Where were you when reruns of Japanese game show Takeshi’s Castle aired on TV?
Be careful of what you answer next, especially when you are talking to the reboot’s host, award-winning actress Eugene Domingo. “Tinawag mo kong ‘Nay Uge?” she tells this writer in protest. “Um, sister?” I answer back, hoping to get on her good side. “Ginawa mo naman akong madre!” she rebuts, drawing the whole media conference to laughter.
Domingo is playing sensitive—or so it seems—to honorifics and questions that would emphasize that her co-host, TikTok sensation Sassa Gurl is the youngest of their trio. Nevertheless, she points out to OG host Smokey Manaloto, “Aminin na natin, beterano ka na, especially you’ve had training with (Home Along Da Riles co-star and the late comedy king) Dolphy.”
Jokes aside, Domingo said Manaloto is an essential part of the localization of the show. “Kinuha lang kami to add clout,” she said. “Ikaw talaga ang importante rito.”
Alongside former Eat Bulaga host Anjo Yllana, Manaloto was part of the original syndicated run of Takeshi’s Castle that aired on IBC 13 in the 90s. He recalled that they pre-taped scripted reactions on the game show in a corner of a state-run newsroom. He added that in retrospect, it was a missed opportunity to annotate comments in real-time then, which the new set of hosts and celebrity guests would be doing on the Prime Video reboot.
“Thirty years after, ito na ‘yung technology na napakasaya, sayang ‘di pala ginawa namin noon,” Manaloto says. “It’s a very humbling experience na napag-desisyunan ng Project 8 Productions na isama ako.”
While Yllana is part of the show, Domingo suggested that he replace Manaloto next season, prompting the latter to suggest Sassa be axed instead.
The veteran actors were also asked to give a piece of advice to Sassa, being the relative rookie in the bunch. “Paladesisyon ka, ate, ‘di ko naman hinihingi,” Sassa tells the reporter. Domingo then cuts her and shifts to a serious tone, “Sabi nga niya ay nagsisimula kang komedyante, ang advice ko ay…tapusin mo na.”
The hosts explained that the program’s format will be similar to reaction videos with Domingo playing the quintessential gossiper aptly named Aling Marites, Sassa Gurl as herself, and Manaloto as a former employee at Takeshi’s Castle, a nod back at his role in the iconic program.
Legendary actor Takeshi Kitano of Battle Royale fame will also return to the program named after him, alongside veteran actor Hayato Tani, who reprises his role as General Tani. For the 90s kids, Tani is a familiar face in Hikari Sentai Maskman, the group’s mentor and expert in the ways of the mystical Aura Power.
The program will also update the difficult physical challenges players need to win before getting to Takeshi.
For the local portion of the show, Strangebrew director RA Rivera helms the antics of Yummy Teh, the sari-sari store where they will all watch episodes of Takeshi’s Castle. Jun Sabayton, another Strangebrew alum, joins the cast as one of Takeshi’s minions, Shitake who explains the game's rules. Celebrities like Maris Racal, Zanjoe Marudo, and Ketchup Eusebio will also drop by throughout the eight-episode series.
“It feels surreal that the Takeshi’s Castle of my 90s childhood magkaka-new life ngayong 2020s, pero mas pina-Pinoy lalo. Bringing back Smokey to the show alongside two of my favorite comedians makes the project that much more exciting. Nakakatawa sila separately pero nung pinagsama na namin sila, lalong sumabog," shares producer Dan Villegas of Project 8 Projects.
Takeshi’s Castle is set to premiere on Nov. 16 on Prime Video, dropping two episodes every week.