Sam Pinto appeared on Sunday All Stars with an albino snake wrapped around her shoulders. Mark Herras (right frame) emerged as the Best Performer during the June 16 pilot episode of GMA-7's new Sunday variety show. (View photos: Sunday All Stars kicks off on GMA-7)

Photo: Noel Orsal

When Party Pilipinas—GMA-7’s former Sunday noontime variety show—abruptly ended its run, many were surprised. But not everyone feared for the future of its hosts and resident stars.

After all, they’ve seen the farewell scene previously in its other noontime show called SOP. When SOP went off air, almost everybody came back to its new reincarnation Party Pilipinas or PP. It was a case of “same show, different name.”

It almost happened again in the new offering Sunday All Stars, which aired its pilot episode last Sunday, June 16.

But this time, although most—if not all—stars are returnees, GMA-7 injected a variation in the format. Their Sunday concert TV has become a competition between four groups that aim to outperform each other with their production numbers.

If you're familiar with That’s Entertainment, German Moreno’s star-making playground in the nineties, you know how this works.

(View photos: Sunday All Stars kicks off on GMA-7)

Sunday All Stars debuted last Sunday, after a few weeks of PP’s absence. Is it a worthy replacement? Will it be able to topple its perennial rival ASAP of ABS-CBN? Here’s what we observed during its pilot episode:

First, let’s talk about the title. When ASAP first came into television, they clearly promoted it as an “All Star Sunday Afternoon Party,” thus the name. Now, they name its newest competitor Sunday All Stars (SAS)...a little too similar perhaps? But still, the name is a kind of weak. Both its full form and the SAS abbreviation lack punch. At least Party Pilipinas had character. SOP was memorable.

Secondly, the format isn't very original. This is Saturday Entertainment (the weekend edition of That’s Entertainment, reloaded). The Big 4—Ogie Alcasid, Regine Velasquez, Janno Gibbs and Jaya—have been given roles as mentors and judges. The rest of the younger talents were assigned into 4 groups, each having a team leader (who will served for a period of one month).

Mark Bautista leads Tropang Trending, Jolina Magdangal has Ligang iLike, Christian Bautista leads Instagang, and Jennylyn Mercado, the only homegrown GMA talent among the four, leads Tweet Hearts.

As pointed out by the Big 4, the strength of this format is in arousing the talents’ competitive spirit. Everybody will be on their toes, no time for complacency.

In fact, while giving her comments about one group, Regine Velasquez pointed out: "Maganda sa show na ito kasi parang pinaghandaan lahat hindi gaya dati."

As we witnessed in the first episode, all four teams obviously brainstormed and prepared for their respective production numbers. Teamwork and solidarity were highlighted, with individual singers and dancers contributing their own respective strengths and skills to form one grand presentation.

This will be beneficial to artists who have always been backup singers and/or dancers in the previous format. It can be seen that the members all received exposure, allowing them to make full use of their abilities.