Saturday, June 24, 2006

Big Saturday (Sabado Gigante)

I've made clear on this site my interest in telenovelas, but I haven't said much about the other thing I watch on Univision. "Sabado Gigante." Three hours of what basically amounts to a cafeteria of American tv condensed in what is usually a pretty frantic evening. It has everything--buxom, leggy women, game shows, beauty contests, talent shows, gong shows, buxom, leggy women, comedy skits, music acts, buxom, leggy women, specialists like hypnotists, fortune tellers and gossips, team competitions among audience members, zoo animals with their telegenic keepers, buxom, leggy women, confessionals, and DNA testing. (Yes, DNA testing--guys who doubt their paternity of kids have the results announced on stage in front of the world, the kids sometimes theirs, sometimes not, the news sometimes good, sometimes not.) They used to have a Johnny Carson kind of talk show for a segment or two, but that's been expanded into its own show on Wednesday nights, hosted by the star of both--Don Francisco.

For those of you who are coffee fans, this is not that Don Francisco. This Don Francisco (DF) is actually a Chilean named
Mario Kreutzberger. (Yes, Mario Kreutzberger.) His parents fled Nazi Germany and he was born in Chile. As a young man he spent some time in the US and went back to Chile determined to develop a show featuring the best (everything's relative) of US tv. He started in 1962 and has been going ever since. In 1985 he started a Miami-based version of the show and gathered what had to be millions of dollars in air miles by continuing the Chilean version each week as well. He did stop the latter a while back, turning the reins apparently over to the most talented person he could find, his daughter. That show is still rolling as well.

"Sabado Gigante" is an acquired taste. DF speaks a Chilean Spanish, which means my wife, with her degree in Spanish, still can't understand him. (One of the weirdest things about some of the telenovelas on Telemundo which come from South American countries is they have to be dubbed in Spanish for the North American Hispanic audience. It's worse than watching "The O.C." dubbed in Chinese. Not that I've ever done that or anything.) The humor is broad and, as I noted in my last "Betty La Fea Mas Bella" update, not always politically correct. The skits and the games can be quite suggestive. One of my favorite games is the one where three couples have to go behind a lit screen so we get their shadows, take off their (outer) clothes, put on their partners', and then run back out from behind the screen and ring the bell first. I also like the one where the female has to bust balloons on her male partner in a variety of positions including a bed and facing each other on a chair. Just don't see that much on US tv. The females, the skit players and the co-hosts, are straight from a Matt Helm movie of the '60s, and they have three or four female dancers who just show up, usually just before or after commercials, in various stages of undress. They tried having a guy dancer a while back, but somehow it just didn't work.

Anyway, it's right at 7:00 right now as I type and I thought, rather than a bland overview to tempt you, I'd live blog the entire show tonight. Besides showing my wife is out of town and I have no imagination, life, or hormones left, I think it could be the experience of your lifetime. So hold onto your seats.

7:00--We're greeted with this weird futuristic kind of opening that leads us to the set and the three dancers of the night, in short tops and shorter skirts in your favorite Trix colors. The Voice of the show has just introduced "DOOOOOOONNNNNNNN Francisco!!!!" DF points out the sections of the audience coming from different Hispanic countries, I think, and introduces his sidekick Javier and the latest set of female co-hosts. Haven't understood a word he's said, and I mean translated or untranslated, but the audience in front of him is wiping off their necks and shoulders.

7:03--They've launched directly into their beauty contest, which consists of the contestants in strips of costume "dancing" with male professionals until they get 30 seconds with DF. This group is apparently made up of waitresses, complete with video of them delivering menus and/or meals to booths. Lots of leg, cleavage, and far more gluteal material than you find on our programs, unless it's Cinemax about 11:00 at night. Number 3 has my vote so far, although the first two were better than usual. Number 4 is actually dancing, but she turned sideways once and disappeared. I get surprised by the votes sometimes but I don't think she's got enough, and I mean that literally, to get her to the top of this contest. Now the audience is voting electronically (not sure if they're Diebold machines), and we'll wait eagerly through a Hyundai commercial (doesn't that strike you as globalization run wild?). Turns out there must be more later in the show because they just eliminated Number 2, who was the most physically impressive, which just shows how important true talent is for these contests. More later, I trust.

7:11--"Cuatro" just appeared. This is a character, a female with a blond wig and schoolgirl outfit complete with white kneesocks and black, patent-leather shoes (she's probably in her 50s now), who fakes love for DF (I hope it's faked), interrupting him in the middle of the show to do a comic dialogue. I'd probably like this if I ever understood DF. It reminds me of that "What a dog hears" cartoon, only I'm the dog. I like watching the audience watching the action taking place up in the seats with them. Tonight she's reading him a letter from her "novio" that is apparently romantic but she's sad about something. She tells him why, he gets exasperated and makes her leave. The audience thought it was funny so I smile. Sometimes that's best.

7:15--DF and the tallest of the blond, leggy co-hosts, who happens to be buxom, are introducing a Hellman's commercial, "Dales lo mejor." Gives the best? Oh, "give them the best." Okay. Now there's a commercial for "Cantando por un Sueno" (sorry, don't know how to do the tilde). This is the sequel to "Bailando por un Sueno," Univision's version of "Dancing with the Stars" with a twist of having "people with a dream" dance with celebrities, so the dancing wasn't always impressive from either partner. My biggest problem with it was that it took three hours every time, which meant mucho filler. Singing for a Dream looks like a less interesting version of the same. Not likely to watch.

7:19--Okay, as you might expect, now they are showing a replay of the Argentinian goal against Germany in the World Cup. DF has passed the camera to Fernando Fiore, one of Univision's sportscasters, and we get the replays again. Never cared much for soccer (aka "futbol"), even when I coached The Boy's little league team, but a well-played goal, with multiple assists, is very impressive in replay, like a well-run 3 on 2 break in basketball. This is something the US didn't really have to worry about this year.

7:23--Off to a skit with two old women in shawls lamenting something about their "memorias." One ends up knocking on wood for luck, then going to answer the door. By the time I get it, they've moved on.

7:24--Okay, the waitresses are back, competing for a car. They're racing to a revolving tray of beer bottles, which they carry back to their positions and open. 19 seconds left, 13, 10, 7, 4, 2, 1 . . . . Number 1 got 8 done, Number 3 got 7, Number 4 got 7. A playoff!! Overtime!! But Number 3, my favorite, fell down. It's still close. Time's up!! Not sure if Number 4, the really skinny one, won or lost the playoff. I'll find out when the finals come on.

7:27--A Domino's commercial. "Abre la puerta. Es Domino's!!"

Gotta hit the head. Back before the next segment.

7:30--Commercial for "Christina," their "Oprah." Will probably miss the next one.

7:31--Javier helps introduce a Reggaeton performer, but then he and DF switch to an Allstate commercial. Is Allstate presenting this guy? DF just said "Here we go!" Only took 3-4 seconds for me to get it. Now we're watching Hispanic guys do rap, complete with choreography and smoke. Muting. The audience is dancing and clapping. Lot of participation expected on this show. What's weird about this isn't just Hispanic guys rapping, it's that sometime tonight we may have some guy in a big sombrero and black sequined jacket doing a traditional number, at least traditional for non-Hispanics. I love this show. Do I have time to go get a snack? Nope, number over. The guy's showing DF how to do the moves. He mumbles worse than DF. This might go on a long time. Nope. DF's moving him off quickly. Another Allstate commercial, Javier and the tall blond co-host. She's buxom.

7:37--Javier runs back to DF to lead into whatever's coming now. He's really a good Ed McHahon.

7:38--Uh-oh. This is a new skit. A doctor's office, complete with doctor lusting after his nurse, who got her uniform from an adult lingerie website. Not that I know that, for sure. The skit is over quick, or I was shell-shocked. Before going to commercial, we see waitresses #1 and #4 dancing, waiting for their next turns. She must have won the playoff, eliminating the best looking one. This is turning into a talent contest, like the Miss Wisconsin pageants.

7:40--New telenovela coming! "Heridas del Amor." Apparently the heroine loses a boyfriend (the guy who played "Greco" on "La Madrasta"--he's good) to her sister (played by a long-time villianess type, be interesting if she's "good" in this one). Hmm. I've seen other commercials with the hero guy, who doesn't get used very much. These guys tend to rotate, and I think there's a "star system." The heroine had a brief but unimpressive role on "La Fea Mas Bella." This looks like one to pass on, even with Greco. Ooop. Here's a quick commercial for "La Fea." What a good show. And here's one for "Don Francisco Presenta," the talk show that spun off "Sabado Gigante." For once he doesn't have any interviews with a leggy, buxom celebrity. How's he going to get an audience?

7:44--Trix dressed dancing girls. Okay, back to the waitresses. They're apparently going to have to pour and take champagne to a customer. It's just like being in a real restaurant, only with a fake acting scene. The customer takes an interest, now they're liplocking. This can't end well. Sure enough, here comes the dwarf boyfriend, pulling out a gun. I'm not kidding. He shoots them both. They fall down well. The audience is applauding. I love this show. Here comes Number 4, doing the same scene. She may actually be better at this. Oh, no. Dwarf time. He shoots them both. Then DF shoots the dwarf. The audience votes with applause for the two. Another tie! Lord, the pace is hectic. Back to a Hyundai commercial. Now they're having the two roll big dice down the audience steps to determine the winner. Number 4, of course, rolls a 6 to Number 1's 4 so the worst looking of the bunch wins. Now she's picking one of three mechanical horses to win a race, just like at a fair, only a little more complicated, to win her car. Blue horse is beating yellow and red horses. The audience is into it. I wish I'd heard which she picked. Blue still leading, now red ties it. Now down to her last pick (sorry, I'd have to explain it, no time). RED WINS and she's sad so she must have picked blue. Too bad. In a fair world, she's never there anyway.

7:52--Cingular commercial with Fiore. He's everywhere. "La Fea" upcoming episode commercial. Why aren't you watching this yet? Now a commercial from those WalMart bastards. They're everywhere. The US may be gone 100 years from now, but not them. They'll be the first in Antartica as global warming works its magic, wait and see. Copa Mundial commercial. This really is the world's game. Just can't watch it.

7:56--Back to DF. He just brought out this little boy in a suit and sat him down to ask him questions about US history. He's astounding them all. He just named the 7th President. (You do that.) Now the 34th. And he gives their middle names. He'll be a hit with the ladies at parties. This show uses little kids the way Cosby and Art Linkletter did, although the talent contests with little Jon Benets looking like Thalia can be more than a little disturbing. Now the kid just named the shortest and tallest Presidents. DF asks if he has a girlfriend. He's reading my mind. The boy doesn't. Not even his mom? He's handling DF like a pro. We'll see him in Congress someday. I don't mean that in a good way. Now the parents are getting applause. We should have put The Boy on tv. He could have named the mascot for every college team in America. I'm not really kidding.

8:02--The latest episode of "Cuatro de la Cuatro," the neverending chapters of the woman I mentioned earlier. Not big on this one, except for the guy dressed as the old woman who always falls down. Going to get my nightly Cocoa Puffs. Wait. The female who played the nurse just came in in a pink and purple "dress." Okay, she's gone. Time for my snack.

8:08--Kool-Aid commercial with Javier and the tall blonde who is buxom. Here's Hyundai again. Have I mentioned how weird this seems? Almost as weird as the Home Depot commercials that are really pronounced "Home Depot." Shouldn't it be Casa Depot? Of course, there's also the "Tylenol Time Gels" so I guess it's consistent.

8:13--A swami in a bejeweled turban just showed up in the audience with DF. Now a companero shows up and DF moves off. Oh, I get it. We're doing the comic hypnosis act. Hypnotized, the companero can "see" that one of the audience members has a watch on her wrist. No time for this. Got to wash out my bowl. I love Cocoa Puffs.

8:16--Okay, now DF's hauled up a couple from the audience who've been married 7 years. DF asks if the husband's ever sung to his wife. He hasn't, but he does now, complete with accompaniment. We see why he's never done it before. Oh, now I get it. This is one of DF's favorites, talking to an audience member about something, then pulling out a long-lost family member for a reunion. This time it's the husband's dad, not seen for 15 years. I'm never sure how up-and-up these are, but here comes dad and the tears seem real. . . . The hug's still going. . . . still going . . . . wife looking left out . . . . here come the grandkids . . . . okay, wife finally gets a hug. Fade out.

8:20--Onto to shorter blonde, who is buxom, and DF and an "Ingles sin Barreras" commercial. I can't see these without thinking of "Spanglish," which caught Spangler as much crap as "Click" did in yesterday's reviews. I like what Spangler's trying with his career, and "Spanglish" was great, the critics can kiss mi . . . don't know the word. I should get "Ingles sin Barreras."

8:23--Commercial for "!Que Madre Tan Padre!" which I can roughly translate and scares me. Jeez, here's Fiore again with a spot for his Sunday morning sports show. He's todo el mundo.

8:24--DF comes back to the missing padre. Wife is smiling, son is under control, very appreciative. DF can milk every tear from a crowd. Now, Javier is back helping to introduce a new band--brought to us, I guess, by Home Depot, not to be confused with Casa Depot, as a Spanish speaker might. DF walks up to the wrong guy in the band to get info on their new CD. Don't usually see him do that. "Trio Camela" is the group name. Not too bad. Definitely not reggaeton. It was interesting the last time I was in Best Buy. The CD section had a full row of nothing but Hispanic and Latino music, and I'm really not in a part of the country where you might expect this. I figure I have maybe 20-25 years left, and one of the things I think will be the most dramatic will be watching the Latinization of our country, anti-immigration types kissing mi . . . god, need to call my wife for that word. It's a good thing overall, even for us white Anglo Saxon types. There's a chance all our children will look like Salma Hayek. Lord, DF just called for "applauso" before the band was finished. Does he have a date or something after the show? He goes weeks without one mistake. Okay, short blonde, the one most likely to have a blowup dolls named after her, comes out to help DF introduce another comedy sketch, two guys on a park bench saying something funny about a drunk and Italians and Filipinos. One guy has a bird poop on him. This is good.

8:33--DF has moved to a segment on HIV and prevention with a guest representing an info group out of Texas. DF makes the point that Hispanic women are also possible victims. For all the grief I can give him, the guy has a social conscience and has organized a lot of charity for worthy causes. He gets the guest some kind of award and the audience is suitably impressed.

8:37--Now to a Tecate commercial. This is the first one that makes sense. DF was with the dark-haired Indio female who's been there the longest now. I remember the days when I had bigger breasts. Those days are long gone, impressively so. Okay, another replay of the Argentina goal for the sports show. Horizon Wireless. "Heridas de Amor." A commercial for Despierta America, their version of the Today Show, only with more singing, dancing, and comedy, the face of US morning shows to come.

8:41--Now we come to the weirdest part of the show. Even with the murdering dwarf figured in. They have this version of the Gong Show, with six singing contestants. First, "Molding Control" (aka a fancy girdle) with the tall buxom one and DF. Their Gong Show features a guy in black with a total white face mask who plays the trumpet for bad ones and takes them to the Lion's Cave. I'm not kidding. Number 1 tonight doesn't even get three notes out. Number 2 looks like my third grade teacher. Oh, no, she's salsa-ing. I'll never get this out of my mind. Looks like she'll clear the trumpet and finish her number, even gets to dance with DF, who loves to dance with the women. Number 3 gets to dance with Indio, for good luck, I guess, sings three notes and off he goes. I haven't seen the lion yet, a really bad costume job that gets to eat the losers as they're dragged into his Cave. Number 4 will clear the trumpet. DF has on a bizarre hat and is dancing around her. Off to short blonde and Javier hyping the girdle. I'm wondering what happened to trumpet boy's partner he's had for a few weeks, yet another leggy, buxom, well, you know, dressed in the same get-up only basically bare from the cheeks down, and I don't mean face. Number 5 had a short hook.

8:48--Off to a Splenda commercial with DF and taller blonde. Did you know Splenda is an official sponsor of the Mexican World Cup team? Commercial for "Peregrina," a typical telenovela that we blew off pretty quickly. Good twin falls in love with naive beauty who mistakes his evil twin for him and marries him. Complications follow. Now they're into their "ultimos capitulos," which means just 2-3 weeks left. The good twin is in prison for taking the fall for Peregrina who was charged with killing evil twin when really it was the maid. I caught up in about 30 minutes last week. This is the recommended way to watch most telenovelas that just get cranked out. Only about 1 in 6 is a "Betty La Fea" or "La Usurpadora" or "La Madrastra."

8:53--Back to the last Gong Show contestant. All dancing so far. Oh, there's the lion, at least a doll on trumpet boy's belt. There in spirit, I guess. Wonder where the "real one" is. Blew the trumpet on him but the audience protested. The guy's trying too much with voice inflection but he might make it. Okay, he did. That means 2, 4, and 6 made the finals. They gave it to 6, the guy who almost got tossed. He's running off in happiness, missing his chance to get his 1000 US dollars from the Indio, who is mucho mas noticeable up top tonight. Nope, she gets it to him. At least my third grade teacher didn't win it.

8:56--Yes!! They're doing a DNA segment! Guy "doubts his paternity of his daughter" (only in Spanish). Giving his side of the story. He has no doubt (no duda) that she's not his. Now here's the video from the mama. She disputes his no duda. Ooop, here's the daughter. Seems nice, cute. She seems to like him. He wants to know for sure. Here comes the cute lab technician with the results, having trouble spitting out the long words . . . she's not his daughter. With zero probability. This leaves everyone a little down. Even the technician. Off to commercial.

9:03--Little blonde with DF for "Dove Energy Glove" which is pronounced "Dove Energy Glove." Kool-Aid. Wendy's. Allstate again. Back to the mayonnaise.

9:05--Javier and DF introduce . . . yes!! The Mariachi band!!, complete with sombreros and black outfits with gold trimmings. This guy apparently won one of their singing contests, according to the archive tapes they're showing. I love music that still can find a place for an accordian. Wow. The guy has his own CD now. Need to look for that next time I'm at Best Buy. He actually is good. I wish I could do the sombrero look. I'll check with my wife.

9:11--Restaurant skit. Five dollars for coffee?? Throwing coins in the air. Didn't get this one at all.

9:13--DF's got a guy on stage who's been separated from his wife for 6 weeks. This is always a weird segment. He brings on these guys who have done something, usually cheated, sometimes physical abuse, who want to ask their sweeties to forgive them. DF questions them, sort of gives them a hard time, tough love Larry King style. Then he shows a tape of the woman in question and gets her side of the story. Once that's over, he sends the guy over to a door to open. Sometimes the woman's there, sometimes not. When they're not, it's more awkward than the DNA thing. This guy seems sincere (but don't they always?). The wife is skeptical. DF says there's a nina (nino?) involved, a familia, right? Yes, yes. The guy looks like we may get tears, behind the door or not. Come on, you're milking this a little too long. Okay, off to the door. Slowly . . . no one there. Back to her tape. She's not buying his story, whatever it was. DF sends him on his way with wisdom. The guy nods. I just noticed he's wearing a Miami Hurricanes shirt. Don't feel sorry for him now. Lord, they must be running long tonight. This poor guy got more time than the waitresses. Finally, out the door and back to the Twix dancers.

9:21--Now we have a Ford commercial. This just seems better somehow. Now "Heridas" again. The show can't last as long as these commercials. "Home Depot" and soccer (futbol). A commercial on what Hispanic women suffering abuse can do to get help. This is clearly a case of a television network taking responsibility for righting a real problem in its society. I wonder what that's like?

9:24--One of the dancing girls has a little bit of a tummy on her. I like it. Okay, here comes probably the most annoying part of the show, where the unibrow "police officer" of the police station skit about to come on comes out and dialogues stupidly with DF. Tonight it's about soccer (futbol). At least he's on and off quick. I actually like the skit. The female officer, the nurse from before, is sort of in uniform and is leggy, bux . . . never mind. I notice that the one female in the cell is the one who helps the zookeeper when he's on. I'd actually thought she might be his real helper. Well, maybe she is and is just a real trooper pitching in. Nice cheeks.

9:28--Okay, this one is new and strange. A segment on a boy who grew up, underwent plastic surgery, and is now, after 38 operations, "Barbi." Bet every Mexican guy watching in a bar right now just had Tecate come spewing out his nose. DF is going in depth with his questioning. She's a good sport and the surgeon had to make a ton just for those breasts. We see her on tape playing with her dogs on her bed. Okay. Moving on now.

9:32--Commercial with Indio and DF for "Century 21." Shouldn't this be "Century Viente-Uno"? They're in 42 countries, I see, so maybe not. You can keep up with all the World Cup scores with Verizon Wireless, I should inform you.

9:37--DF pulls out another couple from the audience. He's apparently asking what kind of food they like to eat. Don't get the point of that at all. I wish I spoke Spanish for this show. Is the program running short tonight? Did someone cancel? Short blonde again with the girdle.

9:39--Now the Shakira impersonators come on. Actually this one sort of looks . . . are they doing male impers . . . no, he's talking to her, seems more female. The second one's impersonating someone named Olga. Sounded good, no clue if it was a good impersonation. I don't know . . . is this a guy? That "Barbi" thing must have freaked me. The third one is really named "Luis" so I guess my question's been answered--calls himself "Lilu." Didn't catch who he's impersonating. This is officially the strangest "Sabado Gigante" I've ever seen. And I've seen the bobbing apples contests. Here's a Juan Miguel being an Alejandra Guzman. Juan Miguel prefers to be called "Brenda." The audience seems impressed. They're doing the arm sway thing. He just did the splits, even in those thigh-high pink boots. Just said hello to his folks. Seems like a nice person. Never thought I'd be glad to see the girdle commercial again. Javier and the tall blonde, about whom I begin to wonder. DF brings out the four contestants for audience applause vote. Juan Miquel wins 2000 US dollars!! And gets some roses from the shorter blonde, whose body is only marginally better. I need a break.

9:49--Disney's "World of English" commercial, with that "girl" in the short skirt and top who does the weekend kids' shows and gives every 11-year-old boy in Mexico his first strange feelings. Great legs and pigtails. I need my wife. Another Kool Aid commercial. Actually it's strangely welcome at this time. Splenda again. "Cantando" again. Commercial for "Que Dice La Gente?," a big hit show on Telefutura that's just come to Miami for a US version, featuring Marco Antonio Regil, who actually does it better than any of the US "Family Feud" hosts. We just hope the Family Feud curse doesn't . . . not even going to say it.

9:54--Final segment. Javier and tall blonde picking the audience members to come play for the Ford Escape along with the winners of the night's contests. The Gong Show winner picks the Ace of Diamonds immediately. The Indio is displaying the car right now. The same guy who did Bambi must have done her. Now the guy gets to pick from 12 numbers that light up and get four tires before getting 3 "ghosts" to win the car--first one, blank, second, ghost, third, tire, fourth, tire, fifth--DF keeps hyping his talk show, yes, yes, this Wednesday, we know--ghost--does the guy want to quit now and take $1000? Yes. Es no estupido. Very quick goodnight from DF, Javier, and co-hosts. Trix dancers. They're out of here.

I swear I've never seen a show like the one tonight. But that's why I like it. I've been watching for years now, even after Rachel, my favorite co-hostess, a brunette in a mainly blond world who always smiled like she knew exactly how wonderfully unreal this show really is, and Sissy, the best calendar girl, left. I promise I won't do this again. It's too hard, really, and takes up too much space on the blog, but now you know what it's about now. It's better in real time. Let us know when you've watched one. Thanks for hanging in. I really need to go to . . . well, goodnight.