Monday, September 5, 2016

StarSat adds its first local South African drama, Maseko Ties, as a telenovela on StarTimes One; hopes to lure viewers with its feuding Maseko Hospital family.

Grey's Anatomy meets Generations as StarSat is unveiling its first local South African drama series - a half hour hospital drama telenovela entitled Maseko Ties - that will start tonight (Monday) on StarTimes One (StarSat 120) at 20:30.

The three day a week telenovela that wasn't specifically commissioned but picked up by On Digital Media (ODM) and StarTimes Media South Africa for its satellite pay-TV platform, will run on StarSat from Mondays to Wednesdays and has 26 licenced episodes revolving around the Maseko family and their Maseko Hospital.

Described by StarSat as "Grey's Anatomy meets Generations", Maseko Ties is StarSat's first proper and new local South African drama series.

It's the first new longform local drama production broadcast on StarSat since the failed TopTV brand imploded and with it its fledgling local content commissioning plans that never properly got off the ground and produced a few short-lived local shows like Top Entertainment.

While China's StarTimes has made bigger inroads the past three years in producing local African content for some of its StarTimes channels elsewhere in Africa, it has done nothing for specifically StarSat in South Africa that has been in business rescue since the end of 2012 until last month.

StarTimes is now looking to change that through a new focus on local South African television content investment, adding to shows like Puppet Nation and Point of Order.

Filming on Maseko Ties, produced by KMP Productions, started in October 2015, with the first season's 26 episodes that was filmed at Le Chatelat Boutique Hotel in Sandhurst in Johannesburg.

In its tough 20:00 timeslot, Maseko Ties will go up against the SABC1 soap Generations - The Legacy and the telenovela Gold Diggers. The show has no publicity cast picture.

The story of Maseko Ties is set around the Masekos who has doctors in the family - a bit like kykNET's (DStv 144) longrunning Binnelanders soap and the German series Die Schwarzwalkklinik that the SABC dubbed into Afrikaans as Die Swartwoudkliniek on TV1 during the 1990's.

In classic telenovela style, Maseko Ties sees Dr. John Maseko (Amos Ketlele) fighting to preserve the Maseko legacy and his idea of the perfect family as jealousy, secrets, dangerous ambition and manipulation start to unravel the medical clan.

The Maseko Ties cast includes Samela Tyelbooi as eldest daughter Grace Maseko who falls in love with a "Ben 10" photographer ten years younger than her, while her dad wants her to become the next chief of staff.

Other actors include Yonda Thomas, Monnye Kunupi, Tshepo Desando, Nina Marais, Sibusisiwe Jili and Mpho Mabaso, playing characters ranging from one with a vendetta against the family named Sydney who wants to take over the hospital, to Molly, the youngest sibling who resents Grace.

Meanwhile Aunt Rose is a Sally Spectra type aunt who influences people from the sidelines.

"We believe that Maseko Ties will fast become a firm favourite with our viewers," says Mike Dearham, the vice president of StarTimes.

"At StarSat we are committed to growing local content and enabling producers to provide high quality local programmes for the pay-TV industry. The appetite for local content continues to grow and we will constantly search for new local content to meet the viewing preferences of our subscribers."

Here is a promo for the show (and no, it's not you, it's them: a lot of the acting in it looks cardboard and stilted):