Following the footsteps of recent Boys Love released in the Philippines, Black Sheep Productions, a subsidiary of the Philippines’ biggest media network, ABS-CBN joined the bandwagon with the pilot episode of Hello Stranger, a romantic-comedy that stars Tony Labrusca as Xavier and up-and-coming cutie, JC Alcantara as Mico.
The planned 8-episode series will take the audience on a journey of self-discovery, blooming love, and a lot of very attractive characters.
—Edited by TheFNGee
This is such a welcome surprise to all BL fans the world over, and being the first Filipino BL series to be streamed at the same time across Facebook and YouTube, it was an overnight success, garnering approximately 400,000 views in the first 24 hours alone. It has since hit the 1,000,000 mark, less than a week of the release of the pilot episode.
The pilot episode started with Mico, played by the dimpled JC Alcantara wallowing in self pity from an obvious heartache. It sets the tone on a serious note before the intro even began. The opening billboard sequence, lightened the mood with an OST reminiscent of 90s indie-pop rock tracks that was very popular in high school themed movies that was very popular during that time.
This mood change was perfect since the next sequence made it clear to the viewers that the introduction scene was what is supposed to be the present. Going into flashback from two months before that heartbreaking scene, we were introduced to Mico’s gaggle of freshmen nerds and losers – or so they described themselves. But, for a bunch of what can be assumed are unpopular students of the university, these quartet are too much of eye candies to be considered as such.
First, we get to meet Seth played by Aladdin lookalike, Patrick Quiroz, an actor/singer who described his character in recent interviews as a nerd that was cool and hot. This was obvious in the first few seconds of his being on screen, with a mobile game going on, his smoldering looks and perfectly arched eyebrows are Disney-prince worthy.
Next, we meet the only girl in this bunch of misfits. Kookai, played by uber-popular Vivoree Esclito of Pinoy Big Brother fame, plays the young lady who is secretly pining for our young protagonist, Mico, the obvious leader of their group – if not with much subtlety.
And what’s a bunch of nerds without a comic. This privilege is reserved for Jun-jun, played by a deglamorized Migs Almendras; he is the not-so intellectual in this group of Star Wars addicts, if the name of their group, The Young Padawans is any indication.
The group, organizing an online quiz session, further fed into their characters’ personalities. It also became very evident that Kookai has a thing for the clueless Mico. When a jock named Xavier accidentally joined the online quiz, a flustered Mico got annoyed got into a bit of a word fight with the overconfident Xavier.
The first episode progressed when Mico, apparently an overachiever in class, was tricked by his Literature teacher to agree to work with a failing student on a project. Without giving any details as to who that supposedly “classmate” was, Mico, the top student, made initial contact through a message.
Predictably, the mystery student was charged with tutoring is none other than Xavier himself. Their first meeting is by chat only, and it’s not the best introduction. The utter shock that Alcantara shows on his character Mico’s face is credible, and he genuinely looks just a bit shocked, peeved, and otherwise surprised.
The last 11 minutes of this mini-episode is spent with more exposition of the characters, including our first look @ Xavier’s girlfriend. Their relationship looks to be at the point where they can share most anything to talk about, with no precepts. However, Xavier is a little more ‘caring,’ where the girlfriend seems to be just a bit superficial. It’s obvious that Xavier places a lot of confidence in their relationship because he is free to talk about his own insecurities.
We are treated to a show displaying elements pioneered earlier in BL, which includes overseeing chats on actual social media applications, video chats. The effort is engaging and fun to watch, similar to what we see on Gameboys, and is an effective way to show the interaction between characters and situations without being in the same location.
In fact, it’s a finger gaff Mico makes when playing in social media that gets him into a situation that could convey an embarrassingly ambiguous message to Xavier, causing some good laughs. Looking forward to more episodes.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars [See our Review Guide]