drama, entertainment, Latin America, Philippines, television

The Return of the Telenovela to Philippine Free TV

Telenovelas, or the more distinguishable term Latinovelas, are making a comeback to free TV in the Philippines.

The genre, once dominant in the afternoon and evening drama blocks of the major networks, were essentially an endangered species once ‘Meteor Garden’ and other Asianovelas began to invade the small screen. Then in late 2011, the Telenovela Channel was introduced, giving dramas from Latin America a new lease on life.

Since the creation of the Telenovela Channel, several free TV networks have attempted to resuscitate the fading popularity of the telenovela. In 2013, GMA aired the Colombian series ‘Lola’ (or ‘Bella Calamidades’) . Unfortunately for the Kapuso network, low ratings forced the management to stop airing the telenovela before it can be finished.

Also that same year, Studio 23 (now ABS-CBN Sports+Action) aired the original version of the hit ABS-CBN teleserye ‘Nasaan Ka, Elisa?’. Titled ‘Donde Esta Elisa?’, the original series aired during the first half of 2013.

Then in June of this year, IBC-13 and Asian Television Content Corporation aired ‘The Two Sides of Ana’ and ‘La Teniente’ on the ‘ATC @ IBC’ block. Unlike GMA’s unexpected pullout of ‘Lola’, both IBC and ATC were more than willing to finish both series, despite their low ratings in a competitive primetime environment.

Two months later, ABS-CBN decided to bring the telenovela back to their lineup. The Brazilian drama ‘Ana Manuela’, scheduled to air starting August 18, will be the network’s first telenovela since ‘Frijolito’ in 2011.

While ABS-CBN has enjoyed ratings success over the past couple of years, the reintroduction of the telenovela is considered to be their biggest gamble yet. Nevertheless, the network hopes that ‘Ana Manuela’, like the other programs on ‘Kapamilya Gold’, will perform very well in the ratings.

The telenovela, once considered endangered on free TV thanks to Asianovelas, are relevant once again. Now the question is, how long will they remain in the minds of the viewers? Only time will tell.

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drama, entertainment, Philippines, television

More Villainous Roles for Jennylyn Mercado

Villainous roles should be a welcome shift to both Jennylyn Mercado and the GMA Network as the viewing habits begin to change.

The upcoming GMA teleserye ‘Rhodora X’ will be the most challenging to date for Jennylyn Mercado. The series will feature Mercado portraying a mentally insane character with a split personality, and as the teasers show, it appears that playing the villain may be more appealing to her these days.

In recent years, several actresses showed their versatility by playing heroic characters in one series, followed by a villainous role in the next, and vice versa. For example, both Julia Montes and Melissa Ricks initially played the villain and hero in ‘Mara Clara’ and ‘Nasaan Ka, Elisa?’ respectively, but when the two were cast in ‘Walang Hanggan’, their roles were reversed. And Maja Salvador, who will play the villain opposite Angel Locsin in ABS-CBN’s ‘The Legal Wife’, played a heroic sidekick character with Kim Chiu in ‘My Binondo Girl’ before playing ‘kontrabida’ against her in ‘Ina, Kapatid, Anak’.

If Jennylyn Mercado wants to evolve and mature as an actress, she needs to prove her worth by playing the bad girl. ‘Rhodora X’ is a good opportunity for her to showcase a different facet in her acting. And if GMA is dead serious in returning to the win column, they need either one of their veterans to play ‘kontrabida’ against upcoming young talents, and Mercado is a perfect fit.

With their primetime programs currently shackled by ABS-CBN’s, a change in philosophy is needed for GMA. And transitioning Jennylyn Mercado to a ‘kontrabida’ may help reverse their doldrums.

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