Take 3 parts aerobatics, 8 parts dance, 9 parts singing, and 1 part speed drumming. Add Spanish, stir, and you have Jennifer Lopez and former husband Marc Anthony’s Fox show searching for the best Latin American talent search, Q’Viva! The Chosen. The series has been airing on Spanish-language TV in the U.S. and in 21 countries since January but made its first attempt at wooing English-speaking TV viewers last night.
For those of us who are Español-challenged, Q’Viva! is about 70 percent English. All the contestants and judges who speak in Spanish and Portuguese are subtitled and Lopez and Anthony’s segments are in English.
The two-hour premiere featured Lopez and Anthony’s trek through Latin American countries auditioning acts to win tickets to the L.A. round of the show. Once in L.A., contestants will audition again.
Auditions are knit together with documentary-like narration and moments where Lopez and Anthony meet up to share their discoveries and just generally exude chemistry. It’s not hard to believe the two are no longer married. They are “very Sonny and Cher” after their divorce, Lopez says as they drive through Puerto Rico.
“We were meant to be in people’s lives on different levels,” Antony says at one point. “Our marriage was one chapter. We got each other for life.”
Q’Viva is an entertaining fusion of reality television and international talent show that avoids all the usual pitfalls: hours of auditioning people who don’t make it, annoying contestants, ridiculous cliffhangers (Take note, Idol) and judges who spout useless criticism. In fact, most of the auditioners shown wind up making the cut for the next round. In the few minutes we get of these contestants’ backstories, they manage to make you care. You root for the Venezuelan dancer who had to give up her daughter when the father of her child and her family made her choose between motherhood and dancing. You root for the 19-year-old Chilean singer who uses music to escape after the death of his cocaine-addict father. There’s a genuine, heartwarming hope for a chance at the American dream. “I’m doing it because it’s never been done and it needs to be,” Lopez offers up as an explanation for leaving her home (and her kids) to audition acts throughout South America. I couldn’t agree more. Maybe we do have room for one more talent competition show.
Q’Viva! has a lot to overcome, particularly its time slot. Saturday isn’t exactly an ideal night to launch a new series. But Jennifer and Marc picked up at least one devoted viewer. I’ll be tuning in next weekend to see the talented singers — and to find out if JLo actually owns shirts that cover her midsection.
Are you are as smitten with Q’Viva! as I am? Smitten enough to tune in on a Saturday night?