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New online show offers moral wisdom by the cup

The protagonist is a magical being that serves problem-solving coffee.
The protagonist is a magical being that serves problem-solving coffee. Pha Lina

New online show offers moral wisdom by the cup

With a web series set to debut on their YouTube channel early next month, Prahok TV takes a turn from comedy to a magical drama featuring enchanted cups of coffee.

The YouTube channel and production studio Prahok TV, which launched just over six months ago as primarily a comedy channel, is turning to more serious content with the launch of its fantasy-drama Caffe Latte early next month.

Director and co-writer Sok Heng says the new show will have “standards of concept and production quality that audiences will find to be nicer” than typical Cambodian TV with original sound design, effects, clean editing, and a higher quality of camerawork. Heng, who co-founded the channel, whose videos average some 50,000 views, is in the process of pitching the web show to TV networks for broadcast.

The intro montage shows a happy coffeeshop owner as a voiceover asks, “What is coffee? How many coffees can we have? Try this coffee you’ve never had.” But coffee, as it turns out, isn’t the subject, but rather a plot device in the new show.

“I don’t drink coffee myself, I treat the coffeeshop as a room full of information,” Heng says. The show, he adds, invites the viewer to imagine how many people go to cafés every day and bring with them their own thoughts and problems.

The coffeeshop protagonist, played by actor Berry Berry, is actually a disguised Tevada (a supernatural angel-like being in Khmer mythology), who - bored with his job in the heavens - decides to come down to earth and solve people’s problems.

“The first thing he tries on earth is coffee and he likes the taste, so he decides to set up a coffeeshop, and that is the place where people share their problems,” Heng explains.

The result: each episode acts as a short fable, with simple moral takeaways.

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The crew at Prahok TV. Pha Lina

“The idea is for people to be less greedy, and to understand that what they have may be the best already and that they should be happy with what they have,” Heng says.

Episodes, he continues, will focus mainly on discussing people’s vices, rather than the usual subject of Cambodian TV dramas.

“In order to target young people, the concept is different from other Khmer drama because we don’t talk about family problems but life problems: decision-making, self-esteem, morals and love,” Heng says.

For instance, one episode tells the story of a young woman who was once a famous model but gained weight and was no longer able to work in the modelling industry. Upset with her own body, she diets every day until one day she meets her friends at the fateful coffeeshop and is given a cup of “lucky” coffee. Suddenly, her beauty is regained and, wishing to maintain her image, she asks for the coffee’s recipe. Naturally, her greed gets the best of her, and when she drinks more coffee than recommended the effects are reversed.

“In spite of this drama, the message for the audience to understand is about greed and such problems,” Heng says. “And that your luck could change at any moment.”

Caffe Latte will launch on Prahok TV’s YouTube channel on Thursdays and Fridays beginning the first week of February, with 30 episodes expected.

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