comedy, entertainment, game show, humor, Philippines, television

Endangered Specie: Celebrity Bluff’s Status in Doubt

Is this the end for ‘Celebrity Bluff’?

Last Saturday marked the season finale of this celebrated GMA game show. But ‘Celebrity Bluff’ as it truly was effectively ended two years ago following its first four years on the air.

The first run of ‘Celebrity Bluff’ began on November 17, 2012 and ended on February 20, 2016. The original trio of Eugene Domingo, Wally Bayola and Jose Manalo immediately clicked with viewers, and ‘Celebrity Bluff’ became a worthy and oftentimes popular adversary amid the dominance of franchised reality and talent shows from ABS-CBN.

Even as Wally was replaced by Boobay and Isko ‘Brod Pete’ Salvador and Jose left for other commitments, ‘Celebrity Bluff’ remained a force to be reckoned with on Saturday nights. The show also received some accolades along the way, including two PMPC Star Awards for Best Game Show.

The death of director Uro dela Cruz in February 2016 forced ‘Celebrity Bluff’ to take a long break after 12 consecutive seasons on the air. Then on June 3, 2017, the 13th season of ‘Celebrity Bluff’ got underway, this time with Edu Manzano as one of the ‘bluffers’ and Rico Gutierrez as the director.

Unfortunately, this latest season of ‘Celebrity Bluff’ failed to capture the magic of the previous 12 seasons. Once averaging around 12-13% in the ratings during its first four years, the most recent incarnation of ‘Celebrity Bluff’ only managed ratings of around 6-7% per episode.

It also did not help that Edu Manzano was a bad fit to the ensemble. In March, Manzano left ‘Celebrity Bluff’ in order to join ABS-CBN’s ‘Ang Probinsyano’, leaving Eugene, Boobay, Brod Pete and some guest ‘bluffers’ to hold the fort.

Suffice to say, the 13th season of ‘Celebrity Bluff’ was doomed to fail this time around. The once-colorful game show had lost its luster.

So what does the future hold for ‘Celebrity Bluff’? Considering the poor performance of its most recent season, perhaps GMA should just retire the show for good and concentrate on a new concept.

If they intend to resuscitate ‘Celebrity Bluff’ in the near future, the only recourse is to convince Wally Bayola and Jose Manalo to return to the show. After all, ‘Celebrity Bluff’ reached its peak with Eugene, Wally and Jose at the forefront.

But for all intents and purposes, consider ‘Celebrity Bluff’ an endangered specie that borders between cancellation and renewal. For now, the show is on hiatus, and unless GMA decides to give it another shot, this hiatus may become permanent after all.

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cable TV, entertainment, movies, news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, Sports, television

Philippine Cable and Digital Channels Face Issue of Redundancy

Hero is one of several cable channels in the Philippines that was shut down this year due to redundancy in content. (Logo courtesy of Creative Programs Inc.)

Redundancy has become a common theme for cable and digital channels in the Philippines.

In the first half of 2018 alone, viewers witnessed a closure of numerous cable channels in the country. On the local side of the spectrum, there was Hero, TAG, ABS-CBN Regional Channel, CT and 2nd Avenue, and on the international front there was Toonami.

There were also some rebrandings and resurrections of several channels as well. CPI made LIGA the second coming of Balls in time for the FIFA World Cup (replacing ARC, TAG and Hero in the process) while rebranding Lifestyle into Metro Channel, and then the MVP Group converted Bloomberg Philippines into One News.

So why do these things happen to our beloved cable and digital channels? The most cited reason is financial constraints, but it goes deeper than that.

When two channels air similar content with one another, redundancy happens. This is exactly the case that befell the likes of Hero, TAG, CT, 2nd Avenue and Toonami because they feature similar themes and genres with one or several channels.

Hero and Toonami, for example, became victims of cord-cutters and other channels such as Cartoon Network, Boomerang, AniPlus, Animax and even Yey!, which show some anime and action series as well. Same with CT and 2nd Avenue who share some of the programming with sister channels Jack TV and ETC.

Going further back, CPI shut down Velvet in 2014 and moved some of its content over to Lifestyle. Four years later, Lifestyle was rebranded into Metro Channel and is now essentially a second coming of Velvet.

There is also LIGA, which was launched for the FIFA World Cup but is expected to face similar redundancy issues as Balls since its only other source of content are events that air on ABS-CBN S+A. Finally, the rebrand from Bloomberg Philippines to One News has made AksyonTV (a former news channel-turned-T5N clone) redundant, something the MVP Group must address moving forward.

However, redundancy is not limited to cable channels alone. Yey!, for example, has a movie block called ‘Kid Sine’, but some of the films shown here are also aired on sister channel CineMo (under the CineFantasya and CineKomedya blocks).

Yey! also airs reruns of ‘Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids’ while CineMo rebroadcasts ‘Ang Probinsyano’ and ‘Bagani’ on weekends. Such reruns should have been exclusive to Jeepney TV.

These are just some of the examples that face cable and digital channels today. Considering the competitive nature of this business, trying to stay unique and distinct in terms of content is not as easy as it looks.

So the best that these channels can do right now is to remain innovative and wide-eyed to the audience while keeping themselves afloat. This juggling act may be difficult, but when done properly, they can stay on the air for a long period of time.

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entertainment, news, Philippines, public affairs, television

Video on Board: Buses Tune In to ABS-CBN Shows But Avoid Afternoon Koreanovelas

A bus bound for Quiapo showing ABS-CBN’s ‘It’s Showtime’. (Photo courtesy of the author)

Sometimes life is unfair.

Such is the case for airconditioned buses that ply the streets of Metro Manila. These buses offer more than just relief from the sweltering heat, they also provide riders with a show or movie to watch while going from one destination to another.

Most airconditioned buses are equipped with a television set that hangs atop the windshield. At first, the viewing experience was severely limited thanks to poor signal reception (most buses opt to air movies from their USB outlets or pirated DVDs due to these conditions), but the launch of the ABS-CBN TVPlus made it much better for riders to watch a show comfortably.

As a commuter I can attest to the varying trends of television viewership inside airconditioned buses. Prior to the launch of TVPlus, the preferred channel of Metro Manila buses is GMA Network due to its clearer signal and greater reach.

But as TVPlus became readily available to the public, bus companies began to take advantage of it by equipping their sets with these devices. As a result, more and more buses were tuning in to ABS-CBN programs especially  during ‘It’s Showtime’, ‘TV Patrol’ and ‘Ang Probinsyano’, simply because Channel 2 is always the first to open on TVPlus.

However, there is still one GMA show with which these buses would rather tune in to. In one of my more recent in-city trips, I looked at some of the buses that ply the metro during the late afternoon, and surprisingly, these buses were tuning in to ‘Wowowin’ instead of a Koreanovela from ABS-CBN.

Simply put, these bus drivers and conductors are not Koreanovela fans. They would rather tune in to Willie Revillame and his antics with sexy women instead of cheesy love scenes from Korean actors because it seems like they are boring

Not to mention that it is rush hour for people going home. If they are tuning in to a Koreanovela on the way home on a slow-moving afternoon, chances are they could be put to sleep.

While viewership inside buses do not influence ratings performance (at least for now), the general trend is clear. ABS-CBN is the most preferred network among airconditioned buses all-day long, but on the late-afternoon rush hour, GMA’s ‘Wowowin’ is the most preferred show.

Unfair as it sounds, but the best entertainment while inside the bus is when things either become tense and gut-wrenching (as in the case for teleseryes) or humorous and fun (as in the case for variety shows). It is what bus rides are made of, and keeping riders awake and invested in entertainment is a bus company’s way of making themselves comfortable.

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drama, entertainment, Philippines, suspense, television

The Cure: Ang Probinsyano’s Next Prey?

“No one can beat ‘Ang Probinsyano’!”, Kapamilya fans said.

Nearly three years and over 500 episodes since it began, ‘Ang Probinsyano’ continues to be the king of primetime teleseryes. On most nights, the ABS-CBN action series scored at least 40% in the ratings, and has made mincemeat of eight different GMA teleseryes that tried to topple it.

Now comes a ninth different GMA series that will take on Cardo Dalisay (Coco Martin) every Monday to Friday starting tonight. And in typical GMA fashion, it will be led by two Kapuso veterans in Jennylyn Mercado and Tom Rodriguez.

The story of ‘The Cure’ involves an experimental drug that kills cancer cells, but the side effect of it is that a highly dangerous and contagious virus called Monkey Virus Disease (MVD) will mutate and cause seizures and violent outbreaks to infected people. The disease quickly spreads throughout the country and will only continue to do so unless a cure can be found.

Married couple Charity (Jennylyn), a former registered nurse, and Gregory (Tom), a clinical research associate in a pharmaceutical company, are living a happy life with their daughter Hope (Leanne Bautista), until Greg’s mother Agnes (Irma Adlawan) is diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.  Agnes is given an experimental drug, but her health got worse as she is infected with MVD.

That drug, in turn, was discovered by Dr. Evangeline Lazaro (Jaclyn Jose), who works in the same company as Greg. With MVD continuing to wreak havoc across the country, it is up to Charity and Greg to find the necessary cure and prevent the inevitable.

‘The Cure’ also stars Mark Herras, LJ Reyes, Jay Manalo, Ronnie Henares, Glenda Garcia, Diva Montelaba and Arra San Agustin, with a special participation from Ken Chan. It will be directed by Mark Reyes.

It can be recalled that ‘The Cure’ was originally announced as one of GMA’s upcoming projects for 2013, and it was supposed to be led by Alden Richards and Louise delos Reyes. However, the project was shelved and it took five years before GMA decided to revisit the series.

Looking ahead, ‘The Cure’ is either going to be an intriguing series or a recipe for disaster. Having to face ‘Ang Probinsyano’ will entail a lot of hard work for ‘The Cure’, considering its predecessor ‘Sherlock Jr.’ failed miserably.

That said, GMA should go all-out in making ‘The Cure’ a worthier opponent for ‘Ang Probinsyano’. If this series goes around 25% in the ratings then it should boost its confidence, but if it goes below that then the ‘Curse of Cardo Dalisay’ is all too real for the network.

‘The Cure’ airs weeknights after ’24 Oras’ on GMA Telebabad.

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action, drama, entertainment, Philippines, television

Another One Falls: Sherlock Jr. to End Friday Night

Make that eight.

The long-running ABS-CBN action series ‘Ang Probinsyano’ claims its latest victim as ‘Sherlock Jr.’ will air its final episode this Friday. And unlike the previous seven GMA series that took on ‘Ang Probinsyano’, this latest encounter became a mismatch right from the start.

First aired on January 29, 2018, ‘Sherlock Jr.’ was originally headlined by Gabbi Garcia and Ruru Madrid, with a special participation from Janine Gutierrez. Unfortunately, the series failed to match the standards of its predecessors due to questionable storytelling and poor viewership.

‘Sherlock Jr.’ averaged a paltry 17% in the Kantar ratings, which is nearly 30% less than ‘Ang Probinsyano”s typical numbers. While previous opponents were able to air for a longer period of time in spite of their inferior ratings, ‘Sherlock Jr.”s poorer-than-expected performance forced GMA to cut the series short.

It also didn’t help that Janine Gutierrez (as Irene) and Gabbi Garcia (as Lily) were killed off during the series’ run. The departure of Gabbi, in particular, came amid rumors of her transfer to ABS-CBN (which was later refuted).

When it was all said and done, ‘Sherlock Jr.’ will only have a total of 63 episodes. That number alone is the fewest for a series that took on ‘Ang Probinsyano’ on a regular basis (not counting ‘Poor Señorita’, ‘Little Nanay’, ‘Mulawin vs. Ravena’ and ‘Alyas Robin Hood’ season 2 which faced other teleseryes besides ‘Ang Probinsyano’).

Suffice to say, ‘Sherlock Jr.’ was considered a tremendous failure for GMA. Facing ‘Ang Probinsyano’ proved to be an exercise in futility, especially with the former’s endless supply of star power compared to ‘Sherlock Jr.’

Its mediocre run was also an indication of GMA’s continued indifference towards its younger stars, especially when it comes to the shocking death of Gabbi Garcia’s character. To cut short a series due to poor ratings and to kill off a young lead star midway through is a clear way of saying how desperate GMA is in winning.

On Friday, ‘Sherlock Jr.’ will bid farewell. But for a series that ran so short, don’t expect a blooper reel or a congratulatory message to its viewers towards the end because GMA is not in a mood for ‘thank yous’.

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action, drama, entertainment, Philippines, television

Lost Opportunity: GMA Loses Ryza Cenon to ABS-CBN

‘If you beat them, join them!’

This is exactly what happened when Ryza Cenon made the shocking jump from GMA to ABS-CBN Thursday morning. Welcomed by network executives Cory Vidanes, Carlo Katigbak and Laurenti Dyogi, Ryza officially signed an undisclosed exclusive contract with ABS-CBN, thus ending her 14-year stint with GMA Network.

It can be recalled that Ryza’s last project with GMA was the year-long afternoon drama series ‘Ika-6 na Utos’, whose successful run ended last month. GMA could have capitalized on Ryza’s renewed success, but in the end, it was a bad case of ‘one that got away’ (in reference to the network’s current primetime teleserye).

In the press conference announcing her transfer, Ryza revealed that it was her talent managers from VIVA Entertainment which convinced her to change addresses. Moreover, she explained the need to explore different endeavors and the need to work with a different set of actors.

Like former GMA-turned-ABS-CBN talents Aljur Abrenica and Louise delos Reyes before her, Ryza will begin her Kapamilya career on the high-rating primetime series ‘Ang Probinsyano’ as one of its guest stars. She will also appear in a series of out-of-town and TFC shows.

Considering how ‘Ika-6 na Utos’ revitalized Ryza’s career, it was surprising to see her in a different network amid a resurgence in her career. But then again, GMA has had a history of not properly utilizing its talents, so this was probably the right move for her.

Still, in a loaded primetime series like ‘Ang Probinsyano’, there is no guarantee that Ryza will have a long-term role within the program. Somewhere down the road ABS-CBN will prepare an upcoming series for Ryza, one that should give her a greater responsibility.

Fans can only hope that Ryza Cenon’s move to ABS-CBN will pay dividends. It will be interesting to see how she will thrive in a new environment, so good luck.

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