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TELENOVELA WATCH: CORAZÓN INDOMABLE Premieres Tonight; Plus, Thoughts on EL SEÑOR DE LOS CIELOS and QUÉ BONITO AMOR

The Televisa production CORAZÓN INDOMABLE premieres tonight at 7 p.m. ET on Univision. Produced by Nathalie Lartilleux (RAFAELA, MAR DE AMOR), CORAZÓN INDOMABLE is a remake of a story already done a half dozen times – probably most famously as MARIMAR in 1994 starring Thalía. This version stars Ana Brenda Contreras, fresh off the success of LA QUE NO PODÍA AMAR, and Daniel Arenas. Also starring Elizabeth Álvarez, René Strickler, César Évora, Ana Patricia Rojo and the comedian movie actress María Elena Velasco – La India María.

The story from the press release: “CORAZÓN INDOMABLE tells the story of Maricruz Olivares (Contreras), a beautiful young woman who has grown up poor in the Mexican countryside. When she and debonair pilot Octavio Narváez (Arenas) meet by chance, they fall in love. However, Octavio’s snobbish family despises Maricruz for her humble origins and subjects her to countless humiliations, forcing her to flee to Mexico City. There, her life changes drastically when a kind millionaire takes her under his wing and transforms her into a refined and successful business woman. Reborn with a new identity and armed with wealth and power, Maricruz returns to the Narváez ranch determined to seek revenge at any cost. Will the love that she and Octavio once shared be rekindled and prove strong enough to tame a vengeful heart?”

THOUGHTS ON EL SEÑOR DE LOS CIELOS
Telemundo’s EL SEÑOR DE LOS CIELOS (weeknights at 10 p.m. ET) is a big hit for the network, and just as big a disappointment for this viewer. A narconovela sold as an equal to LA REINA DEL SUR and ESCOBAR: EL PATRÓN DEL MAL, EL SEÑOR DE LOS CIELOS falls ludicrously short of their precedents. There was a veracity in those earlier works – a dramatic veracity in LA REINA and a historical veracity in ESCOBAR – that is sadly missing in EL SEÑOR to such an extent that I don’t buy a second of it. As its story unfolds, EL SEÑOR seems much closer to typical Telemundo junk like CORAZÓN VALIENTE – a tedious kill-or-be-killed runaround careering from improbability to improbability, where nothing is built or sustained beyond a couple episodes and consequences are nil.

The moral breakthrough of ESCOBAR in the handling of this type of material – the enormous diligence to humanize the victims of these monsters – is unfortunately not a part of EL SEÑOR. We are back to the dubious morality of watching the “good” drug lords take on the “bad” drug lords. The audience is expected to empathize with the title sociopath through the hoariest and cheapest device – the imperiling of his child in the opening episode. If that isn’t enough, the show then imperiled the woman he loves a few episodes later.

Is it really just two years ago that this same network, dealing with similar material, gave us a female character as smart, strong and resourceful as the Teresa Mendoza played by Kate del Castillo on LA REINA DEL SUR? A step forward, fifteen steps backward with EL SEÑOR DE LOS CIELOS where we are treated to not one, but two, sluttish murderous vixens as the chief baddies, both characters having as their central motivation being jilted by the stud drug lord.

But even that is not as offensive as how EL SEÑOR DE LOS CIELOS portrays its drug lord as superman. He shoots the biggest guns, sleeps with the most beautiful women – seemingly every woman in the cast – and is the smartest guy on the show. (The police presence that is meant to counter the drug lord is played by Gabriel Porras, as in CORAZÓN VALIENTE, the faces he pulls make his character seem awfully dense.) In hand-to-hand combat with multiple would-be assassins, our drug lord easily betters them like an action hero. EL SEÑOR DE LOS CIELOS is not merely the glamorization of a drug lord, rather, as its title suggests, it is an apotheosis.

THOUGHTS ON QUÉ BONITO AMOR
QUÉ BONITO AMOR (weeknights at 10 p.m. ET on Univision) is a Mexican adaptation of an excellent Colombian telenovela of 2006, LA HIJA DEL MARIACHI, though it might as well be a Martian adaptation – QUÉ BONITO AMOR doesn’t even seem to exist on the same planet as LA HIJA DEL MARIACHI, managing to capture so little of what made that previous telenovela special.

That is not to say QUÉ BONITO AMOR doesn’t occasionally display a goofy charm of its own. Unabashedly romantic and silly, QUÉ BONITO AMOR is a straight out musical, a genre that actually fits rather well with the bigger-than-life aesthetics of producer Salvador Mejía. Everything is exaggerated – nowhere are languorous lovers’ gazes sustained longer than in a Mejía production – and that exaggeration, when combined with the music and atmosphere and color produces a kind of hyper-romanticism for the audience to loll in. There are times when the musical sequences are so fulsome that it seems QUÉ BONITO AMOR can’t be bothered with the mundanity of actually telling a story - not necessarily a bad thing because when the story does inevitably start up, it is rife with the most insipid and boring clichés.

Jorge Salinas and Danna García, both too old for their parts, nevertheless, play the material for all its worth and through a Herculean effort, along with a nice supporting performance from Arturo Peniche, actually manage to give some life to the proceedings. At the end of the day, though, one suspects they are all fighting a losing battle with the scripts.

RELATED:
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- TELENOVELA WATCH: Two Premieres This Week - LOS 3 CAÍNES and LA OTRA CARA DEL ALMA (March 4, 2013)
- Los Angeles-Based Novela DAMA Y OBRERO Set To Premiere This Summer
- Univsion 2013-2014 Lineup
- Telemundo 2013-2014 Programming
- QUÉ BONITO AMOR Stars Danna García, Angélica María, Arturo Peniche & Rafael Negrete on WE LOVE SOAPS TV

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 argeemorin@hotmail.com.

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