The Wild and the restless

2011-04-09 00:00

“SO what did you think?” one of the crew asked me at the launch of The Wild. “Be honest.”

“The first episode was very iffy ... but by the fourth episode, I was into it.”

And isn’t that just the thing with soap operas? Given just enough time, most viewers cannot help but be sucked into the drama, the screwed-up lives, the scandal … and so it is with a new South African soapie.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Generations­ had moved across to M-Net this week if you tuned in at 6 pm on Monday to Thursday. Connie and Shona Ferguson, South African television celebrity couple and Generations stars, are contracted to the new show alongside their old cast-mate Faye Peters, while Isidingo star and TV presenter Tumisho Masha is another popular face in the mix. The cast also includes, among others, SA screen veteran Ian Roberts, as well as Lele Ledwaba (Stokvel), Melusi Yeni (Tshisa), James Alexander­ (Binnelanders, Project Fame) and Nathaniel Ramabulana (Askies).

Last Sunday saw the launch of The Wild at Johannesburg’s Monte Casino. The show is locally produced by M-Net.

It’s an ambitious production, filmed entirely on location at a game lodge. It is broadcast four days a week. As of now, the production team is on the treadmill, fighting the challenges of weather and time to get the episodes out on time.

The premise of The Wild is essentially around a plot of land which three families have various intentions for. They all have baggage from the past, but they’re stuck with each other at Dinaledi Lodge, the game farm where it all happens.

There are a few standouts in the cast. Not surprisingly, one is Roberts. A veteran of South African film and television, Roberts­ is one actor who looks like he’s not acting. The other is Putla Sehlapelo.

Roberts became a South African icon when he played the character of Boet in a long-running series of television advertisements for Castrol motor oil, a character that also featured in M-Net’s comedy series Kalahari Oasis. More recently he played the role of Christiaan du Preez in the SABC2 mini-series Land of Thirst. Here though, he’s Karel van Reenen, a patriarchal­ grandfather figure.

Sehlapelo, by comparison, is relatively new, but is best known for his leading role as Maloro in the SABC1 mini-series Death of a Queen.

The show is filmed in high definition and was enthusiastically received by invited guests as well as the cast members (who were also viewing it for the first time).

“We’re planning to reinvent the genre, building on the legacy of [M-Net’s] soaps,” says M-Net’s director of general entertainment, Theo Erasmus. “Viewers will be able to experience modern, real-life stories­ in real-life weather conditions and surroundings.”

 

The new half-hour soap screens from Monday to Thursday at 6 pm.

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