22 April 2014

Why I Cannot Make Myself Watch Dyesebel

Sometimes, after the evening news, I channel-hop to see if there is anything on the telly that is worth staying on the couch for. When I am feeling particularly lazy, I wait for a few minutes before reaching out for the remote – and this means taking a peek at ABS-CBN’s primetime series ‘Dyesebel’ to see what the fuss is all about.

Don’t anyone get me wrong. Dyesebel does well in the ratings; or so the network itself says. But while I saw its predecessors ‘Juan dela Cruz’ and ‘Honesto’ through, I knew even when the network was showing the ‘Dyesebel’ teasers that I would be saying ‘pass’ to this one.

For one, the story carries no novelty whatsoever as far as I am concerned. I am old enough to remember the original Mars Ravelo comic booklets that one paid 25 centavos to rent from the sari-sarî store.

Dyesebel was just one of the stories serialised in these booklets; and it always was this sissy sort of story that one read, anyway, to get full value for the 25 centavos that one paid to the sari-sarî store.


Besides, since this is fantasy, there are so many workarounds. Why couldn’t they have thought of giving the mermaids and mermen scaly legs when they are in their undersea fantasy realm? That would have spared them the burden of having to figure out the underwater scenes.
Then there were the black-and-white movies that one watched on television with the household help when it was too hot outside to play during the summer vacation from school. The Dyesebel movies were watchable at the time; but then, I was at least 45 years younger and not so discerning in my choice of entertainment.

Ahwel Paz, co-host of a late-night showbiz talk show on the teleradyo station DZMM, was recently in the States and told his co-host Jobert Sucaldito by phone patch that TFC viewers expressed concern about Dyesebel’s ‘technical quality’ – or lack of. Nonetheless, Paz reported, the series had already built a loyal following even in the United States among expatriate Filipinos living there.

This is not difficult to understand. Indeed, while one cannot expect movie-style special effects even in Hollywood-made television shows, these are still nothing to apologise for especially when compared to Philippine-made productions.

In other words, special effects are something so taken for granted by TFC viewers spoilt for choices in the States; and they would naturally be disappointed in the effects that Dyesebel feebly attempts to impress its audience with.

This is probably the biggest reason why I cannot bring myself to watch Dyesebel. In this day and age of computer graphic animation (CGI), Dyesebel’s effects are simply pathetic. I will always be critical of half-baked projects; and this series is one of those.

I understand that CGI is expensive and takes time to produce. In that case, the show’s producers could have simply trusted the Filipino audience to be intelligent enough to understand that some scenes will be make-believe underwater and left the effects out altogether or kept these at a minimum.

In trying to use effects to simulate being underwater, the show fails miserably. Why the actors need to move their hands back and forth in supposed underwater scenes to make it look like they are swimming is stupid to say the least. In attempting to be realistic, what the producers only succeed in achieving is to make these underwater scenes look comical.

I will be more forgiving if they had preferred to leave it to the audience to synthesise what they see. Personally, my belief is that most people will understand that an undersea world is fantasy, anyway; and will be more appreciative if the undersea scenes are shot sans the cheap effects.

Besides, since this is fantasy, there are so many workarounds. Why couldn’t they have thought of giving the mermaids and mermen scaly legs when they are in their undersea fantasy realm? That would have spared them the burden of having to figure out the underwater scenes.

This evening, I was too lazy to get up for the remote so I stayed for a couple of minutes watching Ann Curtis talking to a couple of animated creatures. I could not stay for longer than the two minutes. I just felt that my intelligence was being insulted by the cheaply made pink talking squid and its green companion.

Now why was Ann Curtis’ hair dry? Ever noticed how her hair is wet in the scenes shot on beaches on location; and dry when she is supposedly underwater? Somebody explain this to me!

Oh well! To be fair, the show does well in the ratings game and it will appeal a lot more to a younger audience. I just feel disappointed that ABS-CBN, after having gone through the trouble of obtaining rights to Ravelo’s comic book characters, would eventually scrimp on production and not do justice to one of Ravelo’s most iconic characters.

As for me, waiting for the next watchable teleserye!

Acknowledgment: Top photo from Dyesebel teaser on YouTube.





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