Eventful start for medical drama series
GMA News Channel’s “relevant” drama series, “Bayan Ko” by Adolf Alix Jr., won plaudits some seasons ago for its incisive view of political injustice and corruption. It was followed by “Titser,” a less incisive depiction of teachers’ difficult prospects.
Now comes the channel’s third “significant” drama series, “Sa Puso ni Dok,” again with Alix in charge, zeroing in on the problems besetting the country’s public hospitals. Will it turn out to be as incisive and acclaimed as “Bayan Ko?”
Could be. We caught the first telecast of the new show last Sunday, Aug. 24, and found it an exceptionally “eventful” series opener.
It focused mostly on the character played by Bela Padilla, a new doctor on the very first day of her posting at a public hospital in the province, where a more experienced doctor, portrayed by Dennis Trillo, also works.
He’s gotten used to the poorly funded hospital’s severe limitations, but Bela is shocked to encounter them—particularly when, on her very first day, there’s a big bus accident and she has to rescue so many severely wounded victims!
She also gets on the wrong side of the hospital director (Menggie Cobarrubias), so it’s definitely a bad-hair day for her!
Given the bus accident and other major staging considerations, Alix’s handling of the premiere episode impresses, because he’s able to clearly focus on many different parts of the teeming ensemble action at the accident site, and later at the hospital.
This is definitely easier said than done, but the director is able to rise up to the daunting challenge, partly because he’s taken pains to cast good players in key cameo roles, like a woman about to give birth, an indolent nurse completely lacking in involvement and commitment, a hostage-taker, a grieving relative, etc.
Some other directors could have taken the easy way out by presenting these events and characters in a “generically” hectic blur, but they’re insightfully limned here, so the long accident sequences are able to build up to an involving dramatic peak.
Of course, the opening telecast can be criticized for being too eventful, with far too many terrible things happening on the new doctor’s “baptism of fire.” But, they do make for one heck of a premiere telecast for the new show.
Another plus is the feisty “chemistry” between the series’ two leads, Dennis and Bela, who get on each other’s nerves before they find things about each other to, ah, really like.
Best of all, the new series is able to dramatize the public health system’s many problems in a dramatically natural manner, without resorting to the usual “lecture” or “captions” approach.
Aside from the series’ leads, Menggie Cobarrubias makes for an effectively “textured” resident curmudgeon and representative of the system’s pervasively negative attitudes and practices.
So, we look forward to the series’ weekly installments, and hope that the success of its pilot telecast won’t lull the production into taking things easier and lazier from here on in. The show’s central conflict and theme are too important to smugly take for granted!