Taking the bad with the good
“Princess in the Palace” is an instructive example of a TV show that has both plus and minus points, requiring the judicious viewer to know how to take the good with the bad.
On the plus side is the daytime series’ effort to “humanize” and “democratize” its story about a female president (played by Eula Valdes) living in Malacañang and the “ordinary” girl (Ryzza Mae Dizon) she “inexplicably” opts to adopt.
Indeed, there are empathetic lessons that viewers can learn about their loving relationship that can go a long way in salving “class” and “rich-poor” rifts, and “proving” that a person’s worth isn’t defined and certainly not limited by his or her “back story.”
On the other hand, it must be observed that the well-intended drama series has set too high a level for itself, in terms of production and creative standards. When you decide to dramatize the life and times of a nation’s president and set many of your series’ scenes in Malacañang Palace, you’d better have the creative and production resources to make your storytelling implicitly believable!
On “Princess in the Palace,” this rigorous standard isn’t observed often enough. In too many scenes, the milieu doesn’t look and feel right, the president’s security is flimsy and amateurish, etc.
Suspension of disbelief
The goal of any production should be to come up with such implicitly believable storytelling that the essential “suspension of disbelief” is effected in viewers’ perception of what they’re watching, so they can fully and emotionally empathize with the series’ events, characters and progression.
Unfortunately, as we watch “Princess,” we’re always aware that we’re viewing a “pretend” production, and the thrill and empathy are thus diminished.
Back to the show’s plus points: The series should be credited for dramatizing some “teachable” and “learnable” situations that make viewers more discerning and enlightened people.
It’s also helpful that the show goes out of its way to dramatize the president’s personal concerns and her more private, vulnerable side—which makes her and VIPs like her more “accessible” and “relatable” to viewers.
Conversely, when she chooses an “ordinary” girl to adopt, it makes viewers realize that each and every person has his innate worth.
On point of performances, Eula is credible as the Prez, but Ryzza Mae is having a hard time making her more emotional scenes come off as fully achieved and convincing.
She has the restricting habit of just “tapping” lightly into her scenes, rather than making them develop and “bloom” to their full fruition and impact. This offhand style has served her well as a young comedienne and program host, but it falls short of the intense involvement that affecting drama needs.
Other cast members like Aiza Seguerra, Boots Anson-Roa, Marc Abaya, Miggy Jimenez and Ces Quesada fare better, but a number of other actors turn in portrayals that are either too unfocused or too “pushed.” Due to this ungainly mix, the series’ “sense of pretense” is exacerbated.
Given its laudable intentions, “Princess” should up its thespic and production ante, and work harder to achieve more natural and believable storytelling—and consequently better empathy.
While it’s at it, it should also avoid “humanizing” its presidential protagonist too much, making viewers feel that Ryzza’s character is adding to her already heavy official burden with her distracting little insecurities and impulsive decisions like “escaping” from Malacañang all by her lonesome in the dead of night—and scaring her prospective adoptive mother to death!