TELENOVELA -- "Pilot" -- Pictured: (l-r) Jencarlos Canela as Camilo Amante de la Rosa, Eva Longoria as Pasion Bustamante, Jose Moreno Brooks as Cesar Rojo Roberto Ramirez Ruiz Casagrande -- (Photo by: Danny Feld/NBC)

Review by C.J. Bunce

Have you ever started watching Univision or Telemundo or shows like Sábado Gigante or even Plaza Sésamo on a Saturday morning and discovered you’re still watching it four hours later, and you don’t even speak Spanish?  (Put on the subtitles and it’s a great way to learn Spanish, folks).  If so, a new sitcom coming in January may be the show for you.

NBC offered a one-hour sneak peek at its new comedy Telenovela Monday night, and it’s smartly written, funny stuff–really–funny comedy you’ll find yourself laughing out loud to.  It’s self parodying of a variety we haven’t seen since Billy Crystal & Co. starred in the similarly set-up sitcom Soap decades ago.

You’ll find some great talent here, helmed by the beautiful (and beautifully outfitted) Eva Longoria (Dragnet, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and an attractive Latin cast mixing equal parts melodrama and slapstick.

Amaury Telenovela

Longoria is Ana Sofia, who plays Pasión, star of a Latin soap opera, complete with fainting and shirts ripped off and off-screen fans blowing hair and dresses for effect.  Diana Maria Riva plays her confidante Mimi who works behind the scenes on the show–together showing some real chemistry.  The show within a show features Amaury Nolasco (Transformers, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Burn Notice) as Rodrigo, the show’s villain who is a softie in real life, José Moreno Brooks as the young male lead stud Gael, Jencarlos Canela as Ana’s ex-husband and new co-star Xavi, and Alex Meneses is Isabela, the (not really that much) older evil ex-star of the telenovela.  Even Chuck’s Zachary Levi shows up as the non-Latino network exec, in the kind of charismatic but silly role we like to see Levi play.

You can appreciate so many great Latin actors having a forum to show off their talents in an industry that doesn’t feature enough Latin actors on television, and simply enjoy the show as a lighthearted, funny escape.

Watch an online-only Episode 3 for free at the Telenovela website here.

Telenovela is much funnier than the typical highly-rated, Emmy award winning network comedies that pass as funny these days.  Check it out on Monday nights beginning January 4, 2016, at 7:30 p.m. Central on NBC.

 

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