Why Imbewu needs to turn the heat up

TV REVIEW: #Trending has been keeping an eye on this drama and we feel we're still waiting for something to really happen.

Imbewu: The Seed

e.tv (DStv channel 194)

Weekdays, 9.30pm

Rating: 4/5

There was a whole lot of hype around the release of Imbewu: The Seed, but today I’m staring at the screen wondering how a show that boasts such well-established names could fail to deliver on expectations, especially as the story seemed to be so strong.

The series begins when the ambitious Ngcolosi Bhengu (played by Tony Kgoroge, who replaced Mpumelelo Bhulose) goes into business with a friend and, to make things happen, he needs his older brother Phakade (Sandile Dlamini) to sell a few of their father’s cows. Phakade does this, but it causes tension in the family.

This tension is increased when it’s revealed that Ngcolosi can’t have children. His wife (Leleti Khumalo) and his mother (Thembi Mtshali-Jones) made a plan and got Phakade to offer yet another helping hand. This plan is kept secret, of course.

These initial moments had me shook and were enhanced by the show’s cinematic feel and classy flashback scenes. But it dipped a little for me in the next few episodes. The feel became standard and the build-up was becoming painfully slow.

Perhaps it’s that the central plot is so simple that the plot points are being stretched out, but even the subplots could be tightened up. The show needs bigger stakes and less predictable cliffhangers to hook its viewers. I mean, hell, what is a soapie without plot twists and dramatic tricks?

One particularly tedious storyline involves Oswenka, a dance and fashion competition that happens in the hood in Durban. No disrespect to the style mavens who actually participate in these events, but Imbewu managed to make even them seem dull. A saving grace was to bring Futhi Bhengu (Nokwanda Khuzwayo) into the competition drama.

One of the show’s creators, Duma Ndlovu, told me he had assembled the best cast in the country for Imbewu. He also mentioned that he was deploying several first-time actors. You can certainly see the inexperience on screen.

That said, Dlamini is a rather formidable performer, and I have also been impressed with Raphael Griffiths, who plays Zithulele Bhengu. His acting skills are much improved since his days as Vusi on Muvhango.

Unfortunately, the production has also experienced a setback behind the scenes involving Bhulose, who originally played the role of Ngcolosi. The way he was replaced was, well, a mess. Ngcolosi went on a business trip and, when he returned, it was Kgoroge’s face we saw. It didn’t work, despite Kgoroge’s considerable talents.

They’ve tried to up their popularity by drafting in the likes of Jack Devnarain and Mduduzi Mabaso.

However, the biggest drawcards remain powerhouse actresses Khumalo and Mtshali-Jones, but they’re not being given scripts that will challenge them and show us just how incredibly talented they are – I’m sure if you asked them, they would tell you they could trot out these roles in their sleep.

If I was a scriptwriter and these two names appeared on my character sheet, I’d be writing some demanding stuff for them.

Lately, things have taken a turn for the better with one of the children learning the secret of their paternity. I think it’s safe to stay tuned, but I’d recommend Imbewu turns the heat up a notch.