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‘May Bukas Pa,’ plus and minus

By Nestor Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:19:00 03/16/2009

Filed Under: Entertainment (general), Television

ONE OF THE MORE INSTRUCTIVE teleseryes currently on the tube is ?May Bukas Pa.? As we noted in our initial reaction to the show weeks ago, it?s different from other TV shows due to its religious element.

The show, set in a monastery, features a boy who talks to Jesus, and turns out to be a healer. This is a huge departure from other TV drama series, which normally offer seething romance, melodrama, violent and negative characters, nasty plots, etc.

It must have been a big decision for the new show?s producers to get away from that downbeat view of life and come up with this ?Marcelino Pan Y Vino?-inspired tale. But it?s great to note that the gamble has paid off in a big way: ?May Bukas Pa? has been enjoying very good ratings, proving what we?ve been saying all this time--that viewers want to be inspired by the dramas they watch.

However, not everything is coming up roses for the new show. For one thing, some of its ?religious? scenes are poorly, shallowly staged, thus making genuine inspiration and devotion difficult to come by while viewing the series.

A glaring example of this was recently provided by the long ?montage? sequence that showed the series? young healer curing a great variety of infirm people. The scene could have been powerfully moving and faith affirming, but it fell short because it made use of a number of extras (playing the sick people) that turned out to be bad actors.

As a result, when they were ?healed,? they reacted in patently unbelievable ways, and the supposedly miraculous healing ended up like an assembly line of cures that did little to bolster viewer?s faith in divine intervention.

Any director worth his salt would have sensed that the montage of healing needed good actors to make it meaningful and moving. Why were inept actors used instead? Possibly because the production was scrimping on talent fees. Well, it was a penny-wise pound-foolish decision, because the important sequence was botched.

We hope that this unfortunate experience makes the show?s creative staffers realize that, while it?s great to focus on faith as a production?s selling point, religious material is difficult to do convincingly and well, so it definitely shouldn?t be given short shrift.

Due to the current popularity of ?May Bukas Pa,? new characters and situations are being added to the main plot. The latest is the mother-child tandem played by Boots Anson-Roa and Claudine Barretto. Boots? character has Alzheimer?s, while Claudine feels trapped by her ?duty? to care for her ?difficult? and ?demanding? mother.

We expect that the series? young protagonist, Santino (Zaijan Jaramilla), will help them sort out their problems--as well as the woes of other new characters who will enter his life in the weeks and months to come. (We hear from the grapevine that the show is doing so well that its story could be stretched out for some more months). Well, as long as they keep it interesting and integral.

?Twilight? on video

?TWILIGHT,? the blockbuster love story of 2008, will be released on video on March 20. The film tweaks the old Romeo and Juliet format into a love story between a vampire and a mortal. The DVD release includes special features like the original novel?s journey from page to screen, notes on the Comic Con phenomenon, music videos, deleted scenes and director Catherine Hardwicke?s introduction.

?Night at the Museum, 2?

BEN Stiller ramps up the fun and action in the sequel to his hit ?Night at the Museum? caper: ?Night at the Museum, 2: Escape from the Smithsonian.? This time around, Stiller?s night watchman character is working at the legendary Smithsonian Institution, which houses the world?s largest museum complex, with more than 136 million items in its collection.

?Angels and Demons?
THE team behind ?The Da Vinci Code? returns in ?Angels and Demons,? based on Dan Brown?s novel. Tom Hanks reprises his role as symbologist Robert Langdon, who once again finds that forces with ancient roots will stop at nothing, not even murder, to advance their goals. In ?Angels? Langdon discovers evidence of the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati and also faces a deadly threat to the secret organization?s most despised enemy, the Catholic Church.

Hugh Laurie
HUGH Laurie, the idiosyncratic doctor in ?House,? voices the character of Dr. Cockroach, Ph.D., in Dreamworks? ?Monsters vs. Aliens.? Laurie is deemed the perfect choice for the voice of the most brilliant scientist in the world who has been transformed into a cockroach by an experiment gone terribly awry.

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