THIS appears to be the season for TV shows and films partly or mainly shot abroad. One of the most exotic examples is “Princess and I,” set in a fictional Himalayan country.
With only two episodes telecast so far, the viewer feels captivated by the teleserye’s lovely vistas, so breathtakingly different from other shows’ mundane locales.
In addition to its pristine and achingly lovely views, the show benefits enormously from having had the privilege of shooting inside spectacular palaces and other stately buildings, which makes its “royal” story line eminently believable.
But the generally positive first impression of the show is marred by the fact that despite the movie’s exotic location, many of its actors are tisoy in appearance!
The king is played by Albert Martinez, his arch-nemesis is Gretchen Barretto, and her husband is Christian Vasquez. Many in the supporting cast are also tisoy.
Whatever happened to casting credibility?
Some may opine that the problem isn’t the production’s fault, because due to Filipinos’ refuse-to-die colonial mentality, and their preference for stars who look Western, most of our local stars are fair-skinned and aquiline-nosed.
But wherever the problem may lie, if you can’t cast people who look the part, then don’t do a series about a fictional Asian country with characters who look a different racial type.
There’s more than just physical believability at stake here: each character brings an implied backstory to the program’s mix, and if the impression they give is more Western than Asian, the entire series’ contextual relevance is thrown out of whack.
In any case, as the story develops, we learn that the king and his Filipino queen (Lara Quigaman) have introduced liberal reforms that are welcomed by the grateful populace, but resented by Gretchen’s character, the daughter of the monarch deposed many years earlier by the current king’s father.
With vengeance on her mind, she has the monarchs’ baby kidnapped and brought by a Filipino to the Philippines, where she ends up with an ordinary family. The story line so far lends one to believe that it might take years for the princess to return to her father’s kingdom, which in the interim, has been taken over by Gretchen. There is also the seeming possibility that Gretchen’s son (Enrique Gil), might end up falling in love with the Philippine-raised princess (Kathryn Bernardo).
In the meantime, the princess’ foster mother in Manila (Karen Tinubol) is resentful of the little girl her husband has adopted, so it’s likely that the kid’s growing-up years won’t be ecstatically happy. Well, that’s par for the course for a teleserye heroine, so what else is new?
It’s great though to see the talented Tinubol make a comeback in a meaty role. The new show has enough plus points to retain its viewers and hopefully will present more plot twists as its exotic story continues to unfold.