Stream It Or Skip It: ‘High Heat’ On Netflix, A Telenovela Where A Man Becomes A Firefighter To Get Revenge On His Brother

While High Heat isn’t the kind of telenovela that we may be used to seeing here, with romantic comedy and lots of twists joined with moments of high drama, it’s still pure soapy cheese to us, and that’s just fine. It’s got the twists and interconnecting plots, and lots of abtastic guys who have somehow misplaced their shirts. What else do you want from a telenovela?


Opening Shot: Through some smoke, a shirtless firefighter saunters towards a photographer.

The Gist: In the middle of the photo shoot, an alarm goes off. It’s one of the first days on the job for Pancho Quiroga (Iván Amozurrutia), and he thinks back to someone telling him that he should infiltrate the Raul Padilla Arellano fire station in order to get revenge on the murder of his twin brother Daniel (Mauricio Hénao). The call is at an office building, and the woman he saves from the fire tells Pancho that she knows him, and that she also wants revenge for Daniel’s death.

Months earlier, waking up with the visions of a fire that affected him and Daniel when they were toddlers, Pancho goes about his day, wondering why Daniel always has his nose in his laptop, investigating a 25-year-old arson case. In the meantime, the captain of the Arellano station is having a rough morning, pretty much finding fault with all of his firefighters. He’s gotten a note from an old friend, Ricardo Urzúa (Eduardo Capetillo), who is about to be released from a 25-year prison sentence in Texas, and it seems that the two of them were in on a very serious crime in Mexico City before Ricardo went to prison.

When Daniel’s body is found in the woods, a distraught Pancho is pulled to the side by Daniel’s boss at the newspaper where he worked; he had Daniel work on the story about the fire chief’s link to Ricardo, and urges Pancho to infiltrate the station as a firefighter in order to get answers. Later, as he visits the station and runs into Olivia (Esmeralda Pimentel), the station’s lone female firefighter and a sexy patron of the strip club where he works, he sees Daniel’s boss drive off with the fire captain. That lead literally blows up, though, when the two of them die in a car explosion after Daniel follows them to a warehouse. One piece of info he does have is that Ricardo is his and Daniel’s father, though he refuses to believe it.

At that point, Pancho decides to do exactly what Daniel’s boss told him to do and looks to join the fire station under an assumed name. But there’s someone who knows all about the twins, and is keeping track of Pancho’s movements.

High Heat
Photo: Netflix

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Cross Station 19 or Chicago Fire with a dramatic telenovela, and you’ve got High Heat (original title: Donde hubo fuego).

Our Take: Created by José Ignacio Valenzuela, High Heat has so many instances of interconnectedness and surprise plot twists in just the first episode, that it’s almost tough to keep track. The music is pulsating and dramatic at almost all times. The acting, by pretty much the entire cast, is elevated and melodramatic. The budget isn’t exactly high. It all makes for an hour of that grabs your attention, even if it doesn’t make a lasting imprint on the viewer after the episode is over.

One of the reasons is because it’s just as concerned with beefcake — and a small amount of cheesecake — than plot twists. Amozurrutia spends half the episode with his shirt off, and he seems to have more than enough time to flirt with Olivia, before he knows she’s a firefighter, as the story goes along. There are plenty of scenes where we also see bare male behinds, mostly showering.

It does feel like that, as Pancho gets deeper in the woods at the fire station, and Ricardo, who was a firefighter before going away for arson and other crimes, somehow manages to weasel his way into the station, as well, the story will take over for the beefcake. Then again, we’re not so sure. The steamy stuff helps define the telenovela style; we just hope that it’s not a device that’s used in place of actual character or story development.

Sex and Skin: Lots of bare male butts, as we mentioned.

Parting Shot: The mystery person who is tracking Pedro sets a photo of him on fire.

Sleeper Star: Esmeralda Pimentel has a bigger role to play as Olivia than the first episode indicates; otherwise, the show’s writers wouldn’t keep throwing Olivia and Pancho together so many times.

Most Pilot-y Line: “I don’t fuck with strangers,” Olivia tells Pancho outside the strip club. “You just like to see them naked,” he retorts. Oof.

Our Call: STREAM IT. A lot of High Heat made us cringe, or at least long for a show with a higher budget. But it’s definitely in the wheelhouse for people who like non-romantic telenovelas, with lots of plot twists and shirtless guys with eight-packs.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon,,, Fast Company and elsewhere.

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