Friday, December 1, 2006

Good for only a season

"Impressions," TV Times, 24-30 September 1978


Most nights, there is nothing I look forward to watching on television. Nothing really worthwhile, you know, in the way a generation would consider it. And many out there would doubtless purse their lips and sigh: Well, there she goes again.

But it is true, and I have the weekly television schedule in front of me to prove it. There really isn't anything I--again, of a generation, which is perhaps my escape clause--would impatiently wait for, counting the long days of the week to its scheduled airing time.

Oh, yes, there was one, two weeks ago: "Recommendation for Mercy" on True Story Specials. But that was two weeks--or three?--ago. And up to now, I still have to watch the episode on the small screen. I do not dare wait with similar anxiety for "It's Good to be Alive" because anxiety, when held too long, wears out too thin. After a long wait, I may even forget what I am waiting for.

For a whole hour, a friend doted on Return to Fantasy Island, enjoying the lightness and sheer fun of one episode. Even now, whenever he manages to catch the series--which is rarely, thank you--he finds it all so engagingly campy. But if he watched the show week after week, he might not feel so delighted by the grossness and predictability--too pat, too easy. Did you expect something more?

I am taking a vacation from the prime-time programming of one of the local channels--except for its sports series--for one simple reason: the American entertainment menu, to me, is digestible only for a season, and preferably a short one. After a spell, the stuff becomes altogether wearying, a point many young televiewers will doubtless contest.

But each one to his generation: when I was 15, I could not get away from the television set, either. What preserved my sanity was the fact that American television of the time had greater variety. Or was it only in my mind, and only in retrospect? That, by the way, should be a good subject for research and study.

Come to think of it, there are still a few programs I shall not mind watching this week. And hurrah! both of them are of local origin: Fort Santiago and Mga Kuwento ng Pag-ibig. I like Fort Santiago because, as I wrote before, it is about time local television mined the rich deposits that history has left on many a Filipino soul. And how better to stir the hearts of those too young to feel the tug of their historical heritage but through television? The British Broadcasting Co. has pioneered in this effort, and thoroughly excels in it.

It is only the prospect of Hilda Koronel's return to television, even if only in a guest role, that can make me watch Mga Kuwento ng Pag-ibig. Past episodes of the series were not remarkable. Like many a Filipino melodrama, they often swam unerringly through murky sentiment toward extreme bathos. Hilda Koronel should be able to give the two-part "Kabiyak ng Puso" a little tightness, a lot of grace, and imposing perfection. Some performers always come out as playing at acting. Hilda Koronel lives her role.

By the way, I caught only the final sequence of one Kaluskos Musmos episode. When I was a child, I would have been told immediately to stand at the corner of the classroom, or write a sentence a hundred times, if I ever shook the "Rico J. Tree" impertinently at the teacher, just as the children did in that final skit of the show. These days, I understand, schoolchildren are no longer punished by being told to stand at a corner or write a sentence a hundred times. I do not know if, these days, they are also allowed to be impertinent. And in a children's show, at that.

But let me watch Kaluskos Musmos in its entirety next week, and let me see if, indeed, the children's show is a children's show is a children's show.

-- NBT

No title in original published column

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