Friday, July 21, 2006

Captain Barbell (the GMA TV Series)

It was a MIRACLE that I wasnt able to have this article in my BLOG the same time I sent it in the local newspaper which bears my film review column. I mustve forgotten.
ANYWAY, this article has recently caused a little controversy in the newspaper that I write in, because according to our editor, the GMA Executives were able to get a copy of my review and mandated to NOT advertise in our newspaper anymore because of this article.
Sure, it may have been an SPIKY opinion. But an OPINION nonetheless. It may be my fault to the PAPER, but NOT my fault to my opinion. If I'll be fired, well I really have no right to complain.
I have to say this, though: our local entertainment business remains childish and unprogressive because they never seem to take criticism lightly. They arrogantly ignore to hear THEIR faults instead of learning from them.
I had admired the GMA Network for their many breakthroughs. Funny, I criticize ONE of their lousy shows and I get to realize that theyre not as mature as they seem to be.

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's... A DUDE IN A GOLD-COLORED NINJA TURTLE COSTUME!

By Reymundo Salao

A year ago, GMA Network launched what has become one of the most successful TV series in Philippine entertainment and revolutionized the sci-fi fantasy genre in our local film & television industry; ENCANTADIA. It was a TV series that was very successful, not only because it had big special effects and elegant costumes, but also because it took the sci-fi fantasy genre seriously; in a nutshell, it was one of the few projects that really had originality.
(REMEMBER when I GLORIFIED Encantadia with this article?--CLICK TO LINK)

With the success of that series, I would’ve thought that greater things would come, that we should only expect things to get better. For more than two weeks ago, the series CAPTAIN BARBELL was launched, a TV series that proved only one thing: I was wrong. CB (Captain Barbell) was a step far behind and back down the lines of decent entertainment quality and a clear devolution back into being a lower form of entertainment. Captain Barbell suffers from a gross lack of originality.

First & foremost, the original Capt. Barbell already has an existing storyline which is already a very smart, very witty, and very interesting storyline of a skinny kid known as "Tengteng" who, whenever he lifts the mystic barbell given to him by a strange hermit, transforms into the muscle-bound hero known as Capt. Barbell. Only a few of the elements from the original storyline created by Mars Ravelo were altered and improved in the adaptation of the Bob Soler-Dolphy and Herbert Bautista-Edu Manzano movies of Captain Barbell. Among them was a funny emphasis on Tengteng's love interest, who, before knowing of Captain Barbell, was still in love with Tengteng, but when she met Capt. Barbell, immediately diverted her attention onto the musclebound hero. In addition, there is the dramatic contrast of Tengteng's skinny features with his alter-ego, the musclebound, evil-crushing Capt. Barbell.

I am tempted to imagine that there is some kind of influence that has put Richard Gutierez on both roles because, if he plays only one role of either Tengteng or Capt. Barbell, he would have a very minor screen time. And of course, he wouldn’t take a minor role. Even though, in my opinion, the Imaw the puppet in Encantadia is a better actor than he is. In this act of actor-worship committed by the producers of the show, they have destroyed the one element that has made Capt. Barbell unique among any other local superheroes, also eliminated the chances to make great storylines out of this comedic scenario that CB has with his skinny alter-ego Teng-teng.

In furtherance of what appears to be superstar-worship on the part of the producers, their version of Teng-teng is named in a seemingly pop idol nickname "Teng" whose only distinct feature apart from his Capt Barbell persona is a silly little facial scar. It borderlines itself to hilarious comedy that what hides another's secret identity is a lack of cosmetics that will take off facial blemishes. Maybe it is superstar-worship at work that the scar is made so small and the Teng-“look" so non-pathetic that it still qualifies as “teen flick protagonist look”. I can imagine the actor telling the producers "Please, don’t make me too ugly... I still want to look gwapo"

If the producers only had some manner of artistic sense and less of that stereotype tacky-minded and narrow-minded factor, they should’ve cast people who indeed fit the roles of Tengteng and Captain Barbell; Maybe some skinny comedian like Pekto or Rainier Castillo for Tengteng, and they should’ve had auditions for bodybuilders who are fitting enough for the role and have the talent to act.

A single afternoon episode of CONDORILLA has MORE originality than the entire 2 or more weeks of the Capt. Barbell series since its start, up till the present episode. Each and every detail of the characters and incidents in the Captain Barbell series has been unmistakably similar to the sequences in the Superman movies (both in Smallville and in Superman the movie). Unmistakably similar to a point that it would be unbelieveable to qualify it as something coincidental. The gross lack of originality that surrounds this project is so severe that one would jump to the conclusion that the show's pool of writers are a bunch of talentless hacks. Even the character's names are hilariously un-original; In the show, Cabtain Barbell's parents are named Capt. B and his wife, Mrs. B. Their enemy is simply known as General. And his henchman that killed Capt. B is Commander X (to make things worse, his appearance & costume design looks exactly like Peque Gallaga's "Batang X" which makes the character a grown-up version of Batang X). Are their writers so untalented that they can’t even give decent believable character names? They all sound like characters from a laundry soap commercial.

Captain Barbell is laced with numerous ridiculous sequences too. Some of the heroes would face off against Robotic foot soldiers clearly armed with laser rifles yet, when they fight each other, they often end up resorting to mere fisticuff & martial arts.

Instead of utilizing what already is an established and original storyline of a Pinoy superhero, the producers of the show tarnished that Pinoy superhero reputation by making their own version, which is a mere copycat of the obviously popular Superman storyline.

Before Superman’s parents would die, they sent their son to Earth via a space pod; before CB’s parents died, they sent their son to present-day Earth via Time pod. Even though time pods travel through time, we see the time pod on the CB show zooming like a falling meteor, apparently traveling from outer space instead of from another time dimension.

The Captain Barbell TV series insults the reputation of the Filipino talent in the field of TV & movies. Instead of cleaning the reputation, it makes the local industry look worse. Sure, the masses may love it; their ratings may soar; but history will remember it to be an embarrassing project that makes the local industry look bad. These big production and network companies have the power to influence the taste of the masses. Look at ENCANTADIA. It was smart, refreshing and inventive, and it did not stop the masses from loving it.

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