Monday, October 23, 2006

Sadly erratic

"Impressions," TV Times, 6-12 August 1978


To us, Katha was always erratic. The series simply could not sustain a desired level of quality. One time, it puts on a drama worthy of an award-winning series. At other times, it makes do with episodes forgettable for their mediocrity or unforgettable for their absurdity.

The episode featuring Joonee Gamboa fondling the game cock of his hopes, blowing cigarette smoke into its feathers, and educating Roderick Paulate in the finer aspects of cockfighting, while Lorli Villanueva tends the kitchen sink and dining table, stands out as a beautiful homage to natural, relaxed acting and engrossing storyline, both of which we do not see often on the small screen.

But much earlier--perhaps a whole year earlier--we watched Laurice Guillen suffer through a senseless role. Up to now, we still cannot forget nor forgive the stupidity of it all. A self-sufficient young woman able to support her family must certainly have amassed enough worldly wisdom to realize that no man is worth giving up one's freedom for, literally. Today's woman does not have to go to jail to avenge her humiliation in the hands of a man. There are more ways of making a man pay than by killing him.

We seem to remember one Katha(?) episode where Cherie Gil was sadly miscast. However much she tried to look like a true-blue lavandera, she was too unmistakably genteel, higher-born than her character, convent-school sprung, TV- and cinema-matured, to come across credibly as a half-educated child of the slums. The problem there was that role and performer did not jell. As a result, the story--for all its poignancy--failed to hit the gut.

So, tell me--a friend asks--what you think of the episode "Gabi Na...Nasaan si Junior?" last week on its replay. Plausible, though not developed well enough to be probable. It is hard for us to accept that the wife of a colonel, whether with the AFP or the INP, would be as naive as Perla Bautista was made out to be in the early part of the story, or as gullible as she was later.

Women in the armed forces community who are caught in the mahjong syndrome want to get caught in it; they are not lured into it from an earlier ignorance about its addicting qualities. Much has been written and even more must have been read about the mahjong quorum, in and out of the military, surely making the mahjong-addicted woman a well-known streotype. Now, tell me, is it then believable that the wife of a colonel would not know about mahjong?

Of course, that is neither here nor there--a contention open to query. Anybody who thinks a colonel's wife can believe that she plays mahjong day in and day out only to seek some diversion from her humdrum existence can go on thinking so. Everyone is entitled to his own delusions.

What we do not feel up to leaving open is the last scene: that should have been tightly edited. Dripping as it was with intense emotion, it should not have been allowed to dissipate into soppy sentiment. The super-imposed flashbacks of both father and mother weaken the impact of the scene. And by allowing Perla Bautista to continue her crying spell, the drama is lessened, spread over, thinned out. A scene must be choreographed according to a certain rhythm of movement, like poetry. One word more, one comma less--an extra sob, an added gesture--and the scene falls flat, the chains in the link between screen and viewer easing up, relaxing. The surfeit of anything--whether on stage, film, or TV--often produces a reaction in many viewers other than what a scene intends to draw. Have not a good many sob scenes elicited more guffaw than tears?

How would we have wanted that scene to end? Probably with Perla Bautista's first sob, followed by a freezing of the frame, music, and credits. Certainly not with her last tear. And we would have cut out the last spoken line--the title line, voiced by Ms. Bautista like the dawning line of madness. It is just too much.

-- NBT

No title in original published column

No comments: