Hits and misses on ‘Eat Bulaga’
By Ed Sicam
For Yahoo! Southeast Asia
What is the longest running noontime variety show in the country today? The answer, of course, is “Eat Bulaga” which has been on the air for the past 31 years, and counting. To think there was a time when producer Tony Tuviera wanted to give up because the show wasn’t rating. Commercials were few and far between. “Student Canteen” was lording it over the lunch hour slot. He couldn’t even pay his people on time. Luck was not on his side. Once, the guy bringing the talent fees was held up.
Tony’s luck changed when he launched “Mr. Macho” after he watched some gay performers in a nightspot. The show’s numbers improved. Then Coney Reyes moved over, child star Aiza Seguerra captured the hearts of the viewers and the triumvirate of Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon finally hit it off with the audience. From that moment on, there was no place to go but up. Advertisers started coming in and at last, everyone was being paid on time. Eventually, “EB” overtook “Student Canteen” and never looked back.
With their popularity as “EB” hosts, Tito, Vic and Joey moved on to bigger things. The trio came out in several comedy films, many of which did well at the tills. They also came out in top rating sitcoms like “Iskul Bukol” and “TODAS.” Their individual careers also flourished. Tito topped the senatorial elections in 1992, placed third in 1998 but lost in 2007. He ran once more in 2010 and regained his seat. Vic has produced and starred in many box office hits. He also has other TV sitcoms and game shows to his credit. Many consider him the new Comedy King displacing Dolphy, who is already semi-retired. Joey de Leon is a constant presence on GMA and TV5 shows.
Today, “Eat Bulaga” continues to rule the noontime slot. Its strongest competitor, “Wowowee,” has been canceled and its replacement, “Pilipinas Win na Win,” is way behind in the ratings. .
Calling the present “EB” a variety show, however, is misleading.. It’s more like an extended game show that runs for more than two hours. “EB’s” main preoccupation right now is to give away as many cash prizes as possible to the viewers at home as well as the studio audience. To me, this is a form of bribery. Viewers tune in to the show because they might be rewarded with cash and not because the program is entertaining.
In most of the games, luck determines who will win the prize. Numbers are drawn to determine who among the viewers and those in the studio and at home will compete. Well, the “Pinoy Henyo” portion does require some exercise of the contestant’s brain cells. But that’s the exception rather than the rule.
The “All for Juan” portion where Jose and Wally give away cash prizes to lucky households looks impressive because it is staged outside the studio. But where is the entertainment value? Maybe, the people in the community where “Juan for All” enjoy the experience but what’s so exciting about Jose and Wally giving away cash and goods? Trying to elicit watchable moments from the lucky winners is a chore. And where are Tito Vic and Joey (most of the time, Tito is busy with his job as majority floor leader in the Senate) while all this is going on? They’re seated lazily in their chairs reacting to Jose and Wally’s shenanigans. I must congratulate the show, though, for its environmental campaign where communities are encouraged to bring out their plastic stuff for recycling.
Why doesn’t “EB” bring back its talent segments where contestants win prizes not because they won a lottery but because they had something entertaining to show the audience. Of course, “EB” tries to redeem itself on Saturday when the show opens with an impressive production number complete with costumes and nice sets. They also have the “Keri Mo Teh” segment where female celebrities compete in unusual challenges. Kudos to the show too for downplaying their sexy dancers.
Why can’t we have more musical numbers during the week? By concentrating on giving away prizes, the show is wasting the talents of people like Michael V, Jimmy Santos, Julia Clarete, Ruby Rodriguez and Alan K.
Finally, although I admire Joey’s talents as a TV host, I must take exception to his suggestive jokes. His performance is specially grating during the “Pinoy Henyo” portion when an “EB” Babe dressed as a flight attendant comes in with a food tray and Joey asks her those double-meaning questions.
Reposted From Ed Sicam of Yahoo! Southeast Asia