EL CAPO 2 (weeknights at 9 p.m. ET on MundoFox), the flagship program at MundoFox, is now the first to be made English friendly by the network. Hard English subtitles were added to the late night rerun (11:30 p.m. ET) a few weeks ago; now, the 9 p.m. airing also has English subtitles available under closed caption 1 (CC1), a nice surprise as most of the programs on the network do not even have Spanish captions at this point.
While it is a shame the program wasn’t English friendly from the premiere, EL CAPO 2 is a surprisingly easy show for an audience to jump right into, perhaps because it isn’t a show heavy on subplots. At this point, one need not even have seen the first series to follow what is happening: the richest, most powerful drug lord in the world, Pedro Pablo León Jaramillo (Marlon Moreno), is evading capture from the law led by the obsessed Detective Velandia (Juan Carlos Vargas) while setting out to free his wife (Katherine Vélez) and daughter (Natalia Jerez) from the Miami prison where they are incarcerated.
EL CAPO 2 is more an action-adventure novela than a narconovela, a cat-and-mouse pursuit with most episodes featuring some suspenseful close-call or action sequence. There is also constant tension within the Capo’s band mostly incited by a lethal, jealous hellcat named Bruna (Cristina Umaña), stuck on the Capo and not too pleased to see him romancing the sister of one of his men, María Alejandra (Carolina Ramírez).
EL CAPO 2 is a well-produced, obviously expensive production with some excellent actors, but the plot is often pretty far-fetched. Currently, the Capo and his band, after kidnapping the Presidente’s son to use as leverage, is traveling from Colombia to Florida on a submarine built by four workers in a month. A bigger problem for me is everybody on the show is fairly loathsome. Unlikable characters work fine in a movie, play or weekly television series; but I find it difficult to care about them when watching their depravity night after night in a novela format, though the compelling performances from Moreno, Umaña, Vélez and Ramírez certainly help make that depravity more palatable.
Testing the English captioning this week, I found them to be as proficient as those provided by Telemundo - even the rapid dialogue of the action scenes was effectively rendered in sync. That MundoFox was able to provide decent English captions on their first attempt makes it even more puzzling why Univision continues to struggle in that department – months after first providing the service, Univision’s captions still rarely synchronize with the dialogue as it is spoken, for the most part appearing a couple beats tardy.
Not all the bugs seem to have been worked out at MundoFox, though. A couple Fridays ago the network aired the wrong episode of their afternoon novela POBRES RICO (they mistakenly aired Thursday’s episode twice in a row). Even more bewildering, this Friday, in the middle of a program, my local affiliate suddenly switched from the east coast to the west coast feed, ruining my DVR recordings for the rest of the day.
Frustrated dreams and stolen happiness is a pretty common occurrence early in a telenovela. The protagonists of AMOR BRAVÍO (weeknights at 10 p.m. ET on Univision) have already faced substantial losses – Camila (Silvia Navarro) with the death of her fiancé and Daniel (Cristián de la Fuente) with the apparent murder of his wife and unborn child. This week, it was time for misery to hit the young protagonists. One of the cruelest story devices in telenovelas is the tragic wedding day – where what promised to be the happiest moment in a character’s life suddenly turns to horror. AMOR BRAVÍO featured an especially awful example as the novela’s ingenue, Luzma (Mariana Van Rankin), on her eighteenth birthday, planned to marry the boy she loves, Pablo (Eddy Vilard), only to be abducted by her repugnant uncle Leoncio (José Elías Moreno) and sexually assaulted. While I find rape an overused plotline on telenovelas, Van Rankin’s performance as the traumatized young girl was devastatingly raw.
EL ROSTRO DE LA VENGANZA
This week, EL ROSTRO DE LA VENGANZA (weeknights at 10:30 p.m. ET on Telemundo) featured a pretty big surprise as the series appeared to kill off its female protagonist, Antonia (Maritza Rodríguez), a mere twenty-four episodes into the telenovela’s run (twenty-four episodes if we go by the standard hour length rather than the half-hour installments the network is doling out). Weaned on American soap operas, I have a natural distrust of surprising deaths on series, but the resurrection of dead characters is a far rarer occurence on telenovelas than on their US counterparts, so I’m assuming Antonia is no more. Telemundo seems the network where protagonists are most at risk – last year, Telemundo also offed the ostensible protagonist of FLOR SALVAJE a third of the way through its run; and, of course, notoriously, Aurora was killed off about two-thirds of the way through the telenovela AURORA.
I’m sorry to see Antonia go. Not only did I find her the only sympathetic character on EL ROSTRO DE LA VENGANZA, I also thought it was Maritza Rodríguez’s best performance in years, certainly her best work since moving to Telemundo. Frankly, the characters left on the show can’t be killed off fast enough for my liking – other than the male protagonist Martín (David Chocarro) – the remaining characters are terribly written, unconvincing, and stupid. They could barely even be called “characters,” more like pawns in a dull game – there is basically no motivation, nothing human in how they act within the plot. Look at how Mariana (Elizabeth Gutiérrez), for no discernible reason, spinelessly oscillated back and forth as lover of both father and son before she was shuttled off toward Martín; or how Luciano (Jonathan Islas), in a mere twenty-four episodes has already been paired with Mariana and Veronica (Wanda D’Isidoro) and now, after a few mundane dinner dates is instantly in love with Diana (Cynthia Olavarría) to the point where he’d inexplicably confess to setting up Martín to her so she can conveniently, surreptitiously record him. Even more preposterous, Diana is also instantly in love with Luciano to the point she is wavering as to whether or not to actually use the evidence she gathered, evidence that could ultimately clear her brother’s name to his rich benefactor.
- TELENOVELA WATCH: Dramatic Irony on AMOR BRAVÍO & UN REFUGIO PARA EL AMOR; Plus, CORAZÓN VALIENTE (September 1, 2012)
- TELENOVELA WATCH: Thoughts on AMOR BRAVIO, UN REFUGIO PARA EL AMOR and POR ELLA SOY EVA (September 8, 2012)
- TELENOVELA WATCH: AMOR BRAVÍO's Intelligent Women. Plus: UN REFUGIO PARA EL AMOR, CORAZÓN VALIENTE, EL ROSTRO DE LA VENGANZA (September 15, 2012)
- TELENOVELA WATCH: Gregorio Pernía In CORAZÓN VALIENTE And His Work In OJO POR OJO, LAS DETECTIVAS Y EL VICTOR (September 22, 2012)
- TELENOVELA WATCH: The Latest on AMOR BRAVIO, UN REFUGIO PARA EL AMOR & ROSA DIAMANTE! Plus, CORAZON VALIENTE & EL ROSTRO DE LA VENGANZA
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.