Por Estas Calles
Por Estas Calles was an iconic telenovela, broadcast by Radio Caracas Television between 1992 and 1994. It was extremely popular in Venezuela, due to its very realistic approach to the day-to-day life of the country and local tone, it had virtually no success abroad.
It was considered by magazine Rolling Stone en espanol as the 8th best show between the 100 Best TV Shows Ever in all Latin America. It is believed to be the longest telenovela ever produced in Venezuela.
In early 1992 Venezuela was in a very unstable political situation. At the same time, RCTV was in a low-rating stage. The network decided to take the risk of making a story which took place in the poorest slums of the city in a realistic fashion.
"Por Estas Calles" began as a traditional telenovela called "Eva Marina". During the pre-production stage, however, the concept changed from a traditional romance to a more actual, street-related story. The original chapters were wiped and the history, now under its new name and concept, began its filming.
The telenovela was initially written by Ibsen Martinez, but he resigned six months later. It's believed that RCTV demanded him not only an extension (something very usual when a telenovela is very successful) but also a better ending for characters who were very popular but morally questionable, something he was not willing to do. Despite his absence, the telenovela lasted for another year under a team of scriptwriters, and when it ended was still popular.
Por Estas Calles inspired a rival telenovela with similar themes, "El Paseo de la Gracia de Dios", produced by Marte TV and broadcast by RCTV rival channel Venevision. But this telenovela was quickly recognized as a bad ripoff, was comparably tame and lasted much less.
There was not a central story in por Estas Calles. At the beginning, the main story revolved around the tribulations of elementary teacher Euridice Briceno, falsely accused of murder, who has to hide under a new identity. But the other characters soon took off a big screen time, and became a choral story.
During his runtime, Por Estas Calles adapted many histories ripped-off from the headlines.
The cast was one of the biggest and most memorable in all the history of Venezuelan telenovela. Many actors make his big jump into fame with this telenovela, although some of them never escaped from the type of characters they interpreted.
Some of the most popular characters were:
Euridice Briceno (Maria Alejandra Martin): the main character. A barrio raised school teacher who is falsely blamed for the killing of one man. She hides by taking the false identity of "Eva Marina". During the soap opera, she was romantically involved with a judge named Alvaro Infante (interpreted by late Mariano Alvarez) and, later, with the drug lord Sarria Velez. Although she was the protagonist, she was somewhat overshadowed for the other characters.
Eudomar Santos (Franklin Virguez): an archetypical "barrio" man, who just care only the present day and has no ambition nor working disposition. Eudomar is a very opportunistic man, who knows his attractiveness and uses it as his advantage. His catchphrases "que es lo que esta pa'sopa" and "Como vaya viniendo vamos viendo" become very popular, and very descriptive of Venezuelan idiosincracy. At the beginning of the novela he has an on-off relationship with Eloina Rangel, but later he got another girlfriend.
Eloina Rangel (Gledys Ibarra): a nurse and single mother, who has to struggle with her daughter and her boyfriend, her feelings towards Eudomar and Dr Valerio, and the hardships of poverty.
Dr. Valerio (Roberto Lamarca): an unscrupulous doctor with a big ambition and a non hided passion for beautiful women, having a lot of mistresses (Eloina Rangel between them) even if he is married with a beautiful woman. He is basically evil, but in a mischievous and almost playful way, who makes him difficult to hate. His main gimmick was that while he says one thing, his real thoughts were heard by the watcher.
Don Chepe Orellana (Hector Myerston): a rich businessman with political ambitions, and a penchant for trespassing the law.
Natalio Vega "el hombre de la etiqueta" (Carlos Villamizar): an ex-policeman whose son is killed very early in the story. He then becomes a serial killer with a "punisher" attitude, killing criminals he considers beyond rehabilitation. He puts on the big toe of his victims a forensic tag with the word "Irrecuperable" (Not recoverable); because of that the police (unkwoningly of his real identity) names him as "el hombre de la etiqueta" roughly translated as "Tag man". He blames Euridice for the death of his son, and pursues her.
Mario Sarria Velez (Roberto Moll): a drug lord who like to show his powers, and fall in love with Euridice Briceno. First appearing around half of the telenovela, soon became popular.
The Narrator (Tomas Henriquez): although the novela has no narrator per se, every chapter ended with a famous phrase, usually related to the main theme of the chapter, read by the late actor Tomas Henriquez.
Controversy and Legacy
The telenovela was initially received less than warmly. Many show-business journalists give few confidence on the success of such a history who was almost radically different from both the classic soap opera and the then relatively new movement of "Telenovela Cultural".
The telenovela was surrounded by a lot of controversies, mostly related with supposed glorification of violence and crime, and with the ripped-off-the-headlines late nature of the story. One of the most notable controversies was related with a boy actor who interpreted a street kid who became a precocious criminal.
It is believed that the telenovela contributed to the fall of president Carlos Andres Perez.
The success of Por Estas Calles allegedly drove many independent producers into financial ruin, including the then powerful rival Marte TV, which attempted to produce a rival telenovela with similar themes titled El Paseo de la Gracia de Dios. Unlike Por Estas Calles, El Paseo de la Gracia de Dios was not a success, and lasted only a few months.
Today, many telenovelas were believed to be the "spiritual daughters" of the style and themes of Por Estas Calles, including Ciudad Bendita.
The theme song, "Por estas calles", sung by Venezuelan singer Yordano, became a big hit and topped the charts for a year.
It was the first Telenovela that contained difficult themes such as corruption, drug trafficking, and children on the streets.
While promoting the telenovela prior to its debut, one of the stunts was a fake commercial for a brand of maize flour called "Don Chepe". Many people believed that was in fact a new product, and tried unsuccessfully to find it in supermarkets.
In the 1996 comedic telenovela "Los Amores de Anita Pena", who was starred by many of the actors from Por Estas Calles, many gimmicks of the latter were parodied, like the phrase of the end of the chapter. Even in a chapter, the characters were transported to the "Por Estas Ealles" era and met the characters they interpreted then.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Por Estas Calles