies, PBB alums were given significantly more movie opportunities in 2015 than Starstruck alums. However, you can see here that not a lot of alums from both TV shows are given movie opportunities as much as TV opportunities.
What we can get here: Starstruck alums are given more chances for big roles on TV compared to PBB alums. But in terms of movies, PBB alums have more opportunities than Starstruck alums. I guess an additional reason for more opportunities for Starstruck overall is that Starstruck alums are honed better than PBB alums. Again, Starstruck is an artista search. The show revolved around their training to become artists. On the other hand, after getting out of the PBB house, PBB alums still need to have a crash course in acting (most still go through the Star Magic Talent Program) to hone their talent.
With this slightly uneven opportunities, you’d think PBB alums, would leave ABS-CBN to look for better opportunities. Let’s check the channel movement of these alums
Interestingly, it seems that PBB alums are more loyal to ABS-CBN compared to Starstruck alums. A big chunk of Starstruck alums have left GMA to look for greener pastures. The likes of Arci Munoz and Paulo Avelino, arguably received better opportunities after leaving GMA. And this is the thing that puzzles me with the data. Why would Starstruck alums leave GMA even though they’re given better opportunities compared to ABS-CBN? I have two wild guesses, but these aren’t supported by any data:
More Pirate-able: since they’re produced better, Starstruck alums have better value hence better demand from TV5 and ABS-CBN. If you’re in the shoes of a TV5 or ABS talent executive, would you want to risk a contract to an unproven talent that still needs to be taught how to act or an already honed but underutilized talent like a Paulo Avelino or a Cristine Reyes?
What we can get here: Based on my guesses above, people who go through the Starstruck program as talents, have more value than PBB alums since they are more pirate-able.
From all that I’ve discussed so far, it seems that my initial guess was wrong. Haha Starstruck alums seem to have steadier and better opportunities compared to PBB alums. Of course this assumes that you want to be an artista because acting is your passion. But what about if we check the popularity of Starstruck vs. PBB alums? Maybe you want to be an artista because you just really want to be famous? So I tried to measure this by checking the social media pages of these alums to check their following in the internet.
Do note that these figures are as of Dec 17, 2015. These stats may have changed over the Christmas break.
SOCIAL MEDIA DATA
It seems that PBB alums are clearly followed more on social media compared to Starstruck alums. And by my definition, it seems that PBB alums are more popular (in social media) compared to Starstruck alums. BUT interestingly, Starstruck alums are significantly more active in social media, tweeting and posting pictures compared to PBB alums. We can also get from here is that social media activity of an alum does not equate to a better following. I would guess that external factors like awareness and exposure in media drive the following rather than activity.
Another interesting point here, the top alums that tweet do not necessarily mean the most followed. For example, Enzo Pineda is second in most tweets (26,900 tweets) among the Starstruck alums even though he has 583,000 Twitter followers. Compare those figures to Paulo Avelino who is followed by 1.28M people but has only tweeted 5.6K times. Or in the PBB alums side, PBB 737 evictee Fifth Solomon has tweeted 33K times to his 78.2K followers compared to Sam Milby who is followed by 3.7M people on Twitter but has only tweeted 4.7K times.
So if we go back to my earlier question, it seems that the answer isn’t really clear cut. It depends on your reason in joining these shows. Starstruck isn’t as highly-viewed as PBB but if you want a steadier flow of opportunities as an artist, joining Starstruck would be the better option. But be prepared coming in since it sauditions would be more stringent than PBB.
If you want to be an artista because you want the fame, you might want to choose PBB. By the nature of the show, you are literally exposed to the public 24/7. More exposure can mean more popularity for you. But be warned, than after PBB you would need to heavily compete for better breaks in your career if you ever decide to stay in ABS-CBN (most especially when you don’t get in the Big 4).
In the end, there’s no easy way to get fame and/or fortune. You need to exert the effort and show the desire to hone your skills. And like anything in life, you need to work your freaking ass off.
(P.S. shoutout to my quant consultant! You know who you are! I won’t mention your name in case there’s something wrong with the data!)
Arguably, being the most in-demand loveteam of the year, it’s not surprising for AlDub to have a dozen or so commercials and endorsements to their name. But not all AlDub commercials are created equal. Some make perfect use of the couple’s gimmicks and talents while some just use their presence to get people’s attention. So I thought, why not rank the greatest to the not so great AlDub commercials? So to have a proper way of evaluating each commercial, I’ll be using these three parameters:
Enjoyability: Was the commercial enjoyable? Did it have other enjoyable qualities aside from seeing Maine and Alden’s faces?
AlDub-ness (Kwela+Kilig): Did the commercial retain the qualities that made the couple great? Also, plus points if the TVC included some Kalye Serye elements like the split screen, the lolas, etc.
Brand Fit: Was the TVC able to highlight the brand or product? It is a TVC after all. It should highlight the product and not just be a 15 or 30 second extension of Kalye Serye. Tying the product with AlDub is the most ideal
To be clear, the most romantic or funniest commercial DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY MEAN the best commercial. The one that was able to translate the most into sales DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY MEAN the best commercial. Heck, my most favorite AlDub commercial here isn’t even #1.
I’ll update the list if other commercials still come up.
Numbers 15 – 11 (Ano ang relate?)
Zonrox Thick Bleach TVC
Enjoyable because of Maine’s dubsmash acting. But really, their segue from AlDub to Zonrox is that both couple and brand can induce kilig?A price drop of my preferred bleach brand wouldn’t be one of the top reasons for me to get the giggles. And what is it with that segue? It’s like saying John Lloyd Cruz and Donna Cruz are related because they have the same last name.
McDonald’s “Papa Na Kita” TVC
I was excited when it was announced that McDonald’s will be their first endorsement. Based on McDo’s track record of producing high quality ads, I was all hyped. Boy, was I disappointed. The AlDub-ness of the commercial was there. The song’s great and fit perfectly with the couple. But dang where’s the product connection? And if you think of the story of the ad, although they split-screened Maine and Alden, there was no proof that they knew each other, so basically, they were singing “ikaw ang aking mahal” to the chicken they were eating.
Datu Puti TVC
A common device used in AlDub commercials is bait and switch. TVCs will set up the tone in a romantic way but once it’s about to reach the climax, they’ll switch it with the product placement, just like this one. You’d think they’re on some formal date (their attire and the location), but then they introduce the product and start cooking barbecue in the middle of a garden. The transition between the product and endorser was rough. Also, isn’t wearing a suit or a dress an impractical way of cooking and eating barbecue? Just because Zonrox is considered by 9 out of 10 moms as “sulit” and priced at 16.10 PhP doesn’t mean you can start being reckless in your dates.
Talk ‘N Text “#AlDubEverAfter” TVC
Another bait and switch TVC, where they set it up like it was AlDub’s wedding video, only to show that they were just part of the bride and groom’s entourage. And just like the other commercials the product connection was rather vague. If it wasn’t for the TNT wallpaper and the tag at the end of the commercial, you’d think this is a commercial for Viber more than TNT because this commercial assumes that you already know the TNT promo they were endorsing from their first ad.
McDonald’s “Paniwalaan Mo” TVC
Their second TVC for McDo was far better than their first. It was able to clear up the story (okay Alden and Maine are together) and they added the lolas as chuwariwaps that added a Kalye Serye bonus. Although it’s weird that even when they’re already a couple (based on the locket and the pictures in the wallet), they still used the Missed Him By That Much trope. Can’t they whip out their O+ phones and call each other using their TNT sim? Then again, how does the product they’re endorsing, the fried chicken, relate to the story?
Numbers 10 – 5 (Gets naman ng kaunti)
Bingo “#MaiDenKiligSaSweet” TVC
This ad got in the top 10 because of the clear connection of the brand and the couple (Bingo and MaiDen are sweet therefore kilig!) But aside from that, Maine and Alden, were standard endorsers and were pretty much underutilized. No display of any of their talents. The music reinforced the kilig aspect of the ad rather than to add kwela, like the other commercials. And I’m not going to count the improbable touching of pinky fingers as kwela at all.
Downy “#DownyRuBAEDEBango” TVC
So this is a straightforward Missed Him by That Much scene but at least here it’s evident that they’re a couple. What’s also good is how they used the music to connect AlDub and product together. They knew the importance of music in the couple’s gimmick so they made full use of it. And the visualization of Downy’s proposition of rubadubango was clear. This could have ranked higher if not for the use of a little girl as a breathing stage marker (more on this in a different write-up).
Maine Rejoice “Ready For Destiny” TVC
The connection of the brand with Maine is clear here, “to be ready for destiny (meaning meeting Mr. Right is part of a woman’s destiny), use Rejoice!”. But they were weird elements in the video. Why did we need to see Maine’s old pictures? To highlight her readiness for her destiny at a young age? Or to say that she wasn’t ready for destiny until she used Rejoice? And why was she watching herself on Youtube? Why sell the Megapack using this tone? Rejoice has been known for their upbeat and light commercials, why change it now? Especially when Maine and AlDub’s strengths are their upbeat mix of romance and comedy?
Maine 555 TVC
It’s a solid ad because it was effective in embracing all three parameters. The song Maine dubbed was clear in establishing the tension between choosing from two of 555’s supposedly delicious products.
Hapee Toothpaste TVC
Probably the most striking, most unique and most effective use of the couple’s dubbing abilities. Sadly though, you need to watch all four minutes of it to appreciate its greatness, which meant this was expensive to translate on TV. I’ve watched the 30s version of this commercial and it lacked the oomph (the Hotline Bling reference didn’t make the cut). Also it wasn’t clear how the product affected their dubbing? Using Hapee would make you a better dubber?
Tide “#AlDubBabaTide6” TVC
This is an example of a commercial achieving the AlDub-ness personality without being mushy or serious. It’s light, fun and made perfect use of the couple’s talents. Plus points for retooling Shaggy’s “Mr. Boombastic” to connect the product and AlDub (seems a commonality between their P&G laundry endorsements). Plus points for the laundering ladies as back-up dancers.
Numbers 4 – 1 (Achib na achib!)
Talk N’ Text “Extended Ang Saya” TVC
Their first TNT ad was solid. It was able to setup the service they were selling with the couple’s story in the commercial. Considering that what they were selling was a service that’s intangible (as compared to bleach, or fried chicken), the ad was able to succinctly sell the service without compromising the AlDub-ness. Plus points for using Carly Rae Jepsen. Minus points for using a different version of God Gave Me You.
O+ Plus Ultra TVC
Probably the ad that got most out of its source material. So much additional points for smoothly including Kalye Serye elements into the story as well as the product being sold (maglalast ang battery ng O+ Plus Ultra mo hanggang umabot ka sa Tamang Panahon).
Coke “Pasarapin Ang Moment Ngayong Pasko” TVC
Continuing their long line of quality Christmas commercials, Coke made effective you of the bait and switch to deliver a surprise funny ending; pretty much like an RKO outta nowhere. Product message was also clearly established. Although, like the Hapee commercial, I’m not sure if this can deliver the same impact if it’s cut into a 15s – 45s commercial.
Bear Brand Adult Plus “Combo” TVC
And the best AlDub commercial, so far, goes to Bear Brand Adult Plus. It has kwela. It has kilig. It made use of the split screen gimik perfectly. It sold the product all throughout the ad, without a bait and switch. Also, didn’t use a kid as a breathing marker.
The dust has settled from PBB 737’s Big Night and I’m surprised with the results for both editions. My final position predictions were a bit off, especially with the Regular Edition. So I tried to go back and understand the results. So here are things that I took note of:
1. BEING LOUD ON SOCIAL MEDIA DOESN’T EQUATE TO VOTES
PBB is a straight-up popularity contest. There’s no need to understand platforms or manifestos. All a housemate needs to do is to amass the biggest fan base to win. And fan bases show support by being loud on social media. Tracking every guesting or mall tour of their housemate. Their payoff? Being able to reach the top trending topics of Twitter. You’d think that the louder the fan base the higher chances of the housemate to win. Boy, that’s not necessarily true.
Since the teen edition started, Ylona’s a big favorite in winning the competition. She was one of the first housemates to accrue a fan base and be present on social media. And it also helped that her loveteam with Bailey was also one of the prominent loveteams of the season. Not to mention, being already a somewhat social media star, Bailey also had a prominent fan base on social media.
It surprised me that Jimboy ended up winning the whole thing. Well I thought, having a significantly louder fan base, Ylona would easily crush Jimboy in the votes. His fan base wasn’t as loud as Ylona’s in a consistent basis nor did he have the support of a solid loveteam. I myself placed Jimboy far below in the big winner rankings. But through the weeks he steadily rose, being more comfortable and expressive in front of the camera. He eventually became more open to share his story with the public. And eventually that openness clinched him the Big Winner title.
2. THE LOVETEAM IS STILL A DRIVING FACTOR in creating a fan base
An advice for the next PBB aspirants: find a ka-loveteam right away. The popularity of “shipping” on the internet reinforced our already cultural inclination towards loveteams. AlDub, undoubtedly, is the biggest celebrity couple of 2015. “Nasaan Ka Mr. Pastillas?” was generally a throwback to the dating segments of old noon-time shows. ABS-CBN’s Christmas station ID theme song was sung by the network’s three biggest loveteams (with Bamboo and Elha Nympha providing vocal support). Fun fact, the writers who penned the song are Thyro & Yumi, and guess what? They’re a couple in real life. PH Showbiz is on a high right now playing The Boat Is Sinking, Group Yourselves Into Two.
Having a loveteam inside the house increases your chances to survive until late in the game, just like Katniss and Peeta in the Hunger Games or Shuya and Noriko in Battle Royale. In this season, we’ve seen that each edition had a prominent love team be part of their respective Big 4s: Bailey-Ylona for the teens and Tommy-Miho for the regulars. It surprised me a lot that Tommy and Miho were able to thrash Roger, my prediction to be Big Winner, in the votes. I thought Roger had it on lock but I guess love trumps all.
3. SAYING “nagpapakatotoo” repeatedly CAN AFFECT YOUR CHANCES
I’m sure you know a guy or girl on social media that uses #blessed so much. You agree that he or she is #blessed. You know this person deserves to be #blessed. But as time goes on, this person continuously shouts out on social media how #blessed he/she is, you couldn’t help but be put off by it. And eventually, you roll your eyes every time you see this person’s post that ends with a #blessed.
In the world of PBB, announcing to the world that your “nagpapakatotoo” is the same as saying #blessed. It’s admirable at first but it eventually gets tacky and contrived after repeated pronouncements. And I feel that hurt Roger’s chances of the winning the game. Roger was my top pick in the rankings to win the game because I felt he stood as an authority figure in the house, he didn’t have big issues with his fellow housemates and he had a relatable backstory. A boy who had nothing and busted his ass to achieve success is a solid backstory. However, he stuck with the “nagpapakatotoo” thing too long and too loud that eventually some people might have felt that it was a schtick or gimik to just get votes. Probably the biggest offence to this was their Q&A session before the Big Night wherein he was asked by an ex-housemate, “if your housemates are going to vote for you, what do you think would be their reason?” Good ol’ Roger’s answer? “Siguro iboboto nila ako dahil sobra na akong nagpapakatotoo.” Replace nagpapakatotoo with #blessed and you’ll understand why the statement was off-putting.
Don’t get me wrong with Roger. I don’t doubt that he’s a nice guy. But overly stating that you’re a nice guy can make people doubt that you’re a nice guy? Do you get me? So that kakulitan to prove that he’s “nagpapakatotoo”, reaped only 10% of the total Big 4 votes (while Tommy and Miho got 82% of the total Big 4 votes).
4. AUTHENTICITY IS THE KEY
PBB has been on air for 10 years. By this time, every new housemate has some sense of how to win the game. They’ve probably devised a scheme on how to play the game before going inside the house. But as their strategy evolved, PBB viewers have also trained themselves in spotting these schemes. Now, it’s easier for viewers to pick out housemates who they feel are inauthentic and are just playing to win.
And that’s why I feel Miho ultimately won the game. Viewers generally felt that she was authentic. Authentic I feel is a better descriptor to use than “nagpakatotoo”. With “nagpapakatotoo” thrown around since PBB’s inception, it has somehow lost its meaning. Some housemates justify their fits of anger as “nagpapakatotoo” or their tactless comments as “nagpapakatotoo”. “Nagpapakatotoo” assumes there are two levels of a housemate’s personality: the reel (on-camera) and real (off-camera). But for Miho, it’s not the case.
In watching Miho, viewers had a sense that there is no reel or real personality. What you literally see in Miho, is what you get. I guess it helped that Miho had a tough time communicating with her fellow housemates. It helped viewers ignore her words or the fluff and just focus on her body language and facial reactions. It made it relatively easier for viewers to evaluate Miho’s authenticity, to understand and relate to her backstory.
Well that’s it for our coverage of PBB 737. I hope I can still continue covering the next season (if any!)
It took some time but here’s part 2 of the report. If you can’t find a new show here, I must have reviewed in it part 1. You can view it here.
A few disclaimers before I start:
To be fair to the first block of shows, the reviews for this batch are all based on their pilots. If you feel I’ve misjudged a TV show, just hit to the comments section and tell me why. I’m open to second opinions!
Watch out for some slight spoilers
BYE FELICIA! (NOT WORTH YOUR TIME)
Genre: Family Situational Comedy
Length: 21 mins
Gist: After the success of their first asian-led sitcom, Fresh Off The Boat, ABC decided to capitalize on this by making another asian-led family sitcom with no other than Ken Jeong as the lead. The show is based on Ken Jeong’s experiences as a physician before he became a comedian.
But why? If you’re going in expecting Ken Jeong as the over-the-top wacky asian guy you know him for in The Hangover and Community, well sad to say, you’ll be heavily disappointed. Dr. Ken’s calm, not crazy and didn’t run around naked: just what you’d expect from a real doctor. The humor is more situation-based than larger-than-life personalities (it is a sitcom anyway). It also doesn’t help that the jokes were flat. It disappointed me so much because Jeong was joined by a proven and hilarious cast such as Suzy Nakamura (Go On) and Albert Tsai (Trophy Wife).
IT COULD WORK BUT…
Length: 22 mins
Gist: John Stamos plays a successful 50-year old restaurateur happily living his bachelor life. His life changes when one day he discovers that his carefree single life early on gave fruit to a son who also has a son, hence, Grandfathered!
But why? It’s generally a mixed bag. The main cast has good comedy pedigree with Stamos, Paget Brewster (Another Period, Community) and Josh Peck (from Drake & Josh). The jokes were okay, I had a few good laughs. Music choice was pleasantly surprising. The pilot employed Mark Ronson, The National and Jamie Lidell to accompany the episode’s key moments. However, in terms of story, nothing really stood out. It followed the usual flow you’d expect from a premise like this; from denial that he has a family to accepting that he has a family. But unlike Dr. Ken, I still see some potential with Grandfathered. The final part of the pilot had a reveal that tugged a few heartstrings. It made attempts to find a heart, which I admire. Here’s to hoping the new episodes could develop better.
Genre: Medical Procedural
Length: 42 mins
Gist: Based on the documentary of the same name, Code Black follows the lives of four new residents as they adjust to the rigors of working at Angels Memorial Hospital’s emergency room. Sounds like a regular premise for a medical procedural. The catch? Angels Memorial Hospital has the busiest emergency room in the US. The hospital experiences 300 code blacks a year compared to the US average of 5 times a year. What does Code Black mean? Code Black happens when the emergency room’s resources aren’t enough to treat the influx of patients coming in. In other words, Angels Memorial Hospital is an f*ed up place.
But why? Code Black wants to be taken seriously. It wants to be the serious dad of the medical procedural family; with House as its temperamental brother and Grey’s Anatomy its lovestruck and emotional child. It tries to stay true to the drama of the emergency room with its fast-paced cuts, and raw depiction of gore (how many times did I see shots of mopping dirtied and bloodied floors?). However, with so much focus on the intense action that it forgot to develop the story of the medical staff, that we were supposed to root for. It didn’t help that the sound design was awful. You’ll need earphones or subtitles to comprehend what the characters are saying. The pilot ended with me not remembering a single name of any character. I’d see how this develops because I admire it tries to bring back the old ER vibes. And you also gotta love its solid leads, Marcia Gay Harden and Luis Guzman.
COULD BE YOUR WEEK TO WEEK HABIT
Length: 21 mins
Gist: Rob Lowe who played as a popular TV attorney, named the Grinder, tries to fit in his family’s law firm using only legal procedural tropes he learned from his show.
But why? The premise strikes close to home. It reminds me of how, to some Filipinos, what they see in reel life already translates to real life. How most of the Filipino celebrities get voted to office for just looking good on-screen. People in the world of The Grinder fell head over heels in love for Rob Lowe’s character (who thinks he’s The Grinder in real life). Even the presiding judge in their first case had a soft spot for his character. But at least here in the show, reality trumps reel. The show makes fun of the cheesy cliches you see in legal drama shows. The Grinder’s Hollywood pizzazz didn’t work in the real court of law, save for the efforts of his real lawyer brother Stewart, played by Fred Savage. Speaking of which, Lowe and Savage are in their elements; Lowe playing the charming yet dense guy and Savage playing the high-strung and whiny younger brother.
Genre: Comedy Musical
Length: 42 mins
Gist: Rebecca Bunch (played by Rachel Bloom) hasn’t gotten over her 2-month summer camp relationship with Josh Chan (played by Fil-American actor Vincent Rodriguez III) from 10 years ago. After a serendipitous meeting in New York City, Rebecca drops her high-paying job at a law firm to follow Josh to his hometown of West Covina in the hopes of rekindling their love.
But why? Behind its bland title and story lies a well-crafted and smart script. For a comedy pilot, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was able to properly set-up the characters and their motivations. It’s not overt, but there’s a dark/sad side to each character’s personalities. Take the main character, Rebecca Bunch as an example. I like how the writers grounded Rebecca Bunch’s “craziness”. She’s a competent worker and a well-adjusted person but it all falls apart when Josh Chan comes into play. “Crazy” is just a playful descriptor to describe Rebecca who in truth, just sincerely wants feel loved. The two musical numbers in the pilot were great. “West Covina” was a straightforward funny song. “Sexy Getting Ready Song” on the other hand, had a deeper message regarding the stuff women go through just to look good. If there’s a show I’d recommend in this batch, it’s this show.
This second batch has been better than the first. But again, no Mr. Robot or UnREAL in quality here. Let’s just hope November and December will give us that show (I’m crossing my fingers for Netflix’s Jessica Jones!).
The biggest TV season of the year has returned. With the summer season giving us hits like Mr. Robot and UnREAL (we covered these shows here) and The Carmichael Show, a lot is expected of this fall season. Let’s see how this new batch of shows stack up.
Okay some disclaimers:
With the amount of new shows coming in, I’ve decided to split this Fall season review in parts. The shows I’ll be covering in this post are those that were aired last week. I’ll cover the 2nd week shows like Grandfathered, The Grinder, Code Black and Dr. Ken next week.
Naturally, I only have the pilot episode to judge each show. With so much TV offered, I don’t have the luxury to give equal attention to each one. If you feel I’ve misjudged a TV show, just hit to the comments section and tell me why. I’m open to second opinions!
Oh and watch out for some slight spoilers
So here we go!
Bye felicia! (Not worth your time)
Genre: Anthology Horror-Comedy
Length: 42 mins
Gist: Coming from Glee and American Horror Story producer Ryan Murphy, Scream Queens is billed as a limited series with each season having a different story. But unlike its thematic horror big sister AHS, Scream Queens prefers to be a homage to the campy slasher horror of the 90s. The first season centers around a sorority plagued by a masked killer in a Red Devil costume.
But why? I am game for campy slasher horror but the Ryan Murphy-ness feel and direction of the show killed it for me. It felt like Glee had an extended Halloween special where they dropped their family and sexuality drama and doubled down on stereotypes. The first 10 minutes were a flashback to 1995, a time when stereotypes in film and TV were more accepted. I understand that it’s needed to make the scene authentic to the 90s but these stereotypes made no sense existing when the show time jumps to 2015. The writing focused more on fast and snarky quips than laying down the groundwork for proper character development in the future. Maybe I’ll give it another look if it gets picked up next season.
Genre: Sci-fi Police Procedural
Length: 42 mins
Gist: Based on Philip K. Dick’s short story, the TV version of Minority Report is set after the events of the Tom Cruise-led film of 2002. The TV version centers on one of the Precogs from the film who assists authorities in solving crimes. Because you know, after relying so much on Precogs for a time, the police forgot how to go about investigations.
But why? The show benefits from having good source material but squanders it on flat acting and characters. Also, there’s no Tom Cruise cameo here. If you’re looking for a good Philip K. Dick TV series, wait for The Man In The High Castle in November. You can watch the pilot at Amazon.
IT COULD WORK BUT…
BEST TIME EVER WITH NEIL PATRICK HARRIS
Genre: Variety Show
Length: 44 mins
Gist: Best Time Ever really wants to be THE best time ever. It’s a big budget affair that involves A-list celebrity guest announcers, guest singers performing their karaoke-staple songs, NPH doing stunts and then Nicole Scherzinger.
But why? I honestly don’t know how long they can maintain its shtick. By the definition of “best”, you can’t always have the best time ever on a weekly basis. Sometime in the future, probably due to a bad ratio of ratings and budget, it will eventually slip. It also hinges on NPH, demanding his 110% effort on every segment, every stunt in every show. And to be honest, as much as I love NPH, his hosting style isn’t the most personable at times. He’s a good host for an award show, but not in a show with so much interface with regular audience members still starstruck from the thought of NPH.
Continue to watch this If you Like: Ellen’s, Kimmel’s or Fallon’s viral segments.
Genre: Police Procedural
Length: 42 mins
Gist: Limitless is a sequel to the Bradley Cooper-starred thriller, but less of Bradley Cooper. Jake McDorman plays Brian Finch, a down-on-his-luck musician living with his parents. Thanks to his former bandmate, he gets his hands on the smart-drug NZT-48 and becomes like Bradley Cooper. But also like Bradley Cooper, he gets entangled with the FBI but eventually decides to work with them to do some good in his life. And no, you don’t need to watch the film to understand this. Bradley Cooper.
But why? The pilot was okay. The tone was okay. McDorman comes off as a good lead especially when supported by Dexter’s sister (Jennifer Carpenter). However it doesn’t offer anything new that can distinguish it from the other procedurals in its network. CBS already holds all the NCISes, the remaining CSI, Scorpion, Criminal Minds, Hawaii Five-O and especially Elementary. It’s a shift + F7 version of Elementary: smart aleck genius with a drug habit teams up with a female with a past. It’s supposed differentiator? Having Bradley Cooper pop out every now and then. It can work for certain people, but ultimately it has to make it self more interesting
Continue to watch this If you like: Elementary
Genre: Procedural Thriller
Length: 43 mins
Gist: Jaimie Alexander play as a woman covered with tattoos left in a bag in Times Square with no memory of her past. She teams up with the FBI to unlock the meaning of her tattoos and her past.
But why? Jaimie Alexander’s great. The premise can hook people. However, the show suffers the same problem as Limitless–we’ve seen this thing before. Action and characters with unknown pasts and unclear motives have been the bread and butter of The Blacklist.
Continue to watch this If you like: The Blacklist or Lady Sif from Thor
Genre: Procedural, Thriller
Length: 43 mins
Gist: Security expert Alex Kane (played by Phillip Winchester) becomes a pawn in the high stakes gambling ring wherein the richest bet on the outcome of real life crimes.
But why? The concept is so absurd that it can hook you. The format is also easy to understand. It has action, so much action than Blindspot or The Blacklist. But somehow, I feel it lacks substance like aimless fun. I’m honestly on the fence with this one. I think I’ll watch the second episode of this one.
Continue to watch this If you like: Strikeback
Genre: Superhero, Thriller
Length: 43 mins
Gist: Set a couple of years after the last season of Heroes, Noah Bennet tries to piece together what happened in a terrorist attack that could have brought peace between the humans and the evos. And with rising tensions, new evos come out.
But why? True story, I liked the first season of Heroes. It was different. It came first, way before Marvel and DC littered TV with its superhero shows. It had a central mystery that was intriguing. But after season 1, Heroes’s story felt too convoluted. Its characters, didn’t progress enough. And that’s how I also feel with Heroes Reborn. It had an interesting Big Bad, but the new characters felt flat. There’s trouble in the pacing of the story. You know how in Game of Thrones, sometimes Jon won’t show up in an episode? Or Dany, or sometimes Arya? It helps viewers focus on the story and at the same time, provides the program to explain in detail each story. Well here in Heroes Reborn, they set all the storylines in motion. By the end of hour 2, a few storylines have intersected but some like Mexican Luchador and Japanese Katana Girl haven’t added anything to the story. This can work for Heroes fans who have been waiting for the franchise’s TV return but I’m not sure with the others
LIFE IN PIECES
Genre: Family Sitcom
Length: 21 mins
Gist: Life In Pieces revolves around John and Joan Short and the families of their three children. Each episode is split into four short segments.
But why? Life In Pieces tries to imitate the success of Modern Family. It has a good ensemble cast but is less effective than Modern Family. Modern Family has an ongoing theme of family and cohesiveness in every episode. Jay Pritchett can setup the joke in his story, Cam Tucker can butter it up in his and then Phil Dunphy delivers the punchline tying the family again for the finale. On the other hand, Life In Pieces, well, stays in pieces. I’ll keep my tabs on this one in case this gets better. I can’t say no to a show with Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad) and Dan Bakkedahl (Legit) in it.
could be your WEEK TO WEEK HABIT
Length: 21 mins
Gist: A mockumentary behind-the-scenes look at The Muppets producing a late night talkshow with Kermit The Frog as lead writer/producer and Miss Piggy as host.
But why? It basically mashes up three good things: the comedy of The Office + the situations of 30 Rock with the lovable muppets as characters! What more can you ask for? The jokes are good but still has room for improvement.
Genre: Suspense Thriller
Length: 43 mins
Gist: Rookie Field FBI Agent Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra) is a suspect in a terrorist attack in New York City. To clear her name, she must recall her days in the FBI training facility at Quantico to hunt down the real perpetrators.
But why? I must admit, I judged Quantico five minutes into it. Grayson from Cougartown is a high ranking FBI officer and Anna from UnREAL is an agent-in-training. Not to mention that it seems that they got Abercrombie & Fitch models to play as trainees. However, as the pilot went on, it wasted no time in setting up its big mystery and exploring the characters. The pilot was a ride full of highs and intrigue. I’m not 100% invested in it but the pilot was enough for me to watch its second episode.
Overall the first group seems to be so-so. If you ask me, there’s no UnREAL or Mr. Robot yet in this group. Let’s see what the next batch can offer.