Friday, September 29, 2006

Betty La Fea (Ugly Betty) Mas Bella Update XIX

Well, America Ferrera is indeed wonderful, and her boss is better than I would have predicted. The producers kept several elements of the original, just rearranged them, and the leads have chemistry. But I really don't think I'll plan on watching "Ugly Betty" (aka "Desperate Feas") very much.

If I hadn't seen "Betty La Fea" (and Ferrera really does capture the original "Betty" better than Angelica Vale has on "La Fea Mas Bella"), I'd probably think it was a show worth a few more views. But I know the first "Betty's" family and I've see this one. I know the original's characters and intent, and I've seen these. I know the original's playfulness as well as pathos, and I'm sorry, but the only playfulness came in Salma's series-in-series cameos with real telenovela actors. How long will she keep that up? I've wondered how the "suits" at ABC would deal with taking a five-day-a-week telenovela and turn it into a weekly hour show. I knew they couldn't capture everything given their time and format constraints, but what they've captured is old-hat and predictable, while "Betty La Fea" was unpredictably predictable and anything but old. And the "mystery" of the undead former exec and the death of the hero's brother, in a too obvious ploy at "Desperate," may capture more audience than fidelity to the original would have, but I'd stopped watching "Housewives" in the first season.

In short, "Ugly Betty" has promise and may be successful in traditional tv ways, and America is golden. But it's not "Betty La Fea" or even "La Fea Mas Bella," and that's the real gold standard. Too bad.

Speaking of diverting from the original, I don't remember Armando in "Betty La Fea" being as clueless as Fernando has become (the grocery episode the most egregious example), and the current extent of Fernando's clear commitment to Lety seems far more overt than I remember in the original. Am I making this up, those of you who have seen both versions? I always thought Armando's come-down was more powerful because of the intensity with which it finally dawned on him what he had had and lost. This more conspicuous version will allow the loss to be felt, but more like a traditional Hollywood movie. My wife (that is, mi esposa), who didn't see "Betty" I, thinks this will be fine. I'm not sure, but, if I'm just misremembering, then I'll hold off judgments.

Help me out here, okay?