Monday, April 20, 2009

The sad state of local TV (specifically GMA soaps)

A little over a year ago, when GMA 7 bought the rights to air a Kim Sam Soon adaptation here in the Philippines, I asked my friend why the heck we need to do something so inane? It's not as if we don't have writers who can write original story lines with much more interesting, and maybe even fresher plot points. I still don't think the adaptation was a good idea (it was a painfully terrible adaptation and Regine was just plain ridiculous!), but I withdraw my point. Perhaps our writers, at least those that are employed by GMA are incapable of one original thought, not even to save their lives.

I've always detested watching soaps, not because they're cheesy (which they are), nor because they're not entertaining (which admittedly, they sometimes are... think Encantadia), but because they seem to tell and re-tell the same story using varying number of characters and degree of intelligence. I never thought they'd stoop so low as to actually copy whole plot points and stage almost the exact same scene from foreign shows. I guess I give them too much credit.

This evening, I inadvertently saw Totoy Bato (which happens often when my mom's watching tv). At this junction of the show the titular character played by Robin Padilla has just taken a hospital hostage and his terms are simple, give my son a heart transplant. Sounds familiar? If you've seen Denzel Washington's John Q then it should, because that's the exact same plot. It doesn't stop there though, they actually had the audacity to copy key scenes from the film, merely translating the lines and changing some names.

Short background: At this point, John Q's son needs the heart or he dies soon. The scene preceding this showed John deciding to commit suicide and convinced the hostaged doctor to use his heart after he does. He's here to say goodbye to his son. Here's the clip from John Q:

I'm sure you'll agree that Denzel was fantastic.

Here are a few clips from Totoy Bato (definitely ripped off from John Q). I recorded this via my phone hence the poor quality and I couldn't figure out how to make longer clips until after the scene was done hence its chopped format. I will post only 3 clips but I'm sure you'll get the idea.

Meron. Di ka pinabayaan ng guardian angel mo.
Yes. Your guardian angel didn't leave you.

Iba ang may pera... lahat... lahat pinakikinggan ka kung may pera ka. Gusto ko lumaban ka... at mahalin mo ang kapwa mo.

It's different when you have money. Everybody listens to you when you have money. Keep fighting... love others.

Hindi kita iiwan. Lagi mo kong kasama. Mahal kita... mahal na mahal kita.
I'll never leave you. I love you very much.

Pretty sickening really. And it doesn't even makes sense in our setting because we don't do heart transplant in the Philippines. Maybe they should just keep importing those ready made korea-novelas, they're probably cheaper, and some of them are actually quite amusing.


joyfulchicken said...

Next week on Totoy Bato, Robin Padilla leads the human resistance against robots from the future. Stay tuned.

giehar said...

totoy bato has been ripping off JOHN Q since last week. i was actually very outraged when i saw it. what got my attention was when robin said "HINDI KO ILILIBING ANG ANAK KO! AKO ANG ILILIBING NG ANAK KO!" anyone who's seen JOHN Q knows his famous line "I WILL NOT BURY MY SON! MY SON IS GOING TO BURY ME!" and that was when i i found out from my driver's daughter [who watches it] that the story has been so ripped off. in TB, robin's daughter ALSO needs a heart transplant. The ripoff is so blatant that you could put the scenes side by side with the scenes in JQ. even the part where john q lay on the operating table with a towel under his head [to catch the blood after he shoots himself in the head] was ripped off. and just like in john q, totoy bato had a cop who was "on his side", and totoy's grandfather [joonee gamboa] was the counterpart of john q's friend who told the media of his plight. the whole thing makes me sick!

Unknown said...

Maybe the network is trying to play safe. Siding on what worked than what "might" work. I remember a line from Martha Stewart which goes like this," Here in Martha Stewart, we set trends we do not ask what is the trend." Maybe the network needs to change paradigm from following to leading.

My two cents,
Joe L.

giehar said...

here, you can watch them one after the other and see the obvious ripoff:





Dear Hiraya said...

disappointed din ako sa GMA sa mga soaps nila kahit na Kapuso ako. ewan ko ba. parang nawalan sila ng creativity. noon kasi, GMA parati ang nagseset ng bago sa primetime. they launched StarStruck para maiba naman ang mga talent search na puro kanta/sayaw lang (single talent). then, there's Encantadia. Maging ang pagkuha ng rights to do our own version ng foreign soaps, dito rin nasimulan. Ang TV series ng mga comics and films noon, nasimulan din dito. pero, siguro dahil na rin sa naging kampante sila sa ganitong lagay. Na, pwede naman silang kumuha ng idea then ilapat sa istorya ng sarili nilang soap kaya naging boring ang dating ng mga soaps ng GMA at naging copycats na rin. tsk tsk. I just hope na marealize ito ng GMA Entertainment execs. kaya lang, nasa kontrobersiya naman siya ngayon tsk tsk... (Wilma Galvante)

J.D. Lim said...

Wow, 'di ko alam ang bagay na ito. But I know na there's no such scene or should I say strip from the original comics made by Mr. Caparas. Mukhang nauubusan na nga ng bala ang GMA7. Tama ang sinabi ng isang nagkomento dito. Dati sila ang trend setter. Ngayon, puro import at remake na lang ang kaya nilang gawin. Just look at their line up sa Telebabad. Zorro. Totoy Bato. All About Eve. And that Koreanovela. Nothing original. Wala naman masama na gumawa ng remake pero kung puro ganoon na lang at parang binabalewala nila ang galing ng ating mga writers. At saka mukhang tingin nila eh bobo ang kanilang mga viewers para hindi nila malaman na gaya-gaya pala sila. Tsk. Mukhang masyado silang nalunod na ng kayabangan nila sa ratings.

philos said...

@JC: I wish I have something witty as a reparte, but what film is this in reference to?

@Giehar: That's the exact same scene that set me off myself! Including the bullcrap about knowing how exactly his heart is perfect for his daughter. Thanks for the youtube links, infinitely better than my sorry excuse for screen captures hehe... I will update the post to show 'em.

@Joe L: Yeah, except what made the original work in the first place might arguably be their originality. Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

@Fjordan: Well, their's is a cutthroat business, they'll feel the brunt of it soon enough if they keep this up. My mom used to be strictly Kapuso, now she's actually flipping channels.

@JD Lim: I don't mind artistic license (adding scenes to an old story), but not like this. Yeah, maybe all those success in the ratings have gotten to their heads.

austenfan said...

Whoa. What is the Philippine television coming to? I'm not a fan of soaps too, but for some reason, everytime I see Tayong Dalawa (ABS-CBN), I can't help but get mad at the characters and just the whole plot line. So I figured, if it can get me that emotionally worked up about it, then it must be doing something right, right? haha. Hmm, did that make sense? LOL.

giehar said...

@ohilos: it would be better if you could edit the john q clip #1 so it would be exactly like the totoy bato clip #1 i gave you, so that the similarity would be so unmistakeable. coz in the john q clip #1 that i gave, the early part [where denzel threw the cops gun at robert duvall and the crowd cheered] was kind of long. i have a clip of the whole movie but i cant seem to edit it. it would be better if the clip just started when denzel was yelling "my son is sick, that's it!" i made the totoy bato clips since i have to record that crap every night [dont ask me why] so i uploaded it on youtube [that account where the totoy bato clips is mine].

@austenfan: did you know that TAYONG DALAWA is a ripoff of ONE TREE HILL except that OTH is about basketball and TD is about military school?

the annoying thing with GMA is they would buy the rights of a famous show like ALL ABOUT EVE, LALOLA, etc, and they wont stick to the story anyway. i mean what's the point is you're going to deviate so much? isnt sticking to an established story the whole point of buying a franchise? now they're showing the original lalola and the viewers can see how crappy the local version was. in the case of old movies turned into series like TOTOY BATO, KAMANDAG, etc... they again throw away the old story and rip off other movies. if i am not mistaken, kamandag was ripping off tobey maguire's spiderman movies.