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Angelic problem-solver on a mission

/ 04:17 AM May 08, 2015

The first week of telecasts of “Nathaniel” clearly outlined the new teleserye’s emerging strengths and weaknesses: On the uptick, the show’s “inspirational” factor is strong, with its resident “angel on a mission” character helping an impressive number of confused and conflicted people.

They included an honest cop (Benjie Paras) who’s regarded as a loser by his colleagues; a young couple (Nathaniel’s parents played by Gerald Anderson and Shaina Magdayao) shattered by the death of their baby; a wealthy but unfeeling CEO (Coney Reyes); a bankrupt, suicidal senior citizen (Dante Rivero); hooligans who abduct defenseless children—etc. Thus, the new series comes across as an “eventful” show, and that’s all to the good.

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On the other hand, the angel’s solutions to the dire problems he’s tasked to solve or mitigate are far too facile to be believed. He has the ability to touch even evil people’s hardened hearts, but this “miraculous” bent kicks in too automatically for viewers to empathize with the mini-dramas at hand, due to their excessively pat and predictable denouements.

We know that Nathaniel is an angel and thus has other-worldly “powers,” but dramas have to be “humanly” contextualized in order for viewers to learn realistic life lessons that they can apply to their own problematic relationships and realities.

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The resident angelic problem-solver in “Nathaniel” is exceedingly well-intentioned, but his “easy-beezy” solutions are deficient on the empathy and “real learning” levels, so this problem has to be quickly addressed and rectified. Otherwise, the new show will be long on laudable intentions, but woefully short when it comes to believable and “accessible” solutions.

As for the performances in the new series, we’re glad that gifted veterans like Reyes and Rivero are on hand, because they give the production thespic “weight” and substance, by way of their textured and felt portrayals.

On the other hand, Anderson and Magdayao, as Nathaniel’s grieving parents, turn in performances that are merely proficient, lacking in the genuine “edge” and “bite” that would have made their tragic lot in life truly impinge on viewers’ empathetic feelings.

In particular, Anderson opts to go on predictably “sullen” and “temperamental” thespic mode, which limits the emotive impact of his portrayal. Instructively, this consistently surly approach contributes a lot to his character’s own woes, because his uncontrolled “road rage” is the major factor that results in the death of his newborn child.

Change of heart

Yes, the tragic death is “needed” to make Nathaniel an angel, but his angry father’s rash reactions turn viewers off. We presume that his “character arc” will lead to an eventful change of heart, but the transformation could be difficult for Anderson to pull off, when it’s finally needed.

What about Marco Masa, the new child actor cast as Nathaniel? He turns in a precociously confident portrayal that’s easy for viewers to warm up to and even love, but the excessively facile “solutions” he effects substantially dilute the impact of his performance. Give the young actor a break, and involve his character in more believable dramatic conflict and resolutions, please.

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TAGS: “Nathaniel”, Television
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