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Sunday, February 22, 2009

The lighter side of Malaysian TV dramas

THERE have been quite a few jokes forwarded over the Internet on the stereotyped Malaysian tele-drama. A couple of days ago, the Eye received yet another version. Prompted by the fact that a couple of the Eye’s friends have not been able to afford their cable TV bills and have been stuck watching local dramas, the Eye thought that it would be a change this Sunday to take a light hearted punch at local dramas.

The following are some common observations that have been circulated over the Internet, as well as some personal observations of the Eye (yeah… unfortunately Eye had no choice but to watch ‘em tele-dramas when Eye hung out at the dudes’ houses).

First of all, let’s look at how airtime is utilised in a typical local drama. If you notice, the main characters spend a whole lot of time getting in and out of cars, putting on seatbelts and driving (while looking lost in thought). Eye always wondered if the scriptwriters were running out of ideas and this was just one way that they could make up for the airtime allocated.

Speaking of airtime, it is only in our local tele-dramas that an entire conversation (encapsulating introductions, flirtations and life-changing revelations) can be held while waiting for the lift to arrive in an eight-storey office building. Sometimes all these revelations (while waiting for the elevator) take up a good quarter of a 30 minutes episode!

Have you noticed how the father figure in these dramas have those icky looking ‘misai’ (moustaches)? Plus, they always wear bush jackets (or coats under the sweltering Malaysian heat), are some kind of businessman or another, carry extremely light and slim looking briefcases (you wonder if there is anything in there at all) and have secretaries (wearing heavy red lipstick) whose job is perpetually dedicated to saying, “Ini dia fail yang encik minta tadi.”

Having said that about the father figures in local dramas, the mother on the other hand is the bejewelled housewife (they even wear jewels when sweeping the garage!), whose life is devoted to advising every family member around her to ‘sabarlah’. Ah yes, the housewives in dramas who gossip across the fence (still laden with jewellery) and rush to take their husbands very slim briefcases from the cars and serve tea with colourful cakes and kuih or pisang goring when their men come home from a hard day’s work.

There’s more on the drama mothers and housewives. The minute a family member is out of synch, the housewife/mother will place a hand on their family members’ foreheads and announce that they need to see a doctor or go to the hospital (no wonder our hospital Accident & Emergency units are clogged by people with the common flu and ever-so-slightly-elevated-temperatures).

And there’s the typical hospital scene. This is where anxious family members pace restlessly up and down the corridor and they grab hold of the nearest white-coated person to deliriously demand, “Bagaimana keadaan dia, doktor?” The too-young-looking-doctor (or maybe it was the lab assistant) then tells them it is too early to tell.

Going back to the father figures who head off to work with slim briefcases, have you noticed how meetings that they attend always end when their mobile phones ring? And this is where the secretary with heavy lipstick comes in to carry away the very same file which she will faithfully bring to her boss in every office scene that follows.

Shopping complexes are the perfect place for the suspicious tele-drama spouse to catch his or her other half having a scandalous affair. Eye can only imagine the suspicious spouse searching through the many shopping complexes spread throughout Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, hiding behind the pillars and columns, before catching the guilty party red-handed.

Confrontations and fight scenes are all about knuckle cracking. You know who the bad guys are in these dramas because they always crack their knuckles loudly (and the blue smoke appears in the dark alley out of no where). Plus, they wear ugly looking leather or denim jackets that looked like it came out of Amy Search’s wardrobe castaways from the 80s. On the other hand, you know who the friendly faces are because they are extremely supportive — snapping their fingers and saying ‘Alright!’ (perfectly matching the intonation of Alleycats’ ‘trima-kaseeh’) when the hero comes up with some bright hare-brained idea.

Speaking of confrontations, why is it that the hero or the damsel in distress always succumbs to some stupid urge to walk in a dark alley at night only to get beaten up or raped?

There is so much more about local dramas that Eye would enjoy taking a dig at, but Eye guess Eye will end with how characters in local dramas enjoy saying the obvious (blame the script writers). For example, the hero is waiting for his girl at a cafĂ© (drinking orange juice from a glass decorated with too many umbrellas and a whole garden of sprigs). She turns up and his (a common) response is “Eh, dah sampai dah!” (eh you’re here). Yeah…obviously!


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