|Lo Imperdonable premieres May 18 on Univision.|
It is a revenge telenovela: a man blames an unknown woman for his brother’s suicide and vows vengeance. He meets a beautiful woman and comes to believe she is the one who ruined his brother’s life, so naturally he seduces and marries the woman and proceeds to make her life miserable.
LO IMPERDONABLE stars Ana Brenda Contreras whose previous two telenovelas, LA QUE NO PODÍA AMAR and CORAZÓN INDOMABLE, were very successful with US audiences. Spanish actor Iván Sánchez is the protagonist, best known for his role in LA REINA DEL SUR and most recently seen as the crazy violinist antagonist of LA TEMPESTAD.
Grettell Valdez plays the heroine’s wicked cousin, the role Karla Álvarez played in the 1998 version on her way to stealing the telenovela. The cast also features Sergio Sendel (LO QUE LA VIDA ME ROBÓ), Juan Ferrera (QUÉ BONITO AMOR), Claudia Ramírez (ROSA DIAMANTE), Guillermo Capetillo (AMORES VERDADEROS), Alicia Machado (LA MADAME), Gaby Mellado (CORAZÓN INDOMABLE), Sebastián Zurita (LA IMPOSTORA), Paty Díaz (QUÉ BONITO AMOR), Osvaldo de León (LA MALQUERIDA), and Tania Lizardo (POR SIEMPRE MI AMOR).
|The Hasta el Fin Del Mundo finale airs May 15 on Univision.|
HASTA EL FIN DEL MUNDO sputters to the finish line tonight at 9 p.m. ET on Univision for a two hour finale. This rich/poor romance between chocolate impresario sisters and their barrio beaus had enough plot for 100 episodes, so of course Televisa stretched it to 190 episodes. Perhaps we should be grateful it deviated from the Argentine original, DULCE AMOR, which ran a ghastly 300 episodes.
Like producer Nicadro Díaz González previous telenovelas AMORES VERDADEROS and SOY TU DUEÑA, HASTA EL FIN DEL MUNDO is a lumbering mediocrity – watchable, occasionally even entertaining, but never consistently any good.
Marjorie de Sousa, the lead of HASTA EL FIN DEL MUNDO, has bounced in her career from protagonist, antagonist and supporting roles; but I’ve always liked her best as a protagonist, especially in her Venezuelan telenovelas. She’s effective in her big reveal scenes opposite Olivia Bucio and César Évora, and I liked the dynamic with her sisters played by Claudia Álvarez and Jade Fraser, but the sheer length of the telenovela does a number on the character who becomes increasingly braindead as the telenovela goes on (and on and on).
Diego Olivera and Álvarez as the secondary couple have the best chemistry in the telenovela, not difficult, but their characters stop developing far too early in the run. There is a fear at Televisa of making their heroines unlikable that reduces most to bland bores, so I find it refreshing that Álvarez’s character is a complete loon, a flaky failed actress, selfish, capricious and foolish, but generally good-natured. Mariana Seoane instills in her villain a complexity that belies the character’s flimsy motivations, and Aleida Núñez is appropriately detestable in her manipulation of her young son against his father. Veterans Olivia Bucio, César Évora, Alejandro Tommasi and María Rojo do the fine work we expect from them; Jade Fraser as the juvenile lead is as likable here as she was in POR SIEMPRE MI AMOR which makes up for her unevenness as an actress.
The male protagonist of this telenovela is a disaster. The role is initially played by a horribly miscast Pedro Fernández. The character is supposed to be the neighborhood Lothario, so physically attractive women are leaping to be with him; but Fernández, with his aw-shucks asexuality comes off as the 50 year old virgin, visibly uncomfortable to even be in the proximity of the women he is supposed to seduce. You’re embarrassed watching poor Marjorie de Sousa try to sell the romance with Fernández’s character, she does all the heavy lifting, but she might was well be playing love scenes with a Cabbage Patch doll. Pedro Fernández’s aversion to love scenes proved too much for the performer who abandoned the telenovela at the midway point, stiffing the production, his fellow actors and his fans. (Producer Nicadro Díaz was extraordinarily diplomatic, citing Fernández’s exit to vague health concerns, but blind people could see what was really happening. Funniest consequence of this debacle was Televisa excising Fernández from the network’s Christmas promotions.)
On short notice, David Zepeda took over Fernández’s role at perhaps the worst possible stage in the story. This telenovela has a very slow build up to the protagonists getting together, and Zepeda enters just as their romance is finally about to be consummated. Hilariously, the transition is made during a kiss, so we see the lock-jawed chaste Fernández change into Zepeda as if he’s a stunt performer demonstrating the correct way to kiss a woman. But it is impossible for the audience to transfer the relationship between the characters that has built up over several months onto a new actor who has yet to forge any on screen relationship with the actress he is paired with. In another blunder, the writers didn’t seem able to adjust the dialogue and personality to fit the new actor, so Zepeda seemed to be doing a bad Pedro Fernández impression for weeks. Even after the actor change, the character remained an asexual boy scout pursuing the heroine like a lapdog.
The final episodes of HASTA EL FIN DEL MUNDO reveal a distasteful anti-female empowerment streak. The heroine loses her chocolate factory, but is shown content cooking her man’s meals and having his babies. The actress middle sister, after her big break in a legitimate film, seems to give up her acting career to also cook meals for her man and his young son. The youngest sister, part of a pop duo with her boyfriend, quickly sacrifices her own dreams of pop stardom and stands behind her man when a music producer wants to break up the duo and push the boy as a solo act.
UNIVISION and UNIMÁS
The most intriguing production announced at Univision’s upfront presentation this week was ANTES MUERTA QUE LICHITA, the latest from producer Rosy Ocampo. It is an ugly duckling office comedy starring Maite Perroni that promises several storytelling techniques new to Televisa including a web novela-within-the-novela that lampoons telenovela clichés.
I am glad EL COLOR DE LA PASIÓN was mentioned, one of the more highly regarded telenovelas from Televisa last year, but the most highly regarded Mexican telenovela of last year, YO NO CREO EN LOS HOMBRES, continued to be ignored. Twitter rumors from actor Flavio Medina place its possible premiere date as June 8, but not using this media event to advertise it seems to indicate an afternoon time slot instead of prime time. Univision’s continued belief that US audiences have no interest in the best reviewed Mexican telenovela of last year is unfortunate, but not surprising for the network that stuck PARA VOLVER A AMAR at midnight.
Over on UniMás, LADY, LA VENDEDORA DE ROSAS is the project I’m most looking forward to seeing. It is a Colombian production based on the true story of Lady Tabares, who went from the streets to starring in a film that played in competition at the Cannes Film Festival before ultimately winding up behind bars. There is potential in this story to produce something special, but the only thing that gives me pause is LADY, LA VENDEDORA DE ROSAS is made by Sony/Teleset, who do not have a great track record.
Unsurprisingly, UniMás is bringing more narco-novelas to the US with another series of LA VIUDA NEGRA. The first series of this RTI narco-novela starring Ana Serradilla boasted superior production values and acting to Telemundo’s narco-novelas, but equally moronic writing. Also coming are EL DANDY from Sony which is inspired by the movie DONNIE BRASCO, and from Cisneros Media (formerly Venevision International), a Miami narco-novela called RUTA 35 starring Danna García.
Azteca looks to be continuing their commitment to telenovelas, a welcome change from years past. The highlight is CAMINOS DE GUANAJUATO, which started this week in Mexico to good notices. It is an adaptation of GRAN RESERVA, a Spanish series from 2013 about intrigue and murder among winemakers, and stars Erik Hayser, Iliana Fox and Alejandra Lazcano.
Also coming up is KACAK, a Turkish crime series about an ex-policeman who killed a famous gangster’s son. Spanish-dubbed Turkish dramas have been sweeping through Latin America in recent years, and it will be interesting to see if they can make more of an impact in the US. (Why aren’t Univision and Telemundo acquiring these series which are pasting Televisa’s and Telemundo’s telenovelas through out Latin America?) MundoFox has also been airing them in prime time, but they have been relying on historical dramas when it is the crime thrillers that are really successful in other countries.
The only good news from Telemundo is they acquired the Brazilian telenovelas Império and Joia Rara, so we’ll get them in HD. Aside from those acquisitions from Globo, it looks to be another year of Telemundo airing nothing that interests me: another cycle of the ridiculous SEÑORA ACERO and abysmal EL SEÑOR DE LOS CIELOS and remakes of AMOR DESCARADO and DOÑA BÁRBARA. The remake of DOÑA BÁRBARA is especially disappointing as Telemundo’s previous version is only six years old and is one of the network’s better productions. The new version will be done on the cheap in Mexico and star a hilariously miscast Aracely Arámbula (Doña Barbie?) as the title character.
The only upcoming Telemundo project that interested me, BAJO EL MISMO CIELO, inspired by the 2011 movie A BETTER LIFE, is dead on arrival due to the casting María Elisa Camargo as the protagonist with her frog-croak voice and bug-eyed overacting.
Telemundo’s obsession with acquiring Televisa castoffs persists unabated with upcoming telenovelas for Pedro Fernández, Lucero and Ludwika Paleta. Bland Paleta is like Marlene Favela, an actress you hire when the three actresses you really want pass on the project; and my sympathies to the poor actress that is cast opposite Fernández. The influx of Televisa’s leftovers at Telemundo would be a more acceptable tradeoff if it spared us Telemundo’s own roster of questionable talent like Maritza Rodríguez, Gabriel Porras, Gaby Espino, Fabián Ríos, Cynthia Olavarría, and Daniela Navarro; but these performers, in with the execs at the network, continue to be crammed into telenovela after telenovela.
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.