TELENOVELA WATCH: Premieres - 'Mi Corazón Es Tuyo' Tonight, 'El Mariachi' Tuesday, Telemundo Doldrums, Favorites For The Week

Mi Corazón Es Tuyo premieres tonight on Univision.
Mi Corazón Es Tuyo premieres tonight at 8 p.m. ET on Univision. A Mexican telenovela from Televisa, Mi Corazón Es Tuyo is an adaptation of a series from Spain called Ana y Los 7 that aired from 2002-2005.

The story is a kind of warped Sound of Music. From the press materials: “A mix-up at an employment agency lands Ana Guerrero at the home of Fernando Lascurain, a wealthy widower with seven uncontrollable children and a dire need of someone to look after them. Serious financial troubles have forced the goodhearted young woman to work as an exotic dancer at a nightclub, so she seizes this unforeseen opportunity to do something better and takes the job. With her cheerful disposition and will to succeed, Ana manages to pass every challenge posed by the Lascurain children, gradually winning their trust and affection. And as time goes by, Fernando begins to realize that for the first time since the death of his wife, his home is filled with love once again and that his heart belongs to Ana.”

Produced by Juan Osorio Ortiz (Una Familia Con Suerte), Mi Corazón Es Tuyo stars Silvia Navarro (Amor Bravío) as Ana and Jorge Salinas (La Que No Podía Amar) as Fernando - by my estimation, there are no two finer lead actors in Televisa telenovelas than those two. The cast also features Mayrin Villanueva (Mentir Para Vivir), Carmen Salinas (Porque el Amor Manda), Pablo Montero (Qué Bonito Amor), comedian Adrián Uribe, Fabiola Campomanes (Amorcito Corazón), Lisardo, "primer actor" Rafael Inclán, Paulina Goto (Niña De Mi Corazón) as the juvenile lead, and René Casados (La Madrastra) as the majordomo of the Lascurain household.


EL MARIACHI
El Mariachi premieres Tuesday on MundoFox.
Also premiering this week is El Mariachi on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on MundoFox. From Teleset and Sony, El Mariachi is based on the low-budget 1992 action flick of the same name from Robert Rodriguez - a rather unlikely source for a series with a thin premise that could barely fill its 80 minute runtime, now to be stretched out for 70 episodes. El Mariachi is about a young mariachi who is mistaken for a hired assassin and finds himself in the middle of a war between rival cartels.

El Mariachi stars Iván Arana (Soy Tu Fan) as the title character, Martha Higareda as the female lead, Julio Bracho and Manuel Balbi (Rosa Diamante).


TELEMUNDO DOLDRUMS
For the first time in a while, I am not following any of the telenovelas on Telemundo. Their prime time lineup currently consists of three of the four worst novelas I’ve seen this year. The worst novela I’ve seen this year is Chica Vampiro, airing Saturdays on MundoFox - but that one has the excuse that it was made for teenagers – the current Telemundo lineup seems made by teenagers:

REINA DE CORAZONES
How else to explain the sustained stupidity of Reina de Corazones (weeknights at 8 p.m. ET) with its mindless accumulation of faux intrigue and grade-Z action? Paola Núñez, as she has shown in her Azteca novelas, is a decent lead actress and any interest I have in this novela is watching how she copes with the nonsensical scripts. (To see Núñez in something better, check out Destino, which is currently playing weekday mornings at 11 a.m. ET on Azteca America.) Eugenio Siller as the leading man is as mediocre as they come. Juan Soler is laughable as the villain – it’s like being menaced by Paul Lynde – it’s his second straight poor performance at Telemundo after his ineffectual turn in Marido en Alquiler. As the villainess, Catherine Siachoque, a once interesting actress, has long passed into self-parody. As her body parts became increasingly inflated over the years, her sexuality became increasingly shallow and vulgar, and ever less erotic. Gone is the playful sexual ambiguity she displayed in novelas like Amantes del Desierto and La Venganza. Everything she does now is crude and obvious, a puerile over-the-top caricature of sexuality typically consigned to ZZ Top videos and dirty truck stop calendars. She is like the personification of de trop. Aesthetically, the heavy use of green screen for backgrounds and special effects looks absurdly amateurish with little apparent effort to bother making any of the lighting plausibly motivated.

EL SEÑOR DE LOS CIELOS 2
How else to explain the moral cluelessness of El Señor de los Cielos (weeknights at 10 p.m. ET) which expects its audience to sympathize with a miscarriage suffered by the protagonists ignoring the fact those protagonists are loathsome mass murderers who get off on torture and bloodshed? Rafael Amaya as the title character is attractive and has screen presence, but those miscarriage scenes expose his limitations as an actor. Perhaps that is why ninety percent of his performance consists of menacing grimaces, all macho bluster that long ago became monotonous. When he tries anything else, he is terribly unconvincing. Mauricio Ochmann, underplaying, with sly bits of humor, easily steals every scene he is in and is really the only thing worth watching in this novela. I found the story in the first series a bore, but it did have one slither of interest in the undercover agent infiltrating the drug cartels. This second series has nothing of interest going on and the idea of Telemundo dragging this tedious junk into a third series boggles the mind.

EN OTRA PIEL
How else to explain the cartoonish performance of lead actress María Elisa Camargo in En Otra Piel (weeknights at 9 p.m.) with her continued goggle-eyed looks of surprise and frog-croak voice? Most bad acting by leads in novelas is of the wooden variety; absurd overacting usually pops up more in supporting players. There lies the problem, Camargo is a supporting player inexplicably cast as a lead. Her bad acting can actually be appealing in comic supporting roles – she was the best thing by far in the dreadful Porque el Amor Manda – but she is cringeworthy here and the story seems to have stalled out weeks ago.

PREMIOS TU MUNDO
The decline in quality of Telemundo’s recent product is further evident by the nominees announced this week for their annual award show, the "Premios Tu Mundo." I wouldn’t rate any of seven nominees for favorite telenovela good. I found two watchable: La Impostora and Camelia La Texana, but the only one I actually enjoyed was La Impostora. Two I rated among the worst of 2013: Marido en Alquiler and Dama y Obrero. Santa Diabla escaped that fate on a technicality – it didn’t become truly atrocious until the episodes that aired in January and February of this year. The two remaining nominees will no doubt be on my worst of 2014 list: En Otra Piel and El Señor de los Cielos 2.

Unlike last year when Escobar, El Patrón del Mal was included among the nominees, this year Telemundo has omitted novelas not produced by the network, which is a shame since by a wide margin the two best telenovelas to air on the network in the past year were Avenida Brasil from Globo and La Promesa from CMO/Caracol.

It is fair enough if Telemundo wishes to honor its own talent and productions over foreign talent and productions, but when even that is marred by studio politics and favoritism, you have to question the entire enterprise. It is inexcusable that Ana Layevska, the lead of Dama y Obrero, is omitted from the nominees for favorite female protagonist in favor of Laura Flores who only appears in about five episodes of En Otra Piel. You are either serious about the integrity of an award or you are not, from their consistently questionable nominations, Telemundo clearly is not.


FAVORITES FOR WEEK OF JULY 4-10

Favorite telenovela: Manual Para Ser Feliz

Favorite performer: from Manual Para Ser Feliz, Marcela Mar, of the woeful visage, few actresses wear worry more exquisitely.

Favorite scene: two sequences from Manual Para Ser Feliz - with his world collapsing, hung over, drugged up and hysterical Osvaldo (Andrés Suárez) wrecks his car and lands in the hospital; and Luisa (Marcela Mar) tells the truth to her sister-like cousin Verónica (Constanza Camelo) about her relationship with Juan, whom Verónica loves.


FAVORITES FOR WEEK OF JULY 11-17

Favorite telenovela: Lo Que La Vida Me Robó

Favorite performer: Lisset, Daniela Castro, and Angelique Boyer on Lo Que La Vida Me Robó

Favorite scene: from Lo Que La Vida Me Robó, Daniela Castro as mother from hell Graciela, now with less than a year to live due to a brain tumor, guilting her daughter Montserrat, played by Angelique Boyer, into taking care of her.


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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