The drama that is Greek television

Ten new dramatic series, both daily and weekly, have been launched on Greek television networks this season although comedies still account for the majority of the total 30 series being broadcast. Most are an improvement on the early offerings when private television first started in Greece, with better sound quality, music, sets, more location shots, more originality in the scripts and more authentic dialogue. However, from what has been shown so far, it seems that the parts do not add up to an improved whole. Experienced directors, good technicians and scriptwriters, good actors and satisfactory funding are there in abundance, but most of the series are little more than escapist tales disconnected from the modern age, with all its beauty and harshness. Women’s town Melodramas by the prolific director Nikos Foskolos made popular over the past few decades are now a thing of the past. Today’s television heroes do not proclaim their lines while sitting in an office or living room, where there is no indication if it is day or night, winter or summer. Now they are seen driving, cooking, walking down real streets in real towns. «Wedding Ring» (on Mega channel), while staying true to the soap opera tradition, has nevertheless managed to shake off the stigma of the genre. The heroines are emancipated working women united by dark secrets or ruthless enemies seeking revenge, all with a liberal dose of mainstream humor that ensures a good lead into the evening news bulletin that follows. Love story A glitzier but more tedious take on the Foskolos model without its outrageous fantasies or entertaining hyperbole is Antenna channel’s «Love.» Meanwhile «If You Love Me,» on Alpha, is a high-budget soap opera in the same genre. Director Manoussos Manoussakis’s trademark has always been star-crossed lovers – an architect and a Gypsy girl, an archimandrite and a sensual iconographer, an Albanian farmworker and a married woman in Thessaly, a Muslim teacher and a Christian student, and so on. This year it is a town mayor and a Russian dancer. Still, Manoussakis’s series always have a sociological component – they do reflect aspects of Greek reality. Technicolor agony Scriptwriter Mirella Papaeconomou has established a genre of her own that focuses on the troubles that plague the urban middle class, particularly in parent-child relationships. This year’s offering, «Joanna of the Heart» (Antenna) is yet another highly polished production. A mother abandoned by her adopted daughter curls up in a fetal position alone in her bed, wearing an elegant nightgown that highlights her slender figure. Furniture, lighting, objects, cars, everything is perfect and spotless enough to absorb the shocks of sorrow. El Paso, Crete «Knives of Love» on Antenna is an extremely entertaining drama that is a cross between a Manoussakis drama and a spaghetti western. Two young people fall in love but their families are at war with each other. In this Cretan El Paso, everyone wears black and is armed to the teeth – not only the men but the women, young and old. Even a female doctor, who gives an injection to a girl who has killed someone accidentally, is all in black. Papakaliatis Mega’s «Just Two Days» is a typical example of what has become known as the Christoforos Papakaliatis model, after the popular young actor of the same name. All the stars look as if they have jumped out of the pages of a lifestyle magazine, as do the mothers in «Close Your Eyes,» who sport minidresses that show off their flat abs. The sets feature as prominently as the stars – illicit lovers tryst in a suite at the Hotel Grande Bretagne. Papakaliatis tells us that there are happy lesbians, sexy disabled people, successful professionals and desirable blind people.