MANILA — In its first new episode since the coronavirus lockdown, the primetime stalwart "FPJ's Ang Probinsyano" included familiar elements of an infectious disease, as well as a concerted effort to eliminate the hero Cardo (Coco Martin).
The ABS-CBN action drama, which was off air for three months as the coronavirus pandemic forced the halt showbiz productions, returned on June 15 via cable and satellite TV on the Kapamilya Channel.
For its first two weeks on Kapamilya Channel, "Ang Probinsyano" re-aired the last 10 episodes seen on ABS-CBN. Monday saw the first fresh episode since its comeback.
After a vengeful Juan (Romnick Sarmenta) opened fire at Cardo's home, the latter sought out his latest nemesis, whom he finally found out has been working undercover for Lily (Lorna Tolentino).
Anticipating that Cardo would fight back, Lily and Renato (John Arcilla) agreed to issue a "kill order" against him, offering any criminal group P10 million for his head, and P2 million each for his family members.
Not wasting any time, separate groups tracked Cardo. Juan even offered a "live stream" of his attempt to kill Cardo, with Lily's group watching every step. At one point an explosion appeared to hit Cardo from Juan's view, prompting Lily's allies to celebrate.
The episode also included references to an infectious disease, although it wasn't directly identified as the novel coronavirus. In back-to-back scenes, Lorna cautioned Juan to distance himself physically from one of their conspirators. Juan did just that, and also refused to shake hands with the man, after the latter coughed into his own fist.
The resumption of "Ang Probinsyano" follows a tumultuous month for the program, as well as its home network ABS-CBN, amid the second blow of its broadcast operations' forced shutdown.
As a free-television program, "FPJ's Ang Probinsyano" was the country's undisputed No. 1 show throughout its four years on air, according to nationwide data of Kantar Media.
As recently as February 2020, the last full recorded month prior to the lockdown, it retained that distinction, with an average national TV rating of 34%. Its viewership peaked in October 2018, with a mammoth 47.2% rating.
Now airing as a cable TV program, "FPJ's Ang Probinsyano" has a fraction of its usual viewers on free TV. But despite the odds, and as the series' new tagline goes, "Tuloy ang laban." (The fight continues.)