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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drama, entertainment, fantasy, Philippines, television

Encantadia’s Last Stand (For Now)

The retelling of ‘Encantadia’ is down to its last few episodes, sort of.

For the past 10 months, ‘Encantadia’ gave ‘Ang Probinsyano’ all they could handle. For every gunshot and fist that Cardo (Coco Martin) throws to all criminal masterminds, the Sang’gres respond with mystical powers that could not only repel the forces of evil, but also help revive their allies who have previously died.

The epic story of ‘Encantadia’ will have a total of 218 episodes when it was all said and done. With so many episodes (not to mention recurring characters) made, it should have been a feel-good tale for Kapuso fans around the world.

Instead, ‘Encantadia’ simply could not keep up with the more compelling series that is ‘Ang Probinsyano’. As of May 12, the former’s average rating is 24% per episode, which is not enough to overcome the near-40% marks that ‘Ang Probinsyano’ tallies.

Having spent a lot of money using elaborate production sets and nearly half of GMA’s roster of artists, the below average performance of ‘Encantadia’ should cause a lot of concern for GMA management. After all, the broadcast of the series brought in some high expectations considering the original series’ immense popularity.

Unfortunately, big-budgeted fantaseryes no longer work in this day and age. The focus of Philippine television is on the here, now and future (e.g. digital and high-definition broadcasts), and for whatever reason, GMA simply mortgaged that future in favor of quick fixes that do not go their way.

 

That said, ‘Encantadia”s long run will not be remembered for its mystical tales or its memorable characters. It will only be remembered for three things: ambitious, expensive and underwhelming.

Looking ahead, GMA will have another fantaserye (Mulawin vs. Ravena) that will once again question their financial capabilities. It a shame, but regardless of critical opinion, GMA will continue to risk them all in hopes of finally getting the victory, even if it means draining the last remaining reserves in their back pocket.

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FTT Year 2016 in Review: The 20 Stories That Define the Year in Media (Part IV)

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2017, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article looks back at the 20 moments that define the Philippine media this year.

If you missed out on Part I, Part II and Part III of this series, click on the highlighted link for more information.

Here is Part IV of the four-part series. These stories are arranged in no particular order.

The Death of German Moreno

On January 8, the whole Filipino entertainment industry was stunned with the passing of German Moreno. The veteran host, actor and entertainer was best known for his distinguished work with up-and-coming stars on ‘That’s Entertainment’, as well as a near two-decade run hosting the Saturday late night show ‘Walang Tulugan with the Master Showman’.

The death of Kuya Germs also ended an era for late-night variety shows on Philippine television, as ‘Walang Tulugan’ signed off for good on February 13. Despite that, the legacy of Kuya Germs lives on with the Eastwood City Walk of Fame, which inducted new members late this year.

Other notable showbiz personalities who died this year include directors Wenn Deramas and Francis Pasion, actors Lilia Cuntapay, Joy Viado and Dick Israel, and singer Blakdyak.

Encantadia Returns

On July 18, GMA brought back the popular fantaserye ‘Encantadia’, featuring a rehashed storyline of the original 2005 series. The new iteration stars Glaiza de Castro, Gabbi Garcia, Sanya Lopez and Kylie Padilla, who play the roles of Pirena, Alena, Danaya and Amihan respectively.

Unfortunately, despite the hefty expenses that GMA spent for this version of ‘Encantadia’, the series failed to make an impact. In the national Kantar ratings, ‘Encantadia’ regularly fell by double digits to ‘Ang Probinsyano’, and the high expectations that came with it dissipated.

‘Encantadia’ is not the only primetime problem that GMA faced this year, however, as this next entry shows.

The Alyas Robin Hood-Arrow Controversy

When posters and teasers for ‘Alyas Robin Hood’ were first released, many felt the series was a ripoff of ‘Arrow’, with lead star Stephen Amell even going as far as sharing the clip with a ‘flushed-face’ emoji. However, creative consultant Suzette Doctolero made it clear that ‘Alyas Robin Hood’ and ‘Arrow’ were both based on the Robin Hood folklore.

Despite the controversial issues, ‘Alyas Robin Hood’ was given the go-signal by GMA to air starting September 19. While the series came out flying in its first few weeks, rival series ‘Magpahanggang Wakas’ soon pulled away, with some disgruntled viewers choosing to watch either the Tagalized ‘Arrow’ on TV5, or the English dub on Jack TV.

‘Alyas Robin Hood’ did have a highly publicized scene with the bikini showdown involving Sarri (Megan Young) and Venus (Andrea Torres), which should soften the blow of its controversial start.

The 25th Anniversary of Maalaala Mo Kaya

The first episode of ‘Maalaala Mo Kaya’ was aired on May 15, 1991. Twenty-five years later, the program continues to touch the lives of others thanks to a letter read by Charo Santos-Concio, and scenes that can make people shed tears with each episode.

This year, as part of its silver anniversary celebration, ABS-CBN launched a commemorative website for ‘Maalaala Mo Kaya’, a nationwide and worldwide tour, and an initiative for people to send in their life stories via a letter or a short-form video. As for the show’s ratings this year, it continues to thwart the challenges of its long-running rival, GMA’s ‘Magpakailanman’.

One can only hope that ‘Maalaala Mo Kaya’ will continue to air beyond this year, as its legacy and enduring success stands the test of time.

Ang Probinsyano and Doble Kara Celebrate Their First Anniversary

But perhaps the biggest headline of 2016 belongs to both Coco Martin and Julia Montes. Their respective shows, ‘Ang Probinsyano’ and ‘Doble Kara’, reached the one-year milestone within a month of each other.

Both ‘Ang Probinsyano’ and ‘Doble Kara’ continue to lead the way in their respective timeslots. The former is currently the most-watched primetime show in the country, while the latter is the most-watched post-noontime show.

How much longer will they stay on the air remains to be seen, but as they proceed into 2017, expect ‘Ang Probinsyano’ and ‘Doble Kara’ to remain a dominant force in the primetime and afternoon slots respectively.

Honorable Mentions

  1. ‘The World Tonight’ celebrates its 50th year.
  2. Power Duo wins ‘Pilipinas Got Talent’ season 5.
  3. Joshua Oliveros wins ‘The Voice Kids’ season 3.
  4. ‘Naku Boss Ko’ mini-series and PiliPinas Debates leading up to the 2016 Philippine Presidential Elections.
  5. ANC and DZMM’s respective 20th and 30th anniversaries.

It was indeed an eventful 2016 in the world of Philippine media. Expect bigger things to come this 2017 as From the Tube continues to document the latest events in television and radio in the Philippines.

Until then, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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Encantadia 2016: A Threat or an Afterthought

The returning ‘Encantadia’ will have their hands full against ‘Ang Probinsyano’ when it premieres this Monday. (Logo courtesy of GMA Network)

It will be the Sang’gres of ‘Encantadia’ against Cardo (Coco Martin) of ‘Ang Probinsyano’.

A lot has been said about the impressive ratings of ABS-CBN’s ‘Ang Probinsyano’. After all, this TV adaptation of the classic Fernando Poe, Jr. flick has been reaching the 40% mark of late, blowing out its embarrassed competitor (GMA’s ‘Poor Señorita’) in the dust.

But as ‘Encantadia’ gets underway this Monday, ‘Ang Probinsyano”s momentum could be in doubt. And GMA is going all out in this costly venture of theirs.

The 2016 version of ‘Encantadia’ will be headlined by the four Sang’gres, portrayed by Glaiza de Castro (as Pirena), Kylie Padilla (as Amihan), Gabbi Garcia (as Alena), and Sanya Lopez (as Danaya). Other notable cast members include Marian Rivera, Rocco Nacino, Solenn Heussaff, Ruru Madrid, John Arcilla and Dingdong Dantes.

Director Mark Reyes will breathe new life into this iconic fantaserye. Once again, computer-generated imagery (CGI) will be used extensively, but for this version, updated editing software will be used, along with various other technologies.

But the biggest question surrounding ‘Encantadia’ is whether or not GMA will finally embrace the 16:9 widescreen high definition format. Considering GMA’s continued unwillingness to use the new format (even with the use of HD cameras), it is clear that their old-school mentality may hurt ‘Encantadia”s quality and appeal.

Which is why the Encantadia Saga Facebook fan page went as far as writing an open letter to GMA management. They claimed that using the 16:9 format will bring a full viewing experience to an epic program such as ‘Encantadia’, as opposed to 4:3 which cuts some of the details.

Still, the biggest question surrounding ‘Encantadia’ is whether or not it will be able to overcome ‘Ang Probinsyano’. That said, the first week of the new ‘Encantadia’ will be very crucial, as they try to make an impact against an extremely formidable opponent.

Come this Monday, it will be ‘Encantadia’ against the world. Will they come out on top, or become the latest victim of ‘Ang Probinsyano”s dominance?

Find out starting July 18.

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How Did Encantadia and Other Fantaseryes Hurt GMA in the Long Term?

GMA’s big investment on fantaseryes took its toll on the network’s long-term plans. (Photo credit: GMA Network)

The upcoming requel of ‘Encantadia’ is worth watching, that is, if you’re really a die-hard Kapuso fan.

But while anticipation is high on the new ‘Encantadia’, the broadcasting and financial aspect of GMA leaves a lot to be desired. It’s already 2016, and yet GMA is still way behind its competitors as far as their broadcast standards are concerned.

Much of the blame was due to the numerous big-budget primetime fantaseryes that GMA produced in the mid to late 2000s. With so much money invested on these projects, their ability to spend on updated equipment, facilities and other production and talent matters was compromised in the long term.

From 2004 to 2011, GMA produced big-budget fantaseryes such as ‘Mulawin’, ‘Darna’, the ‘Encantadia’ trilogy, ‘Captain Barbell’ and ‘Dyesebel’, among others. They were able to succeed in the ratings, but the high costs of making these series soon took its toll on GMA.

Looking at how GMA currently stacks up with ABS-CBN and TV5, it is clear that they have a lot of catching up to do. In fact, there were some key factors present on ABS-CBN and TV5 that were absent on GMA, such as:

  • An independent sports division (Shakey’s V-League and Manny Pacquiao fights, among others, were co-produced by other outfits)
  • Experimental 16:9 HD broadcasts (GMA still airs its programs in 4:3 standard definition, save for recent imported programs and TAPE-produced ‘Princess in the Palace; GMA also lacks an HD channel of its own)
  • Sister digital TV channels (ABS-CBN has CineMo and Yey!, while TV5 has Catsup)
  • Cable and satellite TV subscription service (ABS-CBN has SkyCable, while TV5 has Cignal)
  • Video-on-demand, livestream and digital-exclusive online service (ABS-CBN has iWanTV, while TV5 has News5Everywhere and Digital5)

Factor in the ongoing problems within the Artist Center, GMA’s regional networks, sister station GMA News TV, GMA Films and the public relationship department, and you have a network that is now standing on just one leg. Poor GMA.

It’s a pity to see GMA struggle at almost everything in recent years, and now that they’ll produce a requel of ‘Encantadia’, more problems lie ahead. That said, if GMA continues its ongoing slide, they will be in for a rude awakening.

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