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End of the line

Kathleen A. Llemit



The Sang’gres are back. The four popular diwata (fairy) sisters are back on the Philippines’ primetime slot. Earlier this week, Pirena, Amihan, Alena and Danaya appeared in the primetime show Victor Magtanggol.

A week prior to the appearance of the popular fictional characters of the well-loved Encantadia franchise — played by Glaiza de Castro, Kylie Padilla, Gabbi Garcia and Sanya Lopez in the 2016 “requel” (retelling and sequel) —excitement built up by GMA led to the hype on social media.

The sisters from the enchanted world are going to pay a visit to the realm of Victor Magtanggol (played by Alden Richards). The hero of the show was seen to be in trouble and needed helping hands in his ongoing battle against troublemakers Loki and Modi, played by John Estrada and Pancho Magno, respectively.

The Encantadia fans’ excitement is understandable. The show was a hit when it was first introduced in 2005 and when the series was made in 2016. The series left a cliffhanger in its last episode aired in 2017. Naturally, the clamor came for a continuing season or saga.

Their reappearance may not necessitate a continuation of their story but their presence has rekindled that clamor. Perhaps GMA is sending a message to its viewers that the enchanted world will make a comeback sooner than expected.

Shared universes are the rage these days, thanks to Marvel which introduced the concept with its Marvel Cinematic Universe starting with the first Iron Man movie in 2008. It’s the same for TV, like Netflix shows that feature heroines of the Marvel universe like Jessica Jones and Luke Cage.

On another note, though, why introduce the four Sang’gres among all the characters that show creators could have inserted into their timeline? Are they vital in the storyline that is heavily inspired by the Nordic mythology? Is this their answer to questions or doubts about the authenticity of the show? Is this a ploy to boost their ratings?

THE four Sang’gres are back.

The battle for the timeslot of the show is particularly heavily contested because it sets the tempo for the night primetime ratings.

FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano has been airing for three years. For one year, the Encantadia requel battled head-to-head with Cardo Dalisay and his expanding universe. Currently, Victor Magtanggol is trying to win over audiences in his ‘battle’ with Cardo Dalisay.

Three years is a feat but from the looks of Ang Probinsyano, it has become redundant, moving in circles.

The only thing that makes it a curious watch is the growing list of guest stars appearing on the show. It has become a comeback vehicle of bygone/troubled stars. Case in point, Lito Lapid, Mark Lapid, CJ Ramos, Mystica, Rhed Bustamante and so on. There’s even a meme where Coco Martin, who plays Cardo, is depicted as the one who should have been appointed as the new secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development since he loves extending help to people in need. Coco Martin does not only appear in a leading role but also directs and executive produces the show.

COCO Martin acts, directs and produces Ang Probinsyano.

It’s not bad per se; in fact, it’s commendable. But they should have known when to stop. Stretching a show like this often suffers from rehashed conflicts.

When one looks at the bigger picture, perhaps it’s about time that TV show producers introduced seasons just like what other countries are doing. This format does not only give directors and scriptwriters the leeway to put out a well-thought-out and cohesive story but also does not shortchange their viewers.

They may argue that their viewers have become accustomed to such a format, but it will only be a matter of time before their target viewers will discover how much they’re missing out in terms of content quality. Lest these show runners forget, everyone who has internet can now stream shows anytime and anywhere. Most of these shows are seasonal or episodic in format, especially those produced in the US and South Korea.

Seasonal, episodic shows are preferred because these often resolve a conflict in one sitting. If these end with open-ended or cliffhangers, they are made so with the intention of coming back for another season. This way, there’s no burnout. Show runners and viewers alike can take time to digest what transpired within the show and come back in a new show. Show runners tie loose ends, if there are any, while viewers will be thrilled anew.

Ang Probinsyano could have been the perfect story to introduce seasons, with the necessary breaks, and not a continuing one that promotes a “new season” by introducing new characters and story arcs.

It could have been the Philippines’ first crime-thriller or police procedural with Cardo Dalisay solving one case after another, but also dealing with the show’s main conflict, which is the connivance between Cabrera (Edu Manzano) and Hipolito (John Arcilla). The Vendetta group, which is composed of all the characters offended by the schemes of Cabrera and Hipolito throughout the three years of the show’s run, could have been a recurring plot device. Of course, all members do not have to appear in one episode at all times. Save the ensemble for the culmination of the main arc of Ang Probinsyano.

Give it a thought, Victor Magtanggol and Ang Probinsyano.

Otherwise, perhaps it’s time to hang up the cape.

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