Thursday, July 3, 2008

EPISODE 1 June 30, 2008

"May nakilala na ba kayong babae na buong buhay nya kinutya at pinagtawanan? Isang babae na may simpleng pangarap? Isang babae na nagmahal ng lubos-lubos? Isang babae na umasa na sa wakas mababago na rin ang takbo ng kanyang kapalaran ngunit nabigo? Isang babae na napagod lumaban at gusto nang sumuko? Isang babae na gusto nang magpakamatay dahil sa pag-ibig? Ako ang babaeng yun at ito ang malungkot kong buhay."
--- Kim Sam Soon Buot

ENGLISH TRANSLATION:

"Have you ever met a woman who was ridiculed and laughed at her entire life? A woman with a simple dream? A woman who loved with all her heart? A woman who faithfully believed that her fate will be better, but got disappointed? A woman who got tired of fighting and wants to quit instead? A woman who wants to die because of love? I am that woman and this is the story of my sad existence."
--- Kim Sam Soon Buot





+500 points for the opening scene
Woaah! Ako Si Kim Samsoon's opening scene got me!
I told myself I would wait for the first week before I can decide if I have the heart to follow this series. I had no idea that I would like it on it's first 20 seconds! I LOVE Samsoon's narration as the opening scene. First-person narration had always been my weakness. That's one of the (many) factors why I was able to easily relate to MNIKSS because Sam Soon always have heart-warming narrations, though not in the opening scene. I'm glad that they retained this particular element from the original and even used it to their advantage and created a good opening scene out of it.

+500 points for the adaptation efforts
Most of the things that happened in ASKSS's pilot episode was non-existent in MNIKSS. And I believe that they are heading towards this direction as the series goes along. I cannot judge the effectiveness of these changes as early as now, but plus points for the effort of going over and beyond viewer's initial expectations.

+20 points for Samsoon's name
I have always wondered how they are going to work this out in Philippine setting. In the original series, the reason why she was named Kim Sam Soon was not explained until latter episodes. But even if it was not explained yet, in Korea, if they hear Sam Soon they would know immediately that it's a funny and an old-fashioned name (Just like how a normal Filipino would react to Matutina, Aruray or Procopia in today's time without the need for an explanation). On the other hand, if you meet a Filipino named Kim Samsoon, you'll simply consider it as a unique name and your initial reaction is wonder why was she named like that.
I bet they don't have a choice but to spend a short boring moment to let Kim Samsoon explain why she was named as such. But I like what they came up with. She said it is a combination of 3 names: Her gradmother's - Kimberly, her father's - Samuel, and her mother's - Sonia. Thus giving us Kim Samsoon (well, it should be Kim Samson then, BUT the midwife who attended to her mother while she's giving birth is a Bisaya, thus, with her strong accent, instead of -son, it became -soon). I don't find this realistic enough, but it was indeed creative. How many Filipinos suffered from weird sounding names given by their parents who loves combining the names of their entire clan?

Samsoon and Harvey's backstory
I can't put a point for this part because I don't know how this backstory will affect the next episodes. This was only presented in the original as a quick flashback and through dialogue/conversation clues in some episodes.
I honestly find this a bit boring because more than half of the pilot episode was used to tell their "lovestory". And I don't feel anything while watching it because I already know that Harvey is a jerk. So I just kept on watching, hoping the story will move forward faster.
But I think, in a way, it was good to establish Samsoon's youthful and innocent view towards love. I like how they let us see Samsoon's feet being swept away by Harvey and let us witness how she was made to believe that she was someone special to him. Thus creating a foundation for future rage, heartbreaks and fears of our dear Samsoon.


There's one thing I hate though. Samsoon staying a virgin. Seems like Philippine television is still not daring enough to discuss sex and sexuality on primetime television. In the original series, Samsoon lost her virginity to Harvey. MNIKSS was brave enough to be direct about issues on sexuality, setting it apart from their contemporary Korean Drama Series. Too bad, one needs to fully understand Korean language to be able to appreciate these little discussions in MNIKSS since the Tagalog dubbed and the English fansubs were both, should I say, "censored" in a way. I guess Philippine television is not yet ready for this. I wonder when we'll be ready. It's the reality, isn't it? Too bad this means we may have to loose some good scenes from the original.

-100 for the slapsticks comedy
I know MNIKSS have the tendency to be slapsticks as well, but they were able to pull it off with their good actors and it's not annoying because it's very minimal. ASKSS's pilot episode seems to have too many slapsticks. Good thing though, the actors are all talented and funny in their own way as well, so even if it has a tendency of being slapsticks and I'm on the verge of getting annoyed, I can still laugh along.
I hope they will be more careful with their comedy scenes in the future. They have good comedians and I know they can be funny even without doing slapsticks.

+50 points for Jennica Garcia.
Young stars don't amuse me - ever! I can easily fall for either a child actor or a tenured and mature veteran actor, but not teen stars. I just don't feel the sincerity in their acting. I am easily distracted by their tendency to make an effort to look cute. Or if I saw someone with acting potentials, I always feel that something is lacking somehow. I just have to say this. This girl is a revelation for me. She is different. I am not expecting she'll have this strong chemistry with the Buot family right from the start. Oh, by simply looking at her, one can easily sense that she has innate talents, thanks to her talented mom Jean Garcia.

+100 points for the suicide methods execution
It was short yet it was effective. It still makes me laugh every time I remember that scene. And this is something fresh in Philippine drama series. I was not expecting something like this as early as now. It also gave me a sort of an assurance that Sam Soon's creative and weird imagination will still be present in ASKSS. I will be expecting for more then.

Cyrus Driving?
Ok. So, why was Cryus driving? I'm concerned because major emotional scenes were intertwined with Cyrus' refusal to drive at the first half of the series. Though my reaction is on the negative side, I don't want to speak too soon. I'll just wait and see how the story will turn to in the future.

Samsoon's weird attitude?
This is also something that is too early to determine. What I was able to see only was the nice, childish, gluttonous, silly and lunatic Samsoon. I'm still looking for the strong willed, feisty, sensible, powerful woman I know Samsoon to be.
But, yes, this is just the first episode. And consists mostly of flashback. There's still a lot of episodes to show the Samsoon that I am looking for.

-700 points for Samsoon's looks.
I'd be brutally frank. She looks ridiculous!
At least on the opening scene and wedding sequences.


Whose girl want would like to get married to the first and only guy that made her feel special in an "Ukay-ukay" (thrift/second-hand) dress and wearing a make-up fit only for clowns? Definitely not the Sam Soon I know. She, whose only wish is to find the guy who will love her and who wouldn't hurt her.
If this is their way of making it funny, I'm sorry but it's in the borderline of being scary.
I think they are trying to match Sam Soon's look on the first episode. And they went OVERBOARD. Sam Soon's teary-eyed-mascara-stained-face may look ridiculous, but NOT SCARY!
I hope this will be the first and last time they will be doing this to Samsoon. Too bad it was on the pilot episode and THE opening scene for that matter.

fat suit vs gaining 18lbs
I was never happy about this fat suit thing. Korean actress Kim Sun Ah gained a lot of respect and admiration for her bravery of gaining an extra 18lbs just to be able to give justice to the role given to her (mind you she was a model and most of the time doing sexy roles before MNIKSS).
I was not really expecting Regine Velasquez to do the same thing. It could have been better if she did, but thinking about the differences between Korean and Philippine entertainment industry it's quite unseemly.
In Korea, if an actor is doing a Drama, most likely he/she won't be doing anything else. No movies, no other tv shows (aside from limited guest appearances to promote the drama) and no commercials even. Commercials will come once the drama ends. But here, Regine is expected to be seen on two weekly musical/variety shows, promote a movie, held a concert/show (in Manila, provinces or abroad) and have guest appearances everywhere.

So, why don't we just leave the fat suit behind and just be herself? She's on the chubby side anyway and almost near Kim Sun Ah's size when she was doing MNIKSS.
And that's where cultural differences enter the picture. It was mentioned that here in the Philippines, we consider Sam Soon as "just fine". Not thin nor sexy, not too fat either. Just fine. But in Korea, she looks really fat and unacceptable. I don't want to fully believe it until I read somewhere a comment about ABS-CBN's "My Girl" remake in a Korean website. A Korean visitor posted "The actress (referring to Kim Chiu) in My Girl looks fat". What? Whose fat? Kim Chiu? Well, maybe because of the shape of her face. But I will never ever describe Kim Chiu as fat. And at that moment, I think I understood the cultural differences they are talking about. I'm not generalizing, but most probably majority of Koreans feel that way towards physical appearances. Sam Soon then, must be really a fat woman.
I'm just thankful that the fatsuit they used is not so big. Just a bit sad because there are some scenes that can be executed better without the fatsuit.

and the wig...
I know she don't know yet that she'll be doing ASKSS before she cut her hair, but I hated the fact that she did. It would have been better if she is not using any wig.
Kim Sun Ah's hair is long and straight. They had it curled during the first 11 episodes and had it straightened on the last 5 episodes.
I just wish that Regine's hair will grow fast, in time for the moment Samsoon will have her hair rebonded so we can say goodbye to the wig.

oh, and one more thing... eye-make-up
I'm just a little disturbed about Regine's eye make-up. I always hate it if actors are wearing eye make-up for scenes at home, while washing the dishes, doing the laundry and most of all - sleeping (including 'going to sleep', 'can't sleep' and 'just woke-up' scenes). One of the things that made me fall in love with Kim Sun Ah is her confidence to be seen on television with no make-up at all. I think there were just 3-4 scenes she was wearing LIGHT make-up in MNIKSS, of course with the exception of Episode 1.
Unfortunately Regine was not as blessed as Sun Ah in terms of physical appearance (Regine looks fine, but I know she wouldn't look good without eye make-up). Kim Sun Ah may not be your Ms. Korea beauty, yet she have this certain charm that she can get away without make-up and still manages to look cute and lovely.

I'm sad that with all those things that need to be considered, this series already lost the biggest factor of the MNIKSS's success. A sincere and realistic portrayal of the main character Kim Sam Soon. Kim Sun Ah radiates on-screen and moves and talks and breathes as if you can almost touch Kim Sam Soon through your television screen.

I just like to make myself clear. I don't have any intentions of criticizing Regine Velasquez' looks. I'm not that type of person (since I am not so blessed in that department either). I don't have any intentions of comparing the 2 actresses as well since I know that they are 2 different individuals. I'm simply making a comparison regarding their advantages and disadvantages for bringing out the best in the most endearing character Sam Soon.

+1000 points for Regine's acting
But you can disregard everything I said above about Samsoon's looks - thanks to Regine's excellent acting.


She was able to let me get over the clown face and focus on her twinging heart. I believe in Regine's acting talents but I never expected her to be this good in both comedy and drama scenes. Although I will never consider any other actress as Sam Soon aside from Kim Sun Ah, episode 1 of ASKSS makes me more convinced that Regine fits the role of the Pinay Samsoon. She just needs to be a bit careful in her comedy scenes, since sometimes she's in the borderline of being over acting.

Sun Ah and Regine were both lucky to be able to portray Sam Soon. She's one heck of a character and they have the opportunity to showcase both comedic and dramatic talents.

Kim Sun Ah is a natural comedienne, but it was never noticed by Korea until MNIKSS. Although she always say that Sam Soon is very different from her own personality, you can see traces of Sam Soon in Sun Ah (and vice versa) the more you watch her (and having a difficulty lately to detach Sam Soon from her new role in her new drama).

I have seen Regine through the years, and by following the promo of ASKSS lately, I've noticed that she is a natural comedienne as well. But still I've never imagined her doing the things she's doing in this series. It's totally a different Regine here, without the glamour and elegance of the Asia's Songbird.




+100 points for Samsoon-Harvey break-up scene
Although the premise and story of the break-up is a bit different from the original, I love how they were able to capture the feeling of Samsoon in the Samsoon-Harvey break-up scene. It's a combination of the hotel lobby scene and Sam Soon's crying scene inside the men's restroom. Even if she looks funny (and ridiculously scary) with her smudging make-up you can still feel her pain.
I'm still unsure about Harvey's character. He seemed to be a nicer guy than the original jerk who knows nothing but womanizing. Again, I still have to wait for more episodes to see Harvey's characterization.


Ending
+10 points for the cuteness
-10 points for 'Maybe It's You'

Yes, the ending was cute and thrilling. It was definitely nice seeing our Samsoon and Cyrus meet for the first time. What I do not like was the use of 'Maybe It's You' as the background music for this fateful meeting. Yes, it is sweet and I love the song so much. But it seems very giveaway to the audience that there will be a love story between Cyrus and Samsoon. Given that 100% of the viewers know that its a love story between them, our characters don't know that yet. And definitely they don't have feelings for each other at this particular time. In the original, love themes were only introduced and used when they started to feel something special (or strange, I must say) about each other.
Maybe for ASKSS they executed it this way for the sake of a good cliffhanger for the pilot episode - and they were successful in doing that, but it doesn't amuse me that much.


Overall
Episode 1 is JUST OKAY for me. Not bad, but it's not a blast either- not yet.
But that's just fine. Maybe, it's just me. Maybe my expectations were just too high (thanks to the well-made teasers and music video).
And also, when I first watched the original MNIKSS, I did not fell in love immediately on it's first episode.
And I'm still in the process of re-learning how to watch Tagalog drama series. This is the first time I'm going to really follow a Tagalog series in years. I've been so used watching Korean dramas - their episodes are one hour long and no commercial gaps. So I find watching ASKSS a bit awkward. And I find it really short (given that the pilot episode is about 45 minutes already minus the commercials), makes me want to see more.
So, I am looking forward on the next episodes. Episode 2's preview looks promising.

RATINGS: 33.8% vs My Girl 22.6%
(ratings courtesy of: Les Samsoon of RVMM)

OTHER REVIEWS FOR EPISODE 1
AKO SI KIM SAM SOON- Don't let the first few minutes fool ya, we have a winner
by: Ophelia_Kills of PinoyExchange.com

1 comment:

Maica said...

Panalong commentary talaga! :)
Yeah...medyo naging slapstick nga. At may mga issues like sexuality na ayaw matouch (like yung virginity ni SamSoon at yung pag-iba talaga ng character ni Eliza/Il-young...dahil siguro takot kay chairman laguardia) pero overall, entertaining naman siya. Ayoko lang talaga yung school scenes ni Eliza! Walang kuwenta. Pero I like Jennica here...yung mayaman-mahirap thingy...we are so tired over that issue..