After two weeks, LA MARIPOSA (weeknights at 9 p.m. ET) is shaping up to be the best prime time show to air on MundoFox in the network's brief history. As the protagonists – an undercover American agent named Manuel Martínez (Michel Brown) and a high class Colombian money launderer named Alicia Benítez (María Adelaida Puerta) – navigate through a complex criminal world of drug lords and arms dealers, LA MARIPOSA manages to convey a sense of danger and suspense while remaining, thus far, reasonably escapist fare.
The story is a hybrid of cop show procedural with Manuel and his team infiltrating the central criminal organization; and more traditional telenovela elements focusing on Alicia’s domestic life raising her daughter, coping with her crumbling marriage to a serial philanderer (Lincoln Palomeque) who vows to make her life hell if she should divorce him, and exploring possible romance with the slick new man entering her life, who of course is Manuel. The eventual obstacles to that romance are obvious – the male cop and female criminal, the deceit he must use to infiltrate her world, the jeopardizing of his mission if he should fall for her.
MundoFox’s two previous “teleseries” – EL CAPO 2 and CORAZONES BLINDADOS – while often wonderfully acted, were also relentlessly grim and taken five nights a week, made for oppressive viewing. LA MARIPOSA is a breezy ride in comparison.
It helps that the stars of LA MARIPOSA, Brown and Puerta, are allowed to look unabashedly glamorous and sexy. These elements are absent from EL CAPO 2 and CORAZONES BLINDADOS and indeed, most of these so-called “teleseries,” where the beauty of the actors is suppressed in an effort to achieve some kind of faux authenticity or realism.
Also largely missing from the other “teleseries” to air so far on MundoFox is humor. LA MARIPOSA features a heavy dose of comic relief to blend with the darker and more serious elements on the show in the character of Altagracia (Tommy Vasquez), a Colombian police captain working alongside the American agents. Altagracia is a hard-working, honest cop who is trying to win custody over a young nephew he adores. Attempting to impress upon his nephew the importance of learning English and assiduously assisting the boy in a lesson, when Altagracia is subsequently interviewed by the American agents for a job, his own heavily-accented English is deemed inadequate after just three words of reciting the American national anthem. At first loath to join with the “gringos,” Altagracia becomes an enthusiastic member of the team when he first sets eyes on and is instantly smitten with Laurens (Ana Wills), a no-nonsense American agent who had a fling in the past with Manuel. Altagracia’s attempts to charm and flirt with Laurens to her utter annoyance are enormously appealing.
LOS REY premieres this Monday at 1 p.m. ET on Azteca America, a Mexican telenovela from Azteca loosely inspired by the American prime time soap DALLAS, which ran from 1978 to 1991 and was recently revived by TNT.
It’s the story of a bitter rivalry between two families: the Reys and the Malvidos. Long ago, the patriarchs of these families were friends, but Don Everardo Rey (Fernando Luján) cheated his friend Pedro Malvido (José Alonso) out of a business deal and married the woman he loved, Manuela (Ofelia Medina).
Don Everardo’s unscrupulous son, Vado (Leonardo García), lusts for control of his family’s wealth and power. He is married to a beauty queen, Paola (Elizabeth Cervantes).
Don Everardo’s youngest son, Matías, is played by Michel Brown (LOS REY is his current telenovela, LA MARIPOSA was filmed in 2011). Matías marries Lorenza (Rossana Nájera), the daughter of his father’s rival, Pedro Malvido.
(The character correlations to DALLAS: Don Everardo Rey = Jock Ewing, Pedro Malvido = Digger Barnes, Manuela = Miss Ellie, Vado = J.R., Paola = Sue Ellen, Matías = Bobby, Lorenza = Pamela.)
The cast also features Ariel López Padilla, Victor Huggo Martín, Juan Alfonso Baptista, Ana Belena, Fernando Alonso, and Cecilia Ponce. There will be no English friendly options for LOS REY.
- TELENOVELA WATCH: AMORES VERDADEROS First Impressions; AMOR CAUTIVO Preview (November 10, 2012)
- TELENOVELA WATCH: AMORES VERDADEROS, UN REFUGIO PARA EL AMOR, AMOR BRAVÍO, ROSA DIAMANTE (November 17, 2012)
- TELENOVELA WATCH: UN REFUGIO PARA EL AMOR Finale Airing November 30; Plus, AMORES VERDADEROS, ROSA DIAMANTE & CORREO DE INOCENTES (November 24, 2012)
- TELENOVELA WATCH: UN REFUGIO PARA EL AMOR's Final Week; EL CAPO 2 Finale; AMOR BRAVÍO; ROSA DIAMANTE; Premieres: CORONA DE LÁGRIMAS, LA MARIPOSA (December 1, 2012)
- TELENOVELA WATCH: First Thoughts On CORONA DE LÁGRIMAS & LA MARIPOSA (December 8, 2012)
R.G. Morin writes a regular 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.