|The Los Miserables finale beings at 8 p.m. ET tonight on Telemundo.|
Less bearable was the horrific Gabriel Porras who seems to get worse with each telenovela. The opening weeks of Los Miserables were not terrible by Telemundo’s recent standards at least in part because Porras’s role was minimized. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long and soon Porras’s drug lord character was given a twin, so we could see Porras cartoonishly overact two roles. I gave up regular viewing of this telenovela at that point. What happened to the competent actor from those Azteca telenovelas from the early 2000s? The same question fits his Los Miserables co-star Aylín Mujica who was also far better in her work at Azteca than she’s ever been at Telemundo.
Telemundo’s Mexican-produced telenovelas in conjunction with Argos are in a rut. The best of this recent batch is still the first, Rosa Diamante, from 2012. The others: La Patrona, La Impostora, Los Miserables and even the narco-novela Señora Acero all seem part of the same drab, monotonous universe. Budgetary restrictions are noticeable, particularly in how they all feature a seemingly endless parade of characters sent to the same hospital and prison sets. Even the actors are drab in these recent productions, especially the supporting actors and juveniles. Part of this problem may lie in Telemundo/Argos being third in the talent pecking order in Mexico behind Televisa and Azteca. Even with these flaws, the Telemundo/Argos productions are still better than what the network’s been churning out of Miami in the last year, Dueños del Paraíso included.
Replacing Los Miserables on Wednesday is a Spanish-dubbed rerun of Mark Burnett’s risible Bible mini-series that originally aired on the History channel in 2013 chock-full of puerile interpretations of the Good Book and Sharknado-esque CGI.
Over on Univision, Mi Corazón es Tuyo also ends this week with its finale on Friday at 8 p.m. ET. Earlier this month, Mi Corazón es Tuyo inexplicably won best telenovela at the TvyNovelas Awards, the magazine TvyNovelas and Televisa’s annual award ceremony honoring their productions. I can’t say I share that opinion, not only finding Mi Corazón es Tuyo the worst of the five nominated telenovelas behind Yo No Creo en Los Hombres, El Color de la Pasión , Lo Que La Vida Me Robó, and Qué Pobres Tan Ricos, but also preferring telenovelas not even nominated like La Malquerida, Quiero Amarte and Por Siempre Mi Amor.
Like most the Televisa comedies not produced by Rosy Ocampo, I found Mi Corazón es Tuyo more loud than funny. The surefire comedic premise of the crass pole dancer becoming the nanny to a millionaire’s seven children and turning his strict household topsy-turvy is greatly undermined by the fact that she isn’t alone in her eccentricity, but is joined by a host of over-the-top and buffoonish characters. Even the rich man’s household already featured a stuttering fifty-something year old virgin and oversexed cook among its employees.
Silvia Navarro played the pole-dancing nanny like she was the biggest kid of all. When the kids’ uncle played by Pablo Montero is regaling them with a tale of his dangerous encounters in nature, Navarro is more excited and scared than any of the children. Navarro’s energy and creativity never seem to flag, indeed, her relentlessness becomes exhausting to watch. Navarro is always alert and in the moment, always ready for an ad-lib or bit of business, which often made for the funniest things in the telenovela as when she noticed a bag of candy broke open by accident spilling its contents onto the sofa and she casually picked up a piece and fed it to co-star Jorge Salinas, catching him off guard.
The narrative was barely perceptible and unfolded with a bad sitcom logic. Characters sometimes entered the story literally by just showing up at the front door of the mansion and moving in and exited just as quickly. The kids were appealing when they were allowed to just be kids, but the shenanigans they were given were pretty stale and unfunny and their musical numbers surprisingly poor.
La Esquina del Diablo (weeknights at 10 p.m. ET on UniMás) got bogged down in recent weeks in the kidnapping/captivity plot of the mayor’s daughter played by Ana Wills, but the episode of her rescue was genuinely exciting and well produced. The more melodramatic story devices like the romance between the two cops played by Ana Serradilla and Miguel de Miguel and the secret history between Miguel and the capo’s enforcer played by Gregorio Pernía aren’t really successful and seem out of place. What is interesting is the relationship between Serradilla’s undercover cop and Pernía and the atmospheric sordidness and danger of the community the telenovela portrays.
On Quién Mató a Patricia Soler? (weeknights at 9 p.m. ET on MundoFox), after a slow start, the story is picking up some steam. It’s amusing seeing about a half dozen actors in La Esquina del Diablo also appearing in Quién Mató, including leading man Miguel de Miguel, Ana Wills, Estefanía Piñeres and the ubiquitous César Mora. Itatí Cantoral is an improvement on Victoria Ruffo from the most recent version of this telenovela; indeed, Quién Mató is better than La Madrastra in most aspects, but it’s also too sane.
Que Te Perdone Dios (weeknights at 10 p.m. ET on Univision) seems to feature a murder and/or rape every week, yet to me, it still is lacking in excitement. There is an unfortunate sense that its participants and creators are just going through the motions, it’s a bloodless, passionless telenovela. I also can’t figure the motivations behind many of the characters, especially the female leads played by Zuria Vega and Rebecca Jones.
La Sombra del Pasado (weeknights at 7 p.m. ET on Univision) is the best telenovela on the air right now in the US. It is a remake done well. Watching it highlights the energy and life missing from Que Te Perdone Dios. The leads, Michelle Renaud and Pablo Lyle, are fresh and appealing. They are buoyed by a great mix of veterans including Alexis Ayala, Alfredo Adame, Lisset, Manuel Ibánez, Cynthia Klitbo and Luis Xavier. The villains played by Alejandra Barros and Thelma Madrigal are permitted to be human. There is a lovely potential secondary couple played by Alex Sirvent and Sachi Tamashiro who are both allowed their own stories with their own secrets and revelations to delve into rather than simply existing as adjuncts to the leads.
Tiro de Gracia (weeknights at 9 p.m. ET on UniMás) is in its final episodes. Robinson Díaz in his dual roles as the drug capo and the actor who has his face surgically altered into the double of the capo is compelling throughout, but I wish the story made more sense. It is a mess of gunfights, kidnappings, changing allegiances and betrayals, and out-of-left-field plot twists.
Dueños del Paraíso (weeknights at 10 p.m. ET on Telemundo) is also in its last weeks. Unsurprisingly, recent episodes revealed the writer Pablo Illanes knows as little about the US porn industry in the late 1970s as he does about the drug trafficking of that era. Every character in Dueños del Paraíso is loathsome and/or stupid, a feat not even the repugnant El Señor de los Cielos accomplished. Ignorance on story subjects and unlikable characters could both be excused if the drama is compelling, but DUEÑOS is a torpid snooze. There are a lot of fine actors in Dueños, you wonder how they were conned into appearing in this trash. I’m typically forgiving of the production values of telenovelas because of their low-budgets and haste of production, but I can’t resist bashing Dueños due to that ridiculous “Super Series” label Telemundo puts at the opening of every episode. It’s a “Super Series” where you question if its creators even bothered to watch the final episodes before broadcast. How else could they miss bonehead mistakes as when a video effect is put on footage of a porn film projected in a theater to make it look like a worn, damaged print with scratches, holes and cigarette burns on the footage, only to then have that same wear and tear video effect also put onto the audience watching the film in the theater.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.