Another heartthrob premiered his newest lakorn, Madam Dun this past Monday, and if his experience in movies and lakorns are any indication, Mario Maurer has proven that he has the acting chops. He plays Next or Bakma, a country bumpkin who recently graduated and must decide his fate. Should he follow in his adopted parent’s footsteps and pursue teaching, or chase this deep-seated dream of finding his biological father? Next has never entertained his dreams before, until he meets the down and out celebrity agent Madam Butchi, who gives him a way out.

The saucy Ploy Chermarn plays Madam Butchi, and their real life age difference is similar to the age difference in the storyline. About 7 years apart, Madam Butchi is an ambitious agent who writes a tell-all book about the entertainment industry. Her nemesis- I’m going to call him the other “gay” agent played by Chai- dislikes seeing her successful book and he sues her for the content. He wins the case in court and Madam Butchi’s reputation gets tarnished.  Her life as she knows it, is over. Unless she can find the next big thing and redeem her image.

This sets the premise, as her assistant Nu-Dor, discovers a hidden gem in Bueng Khong Long. Madam immediately rushes to the upcountry and recruits Next as her new dara (celeb.) Unfortunately, she has some tough obstacles in her way. Next’s father is controlling and adamant that his son will live at Bueng Khong Long forever and ever. He has Next’s life all planned out and he will see to it that it stays that way. Next also has a love interest in Pethi, the local beauty and daughter of the powerful Sia. She sets her caps on Next and is determined to make him hers, because there is only one man on earth suitable for her.

Despite it all, Madam’s proposal of a successful celeb life and money speaks to him. He agrees to sign with her under the condition that she would make him successful within a year, so that he may acquire enough money to search France for his biological father. Not to mention, repay his adopted parents for the nurture that they’ve given him. There are some laugh-out-loud moments, because it’s Mario, but then there’s also the melodramatic, angst moments because of Mario. He opts to be an ingrate to his parents so he could pursue his dreams. Yet, I understand why he’s doing this, for one, his father is such a controlling dictator and boy’s gotta make his own way in life, whether that is finding his biological father, finding himself, or just have a nice hop skip and jump to Paris. Let the boy go.

Ploy as Madam starts off a bit shrieky and desperate, but as her character settles in, she’s quite reasonable and smart. Let’s keep it that way because I want to like our girl. I have utilized the fast forward button around Chai’s scenes or angry dad scenes, but hands down, Mario is charming. I can’t wait to see more of him as he goes from being the country (handsome) bumpkin to the star that Madam Butchi envisions.  Between Ploy and Mario, I currently see them as siblings, so I hope the chemistry heats up as we progress through the storyline- because as much as this is a story about a boy who becomes famous, this is also a story of an agent who falls for her own star.

Let’s see what kind of awkward shenanigans they get into. I’m keeping my eyes on this one as well, despite coming out feeling like the old fogey that I am. (*Next calls Madam Butchi “paa” all the time, which means auntie. And if she’s 31 and she’s his auntie, what makes me? I won’t say it! I know he was just teasing her, but still.)

(Madam Dun airs Mon-Tues on Channel 3, courtesy of Broadcast Television Production.)