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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Meteor Garden Is Still Alive, Ten Years After

‘Meteor Garden’ returns to Philippine television next week as part of ABS-CBN’s tenth anniversary celebration of the Asianovela.

More than ten years ago,  ‘Meteor Garden’ became the launching pad that would later become the Asianovela genre, and even after the series ended, its popularity among teenage Filipinos remains strong. Which is why ABS-CBN and Jeepney TV will bring back the original Taiwanese drama starring F4 and actress Barbie Hsu to the small screen starting next week, as part of its 10th anniversary of bringing the Asianovela to Philippine television.

The groundbreaking Asianovela was first introduced in May 2003, and within a month, it became one of the most-watched programs on the Kapamilya network. ‘Meteor Garden’ was so popular that it helped influence teenagers to copy the hairstyles and the wardrobe donned by Jerry Yan, Vic Chou, Vanness Wu and Ken Chu, as well as Barbie Hsu. F4 albums were also distributed to great success, and at the peak of F4-mania, the group even visited the Philippines at one point.

The success of ‘Meteor Garden’ forced GMA to answer with their own series in ‘My MVP Valentine’, starring another boyband in 5566. Unfortunately, it failed to measure up to the popularity of ‘Meteor Garden’, and as a result, GMA was forced to go to South Korea to acquire other Asianovela titles. It did, however, re-air ‘Meteor Garden’ in 2007, as part of its short-lived ‘mangaserye’ hour. Despite that, ‘Meteor Garden’ continues to be an iconic brand to the Kapamilya network.

In the weeks leading up to its return, ‘Meteor Garden’ and F4 became one of the top trending topics in the social media website Twitter. This only proves that even after a decade, fanaticism for the Taiwanese series remains on a high. And as the series re-airs next week, expect ‘Meteor Garden’ to once again become one of the top-rated programs of the year, and in the process attract a new generation of fans.

entertainment, news, Philippines, television

On F4 and Taiwanese-Filipino Relations

Meteor Garden

Back in the day: Young Filipinos were introduced to F4 and Shan Cai, introducing the term Asianovela to the lexicon of Philippine television. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over a decade ago, Filipino television audiences were introduced to a male pop quartet from Taiwan named F4. The group composed of Jerry Yan, Vanness Wu, Ken Chu and Vic Zhou captivated Filipinos with their charisma, talent and good looks. The group made waves thanks to the Asianovela Meteor Garden and subsequent sequels Meteor Rain and Meteor Garden II, whose broadcast rights were acquired by ABS-CBN in 2003 and were aired to popular acclaim. Their popularity in the archipelago was boosted further with the presence of Shan Cai in the Asianovela, helping F4 become cult figures in the Philippines.

These days, Taiwanese-Filipino relations were strained at worst, in large part to the alleged shooting incident that killed a Taiwanese fisherman. Things got to a head when Taiwanese officials did not accept the apology of President Noynoy Aquino, and it only got worse after they imposed sanctions against the Philippines. In sports, Jones Cup organizers withdrew the Philippines’ invitation to compete in the Jones Cup this year, denying their chances of a repeat.

Not long ago, F4 was greeted enthusiastically by Filipino fans when they performed at the Araneta Coliseum behind nearly 20,000 spectators. The euphoria eventually died down when Koreanovelas took over television sets, but F4 mania had earned its place among the great moments in Filipino television lore.

Just imagine if the quartet decided to return and perform again in the Philippines while the country is trying to mend wounds with Taiwan. Would the state of Taiwanese-Filipino relations enable F4 to return to the country again after nearly a decade? I think so, but would the Taiwanese allow one of their most popular stars to perform in the archipelago? That would be a 25-75 probability based on the countries’ diplomatic relations and security concerns. For now, the possibility of F4 (now JVKV due to copyright issues) returning to the country is still in the rear view mirror.

It will also be interesting to see how the Gilas Pilipinas basketball team performs in tuneup matches now that their Jones Cup invitation has been withdrawn. Would it help, or would it hurt? If it’s the latter, that would be a huge blow in their chances to win the 2013 FIBA Asia Tournament. The only hope for the Philippine basketball team is to prepare and move on, and avoid any distraction.

Taiwan and the Philippines are currently in the state of diplomatic uncertainty. Politics aside, keep in mind how the tiny island was able to contribute to Filipino culture thanks to four good-looking guys starring in Meteor Garden. And a decade after they first invaded television sets in the country, F4 mania lives on.