BY DEOYE FALADE
Just when people were beginning to wonder when Tinsel would up its game; just when viewers were beginning to conclude that it might be the zenith of Nigerian based television soaps for a while, we were blessed with Hotel Majestic. It was fresh, different but something we could easily identify with and acted out in a way we haven’t seen in a long time.
However, after a beautiful run, this really brilliant show came to an end in January and we’re left to wait and see if we’ll get something better soon enough. And in a country where we can’t be said to be enjoying the best of indigenous TV programmes and soap operas at the moment – after a period when we were glued to the likes of Checkmate, Palace, New Masquerade, etc. – some of us are reluctant to quickly conclude that the good old days are back. There have been times when we got to warm up to a really good TV show, only for it to end and not have anything better than Mexican soaps to punctuate our misery. So forgive us when we’re tempted to wonder if this isn’t another flash in the pan.
I think not; okay, I hope not.
For those who aren’t familiar with the show, Hotel Majestic is a series surrounding the Emeni family whose great-grandchildren struggle to keep their hotel from closing due to harsh economic conditions, lack of customers and so on. Amid the scheming, fights and truces among siblings, the story got more interesting when a man was found dead in their pool the same night a lady lodges at the hotel for the first time.
Seriously, what’s not to like? The story is really good; the actors, comprising of Oge Okoye, Gloria Young, Ivie Okujaiye, Bukky Ajayi, Sadiq Daba, Tina Mba, Anne Njemanze and others, pulled off highly commendable performances helped by top-notch scripting. You don’t put a series like Hotel Majestic with that many episodes on air and end up with suggestions that it’s a fluke.
There were a few shortcomings, however; at certain points the story seemed to drag a bit and you’re tempted to wonder if the producers weren’t intent on pulling another Tinsel. It shouldn’t be the case and I believe the producers should have it in mind that one of the reasons viewers fell in love with Hotel Majestic was because it was somewhat anti-Tinsel. Who wants more of the same all the time? Good thing is that it’s still too early to let that be a major gripe.
So if it’s established that Hotel Majestic isn’t a fluke, is it all well and good? Not really. I believe that the series, despite the relative success and attention it got could have achieved so much more if it was circulated even wider. For the most part, Hotel Majestic was aired on Africa Magic showcase which a lot of DSTV subscribers can’t access because it’s not on their bouquets.
Now I’m not going all consumer protection here but doesn’t it make sense if a series set in Nigeria for a primarily Nigerian audience can be watched by all Nigerians, regardless of what bouquet they paid for? Let the foreign series remain at a premium – people who want to see Scandal, Game of Thrones and others will still get the chance to do so. But a series like Hotel Majestic is different. You’re not losing anything here; rather, I believe you’re earning more points. Why ‘hide’ something so beautiful?
Also, how well was it promoted outside DSTV? Even online, you’ll have to be a dedicated searcher to find articles on Hotel Majestic – except some blogger or reviewer was interested enough to pen something. If in doubt, check online and see what Africa Magic has on it. I don’t know if I should point the finger at the producers or whoever, but a few things weren’t done right. I know when the next episode of a The Originals is coming out; I get to be inundated with teasers online. Now, this isn’t even about Hotel Majestic alone but other Nigerian TV series as well. You don’t just put a series on TV and assume that people are going to watch because they’re subscribed. Your work isn’t done yet!
So like I said earlier, this was no fluke but did it pull all the right stops? No. Could it have done better, not just with the presentation but other areas that would have contributed to making it bigger than it turned out to be? Yes.
Well, if we knew better we’d do better. Let’s do better.