It only debuted two days ago, but Beneath the Lies has already come in for some harsh criticism.
Dozens of fans yesterday took to social media to voice their disappointment with the first episode of the four-season Ugandan drama series following its Urban TV premiere on Wednesday.
Millions of excited fans across Africa are estimated to have tuned in at 10pm to watch the 30-minute opener, but as it now appears some of them were left regretting why they had to brave the night.
“The intrigue has been killed, they literally poured a lot of stuff out yet it is just the first episode,” one Grey Godwyns wrote of Facebook in response to our opinion poll on how the show fared with the audience.
Ojigbani Kojo, who also goes by the alias of Zero Brain on Facebook, was even less diplomatic in his assessment of the show that has been touted as a game-changer in East Africa.
Labeling the show ‘the flop of 2014/2015’, Kojo challenged the producers’ controversial casting decision that saw celebrities and socialites with little acting experience handpicked to take on all the lead roles.
“Lack of creativity will continue biting the film industry this side of town for long. What is so hard with scouting new talent…bring new faces to our screens,” Kojo reasoned before predicting that the series will fizzle out after a few months of airing.
His rather bitter rant has since been reposted several times, sparking a mixture of opinions about whether the show is worth the massive hype it generated in the months leading up to its unveiling.
Several other social media users also expressed their opinions about the drama, hailing its superb production but nonetheless doubting its potential to edge other hit series from across the region.
Directed by acclaimed Kenyan filmmaker David Tosh Gitonga, the series was however greeted with much love at a viewing party held to coincide with the debut at Acacia Mall in Kampala.
The glitzy red-carpet fete was attended by a number of high-profile personalities including aomg others first son Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba and renowned educationist Fagil Mandy, many of whom spoke highly of the TV drama.
They lauded its high production value, star-studded cast and the fact that it has somehow managed to get Ugandans excited about their very own product.
Created and written by Nana Kagga-Macpherson, a Ugandan actress and filmmaker with some experience in Hollywood, Beneath the Lies explores the journey of two beautiful girls as they seek to come to terms with their troubled past.
Its celebrity cast includes Gaetano Kagwa, Flavia Tumusiime, Natasha Sinayobye, Hellen Lukoma, Daniel Omara, Dedan Muyira, Suzan Nava, Rabadaba and Patrick ‘Salvador’ Idringi.
Others are Micheal Wawuyo Jr, Isaac ‘LK4’ Lugudde and Cedric Babu, who also doubles as a co-producer along with Kagga-Macpherson.
Kagga-Macpherson, an engineer by profession, said she came up with the concept to highlight a number of societal ills in Uganda such as child prostitution, sex slavery, corruption and increasing drug-use.
Gitonga, better known for directing Nairobi Half Life, on the other hand said it was high time that Africans started supporting their talents and productions.
But it now seems some sections of the audience expected him to better with the opening episode of the trailblazing weekly Ugandan show that will likely be viewed by millions on TV and online.
Opening with an apparently focal scene in the form of a sloppily-portrayed robbery, Wednesday’s episode succeeded in introducing us to all the main characters.
Steven Amaru (Babu) is an apparent philanderer and powerful lawyer whose ‘very personal’ laptop is stolen in the violent housebreak that left a gateman and two dogs dead.
Seemingly indifferent, he calmly calls two security experts Abe (Gaetano) and Mukasa (Omara) to investigate his estranged wife Kamali (Flavia) about the burglary.
Kamali, who along with best friend Kaitesi (Sinayobye) appear to be prostitutes, later meets with Abe at a party and the two have implied sex before he confronts her about the crime.
Meanwhile, a gangster and pimp named Suna (Rabadaba), seems to have a disturbing history with Kamali, who now works for him, and under whose instruction she stole her husband’s laptop.
The producers possibly wanted to start the show on a grand note by throwing as many celebrities at us, but this noble move was rather blighted by limited plot and character development.
Rather than leaving the audience battling to keep up with the fast unraveling plot and twists, it would have done the series justice if the opening episode came later in the show when we are well acquitted with the various characters and their backgrounds.
There was however no denying Gaetano and Flavia’s standout performance as an odd couple that shares a mysterious relationship based on lust and real love.
According to the series’ promotional trailer, the two media personalities will have one graphic tryst in the episodes to come.