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‘Kara Mia’ pilot episode review: Lacking but promising

A new primetime drama about twins, star-crossed lovers, and supernatural creatures, arrives to GMA Network’s Telebabad with a tall order: to overcome the rival show which already toppled eleven previous Kapuso shows.

As the 12th Kapuso program to get pitted against ABS-CBN’s ‘FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano,’ it almost seems an absurd move to go head-to-head with the Coco Martin-starrer, which has been the no.1 primetime drama for more than three years now.

Prior to its pilot episode’s airing, the show has already been stirring interest and excitement among viewers, and has been making buzz ever since, through funny memes were made to circulate in social media. If that’s indeed an indication that the show won’t suffer the same fate which its eleven predecessors succumbed to, then the show runners are definitely making the right choice in setting the show as direct opposition against the currently undefeated ‘FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano.’

‘Kara Mia’ follows the story of two girls born with an exceedingly rare case of human malformation called disprosopus. Kara (Barbie Forteza) and Mia (Mika de la Cruz) are two faces sharing one body: Kara’s face is in front of the head, while at the back, is Mia’s. This can somehow turn ‘Kara Mia’ to a high-concept drama that tackles a serious medical case, and can make the show extremely vulnerable to unfavorable opinions from keen observers (mostly medical professionals) who inevitably respond negatively to glaring medical gaffes on TV.

And of course, netizens who are practically just waiting for those scenes from which they’ll get their next viral memes, must not be ignored. Well, not if they also aspire to get such form of publicity. After all, bad publicity is still publicity. And it’s free. But given its fantasy element, there may be no need for show runners to delve deep into the medical aspect of ‘Kara Mia’s’ theme.

I will admit that from the get go, I was never optimistic about this show. And if you have been keeping tabs on trends in Filipino dramas, you can easily dismiss Kara Mia as just another sibling rivalry drama, cloaking itself under an unimaginative pretense.

Think of ‘Mara Clara,’ ‘The Half-Sisters,’ ‘Doble Kara,’ and a lot more Pinoy soaps with warring sisters as leads. In Kara Mia, it’s all about rival sisters again, but there are minor tweaks: they are cursed with a rare medical condition, and its cause, may be supernatural. To be fair, the idea is attractive, but a decent execution can be a real challenge.

READ: How did ‘Kara Mia’ pilot episode fare in NUTAM, Kantar Media TV ratings?

One thing that immediately thrusts ‘Kara Mia’ into attention is its fantasy element. Straight away, after a brief introduction of the already grown-up Kara and Mia, (who seem to be running away from their father), we get to meet Iswal (Mike Tan), a forest-dwelling ‘engkanto’, who claims to be the twins’ real father. We get transported to several years ealier, when their mother, Aya (Carmina Villaroel), arrives at her yaya’s home, in Bacolod, to escape the pressure of school and her controlling mother.

Her romantic relationship with Arthur (John Estrada) is then introduced, but along with it is a potentially dangerous love triangle they will share with Glydel Mercado’s Julia. This part is arguably a bit cheesy, but it is definitely a necessary detail that should only drive the story to more interesting places in the plot.

It is a little unfair to judge the entire show by its pilot episode, alone, this I can say, because what we see in the first episode is practically just a glimpse of Kara and Mia’s origin.

I honestly feel the lack of appealing pieces
that are vital to setting the entire concept
of the show, as well as building the world it
aspires to create. Keeping that in mind,
the premiere of ‘Kara Mia’ still has
some beautiful portions to revel in.

The show’s showcase of Bacolod and its scenic beauty is one thing, and the strong performances from its actors are also commendable. As of now, the most interesting character in the series is Iswal.

His solid performance as the naughty engkanto who fell in love with a human is pretty charming. It imbues the character with a lot of promise, and makes the idea of the show exploring his world in the future, exciting.

There is not much of a chance given to assess Barbie and Mika, given their limited exposure in the pilot. That scene at the bridge where they slap each other’s faces and pulled each other’s hair, vaguely transpired its intent, as viewers may have had a hard time deciding whether to laugh or get thrilled by the sheer heat of the confrontation. On that aspect, I think the production should work more.

There is a potential to wade deep into the ‘cursed siblings’ pool and create something interestingly compelling out of it. There is also a promise of aesthetic flair, (judging how they presented Iswal), but some polishing may still be needed if the story dives into the ‘engkanto’ world.

Now, the question isn’t whether ‘Kara Mia’ can defeat its almost unbeatable rival. Let’s admit it. That’s the most frustrating and dangerous question to answer for any show being pitted with ‘FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano,’ right now.

The more interesting question is: Can ‘Kara Mia’ pull off its promising ideas, or will it eventually abandon them when the next show prepared by the network to wrestle against Cardo, arrives.

‘Kara Mia’ now airs via GMA Telebabad, weeknights after ’24 Oras’.


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