I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

Something smells fishy

I truly wanted to give Dyesebel a chance. All day, I obsessed about the damned thing; couldn’t wait for it to come on. And when it finally did, here’s how it happened.

First of all, Jean Garcia – the storyteller apparently – started out as a mermaid. Then, for some unspecified reason, she’s floating belly-up right where Wendell something-or-other can find her. Besotted hero jumps into the water and rescues an unconscious Garcia. Next thing you know, he’s carrying her into his implausibly palatial home and she has legs! WTF?!

A few hours (can’t have been days) later, she wakes up and is promptly diagnosed by the small town’s general practitioner as having selective amnesia because she can’t remember who she is and how she ended up where she did. Wow. Imagine that. Leaving aside for the moment the probability that a GP with only a few hours work could actually come up with such a definitive diagnosis, I have to wonder what the writers would consider total amnesia (by definition, selective amnesia refers to the inability to remember only the general circumstances of a trauma, but not the details. Garcia’s character didn’t even know who she was, except for her name. Maybe that’s why they called it selective, rather than total. Cute. But wrong.)?

And then they get married. Much against the will of hero-boy’s hysterical mother and even more hysterical admirer (can’t say Andrea del Rosario was hero-boy’s girlfriend; she was more Mama’s pick than anything else) of course. One day, while walking around the grounds of her husband’s parent’s home, she looks out to see and sees a bewildered looking Lotlot de Leon – a mermaid, judging from her ridiculous Dinagyang headdress.

The she gets into a fight with Mum-in-law and hies off to the sea on a canoe. While bemoaning her fate and basically wallowing in self-pity, de Leon pops up out of the water – where ironically, she seems to be dog paddling – and tells her to scoot because the enemy is coming. And soon, the enemy does come and it’s a CG set of octopus tentacles. Garcia dives off the boat and the boat is pulled down into the water; cue the rescue by hero-boy/husband.

The trauma makes her faint. She wakes up later and the same GP who declared her an amnesiac deadpans the announcement that she’s preggers. Whee.

While pregs, she fixates on a calendar with a picture of a mermaid which, in a bit of metaficition, is named Dyesebel. Wow, right? So friggin symmetrical. Anyway, she goes to term and as she’s giving birth, the earth is literally rocked. Earthquakes ensue, and out pops a baby with a fish-tail. The docs are screaming and running away (no videos were taken and no one was laughing, except me), and Mom and Pop lovingly cradle their newborn tadpole and it’s wagging tail. Oh and – surprise! – Mom names her fry Dyesebel, from the calendar.

Ok, so the storytelling is pretty much par for the course for Philippine TV. Sad though, that the whole thing seemed somehow dumbed down. I mean, Harry Potter is for kids, but even that had a whole lot more coherence in the storytelling – and a fair amount of internal logic. So I guess, what this means is that Dyesebel wasn’t really designed as a serious storytelling endeavor, but as a mere vehicle for more Marian Rivera skin, Dingdong Dantes abs, and the whole rigamarole of things that make certain types of people squeal and giggle.

But I can accept that. I mean I ‘m disappointed, but I really shouldn’t be surprised. But that isn’t even my gripe. I mean, maybe part of it is my fault because I totally hyped it up in my head, but a lot of the concretization of the mythos totally fell flat as a flounder.

First of all, there were those Dinagyang headresses I was talking about earlier. You’d have to wonder at the hydrodynamics of those things (yes, rod, science in fantasy? LOL. Absolutely.). And then there’s the characterization of mermaids as recklessly curious folk, poking their heads out without the slightest shred of cover, even waving at people who see them. Riiiight.

Then there’s the preview scenes of the merfolk cities. Those things had violet mushroom looking things (actually resembling an upturned pingpong ball cut in half) with zigzag trunks (all 2-d and sharp corners); and Rolie-Polie Olie houses. WTF was that?!

The way I see it, if you’re gonna be content with a shoddy story, you might as well pump up the eye-candy factor. As it turns out, there was only one scene worth watching – a CG rip off of a scene from some underwater cartoon where the camera is looking up at the sunlight filtering through the water, while silhouettes of merfolk go swimming past. That one looked cool but still way too amateurish. Surprising after all the hoopla about Filipino animators working on anime; with all its money, you’d think GMA7 could have at least sprung for at least a coupla those talents.

Oh well. Yet another disappointment from Philippine television.


Filed under: musings, pop-culture, science, television, vacuity, , , ,

9 Responses

  1. cafemelrose says:

    As I was reading this post, one word kept creeping up in my mind and that was, “Exactly.” I totally agree. The show is too hyped up and I couldn’t even stand to watch the 1st episode. I’d love to tell you all my thoughts, but I’m afraid I might just overload your comment box. I have my thoughts posted on my site.

    I’ll definitely ping back here though!

  2. […] edit: I thought I was the only one thinking the same way… guess not. […]

  3. rom says:

    cafemelrose: welcome to the smoking room! i’m glad someone agrees with me on this! 🙂

  4. shiro says:

    GMA always overhypes its shows. only the phenomenally stupid buy into the show for the entire run. the curious essentially help the netwokr brag about how on this day they beat their rival… yaddayaddayadda.

    the lack of imagination is everywhere in this country.

  5. rom says:

    shiro: so i guess that makes three of us, eh? you, cafemelrose, and me. Whee.

  6. shiro says:

    hai hai luv, it’s GMA’s way of cost-cutting. they scrimp on the production and overspend on the self-promotion.

    it’s cheap and insulting.

    but the audiences eat it up.

  7. irish says:

    well,everybody is entitled to his/her own opinion. I respect the opinion of the people who lamented negative about dyesebel but i totally disagree with you guyz… there is something with dyesebel that it attracts the common Tao and so be it.. i salute GMA 7 for a job well done! keep it up.

  8. rom says:

    irish: welcome to the smoking room! glad someone is standing up for dyesebel. 😀

  9. niki says:

    Yay for shows that help people grow dumbe– eer, help Filipinos unwind and forget the worries of the world!1!

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