Tonight is the US premiere of POR SIEMPRE MI AMOR at 8 p.m. ET on Univision. A Mexican-produced telenovela from Televisa, it is a remake of MI SEGUNDA MADRE from 1989. Produced by Ignacio Sada Madero who is coming off the very fine remake UN REFUGIO PARA EL AMOR, this adaptation of Abel Santa Cruz’s original story is by one of the writers of UN REFUGIO, Nora Alemán, joined here by Denisse Pfeiffer.

The story: Arturo de la Riva and Isabel López, both suffering from personal tragedies – his wife of ten years suddenly dies, she discovers the man she married was a fraud and cheater – find true love with each other. But their happiness is marred by Arturo’s daughter Aranza resistance to accept Isabel and the nefarious plots of Isabel’s ex-husband Fernando and Sonia, the wicked cousin of Arturo’s deceased wife.

POR SIEMPRE MI AMOR marks a return, of sorts, for each of its protagonists. Guy Ecker as Arturo makes his return to Televisa after a trio of Miami novelas including the successful EVA LUNA. Ecker’s last novela for the network was HERIDAS DE AMOR in 2006. As Isabel, Susana González returns to a lead role for the first time since PASIÓN in 2007. Susana González has run together a string of fine performances in those intervening years in antagonist roles in PARA VOLVER A AMAR and LA QUE NO PODÍA AMAR and a supporting role in AMORES VERDADEROS, giving I think the only real performance in that often amusing bunk.

The antagonists are Héctor Suárez Gomís, another return to Televisa, as Fernando and Dominika Paleta (TRIUNFO DEL AMOR) as Sonia. Thelma Madrigal (LA MUJER DEL VENDAVAL) plays Aranza. The cast also includes Pablo Lyle (CACHITO DE CIELO), Ana Martin (AMORES VERDADEROS), Martha Julia, Macaria, Sofía Castro, Humberto Elizondo (UN REFUGIO PARA EL AMOR) and David Ostrosky (UN REFUGIO PARA EL AMOR).

After two weeks, I’m hesitant to comment on LO QUE LA VIDA ME ROBÓ (weeknights at 9 p.m. ET on Univision). The pace is leisurely, which is not necessarily a detriment, but there is still a sense that the thrust of the drama has yet to begin.

A central problem for this story in all its forms is the near impossibility of establishing a credible triangle between the protagonists that will actually split audience sympathies. The Monserrat/José Luis pairing is at a disadvantage as it is already at a considering-to-elope phase. The dramatic and audience interest therefore lies entirely on the romance that is shown from its incipience – the Monserrat/Alejandro pairing. Add in that Alejandro is played by Sebastián Rulli, perhaps the best current protagonist working at Televisa and that Rulli has a previous successful novela pairing with Monserrat actress Angelique Boyer and poor José Luis and his portrayer, Luis Roberto Guzmán, don’t stand a chance.

Daniela Castro is a bit broad in the early chapters but has calmed down a bit, though her costumes remain peculiar. Alberto Estrella is like something out of a 1960s Italian western, full of danger and perverse humor. As the novela is taking its time, we’ve yet to get much of Sergio Sendel and Margarita Magaña. Ferdinando Valencia showed up in the most recent episode meaning US audiences can get a double dose of this fascinating performer with him also appearing in MENTIR PARA VIVIR.

Last Friday’s MENTIR PARA VIVIR (weeknights at 10 p.m. ET on Univision) was an excellent turning point episode for the telenovela with Oriana, with help from her friends, finally confessing to Paloma that she isn’t her long-missing granddaughter, describing the whirlwind of events that swept her into the lie, her motivations for maintaining the charade, and the sad fate of Paloma’s actual granddaughter. No wails, no handwringing nor swoons, nothing over the top as is too often Televisa’s wont; as this episode shows, restraint is typically far more effective for rendering heartbreak. Fine acting throughout the scene by Adriana Roel, Mayrín Villanueva, David Zepeda and particularly Cecilia Gabriela who was given the brunt of the exposition.

On the other hand, I think the climactic brawl and cliffhanger ending was a bit much. It suddenly became CLASH OF THE TITANS as Oriana’s true love Ricardo and her criminal ex-husband José Luis duked it out, their fury seeming to conjure up a tempest, the slow-motion blows and tackles thudding thunderously on the soundtrack like KING KONG VS GODZILLA. The Japanese influence may not be far off, Ricardo’s leaping slo-mo kick that sent José Luis sprawling into the swimming pool and the subsequent close ups, all in the pounding rain, seemed inspired by anime. It’s a bizarre juxtaposition – Mexican melodrama rendered through the hyper anime visuals, but also a tad risible.

ALIAS EL MEXICANO makes its US debut Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on MundoFox, another in the line of Colombian biographical narco-novelas. This one follows the life of Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha, one of heads of the Medellín Cartel with the Ochoa brothers and Pablo Escobar. Produced by RCN, ALIAS EL MEXICANO would seem to cover some of the same ground as rival Colombian network Caracol’s ESCOBAR: EL PATRÓN DEL MAL, the masterwork of this genre, and may suffer by comparison.

Juan Sebastián Calero, who was also in the opening episodes of ESCOBAR, plays the title role. Rafael Novoa, last seen in the US as the galán of Univision’s very silly EL TALISMÁN, plays Colonel Jaime Ramírez, head of anti-narcotics unit; Carolina Gaitán (FLOR SALVAJE) plays a beauty queen who becomes a drug mule, and Flora Martínez (LA BRUJA) plays a journalist.

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

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