Monday, January 6, 2014

TELENOVELA WATCH: QUÉ POBRES TAN RICOS Univsion Premiere; AVENIDA BRASIL Joins Telemundo Daytime Lineup

Telenovela watchers in the US may be experiencing bouts of déjà vu of late due to the current lamentable trend at Televisa of producing Mexican adaptations of recent Colombian telenovelas. Here in the US, we got LA HIJA DEL MARIACHI (countlessly rerun), EL SECRETARIO (on Telemundo), and LOS CANARIOS (on SoiTV) well before their Mexican counterparts aired on Univision.

It’s déjà vu all over again tonight with the premiere of QUÉ POBRES TAN RICOS at 10 p.m. ET on Univision. The Colombian original, POBRES RICO, played in the US in 2012 on MundoFox. Starring Juan Pablo Raba and Paola Rey, and featuring enjoyable supporting performances from Maria Helena Doering, Carlos Torres, Diego Vásquez, and Luisa Fernanda Giraldo, POBRES RICO was a cute, amiable mediocrity. As the title suggests, it was a fairly cliché rich meets poor story. There was a single truly funny performance from Doering as the frivolous, haughty, alcoholic mother of the hero who loved her show dogs more than her kids. There was certainly nothing about POBRES RICO that clamored to be done again, but that has not deterred Televisa.

QUÉ POBRES TAN RICOS is produced by Rosy Ocampo, who, in her last three telenovelas, has another adaptation of a Colombian comedy, POR ELLA SOY EVA, sandwiched between a pair of good original melodramas from María Zarattini, LA FUERZA DEL DESTINO and MENTIR PARA VIVIR. I personally much prefer the two melodramas, but it was the comedy which was the hit in the US. And to be fair, I find Ocampo’s comedy adaptations far more bearable than any of her Televisa cohorts, there is some semblance of taste and intelligence at work in them, they are all painlessly watchable as opposed to a monstrosity like PORQUE EL AMOR MANDA.

The story of QUÉ POBRES TAN RICOS from the press release: "The snobby Ruiz-Palacios family has spent a lifetime trying to disprove the cliché that says money can’t buy happiness. Their frivolous world revolves around wealth and status – until the fateful day they find out that their fortune has vanished.

In dire financial straits, the Ruiz-Palacios are forced to move in with a working class family on the ‘poor’ side of town, where they struggle to adapt to a life without luxuries. Making the transition from caviar to frijoles proves agonizing, and their goodhearted co-residents, the Menchacas, must deal with their ridiculously spoiled ways – which creates a myriad of hilarious situations."

The rich-poor protagonists are Jaime Camil (POR ELLA SOY EVA) as the stuck-up Miguel Ángel Ruiz-Palacios and Zuria Vega (UN REFUGIO PARA EL AMOR) as the down-to-earth Lupita Menchaca. The cast also features Mark Tacher (ABISMO DE PASIÓN), Ingrid Martz (CORAZÓN INDOMABLE), Arturo Peniche (QUÉ BONITO AMOR), Manuel "Flaco" Ibáñez (LA MUJER DEL VENDAVAL) as the former wrestler patriarch of the Menchaca family, Tiaré Scanda, Agustín Arana and Sylvia Pasquel (YO AMO A JUAN QUERENDÓN) in the frivolous, dog-toting mother role.

Also debuting today is the 2012 Brazilian telenovela AVENIDA BRASIL at 12 p.m. ET on Telemundo. The telenovela will run weekdays in two-hour installments. A critical and popular success in Brazil, AVENIDA BRASIL is well-acted (though we’ll have to see how well that comes through in the Spanish dubbing) and beautifully produced, though to be honest, I find the story a bit pants.

The plot from Telemundo’s press release: "AVENIDA BRASIL is the dramatic story of Rita (Débora Falabella), who struggles to recover the birthright stolen from her by her stepmother, Carminha (Adriana Esteves). After Rita’s father dies under suspicious circumstances, Carminha and her lover, Max (Marcello Novaes), send the girl to live at the garbage dump so she won’t interfere with their get-rich schemes. There, Rita is forced to work under a cruel man named Nilo (José de Abreu), but she has the fortune to meet Batata (Eduardo Simões), a young boy who becomes her best friend and true love. He takes her to live with the other children at the dump until they are adopted, each by a different family: she by a loving couple that takes her to live abroad, renaming her Nina; and he by Carminha and Tifón (Murilo Benício), who call him Jorgito (Cauã Reymond). Years later, Nina tracks down Carminha and talks her way into a job as the family’s cook to pursue her plans for revenge. Once inside the household, she is stunned to discover that she and Carminha have something very important in common: Their love for Jorgito, Nina’s childhood friend and soul mate and Carminha’s adopted son."

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 [email protected].

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