The protagonists of AMOR BRAVÍO (weeknights at 10 p.m. ET on Univision) finally met in Thursday’s episode, a coincidental encounter in a café. It was fairly typical of these types of scenes: Camila (Silvia Navarro) prepares to take a seat at a table when Daniel (Cristián de la Fuente) reveals he was already sitting there, his gear on one of the chairs. As Camila excuses herself she drops her belongings, in this case sunflowers, onto the floor, they both reach down to retrieve them, their eyes meet, the moment is held. It’s a scene variations of which must have played in hundreds of telenovelas.
Camila is joined at the café by her best friend Viviana (Fernanda Castillo), and she rather charmingly moons over the mysterious stranger who has already departed. It was an amusing “down girl” scene, but we can hardly blame Camila for her lust after she reveals her now month long marriage to Alonso (Flavio Medina) is still unconsummated because of his impotence. The liberated, bohemian artist Viviana suggests Camila get a lover, a hoot considering how painstakingly proper Camila seems so far – she’s still apologizing a month later to Viviana for her husband’s loutish behavior at a party.
Thus far, it is Flavio Medina as the unraveling Alonso that is the most interesting thing in the novela. He is doing a great job portraying a first-rate creep – berating a bus on the road for moving too slowly or lashing out at his wife for his inability to perform – but the character is such a creep, it remains a mystery what Camila could ever have seen in him. The lone flashback to their courtship shed no light on this mystery – he was just as ineffectual and oleaginous then, with all the ardor and seductiveness of Pee-wee Herman.
Daniel’s plotline introduced aspects reminiscent of THE FUGITIVE this week. After wrongfully being imprisoned in the shooting of his pregnant wife, Daniel escapes and makes a cliff jump into the ocean fleeing guards. Daniel makes his way to Mexico from his home in Chile to investigate Camila’s ranch, La Malquerida, after correctly discerning his misfortune is tied to his mysteriously inheriting the ranch from a man he didn’t know. His police man brother-in-law, convinced of Daniel’s guilt, won’t rest until he is re-captured; meanwhile, a tattoo on the neck of the true perpetrator of the crime, a masked gunman who Daniel grappled with, is Daniel’s lone clue to the identity of the shooter.
It’s still very early, but the supporting cast remains rather ill-defined. The motivation of the head bad guys played by Leticia Calderón and César Évora is terribly prosaic so far – simple greed. Jose Elías Moreno menacingly stalks from scene to scene with a poncho half-obscuring his face; the juvenile couple has been introduced complete with a theme song, though hang me if I could actually put a name to either of them; various other employees and townsfolk are floating through the periphery such as María Sorté and José Carlos Ruiz as a priest, but most do not yet have a defined purpose.
UN REFUGIO PARA EL AMOR (weeknights at 7 p.m. ET on Univision) continues to have an ingenious way of unfolding its plot in a way so there seems to be constant movement forward, constant plot progression. The plot movement is largely twofold: on the one front, there’s the buildup to big events within the story – this week, the hearing at which Claudio Linares (David Ostrosky) hoped to prove his innocence of the wrongdoing, a frame up by his enemy Maximino Torreslanda (Roberto Blandón), which landed him in prison for twenty years.
On the second front, there’s an almost constant revealing of information that emotionally puts characters through the wringer. This week, the big one was Luciana (Zuria Vega) learning from Patricio (Brandon Peniche) that the love of her life, Rodrigo (Gabriel Soto), married Gala (Jessica Coch) because she was expecting his child. It was a beautifully acted scene, one of Vega’s best in the novela, a kind of slow burn of trying initially to maintain composure – upon hearing the first bit of news, Rodrigo married Gala, after a brief look of shock, she forced a bittersweet smile, attempting to play the news off; then, the second bomb dropped from Patricio’s lips, Gala was pregnant, and Luciana broke down into tears. Peniche was also very good, seeing the girl he secretly loves in so much distress. The consoling pat on the head from quadriplegic Patricio and Luciana, breaking from her own grief, a sudden respite of astonishment at how far he’d progressed in recovery of his motion, gave the scene an extra dimension. And of course, later in the week, there was a revelation made in turn as Patricio discovered Luciana was also expecting a child by Rodrigo.
As is often the case in soaps, the central characters are often the last to learn of the plot secrets. The doling out of revelations has a natural progression, first learned by supporting characters before disseminating up the ranks and eventually reaching the protagonists. But because the supporting characters on UN REFUGIO PARA EL AMOR are so fully fleshed out, so well-written and acted, even the revelations made to the supporting players have an impact and importance. Case in point was the excellent scene last week where Melissa (Tania Lizardo) learned the truth of Luciana’s relationship to Linares and how her aunt, Rosalina (Laura Flores), conspired to keep father and daughter apart for twenty years. Melissa’s justified indignation at the callous crime her aunt committed and fury at her mother, Conny (Luz María Jerez), for her part in keeping the secret was uncommonly meaningful because she’s a fully realized character, even though she is secondary to the main action of the novela. It’s an ongoing narrative device, this revealing of secrets up the rungs of the character ladder, the same secret is able to be played over and over again, and it’s effective each time so long as the revelation is made to characters the audience cares about – and this novela has managed to make most all its characters worth caring about.
There was another plot sequence this week that further illustrates the care with which UN REFUGIO PARA EL AMOR has thus far been written – the continuation of Luciana’s wedding dress theme. This theme was initiated about forty episodes ago during the buildup to Rodrigo and Luciana’s big church wedding, a wedding never to take place. Luciana was taken wedding dress shopping and tried on a dress she loved, but didn’t buy, deeming it too expensive. After the blowup that split Rodrigo and Luciana apart, Luciana’s friends – Rodrigo’s sister Jana (Ilean Almaguer) and cousin Melissa – in an attempt to guilt-trip Rodrigo into reconciling with Luciana, purchased the wedding dress and had it delivered to Rodrigo’s apartment. Rodrigo had a good, angsty bawl upon opening the box containing the dress. After torturing himself enough with the dress, he eventually shoved it into a kitchen cabinet where it remained, seemingly forgotten. This plot point, planted a couple months ago, made its triumphant return this week for its big, surprising payoff. As Rodrigo enters his bitter marriage with Gala, she moves back into his apartment and discovers Luciana’s wedding dress in the cabinet. Coyly telling Rodrigo she has a surprise for him, Gala takes him to the roof of the building where she flips open a barbecue pit revealing Luciana’s wedding dress inside which she promptly sets ablaze to Rodrigo’s disgust.
PREMIOS TU MUNDO
Telemundo’s award show, the PREMIOS TU MUNDO, airs this Thursday, August 30th at 9 p.m. ET with a pre-award red carpet show starting an hour earlier. It’s good that Telemundo is finally putting on a show to honor their productions and performers (Televisa has had an award show for a while), but this first edition is unfortunately marred by the dubious preponderance of nominations from Telemundo-Miami productions over the network’s Colombian counterparts. Of the thirty performance nominations, only two performers from Colombian productions, Kate del Castillo from LA REINA DEL SUR and Tony Dalton from FLOR SALVAJE, were nominated. Other actors and actresses from those two novelas who in my opinion deserved a place on the ballot: from LA REINA DEL SUR: Alberto Jiménez, Humberto Zurita, Cristina Urgel, and Sara Maldonado; and from FLOR SALVAJE: Mónica Spear, Gregorio Pernía, Roberto Manrique, Carolina Gaitán, Alex Gil and Bibiana Corrales. I also would have nominated FLOR SALVAJE for novela of the year, rating it higher than at least four of the five novelas nominated, and LOS HEREDEROS DEL MONTE, rating it higher than two of the nominations.
Telemundo’s actual nominations in the major categories:
TELENOVELA OF THE YEAR
Una maid en Manhattan
Mi corazón insiste
La casa de al lado
La reina del sur
Eugenio Siller (UNA MAID EN MANHATTAN)
Jencarlos Canela (MI CORAZÓN INSISTE)
José Luis Reséndez (CORAZÓN VALIENTE)
Gabriel Coronel (RELACIONES PELIGROSAS)
Gabriel Porras (LA CASA DE AL LADO)
Litzy (UNA MAID EN MANHATTAN)
Maritza Rodríguez (LA CASA DE AL LADO)
Adriana Fonseca (CORAZÓN VALIENTE)
Catherine Siachoque (LA CASA DE AL LADO)
Kate del Castillo (LA REINA DEL SUR)
David Chocarro (LA CASA DE AL LADO)
Tony Dalton (FLOR SALVAJE)
Manuel Landeta (CORAZÓN VALIENTE)
Miguel Varoni (LA CASA DE AL LADO)
Gonzalo García Vivanco (RELACIONES PELIGROSAS)
Vanessa Villela (UNA MAID EN MANHATTAN)
Aylín Mújica (AURORA)
Ana Layevska (MI CORAZÓN INSISTE)
Maritza Rodríguez (LA CASA DE AL LADO)
Aylín Mújica (CORAZÓN VALIENTE)
Rosalinda Rodríguez (LA CASA DE AL LADO)
Maritza Bustamante (RELACIONES PELIGROSAS)
Katie Barberi (MI CORAZÓN INSISTE)
Daniela Navarro (RELACIONES PELIGROSAS)
Wanda D’Isidoro (UNA MAID EN MANHATTAN)
Jorge Luis Pila (AURORA)
Orlanda Fundícheli (RELACIONES PELIGROSAS)
Gabriel Valenzuela (LA CASA DE AL LADO)
Jorge Consejo (RELACIONES PELIGROSAS)
Henry Zakka (UNA MAID EN MANHATTAN)
- TELENOVELA WATCH: AMOR BRAVÍO Premieres; Plus, CORAZÓN VALIENTE, UN REFUGIO PARA EL AMOR (August 18, 2012)
R.G. Morin writes a weekly column for We Love Soaps, "Telenovela Watch: A weekly look at the world of telenovelas for non-Spanish speakers." For feedback or questions, you can email R.G. Morin at email@example.com.