The primary purpose of television is for entertainment – viewers are treated to different shows, from movies, soaps and variety shows.
Movies have been with us for a century. It is a time-tested medium for entertainment. Soaps, in the genre of movies but made for television, seem to be the bread and butter of primetime TV nowadays.
Variety shows provide sheer entertainment to TV viewers particularly those with games and contests. The viewers are titillated, not only with the thrill of winning but also with the prizes won by studio contestants and home partners as well.
The avalanche of prizes made Willie Revillame and his Wowowee show famous. The legendary Pera O Bayong, shades of Pepe Pimentel’s Kuwarta O Kahon, made countless families happy with showcases of all kinds. The “tawaran portion” never failed to excite the TV viewers.
Now, with TV5, Willie has his new show Willing Willie patterned after his former variety show. And this time, it’s not noontime anymore but primetime hours. However, the essence of winning cash and other prizes steadfastly remains.
No matter if Willing Willie is so bakya with the simple parlor games but it is obvious that people are after the prizes. In fact, the ratings of the first episodes are not far behind with TV Patrol and 24 Oras for Megamanila surveys.
Some veteran writers hinted during the Wowowee days that even a newcomer could host the show because it is not the host that matters but the prizes they give away. And who would not be sympathetic to a show that gives cash doleouts to the studio audience? Willing Willie does that every night.
Eat Bulaga, the longest running variety show, has its own gimmick with the prizes. Aside from their compassion to the studio contestants, they also have home partners. Lately they are concentrating on the remote coverage of a segment.
In their Sugod Bahay Sa Barangay, a selected household is showered with unimaginable prizes like materials for house repairs, kitchen and other showcases or simply food on the table. Add to that the cash of up to but not limited to 50,000 pesos.
Other people in the selected Barangay are given consolation prizes, giving Jose and Wally a Santa Claus image. Sometimes the impromptu contestant has to bring something like viand or a house appliance but sometimes a mere smile could win him a thousand pesos. It is obvious that the cash prize serves as the attractant.
Pilipinas, Win Na Win, the successor of Wowowee has the vestiges of Willie Revillame’s legacy in giving away prizes. Contestants are given the chance to win a bevy of cash and other prizes. And the hosts, like Willie, are considerate to the studio contestants.
For more entertainment value, Eat Bulaga has the Sex Bomb Dancers and EB Babes while Pilipinas, Win Na Win has its dancers too. But in Willing Willie, the WW Girls seem to be an overkill. The whole scene appears like an excerpt of a beer house show where girls clad in scanty two-piece attire are anticipated to show more flesh.
Another overkill of Willing Willie is the girl they call Congrats. She appears on the stage, gyrating with a split as the punchline. And the purpose of her appearance is just to hand in the cash prize to the winning contestant. Other dancers have their own corny spiels.
That’s as far as entertainment is concerned. But these variety shows have no limit to their creativity. They are now gearing to harness the emotions of the viewers. In other words, enough with laughter for it’s now time to cry.
An unpleasant side of the variety shows is their exploitation of the people’s poverty. In Willing Willie, contestants are normally poor and it is stated by the host, from time to time, that their mission is to help people. So it is clear that it’s not a variety show anymore but actually a charitable show.
Willie Revillame is the pioneer in preying on the emotions of the contestants. He would give a microphone to the contestant’s companion for the dramatic effect. Then the contestant or the companion, would pay a tribute of sorts with matching tears.
Now, majority of the viewers have the notion that the contestant had to shed tears to deserve a cash handout. Indeed, Willie gives a consolation prize of up to 5 thousand pesos to the contestant with the best showmanship in the crying department.
Not to be outdone, Eat Bulaga is veering toward that direction. In their remote coverage of the poor and the needy, the TV hosts try their best to cultivate the emotions of the lucky family. They have to tell their sob stories before Jose would hand them the cash prize.
In the spirit of the upcoming yuletide season, the Eat Bulaga hosts hand small cash giveaways to kids in their remote coverage. They also watch out for handicapped people or senior citizens with peculiar looks.
Of late, Pilipinas, Win Na Win had come up with its own novelty of a tearjerker. The segment they call Istorya Ng Buhay Mo has 3 contestants telling their sad experiences. Reminiscent of the popular Reyna Ng Vicks on radio, this segment requires a cascade of tears to get the nod of the studio audience via applause.
In one episode of this Istorya Ng Buhay, Rico Puno, the singer and part time comedian, sang Charlie Chaplin’s Smile. Surprisingly, Rico was shedding tears which made one wonder if that act was genuine or perhaps Rico was just riding with the somber mood of the segment.
In this age of reality shows, television is getting out of focus. Or maybe is it just because of the competition? Whatever the reason may be, writers of variety shows should lessen the angst in their thinking. Children are watching the show, remember that.
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