Five Forgotten Foreign Shows That Became Massive Hits in the Philippines

Times have changes so much since I was young. Although I grew up in the Philippines, most of the television programs I watched when I was young were foreign shows. I can’t really explain why we didn’t produce our own local television programs before but things are vastly different now. In the Philippines today, the mass audience have a lot of locally produced shows. While I’m not one of those people, I can respect their choice. However, looking back now, I realized that a good number of foreign shows that became huge hits here never really became all that successful in their own country. Some of them may have been forgotten.

So, with that in mind, here are just five of those forgotten television shows that became massive hits in the Philippines.

The Highwayman

No, I’m not talking about the Netflix original movie. I’m talking about the kitschy show that tried to smash Knight Rider and Mad Max into one awesome show!

The Highwayman was a show that’s set in some sort of post-apocalyptic future where the law is enforced by a group of enforcers called Highwaymen. They road the desolate countryside in their high-tech transforming trucks and solving crimes. Highwayman wasn’t a hit in its home country of the United States. In fact, the show only lasted nine episodes before it was cancelled.

Probably the biggest reason why Highwayman was so big here were the transforming trucks. Sure, Highwayman’s truck was fine as the front cab transforms into a helicopter. But everyone liked Jetto, the secondary Highwayman, and his truck since it turns into a sports car. Too bad they didn’t do this every episode as this was the main draw. Maybe Highwayman would’ve gotten more episodes and viewers if they did that more.

Dark Justice

Because shows where people take the law into their own hands was big.

Dark Justice focuses on Judge Nicolas Marshall who takes justice into his own hands with his vigilante group of ex-cons. e takes on the criminals who manage to get out of paying for their crimes thanks to some legal loopholes. Basically, Dark Justice is one of those shows like Leverage (which is a fantastic show), Person of Interest or, if you live in the UK, Hustle.

It was a fun show but nothing special by any means yet it became something we talked about at school for some reason. I think Dark Justice became a hit in the Philippines because of cheesy shows like Stingray, The Equalizer and, yes, even Manimal. There were just a good number of oddball shows where vigilante justice just ruled. Dark Justice was one of the last ones of that “genre” that came out during the time period.

Sledge Hammer!

Trust me. I know what I’m doing.

During the ’80s, there were a lot of movies that focused on the “cop on the edge” trope. This reached a boiling point with Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry films as, by that point, all of it started to get ridiculous. From all of that came Sledge Hammer!, a very good comical parody that features Detective Sledge Hammer as the violent, sadistic cop with a blatant disregard for the rules.

Truth be told, I never really got to watch this consistently for one reason or another but I did love the theme song and the almost kiddie friendly slapstick the show had. That’s probably the biggest reason why it became a hit here. Little did I realize that Sledge Hammer! had so many gags that simply went over my head as the show had some clever adult humor buried in it.

Voltes V

Yes, person from the Philippines who is reading this. Voltes V wasn’t all that big in its native country of Japan.

But before you get all in a huff and say that Voltes V wasn’t huge in Japan because it kind of was, the anime was loads more popular in the Philippines. Voltes V was the Super Robot that dominated the country when it was first shown here much in the same way Grendizer was extremely huge in France and Italy. To say Voltes V was huge in the Philippines is a massive understatement as kids who grew up watching it still remember all the lyrics to the theme song. Compared to its popularity in the Philippines, Voltes V is just a blip in Japan’s consciousness.

Voltes V was one of those Super Robot animes where the gimmick was the robot would be formed by five separate spaceships. This wasn’t all that new in Japan. But in the Philippines, that was something unique, especially when you compare it to the other Super Robot animes that was released at the same time.


Face it: as much as you may have liked the show, you probably forgot about Wiseguy until I mentioned it, didn’t you?

I’ll be fair and say that Wiseguy did last for a long time as it has a good 75 episodes under its belt. It also had a unique setup where Vinnie Terranova (played by Ken Wahl) is a cop who goes undercover to blend in with various criminal organizations. The show had some long story arcs, which was rather refreshing from the compartmentalized style of storytelling for the time. This also allowed a lot of character development for both the heroes and the criminals they were investigating.

In all honestly, I can’t figure out why Wiseguy was big in the Philippines. I do remember eagerly awaiting the next episode each and ever week as I was so engaged with the first two story arcs. I guess it was just a good show.

Bonus: Marimar

Marimar is the biggest telenovelas ever, which is why I’m placing it as a “bonus” feature here as it’s hardly forgotten. But I think I’ll have to include it because, while you may think Marimar is big, it was something else in the Philippines.

To give you an unexaggerated idea of how big Marimar is in the Philippines, the show has been remade using local actresses not once, but twice already. Also, while each episode is 30- long, a single episode of Marimar when it was showing here was, and I’m not kidding here, around 1 hour and 30 minutes long because of all the commercials. At least! Yes, the time devoted to commercials were twice as long than the actual episode!

I never got into Marimar because, well, I thought it was stupid. It felt like your typical Filipino soap opera thanks to the characters being just blatant good and evil archetypes. I did think Thalia was hot, though.

What foreign shows in your country were big in your location? Let me know what they were in the comments section below!

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