drama, entertainment, fantasy, Philippines, television

Thoughts on Sirkus

GMA’s new weekly fantaserye ‘Sirkus’ premiered last January 21 and has had a mixed performance since. (Logo courtesy of GMA Network)

A fantaserye on a Sunday night?

This is exactly what GMA delivered when it premiered ‘Sirkus’ last January 21. But in contrast to the network’s other fantaseryes, ‘Sirkus’ is a production of the GMA Public Affairs group (notorious for bringing non-news programs to the network) and it only airs once a week.

The premise of ‘Sirkus’ is that of two fraternal twins Mia (Mikee Quintos) and Miko (Mikoy Morales) finding themselves in the company of a traveling circus in order to escape from the clutches of an evil villainess. Throughout their quest, the motive behind the villainess’ obsession to catch them will be revealed and their true identities will also be discovered.

Also part of the cast of ‘Sirkus’ are Andre Paras, Chariz Solomon, Sef Cadayona, Klea Pineda, Gardo Versoza, Ms. Cherie Gil, Divine Tetay, Gerald Acao, Zoren Legaspi and Angelu de Leon. The director is Zig Dulay.

When the series was first introduced to the public in late December, many thought that ‘Sirkus’ would replace ‘Daig Kayo ng Lola Ko’ as the opponent of the long-running fantasy anthology ‘Wansapanatym’. However, GMA had other plans in mind.

Not only did the network keep ‘Daig Kayo ng Lola Ko’, it also made significant changes to the late afternoon-early evening Sunday timeslots. As a result, ‘Sirkus’, which replaced the travel series ‘Road Trip’, was assigned to the 6:30 p.m. timeslot and ’24 Oras Weekend’ was bumped to an earlier time.

Through two episodes, ‘Sirkus’ has had mixed results in the ratings. Its debut episode barely defeated ‘Goin’ Bulilit’ by 0.4%, but the following week saw ‘Sirkus’ slump by 4% to its opponent.

Given the often volatile financial situation of GMA, it was a better idea for them to just produce a weekly fantaserye instead of one that airs on weeknights. But to be produced by GMA Public Affairs instead of GMA Entertainment is once again a desperate act altogether.

Whatever the case, one can only hope that ‘Sirkus’ will be the start of many elaborate once-a-week projects that GMA embarks. Such series is for the better of the network at this point because they need all the money in the world to focus on technological improvements that will make them more viable in the age of digitization.

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comedy, entertainment, humor, Philippines, television

Bubble Gang 20th Anniversary Special This Friday

The logo for the 20th anniversary season of ‘Bubble Gang’. The anniversary special airs this Friday on GMA. (Logo courtesy of GMA Network)

The 20th anniversary of ‘Bubble Gang’ will be celebrated this Friday.

For this year, the annual ‘Bubble Gang’ anniversary special will be treated as a documentary, produced by none other than the GMA News and Public Affairs department. The documentary will highlight the rich history of the 20-year-old gag show, featuring interviews from past and present cast members, as well as behind-the-scenes personnel.

As always, the special will not be complete without the trademark sketches that have made ‘Bubble Gang’ so endearing. The skits will not only feature the current cast, but also some of the former mainstays as well.

Currently one of the country’s longest-running programs, ‘Bubble Gang’ first premiered on October 20, 1995. The show has attracted a loyal following over the years, and continues to gain new fans as technology and popular culture evolved.

One of the show’s driving forces is Michael V, who along with Antonio Aquitania, has been part of ‘Bubble Gang’ since its first episode. Bitoy is currently the show’s creative director, formulating most of the show’s endearing skits.

Just recently, Michael V released ‘The Bubble Bible’, a book that features humorous quotes from some of Bitoy’s memorable ‘Bubble Gang’ characters. In essence, ‘The Bubble Bible’ was considered a tribute to the entertainer who has made ‘Bubble Gang’ the country’s longest-running gag show, and a culmination of the show’s 20th year.

‘Bubble Gang”s other current cast members include Boy 2 Quizon, Betong Sumaya, Mikael Daez, Paolo Contis, Sef Cadayona, Rufa Mae Quinto, Chariz Solomon, Jackie Rice, Sam Pinto, Gwen Zamora, Max Collins and Andrea Torres. Supporting players include Diego Llorico, Mykah, Moymoy Palaboy, Denise Barbacena, RJ Padilla, Arny Ross, Joyce Ching, Jan Manual and Juancho Trivino.

To date, ‘Bubble Gang’ has aired 1,003 episodes during its 20-year history. The documentary this Friday will be the show’s 1,004th.

The hashtag for this year’s anniversary special will be #IMBG20. For those unaware of how ‘Bubble Gang’ started, this should help them understand how it all began, and how it evolved into the gag show it is today.

The ‘Bubble Gang’ 20th anniversary documentary airs this Friday after ‘Beautiful Strangers’.

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comedy, entertainment, humor, Philippines, television

1995 Flashback: Bubble Gang Turns 20

Michael V (center) has been the driving force behind ‘Bubble Gang’, now entering its 20th year on the air. (Photo credit: GMA Network/Bubble Gang Official Facebook)

1995 was a memorable year in Philippine television. As part of a year-long special, From the Tube will look back at a year full of historical debuts, unforgettable moments, and celebrated feats in the history of television in the country.

GMA’s ‘Bubble Gang’ will have its 20th anniversary special next month.

The theme is still a mystery at the moment, but based on teasers from the show’s social media accounts, it appears that it will be a mostly formal occasion. The show’s current and past cast members will be on hand, as is a die-hard fan who will be invited on the said anniversary episode.

Indeed, ‘Bubble Gang’ has come a long way since premiering on October 20, 1995. Every Friday night, viewers were treated to the show’s assortment of parodies and skits that reference both pop culture and real-life situations, most of which end with the cast members showing disbelief in the most humorous way possible.

At the heart of ‘Bubble Gang”s longevity is Michael V. One of two original cast members left on the show (the other is Antonio Aquitania), Bitoy also acts as its creative director, formulating most of ‘Bubble Gang”s infamous skits and characters, not to mention composing and singing the opening theme song.

It was with ‘Bubble Gang’ where Michael V (real name Beethoven Bunagan) achieved his greatest success. Whether he’s Mr. Assimo, Tata Lino and Donya Ina, or even past characters such as Junee Lee, Yaya and Lito, Bitoy’s portrayals with these personas helped him become one of the most popular entertainers of his generation.

Bitoy even showcases his musical talent on the show, as part of his Myusik Tagalog Bersyon and Music English Version skits. One such song was ‘Sinaktan Mo ang Puso Ko’, which became a hit single.

But ‘Bubble Gang’ isn’t just about Michael V alone. Over the years, the show featured a revolving cast of talents, from Ogie Alcasid, Wendell Ramos, Maureen Larrazabal and Rufa Mae Quinto, to Boy 2 Quizon, Paolo Contis, Betong Sumaya and Chariz Solomon.

Even the skits evolve as well, just as trends in pop culture and everyday life were also in the midst of a transformation. Just ask the long-running ‘Ang Dating Doon’, which made some numerous changes during its run.

Despite the constant changes in both the skits and the cast members, one thing is still certain about ‘Bubble Gang’: they can still make people laugh. And after 20 years, they are still going strong.

Come this November, ‘Bubble Gang’ will have its 20th anniversary special. For long-time viewers of the show, it is a deserving tribute.

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concerts, drama, entertainment, live events, music, Philippines, reality show, songs, television

Sunday All Stars Revamp as Ratings Fall; PBB All-In Criticized

As ABS-CBN’s ‘ASAP’ continue to dominate Sunday afternoon viewership and social media impact, rival ‘Sunday All Stars’ of GMA Network decided to once again change its format. This was according to a news report from LionhearTV.

The newly-reformatted ‘Sunday All Stars’  now airs for only 90 minutes, while moving its airtime to 1:00 p.m. But what made the show so different these days was the absence of several of its mainstays, such as Jay-R, Frencheska Farr and Yassi Pressman. Jay-R, in particular, was disappointed about the reformat that he made his departure public via a tweet to one of his fans.

The report also stated that the show will now feature a mix of regular and semi-regular artists that would appear in every episode. In addition, the group competition will be axed in favor of individual battles between two artists, while the show’s judges will no longer sit to evaluate their performances.

Clearly, GMA has to be frustrated with ‘Sunday All Stars’. With a more stripped-down approach, and with its younger mainstays absent, ‘Sunday All Stars’ is becoming a program without any sense of direction. And that weak concoction won’t help reverse the show’s fortunes. A change is definitely needed for GMA to make their Sundays more relevant.

Meanwhile, the new season of ‘Pinoy Big Brother’ received the brunt of criticism from most netizens, leading to the hashtag #PBBScripted, which trended throughout Sunday and into Monday.

Most netizens took their frustrations at the program’s celebrity selections, claiming that they took away spots from ordinary folks who actually auditioned for the show. Netizens also claim that the new season of PBB only allows people with good looks and wealth to enter the hallowed Big Brother house, while others claim that celebrities will have a huge advantage over the ordinary housemates in the voting process.

Among the notable celebrities for the season were volleyball player Michele Gumabao, Phoemela Barranda’s daughter Nichole, teen actress Jane Oineza, Chariz Solomon’s twin brothers Bobby and Robert (aka Fourth and Fifth), and DLSU Green Archer Thomas Torres’ brother Axel. At the last minute, host Alex Gonzaga decided to join as a housemate rather than hosting the reality show.

Despite the criticisms, the opening night of ‘Pinoy Big Brother: All In’ is expected to be a ratings hit, and with the presence of these celebrities, it should also be expected that more people will tune in to watch them deal with the tasks made by none other than ‘Big Brother’ himself. ‘Pinoy Big Brother: All In’ will have an afternoon ‘Uber’ show on weekdays, and a regular evening show that would culminate with a live eviction show on most Sundays. In addition, PBB will have an online show on its website.

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comedy, entertainment, humor, Philippines, television

My Opinion on Censoring Rufa Mae’s Cleavage on Bubble Gang

The first ‘Bubble Gang’ of 2014 brought a little change to the viewers. In the aftermath of the infamous ‘Susie Lualhati’ skit that drew the ire of MTRCB officials, GMA Network decided to censor all instances of Rufa Mae Quinto showing her cleavage throughout ‘Bubble Gang’.

I think blurring Rufa Mae’s cleavage is not the right idea. What GMA should have done is to convince Rufa Mae to wear less revealing outfits during skits, so that it appears more decent to younger viewers. And in my opinion, if GMA wants to physically censor something, it should only apply to the buttocks, female breasts and male testicles during more sexually related skits.

Rufa Mae Quinto has been a part of ‘Bubble Gang’ for over a decade now. But unlike fellow sexy comedienne and cast member Chariz Solomon, Rufa Mae seems more adept at using her body in skits, thinking that her figure would be great at eliciting laughter from the audience. However, in an era where the MTRCB is more stringent in enforcing a more family-friendly programming, Rufa Mae should start reinventing herself by wearing less revealing outfits and using her body more decently, in order to adopt to a changing viewership landscape.

In case you missed Rufa Mae’s blurred cleavage, here is the episode of ‘Bubble Gang’ that aired last night.

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comedy, Philippines, television

New Bubble Gang Open & Segments

The ‘new’ OBB screenshot of Bubble Gang, without Ogie Alcasid. Photo credit: Official Bubble Gang Facebook

Last night launched a new era in the 18-year history of ‘Bubble Gang‘. For the past two weeks the OBBs were cut short following the news of Ogie Alcasid‘s departure from GMA and subsequent move to TV5. Despite Alcasid’s impending departure, his images remained on the commercial banners although he never appeared in any of the skits. However, a ‘new’ opening billboard was launched last night, this time without any mention of Alcasid in the list of cast members.

The ‘new’ OBB was simply a tweak of the gangster-inspired OBB used throughout the 17th season of Bubble Gang. It also introduced Betong Sumaya, Sef Cadayona and Chariz Solomon as new cast members of the show, although during the past several months they have been appearing regularly on the show. Michael V is now introduced first, followed by the other remaining mainstays of the show.

In addition, a revised I-Pad graphic was used in video transitions from one sketch to another. Among the new segments featured in the I-Pad transition were ‘Aling Mary’, ‘Tata Lino’ and ‘The Adventures of Rufa Mae Kwento’. Gone were the sketches featuring Alcasid such as ‘Cheche Bureche’, ‘Pick-Up Lines’, and ‘Balitang News’.

Last night’s episode also saw the return of the popular ‘IyoTube’ series. This time the comedy duo Moymoy Palaboy mimed to the tune of ‘Gentlemen’ by Psy. In one of the final segments of the show, the new featured players were again put to the test in the ‘Bagong Gang’ sketch, this time with special guest Paolo Contis testing the comedic abilities of the new players.

The ‘new’ OBB and commercial banner of Bubble Gang is only expected to last two months, with Season 18 about to commence in mid-October.

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