Five episodes so I see no harm diving in. How was it? Quite touching and meaningful–like most DaAi dramas. It was touching because it didn’t try to be. It was just telling the story of a family. And I think it might be inspired by a real family since I saw the name of the characters (some of them) flashed on the screen before the ending credits.
- Enson Chang as Li Yi Bang (李彝邦). A dentist. Following his father’s footstep, he became a dentist instead of a medical doctor like his father had wanted. Yet he felt there was nothing to be ashamed of–even though there was the initial disappointment when the exam results came in. Yet his terrible attitude didn’t just vanish over the years. He actually had his moments, which reflected how real it was that he reacted differently when the environment change–regardless if he understood more or less of what was around him. I thought Enson captured his character quite well, the stubbornness along with the discomfort at times. Or the more determined self with traces of being proud of himself, not to mention having accomplished something through the efforts he’d put forth and the people he’d helped instead of measuring his accomplishment by comparing himself with others like previously. In joining the charity organization, it had allowed Ah Bang to see through different perspectives and realizing how much his father cared for him hence it rang true with helping others was like helping oneself (i.e. because of what he’d gone through, he understood his father even more and slowly mended their father and son relationship).
- Bing Cheng Yu (兵承育) as the young Li Yi Bang. I felt sooo sorry for the kid with all the strict discipline he received when he was little. But totally understand those types of techniques that often occurred at different regions at those times, even if I don’t agree with it. Besides, at that time, he could only understand so much, still so carefree toward life. Seeing the kid portraying a clueless, innocent one and then later into a more matured one at such a young age was quite fascinating. Though he seemed more understanding toward his father’s reason for forcing him to study hard, that didn’t mean he wasn’t a kid anymore. The scene where it showed he was staring at the other kid’s popcorn at the movies showed he still has some small desires from a child’s point of view, etc. Then his rebellious nature kicking in, not wanting to do well anymore after that one failure with scoring lower than the previous time. (Kudos to the scriptwriter for not making him obedient from that one time on since he was still a little kid, after all, not just some machine that was operating on some pre-planned movements.) The kid got a lot of scenes and ranges of emotions to act on, especially how he showed great changes throughout–though not too unreasonable. The part where he was yelling at his classmates for laughing at this one poor girl was really powerful and showed his determination in really helping others.
- Vicky Tseng as Zheng Ya Rong (鄭雅蓉). Yi Bang’s wife, a teacher. I had to tell myself time over time to push aside previous biases toward her as I was waiting for her appearance. (Yeah, I haven’t gotten over her convincing role in Peak Times yet hence needing to tell myself to give her a chance with this role.) She indeed looked cute in here and showed that she could portray different roles, aside from the annoying one I just mentioned. And she wasn’t just a cute girl in here but was a courageous young woman who knew what her goals were in life and had set out to fight for that dream.
- Angus Xie as Li Jin Cheng (李金城). Yi Bang’s father. I felt he was quite convincing as a strict father but showed his gentle side as well. It wasn’t the first time I watched him (in fact, it was a wrong choice of drama, lol), but I was glad I gave him another chance without biases to see how he portrayed this character. The part where he was talking to his dental equipment was hilarious. Okay, it was somewhat moving that he was reminiscing about the old days and how the set had been with him all these years, but it was still funny that he was talking to them and reassuring them, etc.
- Xie Li Jin (謝麗金) as Li Li E (李麗娥). Yi Bang’s mother. Like most mothers, she was really protective of her kids and seemed to obey her husband as well. However, I liked how her character unfolded and told us she wasn’t just a typical obedient wife. She was also reasonable and knew the exact time to interfere and made her voice known. She did successfully end the violence in her household, i.e. her husband’s discipline technique of their son.
- Liang Xiu Zhi (梁修治) as Cai Er Gui (蔡爾貴). A doctor. The doctor whom Ah Bang worked with at the charity organization when he first joined and then after when he had his license already.
- Zhang Xin Ning (張芯寧) as Hui Min Ma Ma (惠敏媽媽). The lady who helped took care of Ah Bang when he was hospitalized and encouraged his mother not to give up, also staying by her to comfort her throughout. Part of an organization that helped those in need. Inspired Ah Bang to join the organization to help others as well.
- Guan Jia Yu (官家宇) as Li Mao Cheng (李茂盛). Yi Bang’s uncle. I swear I thought he would be some showoff just appearing to rub it in his brother’s face. Or possibly because I’d been watching too many dramas where brothers were scheming against one another. Yet I felt quite convinced with his sincerity and how he had encouraged Ah Bang in trying to understand what his father was doing for him and how much was sacrificed. He wasn’t just all talks either since he found ways to take care of his brother throughout the years, sneaking side gifts and the visits from time to time. The major scene for him must be wanting to foot the hospital bill, not backing down regardless of what his brother said, stating that they were brothers, etc.
- You Xue Ting (尤學廷) as Huang Zhi Tong (黃志同). Yi Bang’s classmate and also his roommate. He was a funny guy. Yet a good friend who was willing to lend Ah Bang money in the time of needs, etc. Sure, he teased and laughed at Ah Bang at times but didn’t go over the line with his jokes. It was a typical friendship between the two of them. He later got roped into the charity organization as well yet it was only because he wanted to give it a chance after seeing how much Ah Bang had changed over time. It possibly could be how he wanted to change his family situation as well though he was saying how he didn’t really feel like it yet.
- Hong Qi Yang (洪綺陽) as Senior Li Zhu (麗珠師姐). Part of the management team of the charity organization. The scene where she appeared and explained to Ya Rong’s mother about their organization reminded me of some real-life situations where members were willing to reach out and reassure family members that they were genuine, etc. Sometimes, there just had to be someone making sure their reputation wasn’t tainted and/or got misunderstood along with those other hokey ones.
- Pan Qi Yan (潘祈諺) as Lu Jia Qi (呂嘉祈). Hui Min’s son, Yi Bang’s senior, from the same charity organization as his mother.
- Gao Li Hong (高麗紅) as Ya Rong’s mother. It wasn’t like she objected to Ya Rong’s decision in joining and becoming a member of the charity organization at first, but thanks to her neighbor, it got her paranoid that Ya Rong could be conned, etc. I don’t blame the neighbor in this situation though since these days and all, anything was possible so it wasn’t like she was too nosy or anything.
- Liang Shu Han (梁舒涵) as Senior Qi Hui (啟惠師姐). Part of the charity organization as well.
- Ah Bang’s younger sister. I was always wondering what happened to her in the later parts of the story, but it made sense that she would go away for school. She later appeared at the end of episode 5 again.
- Enson Chang and Vicky Tseng as a couple. I seriously thought she looked older than Enson. It wasn’t because of my previous bias toward her either. It just looked that way. Yes, the production team did try to make her look younger when they just met and the change with later years. Yet blame it on Enson for looking so young. I got the gist of their characters and their story, but it didn’t work for me with their pairing. One of the scenes that I really liked between them was in the hospital where she was telling him about her friend who was also involved in a car accident and hadn’t awakened yet, then she cried (which was reasonable because it was indeed tragic). YET what made the difference was how she didn’t lean on his shoulder and cried like some typical soapy drama. She ran from the room and tried to calm herself down, which she failed but it was a move I feel closer to life or I could relate to. Though it wasn’t a shame to cry, she didn’t try to use that situation or win him over with the tears or anything. It showed that all her tears were for her friend and that she felt embarrassed to actually break down like that during the story recount. It made sense that he chased after her to make sure she was all right, BUT he didn’t take advantage of the situation to hug her or comfort her in those mushy gestures either but just handed her a tissue silently. (I don’t know, after watching too many cliche formulas–which could be considered cute and at times I fall for them too, but I felt refreshed again and actually closer to the character as I watched this particular scene.) What was more, Xiao Qi’s story had made Ah Bang realized how lucky he was to have awakened and been able to continue on to fulfill his dream. In short, it had made him cherish this second chance even more. And did I say what I loved, even more, was how Ya Rong had successfully pulled herself together, wiping the last of her tears away and even turned around to tell Ah Bang that Xiao Qi might wake up tomorrow? Not only that but she had also reminded Ah Bang of what his father once said through her words with helping others and not wasting time, etc. I guess what I was trying to say was I liked how slow their relationship was developing, being friends and a part of the charity organization before it turned into much more. (YES, I’m so over those intense soaps and still could never buy into those “love at first sight” situations.) If anyone felt that the proposal wasn’t enough, I thought it was suitable. I meant with all that was happening between them these past years and all, it wasn’t too surprising that things didn’t go toward the more mushy road. I swear it was not an excuse to be less romantic either because they’d reached an understanding where being with one another was enough, not caring for those supposedly “proper” procedures set forth or aiming for too much technicalities like that. Instead, I felt the talk with Ya Rong’s mother held a traditional sense to the whole marriage proposal, not just opting for some modern mushy gist often driven by the current pop culture. It managed to tie it back to the whole valuing the family and respecting the elders within other families as well. The fact that he had offered to go see her mother and asked for her opinions/agreement made it more genuine instead of only going after some nagging from her or something like that often seen in other dramas. (YES, the current generation is very much leaning toward the modern genre and often neglect those little ‘traditional’ bits but I was glad to see them pointing out some little pieces of the traditions still being present at various areas and in some families such as these ones.)
- Angus Xie and Enson Chang/Bing Cheng Yu as father and son. At first, I was seriously turned off by the whole “whacking” discipline technique with the flashback at the beginning. (Though as stated before that I do understand those types of discipline going on during those times.) Yet the father and son relationship soon grew on me. Seeing how hardworking the father was to provide for the family, helping others, etc made me feel like he wasn’t all talk OR just wanted to have some doctor son to brag about. Because he actually was a doctor himself, helping others yet wasn’t properly licensed like how the others would recognize him as hence wanting to fulfill that wish and in a way, carry on the tradition. It wasn’t too much to ask for. Then there was the whole scene with him taking Ah Bang to the movies and buying the kid popcorn, etc. It somehow showed their fatherly bond, not just the strict discipline only. Then the confrontation after one of the failed examination (more like the kid left all blanks, not caring to fill it in) and how the kid was asking his father why he always got hit, regardless of right or wrong, etc. The turn around was actually sending a better message because of how Yi Bang’s father had promised not to hit him anymore when they had the talk by the river. He went on to explain how he didn’t want his son to turn out to be some selfish kid who would just look for ways to benefit himself, not caring for others. It sounded reasonable as to his strict ways, but what I admired the most was when the kid talked back to him, questioning with why the father wasn’t satisfied with anything he’d done, he stopped himself when he was about to strike at the kid. That proved he really wanted to change his method of discipline than just empty talks. He turned around and tried to talk sense into the kid by telling the kid what his own father had taught him (aka the kid’s grandpa). He didn’t just want Ah Bang to become a good student, but also a good person. Because like he said, life wasn’t just about exams or being number one in class, but about respecting others and giving them face, such as respecting his teacher, for example. (Though what the father said was true about all teachers have their own method, but the end result would always be for the student’s own good, i.e. honing their skills. YET I couldn’t help laughing inside a bit because it’s so not true with some cases nowadays where some people just become teachers because their dreams got lost along the way so they’re forced to teach. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know lots of great teachers out there, but some are just settling hence not really focusing on teaching for real but just doing some routine.) One more situation that made it all more realistic was how Ah Bang didn’t just cave into what his father was saying to him immediately but the next day at school. I almost thought he would eventually call his father and apologize after the father told him it was windy outside so he should go back and eat. Though he wanted to, he was both too stubborn and still mad about the other situation to call out or want to reconcile. The next day at school when he saw his father actually bowing to the teacher and apologizing, he realized how much his father cared for him to even put down the whole “reputation” or “saving face” thing to ask for a second chance to take the exam. The proud look that Ah Bang’s father gave him when Ah Bang asked the old man (mind my choice of words, lol) to take a look at the granny’s teeth could be considered a priceless moment. Because that was when Ah Bang showed signs of caring for others around him, not just being bitter over his grades or trying to be best in class only. Witnessing his father doing the examination for the granny and the after events made Ah Bang understood more of his father’s occupation and how he helped others, and also understanding that helping others could bring such happiness. The part where Ah Bang (after listening to his uncle’s story) actually thanked his father was really moving. As Ah Bang grew older, it was seen that not only he had understood a lot about the world outside but also his father had improved majorly on the communication front, showing support in a more positive way and thus cultivating Ah Bang’s potential. Their conflicts when Ah Bang was older reminded me of the old days when Ah Bang was still a kid. I meant the one about them arguing over why he only came home when he needed money, not because he wanted to see them. In a way, it seemed like a step back to his younger version with learning how to be a considerate person already. Yet it wasn’t too unreasonable–like I mentioned above in the ‘character’ section. It was the changes in life. Everything was unpredictable. Moving forward to the part after the accidents and how the father had promised to never scold/act fierce with Ah Bang regarding matters anymore, I had a feeling it was too hard. Of course, it made sense and in such emotional events, promises and bargains with Heaven were often blurted out. Yet it was quite admirable to see how the man had kept his words. Though he was upset at times, he tried hard to hold it back. And when the father discovered his son’s grade sheet, I thought the kid would be dead for real this time. NOT like dead dead, but I thought that all bets were off and there would be a major scolding marathon YET after he talked to the organization’s leaders and indeed came to realize how much Ah Bang changed and also to hand his trust over to them in order to help Ah Bang with his grades. It showed that the man wasn’t unreasonable and would listen if others made sense. This scene somewhat reminded me about the exam incident when Ah Bang was little though the reactions were different because of the time and how circumstances were that had led to a different outcome. The part where the father was hospitalized and Ah Bang sitting there holding his hand were indeed like years ago, except for the role reversal. It made Ah Bang realized how worried his father was at that time. AND nothing compared to the scene where Ah Bang showed his father the doctor certification/license since the old man looked so proud that it was indescribable yet captured his feelings so vividly. OMG, one of the priceless moments when Ah Bang was knocking on his parents’ door and asking if they’d slept already AND his father yelled out that they were already asleep so he shouldn’t be so loud, etc. That got me going for a while. And you think this doesn’t have comedy? (You’re still able to respond when you’re asleep? LOL! His wife was asking him the same thing, lol.)
- Angus Xie and Xie Li Jin as husband and wife. I liked it that she wasn’t so cowardly like it was projected at first. NOT that she seemed that way because she did try to stop her husband from hitting the kid and tried to interfere at times. But I’m sick of those plots with the wife keeping one eye shut, one eye close regarding matters like that. However, when she finally told him to “talk to their son, use a better way to communicate since they’re father and son, NOT enemies”, I respected her more and actually liked it that he thought about it and listened to her instead of continuing on with that too strict type of a discipline. (Because it would seriously make more sense if their child turned out to be kind and loving instead of some serial killer since he kept getting beat up like that.) The proud expressions of the parents at the scene where they realized that their son had helped a classmate to buy new school supplies was another touching moment in its own rights YET without tears. It was like knowing that their hardship had paid off, allowing their son to become a considerate person. OMG, I so didn’t see it coming but the scene where he was thanking his wife and she looked outside to check if it was raining was really cute–and funny. In a way, it was really touching since she realized how her husband appreciated her and never stopped loving her all these years, but it was really cute how they had their moments too. Indeed, it was nearing soap-ville but I didn’t mind. Her interestingly funny scene where she was trying to pull the father and son together again YET failed because she didn’t realize her son had other activities already planned and she had to cover her face with the newspaper made me want to laugh even more. She was so cute while her husband was staring at her with livid eyes. Like he would do anything (at that point in his life) but it was still funny to see her so timid. YUP, she interfered at the wrong time. Oh well…she tried. Their constant bicker in the later years was kind of humorous in its own way. I guess they were indeed an old couple, one becoming quite nagging and the other increasingly stubborn. Though of course they still cared for each other. But it was so cute how he was so stubborn but still gave in to her pleas during the whole moving in with their son and his wife. He seemed like he was throwing a tantrum but at the same time he was happy that his son was thinking about them, wanting to live with them, etc. (Indeed, like the mother pointed out, it was soooo rare these days that kids would want to live with their parents, especially married ones.) It was funny how she was pointing out that he didn’t want others to look after him like he was some kid YET he was trying to control the kids’ schedules, lol.
- Xi Li Jin and Enson/Bing Cheng Yu as mother and son. I don’t know why I didn’t put it in sooner. She was always so protective of him and had succeeded in stopping her husband from beating him with the stick, i.e. enforcing strict discipline. The later years when Ah Bang grew older got a tad funnier. Like how she was saying he and his father were so alike and he rejected her theory. YUP, the mother was right, both father and son were sooo stubborn/hard-headed. (Both were equally soft-hearted yet didn’t want to admit their caring for one another. Ah Bang was indeed becoming more and more like his father.)
Funny yet interesting:
- Enson portraying Angus’ son. I was looking up the names of the cast list one by one AND I was suppressing some sort of laughter at first, like before actually watching it. By just reading the information, I was like, “Seriously”? Then the second thing I did was look up their ages, I guess they could pass as father and son with the age, but even if they were standing next to each other, it would still look like they were brothers. When I actually started watching, it made sense. It wasn’t too weird since they managed to do some makeup and other alteration with the outfits to make sure the age gap was at a decent point. Yet they might want to put on more wrinkles on Angus’ face in the later years? ‘Cause he still had such smooth skin after all these years, lol. Though Angus was really good with crouching/slouching his shoulders to make him seemed like an old man.
- Memory Test. OMG, I was so scared it was memory loss. Sounds familiar? I don’t know. I always am in fear of the “memory loss” formula each time someone in a drama encounters some kind of car/road accident. It’s the most overused formula of all time. Yet I was glad it was placed in with the memory test to make sure he didn’t lose his memory. It was a reasonable fear coming from Ah Bang’s father and it also put the viewers’ at ease that the card wasn’t pulled. It would make sense IF he did have memory loss since the accident was severe BUT I rather not tackle that one here. I guess with five episodes, they needed to drive the main theme into the plot and drive it home rather than focusing on the other side formulas. PHEW!
- The scene where Ah Bang called back home to say he loved his parents. OMG, that was priceless! It’s really rare in Asian culture to just straight out say it like that though you care for one another, especially family members, etc. You just show it through actions–though at times messages get lost. But it was funny to see both of the parents acted like there was something wrong with their kid OR wondered if he was in some sort of trouble and wanted their help hence the sudden words. But they were so cute with trying to figure Ah Bang out. And he was laughing on his side of the phone.
- Talking about girls. Well, sort of since one of the times when Ah Bang’s father was driving him back to the bus stop, he asked Ah Bang if Ah Bang liked anyone yet, etc. I found it was kind of awkward at first yet it showed somewhat of a bond like any other normal pair of father and son where the father was looking out for his son’s future with suggesting to introduce some possible candidates to him. It’s just funny to see the old man joked about the whole situation. Yet at the same time, it seemed bittersweet because how the timing was a bit wrong because Ah Bang was just looking at his father and seeing how the old man was aging but he was also trying to make light of the situation with his father when the old man was asking him about a possible girlfriend.
One of the short, touching, and not to mention worth-watching dramas yet not overly done with some formulas. Recommended for those who love family dramas along with inspirational themes. And prepare to cry buckets, especially the ending.