China, drama, entertainment, Philippines, Taiwan, television

Will the New Meteor Garden Be as Successful as the Original?

A familiar series with a new twist.

On Monday, August 20, ABS-CBN will bring the Chinese remake of ‘Meteor Garden’ to Filipino audiences. But the question is: can it equal if not surpass the success of the original?

The new version of ‘Meteor Garden’ will star Darren Cheng, Dylan Wang, Connor Leong, and Caesar Wu as F4. Darren, Dylan, Connor and Caesar will play Hua Ze Lei (originally by Vic Zhou), Dao Ming Si (originally by Jerry Yan), Mei Zuo (originally by Vanness Wu), and Xi Men (originally by Ken Chu) respectively.

Shan Cai, a character popularized by Barbie Shu in the original ‘Meteor Garden’, will now be played by Shen Yue. According to series producer Angie Chai, the cast were selected based on their personalities that were similar to the original F4.

‘Meteor Garden’ began airing in China last month, and so far the series has performed well in its home country. ‘Meteor Garden’ currently ranks in the top 10 of the most-watched Chinese television programs.

The original ‘Meteor Garden’ was first aired in the Philippines back in 2003 and became a smashing success. It helped turn F4 (or JVKV for copyright purposes) into superstars and at the height of the show’s popularity, the group even held a concert in Manila in front of their adoring fans.

ABS-CBN has since re-aired the original series multiple times, most recently in 2014. But while ABS-CBN will forever be the network associated with ‘Meteor Garden’ in the Philippines, archrival GMA Network also aired the said Asianovela in 2007, albeit in a different dub and with mixed success.

Looking ahead, one must wonder how can this new version of ‘Meteor Garden’ be able to permeate the Filipino viewing public the same way the original did. Considering the lofty heights that came with the 2003 version of ‘Meteor Garden’, it will not be easy for the new series to make an impact with both loyal and new viewers.

Not only that, a few alterations to the original story could affect its performance. That said, ABS-CBN should keep expectations low and hope that somewhere down the road viewers will appreciate this new take on ‘Meteor Garden’ with gusto.

‘Meteor Garden’ airs weeknights before ‘TV Patrol’ on ABS-CBN’s Primetime Bida.

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drama, entertainment, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Taiwan, television, Thailand

FTT Wonders: Who Really Aired the First Asianovela in the Philippines?

Taiwanese drama ‘Amazing Twins’ was considered by some viewers to be the first Asianovela to air in the Philippines when it was broadcast on IBC-13 in early 2003. (Photo credit: CTS)

Tagalized Asian dramas are a thing these days.

Also popularly known as ‘Asianovelas’, these programs are imported from neighboring Asian countries such as Taiwan, Japan and Korea. Although the initial wave of Asianovelas were of Taiwanese origin, Korean dramas (colloqiually known as Koreanovelas) became a more common sight on Philippine television as the years pass.

But in order to understand the origin of the Asianovela, one must go back to 2003, the year these Tagalized Asian dramas first arrived. For many years, ABS-CBN claimed that they were the ‘First and True Home of Asianovelas’, given that they were responsible for bringing ‘Meteor Garden’ to the small screen around 15 years ago.

However, there is also an argument that IBC-13, with help from Viva Entertainment, was actually the first station to air an Asianovela. Just months before ‘Meteor Garden’ arrived, IBC-13 aired a Taiwanese action series called ‘Amazing Twins’ (locally known as ‘The Legendary Siblings 2’).

Unfortunately for IBC-13, ‘Amazing Twins’ tanked in the ratings, mainly due to the network’s poor reception and reach that persists to this day. It also did not help that the series aired once a week, which makes some viewers impatient given the daily nature of Filipino dramas.

Meanwhile, ‘Meteor Garden’ became a smash hit, turning F4 and Barbie Hsu into household names. The series also benefited from its near-daily airings on ABS-CBN, thus making viewers wait less for the next episode.

Following the success of ‘Meteor Garden’, ABS-CBN, GMA and occasionally ABC/TV5 began to air more Asianovelas. But as time passed, Korean dramas became the most preferred choice thanks to series such as ‘Jewel in the Palace’, ‘Endless Love’ and ‘Lovers in Paris’.

GMA also made history in 2005 by airing ‘Gokusen’, the first Asianovela hailing from Japan. Then earlier this month, the network premiered the Thai drama ‘You’re My Destiny’.

Given that ‘Meteor Garden’ became popular to begin with, it is safe to assume that this series gave birth to the modern-day Asianovela. As much as people would argue about ‘Amazing Twins’ being the first Asian drama to air in the country, it did not quite fit the mold of today’s Asianovela since it failed to become a hit and was only seen once a week.

Still, the jury is on the viewers to decide. Who really is the first Asianovela to air in the country?

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drama, entertainment, Korea, Philippines, Taiwan, television

Remake of Meteor Garden on ABS-CBN, Plus Local Adaptation of Boys Over Flowers on GMA

Two series based on the manga ‘Hana Yori Dango’ will return to the Philippine small screen soon.

A remake of the hit Taiwanese series ‘Meteor Garden’ will air on ABS-CBN next year, the network announced this week. The new ‘Meteor Garden’, slated to air in Taiwan in 2018, will star Darren Cheng, Dylan Wang, Connor Leong, and Caesar Wu as F4 while Shen Yue will play the role of Shan Cai.

The original version of ‘Meteor Garden’, starring Barbie Hsu and the original F4 (Jerry Yan, Van Ness Wu, Vic Chou and Ken Chu), was aired on ABS-CBN in 2003 to popular acclaim and has been rebroadcast numerous times since. ‘Meteor Garden’ also aired on GMA in 2007, but with a different dub that was not well-received by fans.

Many loyal fans of ‘Meteor Garden’ have long clamored for a Filipino remake of the hit series. However, ABS-CBN has yet to announce any plans to adapt the story to suit Filipino tastes.

Speaking of GMA, they announced that the Korean series ‘Boys Over Flowers’ will have a local adaptation coming soon. The network recently signed an agreement with JU Entertainment Movie and Drama Inc. for the rights to produce the local version of ‘Boys Over Flowers’.

Like ‘Meteor Garden’, ‘Boys Over Flowers’ is based on the manga ‘Hana Yori Dango’. The original series was not aired on GMA however, as ABS-CBN picked up the rights to air ‘Boys Over Flowers’ in 2009.

The original ‘Boys Over Flowers’ starred Lee Min-Ho, Kim Hyun-Joong, Kim Bum, Kim Joon and Koo Hye-Sun as Korea’s version of F4. Hye-Sun likewise reprised the role of Shan Cai as Jan Di.

Even though a local remake of ‘Meteor Garden’ will not come to fruition anytime soon, loyal fans can at least feel some solace that ‘Boys Over Flowers’ will be adapted locally in the near future. That said, anticipation for both series should only grow higher once their respective premiere dates (which will be announced soon) draw near.

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drama, entertainment, Korea, Philippines, Taiwan, television

The Demise of Asianovelas on ABS-CBN

Once known for introducing F4 (above) and ‘Meteor Garden’ to Filipino audiences, ABS-CBN has effectively ceased its importation of Asianovelas since the middle of this year. (Photo credit: Meteor Garden ABS-CBN Official Facebook)

Asianovelas on ABS-CBN are now a thing of the past.

The premiere of the teleserye ‘You’re My Home’ last November 9 signaled the end of an era. Gone are the days when ABS-CBN usually reserves the final spot of their weekday afternoon and evening blocks for Asianovelas.

Now they are leaning more towards local programming in an effort to make use of their deep roster of talents. This makes sense, considering that ABS-CBN has the resources and the technology to produce their own programs.

The last Asianovelas aired on ABS-CBN were ‘Let’s Get Married’ and ‘My Lovely Girl’, whose final episodes were aired on June 19 of this year. When the recently-concluded ‘Pinoy Big Brother: 737’ premiered on the weekday slots three days later, many thought this was only a temporary break for Asianovelas on the network.

As it turned out, ABS-CBN has bigger plans in mind. With so many programs currently kept under wraps, management thought it was best to finally devote more time to locally-produced shows.

This led to the entry of more recent teleseryes such as ‘Ningning’, ‘Doble Kara’, ‘All of Me’, ‘Walang Iwanan’, and the aforementioned ‘You’re My Home’. A few other programs are still being planned, with a target date set for early next year.

Today, the Prime Tanghali, Kapamilya Gold and Primetime Bida blocks air a combined total of nine teleseryes. More than half of the network’s roster of contract artists are currently utilized in these teleseryes, ranging from child stars like ‘Ningning”s Jana Agoncillo to forty-somethings like ‘You’re My Home”s Richard Gomez and Dawn Zulueta.

ABS-CBN’s new path should benefit the network in the years to come. Having recently launched ABS-CBN HD, they now strive to take advantage of this new technology by committing more towards local programs, with the intent of broadcasting a purely Filipino programming lineup in the near future.

As for Asianovelas, it’s now GMA’s responsibility to continue airing them. After all, they still have Heart of Asia mornings to keep fans company.

Note: ‘Angel Wings’ is excluded here as it is considered a spiritual successor of the long-running anthology series ‘Chinese Variety Show’. Asianovelas only refer to imported series from Eastern Asian countries that air on weekdays.

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action, drama, entertainment, lifestyle, Philippines, Taiwan, television

Remembering Sunday Chinese Theater on RPN-9

Before there were Asianovelas on the big networks, and before the news invaded RPN-9 (now 9TV), there was ‘Sunday Chinese Theater’.

During the 1990s, RPN-9 aired the said program block at around 9:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings. As the title suggests, the program featured Chinese drama series that were undubbed and with little edits.

‘Sunday Chinese Theater’ primarily catered to the Chinese Filipino community, considered as one of the largest ethnic groups in the country.

One of the more popular Chinese dramas aired on ‘Sunday Chinese Theater’ happen to be ‘Justice Bao’, whose title sequence was iconic among older television viewers.

The series focused on the legend of Bao Zheng, a Chinese government official during the Song Dynasty. Bao was instrumental in upholding justice and honesty in ancient China, while punishing various erring citizens for their troublesome deeds.

‘Justice Bao’ lasted 236 episodes in total, and ran for much of 1993 in Taiwan. RPN would later air the series during the mid-to-late 90s, after which ABC-5 (now TV5) picked up the series (as ‘Judge Bao’) and aired it from 2007-08, albeit dubbed in Filipino.

In addition to ‘Justice Bao’ and other Chinese dramas, ‘Sunday Drama Theater’ also aired a cooking show hosted by the legendary Fu Pei-mei. Older viewers should recall the famous banner written in Chinese characters as part of its set.

Fu’s cooking show was aired to close out ‘Sunday Drama Theater’ for several years. And along the way, thousands of dishes were featured and created thanks large part of Fu’s iconic wok.

After its initial run on RPN-9, ABS-CBN picked up the series and aired them after ‘Honey, Watch Out’ on Saturday mornings. Both Fu’s cooking show and ‘Honey, Watch Out’, like ABC-5’s airing of ‘Justice Bao’, were dubbed in Filipino (see example of a Tagalized version of Fu’s cooking show above).

Today, undubbed Chinese programs are now seen on the Chinese Entertainment Channel (CEC), which is exclusive to SkyCable subscribers.

Gone but not forgotten, ‘Sunday Chinese Theater’ will always be identified among RPN-9’s best shows. For any kid who used to channel surf in the 90s, looking at a bearded Chinese judge wielding a stick and a chef tossing her ingredients in a steel wok for a few moments will always be remembered in their minds, and in their hearts forever.

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drama, entertainment, Korea, Philippines, Taiwan, television

GMA Answers Meteor Garden with Two Asianovelas

With ‘Meteor Garden’ maintaining its popularity despite its status as a re-run program, GMA has decided to offer something else for its disenchanted viewers. And it comes in pairs, too.

Last Monday, GMA introduced the Asianovelas ‘Mischievous Kiss’ and ‘My Love from the Stars’, both of which were produced in Korea. The two Asianovelas took over the timeslot vacated by the short-lived movie block ‘GMA Sinebabad’.

As it turned out, GMA challenged ABS-CBN’s decision to move ‘Meteor Garden’ at a later timeslot. Just a week into its re-broadcast, ‘Meteor Garden’ was moved to the 4:30 slot to take advantage of GMA airing old movies in the late afternoons. And based on the ratings, the strategy seems to work for the Kapamilya network.

In response, GMA placed two new Asianovelas opposite ‘Meteor Garden’ in order to attract a different set of viewers. The fact is, not every individual is a fan of F4, and for some who are clamoring for a fresh product, GMA’s new programs offer a more viable alternative.

It also helps that ‘Mirabella’ is currently the Kapamilya network’s lowest-rated primetime drama series, with ratings averaging over 10% less than its predecessor ‘Annaliza’. By placing an Asianovela opposite ‘Mirabella’, GMA hopes to finally win in the 5:45-6:30 timeslot, something they have not done in nearly a decade.

It remains to be seen whether or not the two new Asianovelas will translate to better ratings for GMA’s afternoon block. But for the Kapuso network, it seems that they have scored a winner in its late afternoon timeslot.

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