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Keep or Trash — A Review of Top 10 Mzansi TV Shows in 2020

A Mzansi TV Year in Review

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UZALO

While Uzalo still rakes in fairly huge ratings for SABC in comparison to other daily soaps, it has fallen out of touch with reality.

The storyline has been stale to say the least, rehashing what worked in the past to get its fans watching. Viewers haven’t taken this lightly, and shown their disapproval over time through dwindling ratings.

Uzalo Teasers for April 2020

The taping of the soapie took a production break during the year, as a result of the Coronavirus. We thought the break would possibly bring some freshness in the writing department and new takes on how to navigate KZN.

However, it was a disappointing flashback of what we’ve seen before. Without fail, the soapie will add a new character that will infiltrate the church. The presumed ‘good guy’ will find him/herself embroiled in a bitter conflict with Nkunzi and his cronies, which will result in their untimely death.

Takeaways from Uzalo’s 2020 that prove that something has to change include loss of over 3 million viewers from April to October, contract disputes between the actors and producers of the show and the threat of possibly cancelling the show.

With all that said, we think Uzalo should be kept rolling. They’ve taken a production break again and will only resume shooting next year. We think the time will be beneficial for all those involved, and may see other actors move on from their roles.

KEEP OR TRASH: Keep for now.

THE QUEEN

When rumours began swirling recently that the Fergusons had been hatching a plan to license their popular telenovela The Queen to SABC 2, where it would potentially replace Muvhango, we saw somewhat of a lifeline for the show.

The Queen

Smooth Operator: Hector on ‘The Queen’. Photo: DStv

Once the highest-rated program both across the DStv ecosystem (before Uyajola 9/9 dethroned), and on Mzansi Magic, the daily drama was once unstoppable. The secret behind its success lies in several ingredients.

The cast had a diverse assortment of roles ranging from comic brilliance to intense portrayals of sheer emotion. We had T-Gom, Petronella, Prince, Brutus, Mjekejeke and amongst others the Queen herself, Harriet, all in one show, playing these larger than life characters that each have a steady fan following. At its peak, the show was exceptionally good at navigating comedy, action thriller and romance.

Unfortunately, the cast departures and entrances have neutralised the show’s potential throughout 2020.

The telenovela has slowly lost the elements that once made it the giant of local daily dramas, and it’s not just about the major cast shakeups. In its entirety, the show feels stretched beyond its potent impact. That goes for all dramas that become telenovelas. It becomes a never-ending cycle of predictable patterns.

KEEP OR TRASH:  Keep. The Queen has about half a year left in it, and then we are seriously signing out. The commissioning of a new primetime drama in that time slot would freshen things up for everyone involved.

IDOLS SA

Every year we wait in anticipation of the next group of talented musicians to offer an alternative sound to what exists in the music industry currently.

Idols SA S16 judges

The odd contestant that offers comedic relief is also a welcomed reaction. But after 16 seasons, the show has gotten monotone, with judges peddling their favourite instead of judging the contestants solely on their talent.

We can definitely do without another season of Idols SA. This one should definitely be trashed. More than that, the artists that eventually win the competition evaporate into thin air while the finalists continue to thrive years after the competition. The music show has morphed into something else, a satiric talent show that owes its ratings more to what Somizi is wearing than what the contestants do on stage.

KEEP OR TRASH: Trash it. But they won’t do that because 1) this is a ratings smasher and 2) people can’t seem to get enough of it. Plus, some contestants from the recent seasons are making a mark for themselves on the charts these days. It’s not going anywhere, you all.

GOMORA

Gomora has started showing signs of recovering from its recent slump of boring storylines.

The Mzansi Magic telenovela, which started out as one of the best things to happen to SA television this year, took a dive from its initial peak. Blame it on storylines that were downgrades compared to the mind-blowing plot twists and dark secrets that gave it a strong hook in the beginning.

Melusi and Gladys Proposal Gomora Mzansi Magic Telenovela Recap Review

The dramatic cliff hangers, speed chases on the high way with drone shots, unraveling of lies that threatened to blow up the township, and stellar performances from a fresh cast with a few new faces, were slowly replaced by mediocre plots that lacked substance and direction.

That pyramid scheme storyline was lukewarm, at best. The school debate thing felt like a filler. Mohato’s entire existence remains unjustified.

They did all of that despite having explosive plot questions that still needed to be attended to. These include the unresolved murder of Mbongeni, Langa’s paternity and Glady’s secret.

In the latest episodes of the telenovela, however, things look to be picking up again. Teddy and Ncebakazi Manzi’s storyline is good not just because it’s a fascinating plot, but also because the writing allows us to explore the psychological trauma and power dynamics that surround rape. Elsewhere, the introduction of detective Mahlasela shook Sonto, Mazet and Ntokozo’s world in ways that kept us on edge.

KEEP OR TRASH:  Keep, definitely! We are hoping they don’t drop the ball again, because there’s a fair amount of oxygen in Gomora.

UYAJOLA 9/9

Sunday evenings have been owned by the Moja Love channel largely thanks to the religious audience that tune in to watch the escapade that South Ah cheaters get up to on Uyajola 9/9. Jub Jub and a host of other media personalities make cameo appearances trying to burst lovers that are unfaithful to their partners for our entertainment.

Jub Jub Uyajola 99

This show is a definite must keep, not only for the entertainment value, but for doing country duty. This show is all that stands between social deviance and order in relationships. Jub Jub, as the host, provides a mixture of unhelpful commentary and adding fuel to the fire that make Uyajola a perfect recipe for disaster. This and him being a generally nice guy has made his Mr Moja Love Sunday Nights, hosting another show dubbed You Promised to Marry Me on the same time slot.

KEEP OR TRASH: This one is for keeps.

SCANDAL! ETV 

There isn’t really much to write home about when it comes to eTV’s flagship soapie, Scandal!.

The highs that defined the year for the daily drama were followed by record lows that made fans change their tune about their favourite show. Over and above the downward spiraling ratings, there’s been a lot of discontent coming from production and actors involved.

Scandal Romeo and Xolile

As a result, Scandal ‘temporarily severed ties’ with its drawcard Hungani Ndlovu. Despite the soap doing damage control issuing a statement refuting claims that Ndlovu was fired from the show because of his bad behaviour, they weren’t able to find a suitable replacement or captivating storyline. This is after the show also lost Kgomotso Christopher to M-net’s Legacy, things over there were never the same.

After canning Rhythm City, it doesn’t seem like eTV would cancel another of its flagship shows any time soon. But if the writing team can’t get it right, might as well shelve the show as well.

KEEP OR TRASH: Keep, and improve.

UTHANDO NES’THEMBU

Like most South African reality shows, uThando NesThembu seems like an obscene excuse to shine the spotlight on how the other half of the economy class are living.

uThando Nes'Thembu Season 4

The reality program is neither entertaining or informative. It merely glorifies men’s insatiable appetite to have multiple partners. Also, there was little to no drama between the wives that we saw in the past.

Clearly, a different direction was taken from the last season but it isn’t  working. Another season has come and gone and we weren’t given insight into who the older kids are as well as a final decision of accepting wife number five. Because there was so much resistance in the past, the storyline would have benefited from the wives picking up from where they left off.

This show should be canned. There’s too much fronting and it lacks relatability with audience members

KEEP OR TRASH: Trash it. It’s time.

ISIBAYA

The award-winning BOMB Pictures production once dominated not only in the ratings, but award shows and social media hype. It’s not a stretch to say that in its prime, Isibaya revolutionised South African television, giving us something fresh and uniquely South African.

Isibaya teasers

In its heyday, Isibaya was unrivaled. I would watch the entire week’s reruns during the weekends and fall deeper in love with the characters and their world in Ebhubesini.

Portrayals of the complex world of the taxi industry, explorations of the Zulu culture and its rich texture, the parallel navigation of rural KZN and Joburg are just a few elements that made the soapie so rich and so consistent.

I’m afraid that’s a thing of the past now. With high profile cast departures that included Siyabonga Twala and Nomzamo Mbatha, Isibaya feels and looks entirely different. The storylines have lost the plot along with the declining ratings, as the soapie continues to lose favour in the eyes of its audience.

Word on the streets is that Isibaya is facing cancellation, but there’s been no confirmation to that effect.

KEEP OR TRASH: It’s rather sad to admit, we can’t commit to this anymore. Trash it.

DATE MY FAMILY

The dating reality show is one of the biggest things to come out of Mzansi Magic in the last decade. It’s a big reason why for the longest time, Mzansi Magic led the pack when it came to Sunday TV.

Latest Date My Family Episode recap

With Idols SA, Our Perfect Wedding, and a hot drama series afterwards, the channel owned the Sunday prime-time block, cultivating a new culture of Sunday black family viewing that had nothing to do with sports.

The show, which continues to trend at #1 on Twitter every Sunday, has a format that works every single time. A single girl or guy goes through three families (or friends) of three potential love interests. Each family hosts them over lunch as they get ‘date’ each other on behalf of the suitor, who won’t be revealed until the single hopeful pick them based on their family.

Obviously, the show is not as fresh as it used to be, so the buzz has been chilled through the seasons. What’s more, more and more people seem to go on the show for clout more now than ever, which takes away from the show’s authenticity and purpose.

That said, Date My Family can go on and on, and on. It’s feel-good and harmless TV that is funny, engaging and full of noteworthy moments.

KEEP OR TRASH: Keep.

THE RIVER

With the exception of the new local dramas launched by M-Net this year (Legacy, Inconceivable and them), The River has maintained its spot as the best daily drama/telenovela in the country. By now, we should have seen the same cracks that are haunting other long-running telenovelas, but nix.

Emma and Zolani The River Recap

Instead, the 1Magic flagship hit continues to sustain momentum with the stellar writing, a cast that does not drop the ball, storylines that keep us on the edge of our seat, as well as a high-quality production overall.

The Tshedza Pictures production knows when its time to switch it up and transition, and they do so timeously. Lindiwe may be the main character, but they’ve offloaded a whole lot of pressure from her, sprinkling some worthy storylines around other characters.

She’s always in the picture, but she’s no longer a Chuck Norris archetype.

Secondly, they know how to keep exploring new storylines and introduce new characters without ever straying away from the foundations of the show.

The mine is always omnipresent even when it’s not central. The line between the haves and the have nots is always there, even if they don’t beat the point to death. And, Lindiwe’s character has evolved without losing itself.

Everything works here. The script, the acting, production quality, chemistry amongst the actors, the length of each key storyline, the comic relief, drama, and the shade. I said everything.

KEEP OR TRASH: We’d trade this entire list if that’s what it took to keep The River on air. Just kidding. But you catch what we’re throwing.

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Soapies & Telenovelas

Everything to Expect on ‘Isibaya’ in February 2021

Bhekumuzi goes to extreme lengths

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SA TV News: Isibaya September Teases

Here’s what you can expect on ‘Isibaya’ in February;

S8 Episode 216: Monday 01 February 2021

Sihle is forced to make Fezile an offer. Mbomvu sets his sights on a romantic target while S’bu is still torn between two lovers.

S8 Episode 217: Tuesday 02 February 20201

Mandla gives Ntwenhle some hard advice for her own safety. Ntwenhle gives Dabula an ultimatum, and Mbomvu’s romantic exploits begin heating up.

S8 Episode 218: Wednesday 03 February 2021

Mkabayi has a difficult ultimatum for S’bu. Meanwhile S’bu’s love life takes a shocking turn. Thokozani discovers a shocking fact about her family, and Dabula’s plans to win Ntwenhle back goes left quick.

S8 Episode 219: Thursday 04 February 2021

S’bu stands his ground against the Zungus. Dabula learns about Mbomvu’s romantic interests. Mkabayi is forced to play mediator and puts her foot down with Mpihlangene.

S8 Episode 220: Friday 05 February 2021

Nolwandle makes a stand. Meanwhile things between S’bu and Siza intensify. Khanyi makes her true feelings known. Dabula employs Saddam’s help in identifying the rat in his kitchen.

S8 Episode 221: Monday 08 February 2021

Dabula dispatches Qaphela and Bhekumuzi on a shocking mission. Cebisile still has her eyes on Fenyang. Meanwhile, Saddam is worried about Mbomvu’s intentions for Lillian.

S8 Episode 222: Tuesday 09 February 2021

Sgqoko tells Sihle he is now the new owner of Emarondweni. Saddam confronts Mbomvu about Lillian. Qaphela and sadden tell Lillian about their dangerous plan to level the playing field.

S8 Episode 223: Wednesday 10 February 2021

Sihle has a plan to get rid of the competition. Mbomvu proves himself a hero. Having been reminded of his purpose, Mandla makes a chilling decision to protect Ntwenhle.

S8 Episode 224: Thursday 11 February 2021

Khanyi continues to sabotage Siza’s and Sbu’s relationship. Fenyang says his good bye to Phumelele, but Amanda won’t give him a break. Nikiwe finds herself in a dangerous situation and is forced to bargain for her life.

S8 Episode 225: Friday 12 February 2021

Melusi is shocked to find out about the plot against him, while Mpihlangene jumps to the wrong conclusion about the Ndlovus. Siza wonders if her fiancé’s accident was actually an accident.

S8 Episode 226: Monday 15 February 2021

Seeing Mandla’s distress, Bongani makes a bold move. Fearing for Melusi’s life, Fezile leads a daring rescue mission. Mandla convinces Ntwenhle to leave Dabula to him.

S8 Episode 227: Tuesday 16 February 2021

Bhekumuzi reveals to Dabula who his attacker was. Siza tries to get the truth out of her father once and for all. Londiwe continues playing her dangerous game of matchmaker.

S8 Episode 228: Wednesday 17 February 2021

Qaphela learns a shocking truth about the attack on the Ndlovus. Gadla suspects the Zungus are focusing on the wrong target. Dabula has an offer for Blade.

S8 Episode 229: Thursday 18 February 2021

Gadla reveals to S’bu who attacked the Ndlovu and gives him an ultimatum. Londiwe confronts Qaphela with the truth. Sihle tries to find Dabula but Qaphela refuses to help her.

S8 Episode 230: Friday 19 February 2021

Lillian makes things clear to Mbomvu about their relationship. Mickey confesses to a shocking truth. Lillian lies to Saddam about her whereabouts.

S8 Episode 231: Monday 22 February 2021

Things come to a dramatic conclusion between Saddam and Mbomvu. Mkabayi’s accusation is met with a counter accusation. S’bu meets with a charming Andile, not realising that danger lurks in the shadows.

S8 Episode 232: Tuesday 23 February 2021

Thokozani begs Sibongile to help her. Dabula warns Mabuyi about the snake in their midst. Sihle has to deal with blade’s wrath, and Saddam puts the fear of god in a potential enemy.

S8 Episode 233: Wednesday 24 February 2021

Bhekumuzi goes to extreme lengths to protect what’s his. Andile has a new plan to deal with the Ndlovu threat. Mabuyi has a difficult request for Fezile. Mbomvu makes sure to avoid Lillian.

S8 Episode 234: Thursday 25 February 2021

Thokozani convinces Nolwandle to lie to Jerry and betray Fezile. Mandla’s abuse of Bongani leads to a dramatic demand. Mpihlangene tells Sibongile an astonishing story.

S8 Episode 235: Friday 26 February 2021

Fezile warns Nolwandle not to involve herself in Zungu business. Siza finally confronts her father with the truth. The Ngwenyas finally have a cause to celebrate. Sibongile pieces together a shocking truth.

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Soapies & Telenovelas

‘The Queen’ Mzansi Magic February 2020 Episodic Teasers

Mkabayi has an ultimatum for S’bu.

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The Queen

Here’s what you can expect on popular Mzansi Magic telenovela The Queen, airing on DStv channel weekdays at 21:30

S8 Episode 216: Monday 01 February 2021

Sihle is forced to make Fezile an offer. Mbomvu sets his sights on a romantic target while S’bu is still torn between two lovers.

S8 Episode 217: Tuesday 02 February 20201

Mandla gives Ntwenhle some hard advice for her own safety. Ntwenhle gives Dabula an ultimatum, and Mbomvu’s romantic exploits begin heating up.

S8 Episode 218: Wednesday 03 February 2021

Mkabayi has a difficult ultimatum for S’bu. Meanwhile S’bu’s love life takes a shocking turn. Thokozani discovers a shocking fact about her family, and Dabula’s plans to win Ntwenhle back goes left quick.

S8 Episode 219: Thursday 04 February 2021

S’bu stands his ground against the Zungus. Dabula learns about Mbomvu’s romantic interests. Mkabayi is forced to play mediator and puts her foot down with Mpihlangene.

S8 Episode 220: Friday 05 February 2021

Nolwandle makes a stand. Meanwhile things between S’bu and Siza intensify. Khanyi makes her true feelings known. Dabula employs Saddam’s help in identifying the rat in his kitchen.

S8 Episode 221: Monday 08 February 2021

Dabula dispatches Qaphela and Bhekumuzi on a shocking mission. Cebisile still has her eyes on Fenyang.  Meanwhile, Saddam is worried about Mbomvu’s intentions for Lillian.

S8 Episode 222: Tuesday 09 February 2021

Sgqoko tells Sihle he is now the new owner of Emarondweni. Saddam confronts Mbomvu about Lillian. Qaphela and sadden tell Lillian about their dangerous plan to level the playing field.

S8 Episode 223: Wednesday 10 February 2021

Sihle has a plan to get rid of the competition. Mbomvu proves himself a hero. Having been reminded of his purpose, Mandla makes a chilling decision to protect Ntwenhle.

S8 Episode 224: Thursday 11 February 2021

Khanyi continues to sabotage Siza’s and Sbu’s relationship. Fenyang says his good bye to Phumelele, but Amanda won’t give him a break. Nikiwe finds herself in a dangerous situation and is forced to bargain for her life.

S8 Episode 225: Friday 12 February 2021

Melusi is shocked to find out about the plot against him, while Mpihlangene jumps to the wrong conclusion about the Ndlovus. Siza wonders if her fiancé’s accident was actually an accident.

S8 Episode 226: Monday 15 February 2021

Seeing Mandla’s distress, Bongani makes a bold move. Fearing for Melusi’s life, Fezile leads a daring rescue mission. Mandla convinces Ntwenhle to leave Dabula to him.

S8 Episode 227: Tuesday 16 February 2021

Bhekumuzi reveals to Dabula who his attacker was. Siza tries to get the truth out of her father once and for all. Londiwe continues playing her dangerous game of matchmaker.

S8 Episode 228: Wednesday 17 February 2021

Qaphela learns a shocking truth about the attack on the Ndlovus. Gadla suspects the Zungus are focusing on the wrong target. Dabula has an offer for Blade.

S8 Episode 229: Thursday 18 February 2021

Gadla reveals to S’bu who attacked the Ndlovu and gives him an ultimatum. Londiwe confronts Qaphela with the truth. Sihle tries to find Dabula but Qaphela refuses to help her.

S8 Episode 230: Friday 19 February 2021

Lillian makes things clear to Mbomvu about their relationship. Mickey confesses to a shocking truth. Lillian lies to Saddam about her whereabouts.

S8 Episode 231: Monday 22 February 2021

Things come to a dramatic conclusion between Saddam and Mbomvu. Mkabayi’s accusation is met with a counter accusation. S’bu meets with a charming Andile, not realising that danger lurks in the shadows.

S8 Episode 232: Tuesday 23 February 2021

Thokozani begs Sibongile to help her. Dabula warns Mabuyi about the snake in their midst. Sihle has to deal with blade’s wrath, and  Saddam puts the fear of god in a potential enemy.

S8 Episode 233: Wednesday 24 February 2021

Bhekumuzi goes to extreme lengths to protect what’s his. Andile has a new plan to deal with the Ndlovu threat. Mabuyi has a difficult request for Fezile. Mbomvu makes sure to avoid Lillian.

S8 Episode 234: Thursday 25 February 2021

Thokozani convinces Nolwandle to lie to Jerry and betray Fezile. Mandla’s abuse of Bongani leads to a dramatic demand. Mpihlangene tells Sibongile an astonishing story.

S8 Episode 235: Friday 26 February 2021

Fezile warns Nolwandle not to involve herself in Zungu business. Siza finally confronts her father with the truth. The Ngwenyas finally have a cause to celebrate. Sibongile pieces together a shocking truth.

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Reality Shows

Celebrity Game Night Back with Season 2 on E!

Let the games begin!

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These days we don’t mind some good ol’ playful fun to balance out all the blues. And overflowing with fun and laughter, ‘Celebrity Game Night’ is back for more side-splitting antics as favourite local stars battle it out to reign victorious.

Celebrity Game Night SA season 2

Anele Mdoda is back as co-host on Celebrity Game Night season 2

Returning to lead their celebrity squads to victory are original team captains, Jason Goliath and Ayanda Thabethe, while the razor-sharp Anele Mdoda reprises her role as host.

Ayanda Thebethe will be doing her thing again

Based on the Primetime Emmy Award-winning series Hollywood Game Night, the first season included some of the biggest names in local entertainment, such as Minnie Dlamini-Jones; Alex Caige; Dineo Langa; Ice Prince; Boity; Maps Maponyane; Roxy Burger and Lerato Kganyago. And, this season, Celebrity Game Night welcomes new celebrity guests, along with some returning faces, who take each other on in hysterical games such as “Where Are You Going?”, “Popped Quiz” and “Clue Boom.”

Catch the season 2 premiere on Sunday, February 7th at 20:00 on E! (DStv channel 124)

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