Why 'Mari Mar' works
By KAYE VILLAGOMEZ
There seems to be nothing new on TV these days except for recent noontime clashes that combined network war and reality TV. But save for that, we have the competing time slots practically presenting the same brand of entertainment, clashing networks on the side, controversial characters acting like heathen coals to an otherwise quiet fire that is the battle of the big channels.
After browsing through scandals on youtube.com and growing impatient on requests for sample episodes of "Marimar" from GMA7, we tried scanning uploaded episodes of the remake series and to our surprise, the youtube has nearly uninterrupted and almost complete episodes of the former Mexican telenovela that swept the country to nightly TV captivity years ago on RPN9.
Those who have been following "Mari Mar," the story of the innocent, fish-out-of-water (or in Mari Mar’s case fish-out-of-the-ocean) character know that she (Marian Rivera) is the central character used by Sergio Santibañez (Dingdong Dantes) to get back at his ex-girlfriend Angelika (Katrina Halili) who married his father Renato (Richard Gomez) for wealth’s sake.
While every other character in "Mari Mar" has his or her own self–indulgent intentions, good or not—even Mari Mar’s lola Cruz (Caridad Sanchez) and lolo Pancho (Leo Martinez) who both wanted Marimar to themselves initially—here is a she — protagonist with a heart too pure, a face too beautiful and a body too hot, she deserves to rule an island all to her own.
Like all other good beings and things in the world, she becomes corrupted because of love; love for the first gorgeous man she laid her eyes on. She fell hard on first sight that her pupils nearly took shapes of a drawn heart (which Marian so convincingly portrays).
But like all innocence corrupted, Mari Mar is thrown into a self-defining adventure in the presence of the aforementioned characters. While she is confined within the premises of the life-changing, resort-mansion as Sergio’s wife, Mari Mar discovers the world, for real this time: One that’s far from the free-wheeling sink then swim daily hunts for talangka she painstakingly did each day for her lolo and lola until coming-of-age-struck like lightning against a peaceful child’s slumber.
For the rest of the story, try to make it on time to see the pace of the plot breeze past like the TV commercials bidding for spots. Or trust youtube friends like PinkEspaniola and cutiemikee for nearly unabridged updates.
THE TRUTH IS…
Marimar is entertaining. At a time when TV is nearly losing face and shape to reality shows of all forms and same-old talk show and power drifts, here is a revival show that actually works despite it being a remake.
To faithful fans of the Mexican telenovela, here is a tasteful try/success. After all, shows like "Betty La Fea" had been given the successful worldwide spin including the Hollywood triumph that is "Ugly Betty," so why not would the Philippines give it a shot?
What works most for "Mari Mar" is how it has essayed, scene after scene, its characters and situations that couldn’t be described but clear-cut telenovela that’s engaging. Even the parts where Marimar, due to her incomparable katangahan, gets clobbered and wasted by the scheming Angelika are funny.
Finally, here is a character you still root for despite being dim-witted and it’s all because she’s so pure at heart and lovable, one could never blame Mari Mar for being too giving and given.
Dingdong Dantes is finally given the role he so fit in, he’s even more believably handsome than the real Sergio (sorry Eduardo Capetillo). A jerk with a conscience, Dingdong’s Sergio (although we still couldn’t place how come he fails to see that Angelika is behind every Mari Mar shame-uproars and bloopers) defines a leading man, one that today’s TV tend to candy-coat recently with special effects. Here is an a****le who can get away with being one because he’s rich and gorgeous and he enjoys exchanging testosterone blades with his equally power–tripping father.
Richard Gomez, as the power-protective Renato is also good with his role. He’s smart and just happened to fall for the blinding Angelika. He hates the guts of his son, who is probably the only person who thinks he is not respect–worthy around the Santibañez household. Although sometimes the word war is overdone between Sergio and Renato, we still choose to suspend disbelief and enjoy the punchlines of having Sergio consistently putting one over his father nonchalantly.
Katrina Halili as Angelika also is a force on the small screen. It’s easy to be kontrabida these days and invite hate fromk viewers but to show the same hurt each time she gets jealous over Sergio and Mari Mar is something else.
CHEMISTRY AND A NEW TV STAR
Another extremely evident factor working towards GMA-7’s favor is the undeniably palpable chemistry between Dingdong and Marian.
Plain and simple: Sparks fly when Dingdong and Marian are together on screen. The bath tub scene and the tequilla sequence proclaim a new legitimate screen tandem we haven’t seen for a while.
Marian is one hot actress. With her beauty and sensuality could, she not be emanating such prowess in acting but guess what? She simply does. She is effective proclaiming herself as a friend to certain sea creatures as she is proclaiming to be a woman in love. A girl and a woman in one character that makes it hard for us to see her as another character other than Mari Mar.
Her supposed innocence betrays the flame inside her, which keeps on getting bigger because of unconditional passion for Sergio. She makes Mari Mar a must–watch because she is bedazzling both physically and acting-wise. How come a young actress this effective was allowed to exist lightly under–wings the afternoon teleseryes and minor roles?
Yes it helped that GMA placed high–premium hype on Marian and that she seemed to fit the requirements of a pawn to get back against a lost Angel Locsin. But all that’s out of the question the moment she appeared as Mari Mar on TV. It is one thing to throw burning coals of publicity on an impending TV debut and pumping the volume to max–mode as far as supposed ‘chemistry’ is concerned; but it’s another thing to see it work and be sustained.
"Mari Mar" just works by being engaging and funny (thanks to the original plot–line that solicits natural viewers’ hoook). And by the trend of the series, it seems sustainable.