Between Love & Desire

Let’s say that this series was decent. Considering how I haven’t been back to watch TVB series for a while. I wanted to dive in because of the three main cast. There were mixed feelings since the beginning, especially how they decided to craft a certain character.

Main Cast:

  • Moses Chan as Hugo. This role was somewhere in the middle and I’m talking about the level of intensity comparing to his past roles. Yet I felt Moses did well. He didn’t disappoint. He was stubborn at the beginning and somewhat arrogant (because of his reputation in the field). I half-expected him to be the villain and Ben would be the actual hero. However, it flipped around and proved that things weren’t what it appeared. The background story helped his character heaps and made sense as to why he had become that way. Yet he had gone too far. In a way, he was still the same guy inside, but he was just using the professional front as an excuse for some of the sticky cases he was involved in. He managed to find a balance at the end, which wasn’t unbelievable.
  • Maggie Siu as Rebecca. I read some comments about how some people felt like Maggie’s character was too boring or had no entertainment value. I will say, yes, if you were looking for an overly dramatic performance or plot. To me, it was just right. Sure, there was intensity after her mother died and how she had to continue on, but the majority of her thoughts afterward were going back to stability or not that “exciting” like some people would put. However, I think it was suitable for her character, because she wasn’t a young girl anymore, unlike Roxanne’s character–who was still full of energy and innocence. Not to compare both women but I felt it was necessary in this case–since they were indeed at different points of their lives. Rebecca’s personality and reactions to matters (even if she was upset) was different from how Haley would react and let’s face it, it fitted with their age. I was glad the writer(s) and director(s) didn’t let Maggie go all jumpy like some young girl, because that would be too much. (I must say I wasn’t too thrilled with some of Maggie’s past trying to be cheerful ones like in When Heaven Burns at one point.) Flashbacks didn’t count in here since I know TVB was seriously cheap, trying to not cast an additional actress for a younger Rebecca (or even a younger version of Hugo).
  • Ben Wong as Patrick. Whose bright idea was it to make Patrick so hateful for the majority of the series and then turned it into a goofy character? I don’t know. It was hard not to hate him because of how he tagged Rebecca throughout and tried to jump in when she was the most vulnerable. (It was like perfect timing for him or something, but I was so glad Rebecca never caved in, regardless of how it turned out with her and Hugo.) I would prefer that the writers focused on developing his character along with Haley’s storyline more than just trying to pave him as a possibly third-party and then switched gear during the second half of the series, making him into a comedic character. It was indeed different that his and Haley’s link was explained later (aside from being his assistant) but it didn’t help for his cause to make him out to be the bad guy (in someone’s marriage) and then tried to flip it around later. Luckily, Ben’s acting was so charming and great that I forgave him after the comedic scenes rolled around.
  • Roxanne Tong as Haley. Patrick’s assistant and sister-in-law. She wasn’t on the poster but I felt she deserved the main cast spot as much as the other three. Anyway, this was my third time watching Roxanne and I felt she have great potential. I first watched her in Come Home Love, then still waiting to see her character development in Come Home Love: Dinner At 8, and now this one. Her character this time was vibrant and really stood out. She was cute and cunning in her own way. Although I felt that it was an exaggeration with the way she ate at times with how she dragged out the “ummm, good” parts in the middle of tasting the foods that arrived. But that was just me. Overall though, she was quite charming with her comedic acts, which is rare nowadays since people tend to exaggerate too much and cause it to have the opposite effect.

Others:

  • Joseph Yeung as Martin. Another boss role for him. Although he seemed to be busy embroiling in the whole office battle from the start, but when he finally left, we realized he wasn’t just holding on to Hugo for the sake of the money. It was his words to Hugo that we realized he did recognize Hugo’s talent and would love to hire Hugo again one day when he made his comeback.
  • Rachel Kan as Rowena. Hugo’s arch-enemy. There were quite a few comments that I had read stating that Rowena should have gotten more screen time to enhance her witty side and to intensify her battle with Hugo, but I felt it was enough. Just because she wasn’t in the limelight for the majority of the show didn’t mean that she wasn’t smart or cunning. She was plenty of that. I think people need to be able to detect all the cues without it being outright dramatic all the time like some other cat-fight dramas or power-driven series. Although the plot had directed the attention away from Rowena and the law firm half of the time, but that didn’t mean Rowena wasn’t fighting, wasn’t scheming, wasn’t trying her best to climb to the top. We got to see her intimidating side when she was face-to-face with Hugo yet we got to see her harsh yet effective stances explained when she was talking to her assistant, Cindy.
  • Patrick Dunn as Scott. I honestly think he was the wisest in here. Although Hugo was known as the best but Hugo was still busy feeling the high of his fame to realize the situation around him. Rowena, on the other hand, was also quite confident and bordering on the arrogant side to see clearly at times although I do admit she did know how to play her games. Scott was the wisest because although he seemed to be MIA from the main battlefield, but he often saw more than he cared to say at times. He was able to analyze the situation and even advised Hugo at times when Hugo was stuck–or when Damon was running around trying to fend for himself while his bosses were fighting.
  • Mandy Lam as Carmen. One of the lawyers at Martin’s law firm. She jumped into Hugo’s car at one time, asking for their help in looking for her daughter. However when Hugo needed the backup at the law firm, she was indifferent. I totally understand why with the office politics and all yet I felt it was sooooo cold.
  • Joey Law as Damon. Hugo’s disciple. Loyal to Hugo yet quite raw in office politics hence kept getting the push around by others. I think Joey would go far. He sure got the looks and need more experiences to hone his skills.
  • Candy Chang as Cindy. Rowena’s disciple. I didn’t like her at first, mostly because of my bias, thinking she was in cahoot with Rowena, trying to mess with Damon for information. Hey, it was possible with the rivalry between the other two. Yet later when she told Damon of her past and how she wanted to work hard to get back on her feet, I dialed back with my bias. Not to mention she proved to be really strong and righteous in her own way when she attempted to “show” Damon of the proof Hugo needed to get off the assault charge.
  • William Chu as Justin. Cindy’s ex-husband. It was a bit of a shocker that he and Cindy were exes. But Cindy’s explanation made sense with how they wanted to keep it under-wrap as much as possible, not wanting to affect their careers. He didn’t appear much but seemed to get along well with others and even fended better than Damon. Once again, it made sense because he and Cindy wanted to work hard and start over with their careers, making up for lost time.
  • Lily Li as Rebecca’s mother. I had a little bit of a flashback since they’d been master and disciple in a past series. In fact, it was my first series of Maggie so that left an impression. Anyway, although she appeared just a little and then eventually only in flashbacks, but she really left an impression in here, especially how it paved for the way how Hugo and Rebecca’s relationship crumbled–considering how it was a major trauma in Rebecca’s life.
  • Brian Chu as Fred. Hugo’s brother. I thought that his acting wasn’t as terrible as some people paved it out to be. At least not to me. I could totally feel it after Rebecca’s mother died and he grieved her in his own way–with how he kept his promise to get a new phone for her. Then when he was struggling to deal with his own weaknesses and how he got stage fright and ran away. He was somewhat spoiled because of how protective his brother was of him and wanted what was best for him, aside from pushing him a tad too hard with the whole becoming a lawyer thing. Yet he was indeed quite filial to Rebecca’s mother–like said before, considering how she practically raised him. He also respected Rebecca and others around him. It was just that he was lost in life, not sure of what his aspirations were or what road he wanted to head for.
  • Momo Wu as Edith. Fred’s friend and crush. I wasn’t sure to like or not to like her at first. NOT because of her appearance but I was somewhat turned off with how she stole her master’s shop name to go in to business. Yet when her story unfolded more and how she was a very strong character–despite going through so much hardship, she gained my respect. She snapped right back at Hugo when they first met, but proved to be consistent with her character when she insisted on paying Fred back, not wanting Hugo to misunderstand her for clinging onto Fred for his money. I ended up enjoying their banter from time to time whenever their lives were crossed, mostly because they had to look after Fred–with their own method.
  • Eileen Yeow as Ah Fong. Rebecca’s best friend. I really liked her for her spunky personality and her humorous reactions to matters. However, she lost points for me when she tried to push Rebecca toward Patrick at one point. Luckily, she didn’t keep to it until the end.
  • Ricky Wong Chun Tong as Cheng Wu aka Uncle Wu. A friend of the family to Hugo and Rebecca. I initially thought he was related to them somehow yet later realized it wasn’t so. Yet it proved that he was more reliable and supportive of them when they were enduring such hardships, unlike the so-called “family” they supposedly had after their father tragically died.

Relationships: I initially didn’t want to do this section like I typically would because I felt it was unnecessary since I’ve been piling up on the “Discussions” section, but after debating with myself a bit, I thought I might as well put it in. Or more like move the topics to this one.

  • Moses/Hugo and Maggie/Rebecca. Like many TVB pairings, their collaboration seemed over-killed by now. Yet for me, I think this one was sort of long overdue. Or possibly I haven’t caught all the ones they were in together or paired up. But I felt this one topped it all, even if their other characters were more complicated. I just felt that they deserved a happy ending after When Heaven Burns and Master of Play.
  • Ben/Patrick and Roxanne/Haley. It was in a way “icky” for me, considering how he married her sister previously. Yet for Ben and Roxanne as a pairing, I felt it wasn’t too bad–despite their age gap. For some weird reason, I felt he suited with her more than some of his past co-stars, even if they were closer in age to him. I enjoyed their comedic moments. One of my favorite parts (and possibly for Hugo and Rebecca too) was the part where both men thought both women might have died from the gas inhalation so Patrick totally unleashed on Haley about how worried he was and how rash it was for her to do such thing without waiting for them, etc. It was hilarious how Haley laughed (which was typical her) but it was hilarious with both men saying almost, exact same thing. (I wonder how long they had to rehearse that together, lol.)
  • Joey/Damon and Candy/Cindy. It was sort of open ending, which was all right with me, but I felt they would eventually end up together.
  • Brian/Fred and Momo/Edith. Was I the only one not sore that they didn’t end up together? Not because of her somewhat shady past (according to some people) or his immature nature throughout. But it was more like it would be too gift-wrapped. I think that they were both still young and like Edith said, they still have a lot to work for with their life goals and/or dreams to strive for. Perhaps, one day when they meet up again, they might see a possibility to take their relationship to another level. But right at that point, I felt it was enough with their special friendship.

Discussions:

  • Was the ending rushed or not? Usually, I will argue that TVB endings are rushed, but in this case, I felt it was laid out fine. I didn’t want to be spoiled but my mom made me nervous so I had to go check on some reviews to get the idea if we should proceed after several episodes or not. Some mentioned how it was rushed or how certain characters changed overnight more or less. However, I think it wasn’t rushed for the majority of the characters. Hugo and Rebecca didn’t change overnight regarding how they decided to return to each other’s side. They had always have feelings for one another but they were both too stubborn in their beliefs that they didn’t want to cave in. Although Rebecca had said at one point or another that she didn’t know if it was love that she still stuck by his side after so many years or it was just gratitude for what he’d done for her, but I felt that she still cared for him. It was just that so many years of waiting had worn her down and not to mention her mother passed away so recent. Her world was falling apart and she didn’t know where to start with continuing on with her life. It wasn’t just about Hugo’s lack of attention either. Then there was Hugo, we learned from flashback that he was quite kindhearted, hard-working, and considerate. It wasn’t like some viewers had said that he changed for the better overnight. It wasn’t so. He had lost his way along the way while trying to become rich and successful. He often struggled with his feelings and what he thought was more realistic throughout–even after the separation from Rebecca. He needed a push from Uncle Wu and then later from Scott’s kid to realize what his path should be or to make up his mind at long last. So when he was willing to let go of the competition and the battles within the law firm, he and Rebecca just fell back into being a team once again. Because even Rebecca realized at the end that she didn’t have to wait for him all the time, she could just step forward and walk along his side, facing difficulties together. What I felt was rush–YES, I will admit–was Patrick’s change of heart. But possibly it made sense. I meant Patrick was really disappointed and probably upset that Rebecca was willing to believe Hugo one more time after the incident where she was assaulted. Yet I think what convinced Patrick to let go somewhat was learning how much Hugo loved Rebecca, i.e. the part where Hugo lost his head and was willing to risk getting caught when he beat the uncle-in-law up for assaulting Rebecca previously. He wasn’t letting go completely but he realized Hugo wasn’t a monster like he paved Hugo out to be from the start, seeing how much Hugo hurt Rebecca–mostly from his point of view. He was able to see a different side of Hugo, even if violence wasn’t the best approach, but like Patrick himself said that it proved how much someone meant to you if you had lost your head over a situation. So later when he saw them (Hugo and Rebecca) at the hospital together and how they’d gotten along again, he was more convinced that they were going to get back together eventually. He looked hopeless, like his chance was totally slipping, no doubt about it. So it wasn’t like it was overnight. Perhaps, it was also because he didn’t realize he had somehow liked Haley hence the over-protectiveness, not just because he had promised her sister to take good care of her. It was somewhat a plot mess with that one, but it wasn’t too unconvincing. Moving on to Rowena, did she just plain win the office battle overnight? No, I think I answered this somewhat in the Character section, but to tie it in, Rowena was proven both intelligent and brutal. The time it took for her to take over completely wasn’t unreasonable, she had plans and schemes going on. Sure, it seemed she won because Hugo got distracted with his family issues or when Hugo let go, but it didn’t mean he totally gave it to her. She was fully capable of her own tricks. Again, like how she told Cindy at various points with her tactics, it wasn’t too unconvincing that she won in the end. Besides, you don’t win a battle by kicking and screaming for blood. Patience is the key because you need to be able to stay calm and wait for the right opportunity to strike. Sure, Rowena miscalculated several times and took several steps back, but she didn’t give up so easily. Her determination puled her through at the end.
  • Should the series had focused more on the law side (aka cases over romances)? Although the background surrounding several major characters were at law firms and had to do with the law industry in general, however, the title still indicated that it wasn’t exactly about the law, but about several characters so I didn’t feel like it needed to focus on the law too much. I swear TVB had already done quite few series regarding the law so I didn’t think it was lacking in that matter. They didn’t promise in the title so I wasn’t sore. This was about the conflict between Moses and Maggie’s characters more than a law focused drama.

Recommended? Up to you. I’m on my own wavelength like always. I felt it was a midway lighthearted series for me, because Maggie didn’t die in here–since she usually died (or would encounter some major tragedy).

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When Heaven Burns

I watched this one because my mom was looking for something serious to watch after all those sitcoms we were watching–among other comedies. First off, the title. I must admit that I was in objection of it when the title got changed from Heaven and Earth to When Heaven Burns but after having watched it, I could say that it suited the series quite well. Seriously, it was so intense and nerve-wrecking at various points so in a way, it wasn’t too lame with changing the title. After all, the Chinese title was still Heaven and Earth, right?  So how was it? Honestly, people who skipped it just missed a really good series. YES, that coming from me who have been ranting about recent series (and even got scolded for it on this blog). For once, I didn’t mind the repetitive team and/or group who contributed in this series. I meant not that I didn’t like the cast (okay, maybe for one or two persons), but I just got tired seeing them together all the time. I was curious so I tuned in along with my mom anyway. Yet I found it more enjoyable than I expected. People who think that this series was dragging shouldn’t even give it another go because you already set an opinion, so don’t let me convince you and later come back to scold me. Because seriously, if you think this was dragging, I’m not sure what ‘dragging’ mean anyway. Sure, it was slow and passive at times, BUT it did not mean dragging. There was this underlying heaviness and intensity building up episode after episode until the breaking point that led to the mind buzzing mind games in the later half of the series. Don’t believe me? It’s okay. You don’t have to. And perhaps I don’t like over-hyped stuffs so I enjoyed this series even more. Though the cast seemed to be promoted heavily of recent but the series did not aim to ‘shove it into your face’, or I didn’t get that feeling like they were trying to sell something. Maybe that was why it worked.

Moving on, like my usual reviews, I will place in the whole ‘cast/characters’ discussions–among other things. But will also include the ‘theme’ part this time around as well since I feel it’s essential and actually feel like discussing it more specifically for this series. However, I won’t include ‘couples/pairings’ this time around because I feel that wasn’t the point of the drama. YES, there were love spread into the drama at times, making things even more complicated with relationships. But that was just part of the small piece and I don’t want to get distracted with it for this one series.

Main Cast/Characters:

  • Charmaine Sheh as Hazel Yip Chi Yan (葉梓恩).  A character worth watching after so many of her recent ‘goody two shoes’ ones. I mean I like to see her in those ‘nice and kind’ ones too. YET I felt she was getting rusty or would get there soon if she doesn’t take on any challenging role soon. Sure, the majority of the characters in here had to be quite serious as well. But I felt this one was a role that she won me over again with her portrayal. It wasn’t too much or too little. It was just right with her passiveness at times or her cold composure. She managed to capture those moments when Yan was hurting so much that she didn’t know where to turn to (aka all lost and confused). Then there was the whole not caring for the world attitude. There were so many complications in her life that she couldn’t handle, even turning to different means as an outlet–like senseless one-night stands or alcohol. I was really disturbed at first with how her character appeared to be cheating and all, but somehow sympathize with her later with how her family was so broken and her being stuck in the past for so long that she was hurting herself and others around her. The worst part was not being able to pull out until later. But what I really liked about her character throughout was her stubbornness. Once she made a decision, she didn’t waver anymore. There was another thing that they (the script-writers) added to her character that I quite like, which was the whole deep thoughts and stories in her radio segments. I like those narrations and it sort of set the tone for what was going on around them and how the guys–or other characters–would think it over as they listened to her segment. It was somewhat a narration or reflective moment at times when the scenes were happening around them but there was only her words to convey the message of those scenes–and the impact of what just happened.
    • Angel Chiang as the young Yan. Though she doesn’t resemble Charmaine to be a younger version of Yan but she has the spunk and grace for the character. I really enjoyed her chemistry with the rest of the guys throughout as a band. Her bravery to fight against the guys at times was quite admirable as well. Maybe that was just her rebellious nature.
  • Moses Chan as Angus Sung Yee Long (宋以朗). After all those so-called ‘comedies’, he finally returned to the more serious roles as well. Mixed feelings at times actually. Maybe it was his intimidating image that had made the others believe he might have been the cause of their role in the Ka Ming conspiracy, BUT it wasn’t so. Perhaps Joe was right with his whole ‘drummer versus guitarist/lead singer’ theory/concept because that was what made Angus more suspicious out of the three of them. What was admirable of him–even IF that seemed like an excuse to like his character–was whoever he hurt, he didn’t hurt the people within his group of friends (aka between the four of them, i.e. Joe, Ronnie, and Yan). It was like he was compensating for what he’d done in the past hence leading a distorted life yet didn’t want to hurt the other three more than he already did. (Possibly that was the difference between him and Joe.) What made me not being able to forgive him in the end was sacrificing Jessica in order to get back at Ben (and eventually Joe). Did he have to do that? He probably thought so but that little act condemned him even more with his already life sentence (even if it wasn’t served in prison). SO Jessica had agreed to help him after confronting him BUT he should have considered it more, considering how Jessica had been so loyal to him throughout. (Or was he too blind with hatred and/or wanting to take revenge that he didn’t care? Not to mention how he was so close to winning.)
    • Yeung Chiu Hoi as the young Angus. Consistent enough. He looked less intimidating than his current self, of course, but for obvious reasons. However, there were always traces of the lack in confidence in him and the reluctance that was still present.
  • Bowie Lam as Joe Lau Chun Hung (劉俊雄). Was I the only one who got fooled by his character? Okay, so I was trying to put my biases past Bowie since I found his expressions always so intimidating regardless of the roles he portrayed and thought I was being mean for picking on him. So I tried to focus on his character instead and what was going on around his character. YET I was wrong to think he was some poor guy who was trying to repent–with his wife not understanding him and even cheated on him. Sadly no. He was the most dangerous one out of the three. He was so charming in character and so manipulative in his words that made everyone felt they were in the wrong more than him. Often taking the blame and sounding like he was protecting the others yet he was just protecting himself by letting others think he was the victim. The part where he was telling Angus the reason why he picked up playing the drum really summed up his character. He told Angus that he used to think it was so cool being a guitarist and sing at the same time, having all the attention. However, he later realized that the drummer actually held the key to it all because the band had to follow the drummer’s rhythm or they would be all off (aka the drummer controlled all with forcing everyone to play fast or slow). Seriously, it really boiled down to him being able to control everything in front of him with his careful planning and patience throughout–and most of all his persuasive abilities.
    • Ronald Law as the young Joe. He managed to look as intimidating? LOL! I had no idea but I guess he was convincing as the younger version of Joe since there were signs present that showed how the current Joe hadn’t changed–with some flashbacks here and there.
    • Signs that Joe isn’t all bad. AND NO, I’m not talking about the whole ‘facade’ he put up at times to deceive them–regardless of when he was younger or at times when he was older. I’m talking about when it was finally revealed that he was actually the most manipulative among the three guys. There were parts like him lying or trying to get through some sticky situations yet during his time alone, he would reconsider. Another time and more obvious was after Cloris’ death and him crying out in his office finally–while he was deleting her text messages to him.
  • Kenny Wong as Ronnie Cheng Chun Hin (鄭振軒). He started out as losing his memory and then recovering it slowly. We all hate the ‘lost memory’ card, right? But it made sense this time since he and the other two went through a near-death experience after all. Not to mention how he was traumatized along with the others during the whole incident. He strike first and planted the seed of evil. (YES, he was the one who stabbed Ka Ming first when Ka Ming was lying inside the tent resting.) But repented greatly later, wanting to pay for his sin. But wasn’t given the chance in that way. Instead, he paid for it with his eyes, and some more.
    • Kelvin Leung as the young Ronnie. Another good choice because he merged in quite well with Kenny’s portrayal because Ronnie seemed to me as always the passive one OR possibly the invisible one out of the three guys (aside from Ka Ming).

The reason why I only listed 4 as the main cast AND not like the other lists had indicated was because I felt the story revolved around those characters for the majority of the time and it took them to resolve all the conflicts as well.

Supporting Cast/ Characters:

  • Ben Wong as Bowman. The reason why I put him first was sort of by order of appearance and somewhat because I’m biased (LOL). Anyway, he was actually somewhat my favorite character throughout despite his limited screen time. (Though acceptable since I felt he contributed to the story with tying in different characters and moving the story forward but didn’t need to be ‘in your face’ to get the point across.) I felt so bad for him at the beginning since he was just part of the whole charade that Yan was putting up for herself, wanting to find replacements for her past (and more specifically for Ka Ming). But then I had somewhat forgiven Yan for deceiving him. Though that didn’t mean I like him less because I found him very genuine, not tainted by all the things around them. Ben had made that happened with his portrayal–regardless of the amount of screen time he had. In a way, I was glad he got a new start later–after Yan finally sorted out her mind (for good). (Side-note: My mom actually wanted to see Ben portray Kenny’s character instead YET I had convinced her it wasn’t a good idea because that would mean he was part of the ‘cannibalism’ conspiracy. LOL! NOT that anyone was being sacrificed in the events of shooting the drama but those types of characters were disturbing still, LOL!)
  • Maggie Siu as Emma. One of Maggie’s couldn’t care less roles? I don’t know. It seemed like it didn’t fit her. I had a hard time imagining Emma so dumb, mostly due to Maggie. NOT that I doubt her acting in the past, but this time it seemed weird. I don’t know what happened. But it was like she was uncomfortable with the role? I enjoyed her chemistry with Moses when they were shown as a somewhat cute couple at first. Yet it all crumbled in the later events (mostly due to the story), but I also had a hard time with her character was that naive. But I guess her character wasn’t too unbelievable since she was so sheltered by her sister and how she sort of depended heavily on her sister to look after the family business so she didn’t have to worry about other stuffs.
  • Astrid Chan as Gina. I had mixed feelings for her throughout the series but I let go of certain judgments later on because I felt she was another victim in this whole web of lies and other deception games. So she chosen to stick around and continued with her role but I felt she was so given a bad image or seemed to reflect so in front of the others at the beginning because her husband was so good at acting that she had been pushed to become the ‘bad person’. Astrid didn’t fail to deliver her emotions throughout, projecting her image–or what we were led into believing–and the actual tormenting turmoils she went through later on.
    • Joey Mak as the young Gina. Good casting actually since she somewhat resembled Astrid. OR did they do the make up that way and somewhat of the hairstyle too? Not sure but she did manage to show consistency in the character.
  • Felix Lok as Dr. Ivan Wong. At first, I found him too despicable because of the affair he was involved in. But I sort of pity him later. Just slightly. Or perhaps I wasn’t so judging of him anymore. A minimal role for Felix but he played a key role in the end. Somewhat, but it wasn’t like he needed to prove himself.
  • Angela Tong as Shirley. Ronnie’s wife. I was arguing with my mom whether her character accepted Ronnie regardless if her husband had once eaten someone OR if she was too traumatized and didn’t want to believe. YET I had to wonder in the later parts of the plot after things cooled down. YES, she relied on her husband the majority of the time. But let that slide as well? Do people just accept things just like that? (I meant cannibalism isn’t like shop-lifting. Sure, both could be repeated BUT shop-lifting dealt with the store’s possession versus a human being.) Regardless of the ambiguous of her character, I thought Angela did quite well with conveying all the torn feelings she’d gone through. AND no, I’m not saying it’s unrealistic with her character, just felt that it was worth some thinking with her point of views–and how it was a different sort of reaction from the other female population in here. AND yet it made one really think about human nature–and whether one choose to accept or to dodge.
  • Queenie Chu as Jessica. I think she was the most pitiful in here. Some could argue that she got what she deserved because she aided Angus in deceiving Emma–and possibly others. YET I felt she had always been loyal to Angus and only loved him hence it was too cruel to see her being sacrificed as his final pawn. The scene with her and Angus at the music store was quite touching. She didn’t ask for anything extraordinary–and had never asked for more, except for him to play a song for her one last time. Indeed, she was right that Angus was the most truthful or real when he was playing his music. The other thing about her that made it even more sad was how she was a replacement for Yan at first (could be seen through various points of when Angus was playing the guitar at the shop and saw Yan sitting there instead of the actual Jessica) and gradually earning a place in Angus’ heart with how he finally took the hint to be more attentive to her (mostly through Ben’s urging BUT Angus began to open his eyes to see Jessica for herself, not as a Yan who he could never be with), like how he was giving her the birthday gift (aka his necklace) to symbolize her importance in his heart. Yet it was just too late for them when he pulled the final card (i.e. sacrificing her as well) and perhaps that little scene with him playing the guitar for Emma (and actually picturing both Yan and Jessica) made it somewhat forgivable for him? NOT like completely forgivable but like how she finally earned a spot in his heart. Anyway, another different role for Queenie and I think she nailed it.
  • Cheung Kwok Keung as Ben. He got robbed. NOT the character, but CKK. Personal opinions here since seeing him in these types of roles just make me want to cry because I imagine him all so powerful in some of his previous roles. (One of the most memorable was in No. 8 Bus.) Anyway, he didn’t fail to deliver with convincing us he was this despicable character who betrayed his boss again and again. Yet I felt it was kind of lame that they had him playing the harmonica and trying to seek sympathy from Jessica in the end. I swear it was a bit over-killed with linking everyone to music–one way or another, but I will let it slide. (Like I could do anything anyway.)
  • Lau Dan as Uncle Chuen. Had some major scenes at the beginning but still didn’t lack in importance later on. It was his mission to help Joe repent from his past wrongdoings, and he made it his responsibility to bring Joe back to the correct path near the end as well. Yet it was too late. Or was it? AND do I need to say anything else about his acting? Convincing as always.
  • Cindy Lee as Cloris. Also a pawn in here and this had to do with Joe. Yet I can’t feel any pity for her though I was shocked by her death. I meant, okay her final moments were really worrisome and tragic, and I know I’m heartless to not pity her. But she had it coming. She criticized and chastised Gina at the beginning for cheating on Joe YET she ended up helping Joe cheat on Gina? Love’s blind YET she had it coming. The reason I was shocked, of course, was I didn’t expect her to die. I would expect the usual seeking out Gina later to confront Gina or would just go crazy, not death. Though her ending indeed made an impact on Joe when he broke down while deleting her messages. (As mentioned earlier.)
  • Elaine Jin as Brenda. She was an interesting character at first because of her mysterious nature with possibly being the only one to overthrow Angus. YET I lost interest in her character after she fall into Joe’s trap as well. WHAT? I don’t care if they were having an affair either since I was used to Joe’s manipulation already. But what I was disappointed at was seeing how she fall into his trap so easily. Or was she just letting go and using him to enjoy her remaining days? Another way to look at it though was emphasizing Joe’s ability to manipulate–even the most cunning person in here (at least from the female side).
  • Chan Hung Lit as George. His second last role and he got this? How memorable. NOT. But anyway, to be honest, he did quite well (OF COURSE) and I think it got cut off because of the inevitable? NOT SURE. But it wasn’t too lame in covering the tracks because he could might as well just disappear though he was sent on a mission to uncover Angus’ secrets elsewhere. (Though I shouldn’t even blame anyone or be mean about it since no one knew this one was his second last role, right?)
  • Tsui Wing as Arthur. I really, really hated him at first (equally as Yan so don’t worry about me picking on just the guy) but later, I was like whatever. And TW showed us another side of him in here with this role.
  • Andy Dai as Sam. The minute I heard ‘Sam’, it reminded me of his role in this old series called Exchanging Couples (OR something like that), because he was also named Sam in there (and the fact that his wife/later ex-wife in there worked at a radio station as well made it even more familiar). He was quite funny in here. So he was trying to be serious and at times appearing quite arrogant–as most bosses were allowed to. But it made it even funnier that he thought they were supposed to worship him yet they were just conning him at times.
  • Joe Junior as Dr. Dylan. The person driving the whole ‘rock and roll’ theme forward in here. Though the rest of them were there with their goth look and all, but I thought it wouldn’t be the same without his recounts of past events and his passionate talks about ‘rock and roll’ from time to time. They definitely needed a respected elder to point them into the right direction or telling them to go with the music, etc. His talk about life wasn’t cheesy either but it made sense, incorporating into the overall theme itself.
  • Rachel Kan as Daisy. Sort of a double-faced person, but I don’t blame her since she was quite witty with her comments (even if it was mostly through sarcasm). And the other reason of being bitter was having to cover for Emma just because Sam wanted to score points with Emma.
  • Catherine Chau as Mabel. Almost didn’t recognize her. Maybe it was because of the image. It was all right I guess, fitting in with her character and making her sort of wild along with the other two. It was kind of random that she got together with Arthur at one point (since Arthur claimed to really love Yan, so much for it).
  • Stanley Cheung as Hui Ka Ming (許家明). The unfortunate guy that got eaten by Angus, Joe, and Ronnie. I put him last on purpose (AND YES to make a point). Was this what they called the weakest link? He was really kind-hearted and down to earth from those flashbacks.

Themes:

  • Cannibalism. YES, I placed this first because that was the ‘advertised’ theme at the beginning–even before the actual filming took place. It was just a small part of the story but had a really big impact. Because they only showed a bit of it at the beginning and a more graphic (IF could be called ‘graphic’ at all) scene later on when the truth finally unfolded. But they didn’t dwell on it. They moved on to the ‘forgiving’ part and the whole ‘repenting’ part. Or what could be called an attempt to heal–if at all.
  • Friendship. It was all over the place in here. Yet it was real. Besides, what’s the right way to be friends anyway, right? What I mean is those random times between Hazel and her co-workers versus what she would do with the other three guys.
  • Black/White. The morality in here was also quite scattered but understandable. Yet it had made its point that life was more about the grayness of it all more than establishing boundaries. Sure, people could put up boundaries all they want YET the outcome when those things happened was different. In short, you don’t know what you would do until the actual moment. ‘What ifs’ could not measure the real impact anyway.
  • Rock and Roll. The reason for the whole goth look throughout the series with the majority. And at first I felt it would be too wannabe with seeing them trying to fit in and act like they were caring about ‘rock and roll’. BUT it wasn’t so. I was so glad that they made it so natural with different characters talking about ‘rock and roll’ but tied it in with the whole story. They weren’t trying too hard either (for once).

Favorites: Basically, I like the whole series–regardless of how random it got at times but it made sense and let us explore the characters even more. But there are other things I want to focus on as well.

  • Dark. I guess what made the whole thing worked was its goth nature and how it didn’t manage to crank the hype up by throwing in some other things. It appeared boring (to some people) and passive, but it was like they were waiting for that dark curtain to lift and free them all. The darkness of it all (NOT literally but could be) allowed for a wider range of exploration–whether through the mind or other types of interactions.
  • Consistent. I’m talking about both the consistency in personalities for the characters who had a younger version of themselves in here, and of the storyline itself as an overall. It was a bonus of a so-called ‘slow’ series because it covered most of the tracks with its flow. It was never too fast or too slow, but drove the point loud and clear in the end.
  • Filming Technique. I was surprised and somewhat blew away by how it was filmed with merging the two worlds into the story–back and forth–throughout the whole story. I will admit that it was a bit confusing at first but I got used to it later and really liked how they used the past as bits and pieces of the puzzles–until they reached the end. Awesome indeed.
  • Karma’s Kick. Chills literally ran down my back when the mother of that kid call out his name, telling him to apologize to Gina in the hospital. I must admit I was soooo scared that the ending would be corny and cheesy with everyone getting together singing a ‘Barney song’. (SORRY, inside joke if you know what I mean.) But it wasn’t so. NOT that I’m the type that wants to see deaths left and right. In fact, I’m more peace-loving than I let on at times. But what I felt throughout the series was the intensity that reeked so strongly as each episode went by, so how could they mend things just like that? Yet when Joe died, I only felt okay so one of the bad guys died, and indeed it was because of his own doing. Not to mention it was too late to return. But it wasn’t so. It was until the kid’s mother called his name (also Ka Ming like their friend Ka Ming), it totally went over my head and really made it more complicated in a way. In fact, it was really the writer’s intention because Gina had literally stopped in shock and finally realized it was really karma getting her husband, NOT just because he died saving a kid. YES, there was something inside him (something still good in there though he had claimed it was too late) that insisted that he wasn’t all bad. He even made an effort to buy his wife a gift for their upcoming anniversary, and then the obvious with him wanting to save the kid the instant he saw the kid wandering out in the street. But it was like the time to pay his debt had arrived. What about the other guys? Ronnie lost his vision and had to face the authorities regarding the case involving Joe. The final question that the investigation detective had asked Angus upon his departure was if Angus had felt lucky that he had gotten away for what all three of them had done. But Angus had replied, “How would you know I’m not facing my own punishment?” Indeed, Angus’ punishment was never seeing Yan again because she had claimed that she would leave and would never come back. That was on the surface though because I seriously think that Angus had already paid somewhat for his betrayal to Ka Ming. Why? Yan had stabbed him that one time at the apartment where they used to gather and practice their music after learning the truth version as to what really happened to Ka Ming–and Yan. Then she came back–as if having forgiven him already. (Yeah, call me superstitious but I sort of want to elaborate on that little possibility as some of the details were relevant to the story.) That was why Angus received the lightest punishment physically. (And personally, I think the reason why Angus got the lightest punishment was because he never intended or really agreed to their actions at first with Joe trying to convince him, pulling him out of the tent to talk about it since Joe was saying Ka Ming would die anyway. Then before they knew it, Ronnie had already stabbed Ka Ming–and they just went ahead with the plan. Perhaps Angus’ reluctance at first and his deep regret later made it more pitiful? Sure, he participated in different schemes later on and wasn’t so ‘good’ anyway, but before Ronnie recovered his memory, between the two of them, Angus had showed more regrets among them all, knowing he was already marked to pay a debt.) Emotionally, all three would always be scarred with what they did–regardless. Though I think Joe had finally got his release from it all, because usually the ones staying behind are the ones who have to face with the cruel truth–no matter how they try to repent themselves.
  • Full circle. I almost forgot about this but it was the scene where Yan saw a group of five going into the apartment building where they once practiced at and found Angus renting the apartment out to the five teenagers. Life was full of both the expected and unexpected. Yet it seemed familiar with how they once started out.
  • Alternate Ending. Most of us probably hate alternate endings, but I thought this one was well planned and well executed. Maybe because of the ‘what if’ concept and not the actual thing with TVB playing us, saying it didn’t happen, they were doing the ‘what if’ at the beginning. (LOL, that would suck big time because they did put us through so much since the beginning.) And the most unexpected thing (but made sense) was it was Yan who held the key to it all if their lives had been different. Why? It was revealed when Yan was walking to the bus stop at the end that “if she had turned around, Ka Ming wouldn’t leave with the guys to the mountains” thus their lives leading toward a normality–with everyone not suffering with endless guilt til the end. Then there was also the possibilities of the other people’s lives like how Emma would’ve gotten married with that one lawyer guy, Angus might have started something with Jessica, etc. And one day, just like the scene showed with them reuniting to sing and enjoy their music once in awhile. But to get back to Yan and her decision, maybe that was why she tortured herself, indulging in guilt all these years? She was blaming herself more than anyone because if she had turned around, then Ka Ming wouldn’t leave. But it was too much to take so she had chosen to blame it on the others and severed her ties from them rather than confronting her own demons. SURE, the others were at fault for making that decision, but it was from her own take that she could’ve made a difference if she didn’t leave. Interesting take indeed.
  • The sub-theme song. At first, I was like ‘whatever’ since I didn’t like the three guys’ singing too much. How wrong I was. Because I actually like it a lot more when the last two episodes came around. Because at that point, it made sense. Though some earlier episode showed them composing it together that one night. But I still thought it would be one of those moments and then they were back to scheming again. That was it. Yet the song finally came into importance when they finally reunited onstage and performed together with their counterparts. (And just for clarification, for the relevancy of the story, the characters wrote it BUT in real life, some of the talented musicians/lyricists had made it happen. Go here for the translations from llwy12.) Oh yeah, for some weird reason, when they sang onstage like that, it seemed to be the live version? (Like it wasn’t obvious with the stage setup but at times nowadays, we wouldn’t know if they just sync in the studio version.) Or was it? I wasn’t sure but it sounded different from how it was in the sub-theme.

On a concluding note, I must give this series a ‘one of the best of 2011’ label. This actually deserved to be on a mantel for once. This really put the ‘quality’ part back into some of the recent TVB productions. YET if people are just looking for some ‘excitement’, better skip it. Because this wasn’t another ‘hype-up’ series trying to draw in viewers just for the sake of it. But about a journey all of us must go through in life, accepting things, reflecting on things, forgiving or not forgiving, etc. In short, it was the explorations of the mind and heart.

Be Home For Dinner

One of the worst sitcoms ever made. Or should I say it is the worst? I had high hopes for this one, partially because I thought the cast would be smarter than to involve themselves in this. But why should I expect more when creativity just couldn’t win in this time and day–and not to mention at TVB. Then the whole thing with everyone making a living and needed the money so they wouldn’t be fussy about it, right? Though I had lowered my standard of the overall the sitcom since it would be long anyway. Something would get lost–one way or another. Yet I couldn’t forgive the creators of this sitcom for putting in so much lame morality. I’ll elaborate later. But what I would like to point the finger toward right now is the story–at least the general story–was so creepily like When Dolphin Met Cat. Though I started watching When Dolphin Met Cat somewhere along the way of waiting for more episodes of this sitcom YET I could see already the creepy likeness of it. I had finished When Dolphin Met Cat like way before I finished this because let’s see 14 episodes (about an hour each episode) was much faster and easier to take than 100 and something. For one thing, When Dolphin Met Cat was made more than 6 years ago so that ruled out the whole finger pointing at the drama for copying. I’m NOT implying that this one’s copying since I have no proofs. Yet it’s just so creepy that there were so many details alike. After finishing the other one, I decided to wait on the review so I could add more similarities before posting it. But I will post the other review in the future with a section of similarities for everyone to read also. However, I must say that When Dolphin Met Cat had a better ending though it had many frustrating plot elements as well. Why? It didn’t force the whole ‘family getting along’ like this one tried to so hard.

The Main Cast (sorry, going to use Mandarin Pinyin though it’s a Canto production):

  • Elliot Yue as Zhong Guo Zhu (鍾國柱). His intro scene was very cool with how he was setting up the trap with sending in Tian Kai and Ou Gao Rong to test the food at the restaurant before actually emerging himself, exposing the others in the end. Then there were some foundation–though he wasn’t perfect. It was all right with me that he was a bit paranoid and crazy like the rest of his family. He had some sense of arrogance, which was expected of such a famous editor like him having a reputation, or as they called it ‘having an important footprint in jianghu’. (Can’t translate it accurate but basically it represents his importance.) But all that was lost until near the end when Jessie re-emerged, making his character dumb as well for falling for such tricks.
  • Helen Ma as Dou Gui Sen (竇桂森). A kind and innocent elder of the Zhong family. She sure qualifies for the naive character in here. I think of all the characters in here, I would understand if she falls for Jessie’s tricks BUT the others? Unacceptable. Perhaps because she has this kind nature that was hard to hate.
  • Stephen Au as Zhong Guo Dong (鍾國棟). Mixed feelings. I really like his character at first until how he kept pushing Bei Er into mending things with her mother and sister. Then how he handled the whole Jessie thing. SO he wasn’t bright in that area YET the others made him dumber AND then when he found out, he still went through with it? Overall, not bad YET the plot ruined his character.
  • Kristal Tin as Carmen Cen Bei Er (岑貝兒). I always thought she was quite bright and reasonable. Not to mention graceful as well. Yet all that was lost near the end. What a shame. I felt really bad for her with being cornered by others and how they were putting the blame on her, making her cave in. YET I sometimes felt it was deserved, especially near the end when she didn’t fight back hard enough.
  • Yvonne Lam as Mary Suen/Sun (孫瑪利). The best character in here. I swear. It has been a long time since Yvonne Lam was given a great role. I like it that she had been given a variety of roles over the years YET I wonder when she would receive a role worth mentioning again. Her performance had always been wonderful but this one was one of those roles that really made her shine above all characters. I really love her witty humor and her blunt personality. She was not fake at all. The fact that she was making snark remarks regarding Jessie’s wedding was funny and made her the smartest in here. I loved how she didn’t just force herself to go along with the others during that time. Sure, she would support her family when the situation presented itself. Yet that wedding was too much of a joke for her hence her making a joke out of it (which was what it was really). Can’t say enough about her character. Absolutely lovable.
  • Law Lok Lam as Mr. Ko/Kao. Awhile now that I saw him in a role worth mentioning because at times he would appear but just briefly or so. NOT sure if it was because I couldn’t catch the right one where he appeared more than a few episodes. Yet I remember the last one worth mentioning was for The Brink of Law and interestingly, he portrayed Elliot Yue’s brother (who was later killed by Elliot Yue). Great performance as always, so funny with comedy yet his serious moments were worth mentioning as well.
  • Jason Chan as Sam Zhong Si Han (鍾思翰). Somewhat spoiled at times. Yet he has a good heart overall. He’s quite determined and somewhat stubborn like his father. Acting? Can’t say much at this point except he’s great eye candy. But then again, it’s not like he exaggerated to the point of intolerable since his emotions were seen through his eyes. He needs to take on more challenging role (well, if he’s allowed) to see what else he could do with. Hopefully we would get to see it.
  • Lily Ho as Qi Qi (琪琪). It was a bit odd to have her introduced so far into the story yet I guess that left something new for the audience to discover. Not too bad with her being so graceful and knowledgeable about various things. I thought Lily had improved with some of her past performances, especially how she had to carry such a role. Not the best but was still convincing enough.
  • Matt Yeung as Tian Kai (田凱). Matt finally made his way up again. Because I could remember the days when he was in The W Files playing a major role. I haven’t really watched him in recent years OR watched enough TVB series to know. Yet this could be an important role again. I had mixed feelings toward him one time or another. Mostly because of the plot that impacted the character. Yet I must admit he’s a good friend to most people in here.
  • Katy Kung as Zhong Si Ya (鍾思雅). I don’t know. I wasn’t into her character at first after the whole incident with messing with Sam’s laptop and destroying valuable information. At least almost. Yet later on, her character somewhat grew on me when she finally grew up and was serious about work.
  • Raymond Chiu as Ou Gao Rong (歐高榮). Very clever. He talks less and does more, making him so mysterious yet cool at the same time. So Raymond doesn’t have the look yet he’s very charming and witty in his own way, making his character very convincing. I like how he’s always doing things silently and never takes credit for his work. He’s not arrogant either and not abusing his power like that one time when the others thought he was Mr. Ko’s son. Probably because of that hence Mr. Ko trusting him to do so much.
  • Oceane Zhu as Susan. I thought she was quite clumsy and somewhat fussy at the beginning. Yet I found her quite lovable later. Though she seemed weak on the outside but was quite strong inside. Like how she found out her boyfriend was cheating on her but kept her head high and continued on, not coming back to him after he begged. Also, she was very considerate of others though she could be so girly at times too. A different role for Oceane comparing to her role in Twilight Investigation yet her performance didn’t disappoint at all.
  • Queenie Chu as Qing Qing (菁菁). At first, I found her character so cool and multi-dimensional but due to the plot that had dragged some of the characters down as well, she sunk along with the others, coming out quite disappointing as well. I rather they brought back more of the Lolita persona to make her expose Jessie and more than have her NOT speak up at all–just like some others. I like how she was yelling at Li Chun that one time at the restaurant. Why not use it later on too? But then again, the script sucks so it didn’t matter if she want to or not, she couldn’t control it. It was too unreasonable that she became quiet and somewhat a doormat again later on. Didn’t make sense. Yet it didn’t mean I dislike Queenie any less. Still convincing.
  • Celine Ma as Bai Mei Gui/ Rose. Never doubt her in the acting department. She made it quite convincing with her performance throughout. How she was so fierce and somewhat of a hateful person to a more likable one near the end. Though her straight-forward personality still stood tall until the end, which made her different from some others, she became more tolerable as in her habits and how she treated others. She had always taken care of people around her yet she had tuned down on some habits. I like how she was the other wise voice in the whole Jessie thing since she hated that too and didn’t even have a hand in it, even encouraging the cancellation of the wedding. It wasn’t like she was evil YET she just hated fake people.
  • Glen Lee as He Jia Ming (何家明). Odd and silly at times yet found his story touching with how he set up that one skit with the others to make his ‘Uncle’ proud.
  • Becky Lee as Cen Hai Er (岑海兒) aka Tang Jing Jing (唐晶晶). Mixed feelings. I didn’t really think much of her at the beginning but soon got used to her. Then the plot ruined it by making her sounding so unreasonable and inconsiderate with pushing Bei Er as well. YET I rather they focused on her bonds with the others at the newspaper place. Because I quite enjoyed her scenes with others at various points, especially the part where she tried to help Jia Ming with the whole meeting his ‘Uncle’.

Others:

  • Geoffrey Wong as Brian. It’s a shame that he was the scapegoat for some other cause. I quite like him and wonder if he would get any other serious role in the future aside from these comedic ones. Not that I don’t enjoy it but feel it’s a waste. Is this the price of leaving ATV? Like ATV was doing anything at that time but still. A shame.
  • Steven Ho as Liu Li Chun (劉立春). I really hated him at first for cheating and ruining his future like that. Yet I found him the most wise–among all those that were cheated and hurt by Jessie–later on. Because he was the one who asked the whole question about whether it was worth it to keep it from Guo Dong and all. I knew it wasn’t just some side jealous rant then because honestly, he had gotten over it and he was convincing in that area.
  • Griselda Yeung as Jessie and Rachel. I must say that it was quite convincing with her playing both roles of Jessie and Rachel since I had a feeling they were different characters. And sometimes I even want to side with her character, Jessie, more than the main people because they were seriously dumb enough to fall for it OR not even expose her so why not, right?
  • Mannor Chan as Ann. I found her somewhat despicable. I don’t know why she would still have face to ask Bei Er for favors later. OR even talk and chat like normal with Bei Er. So she admitted she spoiled Jessie hence the consequences now. YET she kept doing it and acted like everything was normal later, which was even more unacceptable. But I guess some people are just too forgiving OR WAY TOO NAIVE so she was able to pull it off as well as her daughter in playing the pitiful card.

Favorite Characters?

  • Mary Suen/Sun. I said it in the other section already and I will say it again, the only intelligent person throughout regardless of obstacle. Very brave, blunt, and witty in many senses. Quite graceful as well. Never cease to surprise me with her jokes. Yet she always mean good. But she was never fake at all.
  • Bai Mei Gui/Rose. Another favorite character because of her straight-forward personality and somewhat intelligent and witty nature. I guess for her case, it would be called cunning more than intelligence YET I felt she was a lot smarter than some characters in here so I clap her on. Except for that one time when she was trying to pull Bei Er and her family together too BUT I sort of forgive her for that because the positive just won over the annoyance.
  • Mr. Ko. YES, hilarious at times yet he was quite clever also. Well, if he didn’t let his emotions get in the way. I also found it funny that he and Ou Gao Rong were in it together that one time, not clarifying about their father and son status. Priceless actually. Another funny moment was how he was doing all the chores for the Zhong family and acting like one of their members, LOL!
  • Ou Gao Rong. An intelligent person and quite capable hence the trust and many assignments bestowed on his shoulders. Already said most of the things I want to say so don’t want to be that repetitive.
  • Susan. Need I say more? No. I sort of forgive her participation in the whole wedding because honestly, she just wanted to participate in the fun and didn’t know about the whole conspiracy–unlike some people who had all the pieces of the puzzle but clammed up.

Sadly as it was, I narrowed it down to only these choices. Why? It seemed like the majority had disappointed me immensely with their stupidity at one point or another. NOT that I want them to be perfect. Yet the script-writers ruined it by making a lot of things so complicated when it was just plain common sense. NOT to mention how half of them were like drinking some kind of stupid potion throughout or something. Like they were too eager to torture themselves that sometimes I just want to side with the villain just for kicks.

Pairings:

  • Elliot Yue & Helen Ma. Odd couple, considering their characters. Yet I found it touching at various points to learn how they met and fallen in love. Not too mushy yet could be a guide for their children to understand the story behind their past and respect them more as a couple.
  • Kristal Tin & Stephen Au. I was so rooting for them but halfway through, I got turned off. Mostly because the plot had ruined their foundation. Whenever they were together later on, I really like it, but I can’t stop thinking about the stupid details that went along with that. Too bad.
  • Kristal Tin & Geoffrey Wong. Another collaboration as a couple. I really, really like them as a pairing since watching No. 8 Bus and TVB had really used that to their advantage each time trying to find some pairing with Kristal. YET too bad he always get the toss aside in here.
  • Law Lok Lam & Yvonne Lam. Man, the hilarious older couple in here. I really loved how their story started and developed in the later parts of the story. Many hilarious twists and turns as well as when the serious issues were addressed to test their relationship. It wasn’t just about love but respect. YET I was super convinced of their odd chemistry, not just because of the plot.
  • Jason Chan & Lily Ho. Was this a resurrection since their collaboration in Pages of Treasures? I must admit it was all right in the other one though I do not remember much anymore. Had mixed feelings with that series so I tend to tune the rest of the stuffs out at times. But not bad since it was kind of cute with them and somehow, I felt I like how their relationship matured over time. Then there was the whole idea of her being all talented and graceful. Call me a sucker for it but yeah, I don’t mind their pairing.
  • Matt Yeung & Katy Kung. I was so glad that they paired up instead of Tian Kai ending up with Jing Jing. I don’t know. It made it somewhat cute that he was with his ‘xiao shi mei’ AND that it was fun watching them bicker and then working together at times.
  • Glen Lee & Becky Lee. Strange pairing but whatever works. I guess they had to gift-wrap everything hence letting them end up together as well. Not to mention how they had good musical background and would be suitable, etc.
  • Raymond Chiu & Oceane Zhu. They were so cute together. I love how they were friends at first and then developing into a romance. A typical cute love story. YET I didn’t mind because it fitted with her bubbly, sucker for romance character and his somewhat prince in shining armor one (even if he’s just an average guy to some people). I also like how their characters eventually got married in the end and shared the happiness with the rest of the characters, not just forgotten like that. (Or I would rant even more. NOT kidding here.)
  • Tsui Wing & Celine Ma. So unexpected since I thought Rose would end up alone in the end. YET that was so cute and funny in a sense. I guess her good heart paid off since she was able to marry a person she often dreamt of, having wealth and all. And I swear it was so deserving because she was kind enough to hang out with the kid and helped the kid, etc.

What was disappointing? Heaps actually, but to break it down, here goes:

  • The family conflict with Bei Er, Hei Er, and whatsoever. I don’t know who was right or wrong YET they had applied and stressed and even wanted to shove it in our faces with the importance of family–regardless of the details throughout. I seriously was sickened by the fact that they (the script-writers) paved it so lamely. I got so confused with all the recounts from different characters that I eventually gave up altogether on it. However, it never made sense how they put the blame on Bei Er’s father. I swear, it was so weak, considering how the mother left with Hai Er already. I meant okay, she explained that she knew the father loved Bei Er more hence taking the risk. YET it didn’t make sense because possibly the fact that we were so used to the flashbacks of how Bei Er’s father was so sincere and nice and kind. OR it was her point of view. YET I just didn’t trust the other two, mostly because their portrayals were too poor or too fake OR something. At least at that point. I just wasn’t convinced. Then came that whole idea with how everyone was shoving and pushing for Bei Er to accept her mother when she had to overcome so much of finally realizing that Jing Jing was actually Hai Er and more. They were pushing her too much that I felt it was too sickening. AND I didn’t see the logic of just because ‘family is important’ that they should push her. She needed space and time. Even if she remembered later and came to peace with her past, but I wasn’t convinced either. Considering how the others kept blaming Bei Er IF she chose to ignore them. They kept scolding her being cold-blooded, etc BUT who the hell abandon her ages ago? How could she accept them in two shakes? Who’s the cold-blooded one now? I couldn’t help but associate this to Pages of Treasures in relation to Abbie (aka Shirley Yeung’s character in there). What the heck was that? I just couldn’t accept their twisted morality of forcing others to accept and admit when it was so weak with the setup of the plot. Then there was the whole recounts with blaming on the ‘China Town’ in the other country being close-minded and not understanding the situation with the Cen family. How lame is that? I don’t know. But it made me feel more suspicious than ever.
  • The love-hate thing and whatever else with Zhong Guo Dong and his ex-wife and the people involved. The other thing that made me want to throw things at people in here. I knew by the time that no one was saying anything that it would be up to Jessie to leave before anyone else made a move. Seriously. That was soooo bad AND stupid of everyone to think they should just hold it in. After all, Guo Dong is right that his only true friend is Mei Gui. Though afterward, he still chose to marry Jessie, which was LAME. So messed up YET Jessie wasn’t exposed properly that made me even more pissed. She was so scheming and manipulative yet the others tolerated her? It was like they thought it was okay that Guo Dong live with such a psycho? SO fake. Seriously, in real life, IF you find out someone had harmed your family member in the past and was back to do it again, would you let them? Regardless of the reason, you would be more than protective. It doesn’t matter with past guilt OR not. You start putting up some radar–even IF you want it to work. What was even more despicable was how dumb Bei Er and Qing Qing were for not saying anything because they were the ones having pieces of the puzzles. I think after all that was done–wrong or what, Li Chun was smarter than the rest of them since he was asking Bei Er that one time at a cafe place about how they were letting Jessie return to Guo Dong’s side AND how if Guo Dong hadn’t been so successful now, would she jump in with him again? It wasn’t like she wasn’t rich herself. But it was like it was something for her to grip on, like seeking a perfect or successful person versus a loser such as Li Chun now (or so people would dub him as). Talking about Li Chun, that was the other frustrating thing about not exposing everything since Jessie manipulated the details, making it like she’d mistaken Li Chun for Guo Dong one time BUT it didn’t seem so with Li Chun’s recounts and some details here and there. HELLO, sometimes I just want to side with Jessie altogether and let her bring the rest of them down since they were so dumb.
  • How stupid people were. This could be combined with both of the choices above YET I want to emphasize even more. Anyone has common sense? I don’t believe in real life people would still react that way. Like loving to be someone else’s puppet and torturing themselves and others around them like that. It was like I rather side with the villain than them at times, especially the Zhong family and eventually Carmen as well as some others at the cooking classes/dessert shop.

What needed to be focused on more?

  • The main theme. YES, they still talked about food and all. YET somehow it got lost along the way. Though it resurfaced again through different stories but I felt it wasn’t developed enough.
  • The newspaper people. I rather they expand more funny stories or random ones so we could understand some of the employees there more than so much on family or love dramas of the Chung/Zhong family. Sure, they were the focused of the sitcom YET it was too lame when they were too focused on with trying to resolve some matters. I rather the script-writers went toward the random/nonsense route than attempt to teach us a bunch of twisted morality stuffs.

Recommended? If you want to waste your time, go ahead. If you like their twisted morality story, go ahead as well. NOT that I disagree with the essence of it, but I hate how they approached it. Why in the world did I watch it and even continued if I thought it was so terrible? Typical me wanting to see if it would improve. Then there was the whole ‘good foundation’ at the beginning with some witty exchanges here and there. But I was wrong and it didn’t improve at all–despite the fact that some side stories were worth watching more than the ones involving some major characters. Then there was the whole thing about curiosity like I said before, wanting to see what else was similar to When Dolphin Met Cat and all.

Miss Hong Kong 2001

Definite signs of deterioration. No doubt about it. Though the opening was interesting but still…the entertainment parts were always way better for some reason. I must say that each year they managed to come up with a different theme. Not bad. The contestants were introduced and they had to list why they were eligible to enter the next round. Man, most of them were definitely bragging. Guess they were testing to see if the contestants could be witty without being arrogant. BUT it was hard.

The hosts: Eric, Louis, and Sonija…

Judges: Pauline, Gallen, Charmaine, Hacken, and some others…

Definitely signs of TVB using internal resources more than ever. Gallen looks so handsome though! (*mwuhahaha*) Charm looks so cute in that outfit. (Okay, I know half of the population hates her but I have my moments with her.)

Scenes when they were outside usually make them look better for some reason. Strange…

After Patrick Tang and some people performed, we were finally led into the questioning part. PHEW…not sure how worse it could get but whatever. Sonija get to introduce the contestants while Eric and Louis were in charge of grilling the contestants. GOSH…it’s killing me. Eric and Louis should kill them all already so they couldn’t pass. #6 was all right. At least she didn’t stutter. (Though it was all right that she mixed her languages.) Where in the world did they get all these contestants? AND poor Eric, had to look up so much. These girls are honestly too tall. #18’s question was funny. George Washington was still holding the ax, LOL! Darn! These girls are killing me. Shirley’s question was the easiest BUT she didn’t get it? How slow could she get? Only like about 3 could provide some decent answers.

Jordan Chan will take them to Japan? Poor Jordan! I actually like the effects where Jordan was drawing/painting and the pictures came to live. That was about it. Then there was also the part they were transported to the city and other areas. Very exotic and cool. That was about it. No comment regarding the ‘beauties’. I thought they looked better when they covered up because their bodies were too much of a sight to me. (Seriously, I must agree with Eric that most of them looked like they haven’t gone through puberty yet.)

Last part before they picked top 12? Joey Yung and Ekin Cheng. (What a coincidence!) Joey Yung look better than the contestants! (I know that was mean but honestly.) Interesting story. Kind of cute… I already gone out of the ‘Ekin’ phase so I wasn’t really paying attention. (But I think Ekin must have improved in his singing or something? Since he sounded better than the last time.) The settings were quite grand though. The crew totally make it happen.

Miss Photogenic? Shirley got it? Umm…no comment. I guess she seemed better than most of them for some reason.

They were each given a lamp and would take the label off. The ones who got the ‘X’ would be out.

Gilbert Lam was the person who introduced the judges at the beginning of the 2nd part? Cool! I totally forgot about him! He’s so cool. Too bad he doesn’t get to stick around much. Or perhaps that was better since it would be too much to stand.

(I didn’t want to say it before but I was seeing the pattern of ‘Angels of Missions’ people in here. BUT of course AOM was after this. But still interesting to see.)

I totally forgot that Leon was in here also since he opened up the show with his performance. (Snore-land though it was an upbeat song.) The whole time he was singing, I was like, “Hand it to Aaron already.” Mean, I know. But I was yawning too much. He’s not suitable for upbeat songs.

The next part was funnier though – much more entertaining – since Hacken was seen walking along with Natalis and Alan on the camels, trying to find their way to the show, LOL. Natalis and Alan were pondering if they were lost, LOL. And then Hacken was saying they heard Leon’s voice so they must be going in the right direction. Alan was even saying how Hacken was easily fooled by Eric’s words (i.e. he was the one who told them the directions, lol). Then the contestants get to tell everyone their dreams and/or goals. But Natalis, Alan, and Hacken’s rants were funnier. Eric had been in some sort of accident (according to their recounts) so he was unable to make it.

The next part was cool since they managed to invite this one pro acrobat lady to do some really cool tricks. Then Bernice Liu came out, dancing and singing. Cool. Suitable for the theme. She was so glamorous. Okay, the contestants had to use the objects given to describe one another. They were divided into pairs, of course. I love Alan and Hacken! They were so funny, arguing with each other like that instead of asking the questions, LOL. Bernice changed again to continue the song – or at least until the next sets of contestants came out. Watching the contestants try to find some compliments to praise each other with the objects given was too funny! At least they were improving. OR it seemed to get a tad better than having them answering trivial questions. Bernice changed again! Whoa! That was fast. Anyway, still cool.

Okay, the next part of questioning – more trivial questions, LOL. There were three sets of questions – middle school, high school, and college. (OR something like that.) If they answer right, they would advance one step up. If not, they would be lower one level. The questioning would start at their current educational level. The contestants changed outfits again. Nice outfits, LOL. I think the contestants were better in these set of questions since they were more used to the straight fact question-answer than the critical thinking ones. At least it’s reassuring on some level since it would be more encouraging to watch. Shirley did slightly better in this one.

The next part was a really cute yet entertaining story. Aaron Kwok and Coco Lee. (I was a bit surprised that they were able to invite Coco to participate.) Aaron got to sing his ‘Para Para’ song! LOL! (This sort of solves my question with why Aaron wasn’t opening before. This was more fun.)

Anyway, after that, we get to witness the contestants sing and dance with 60 children. The children were so cute! (I don’t know, I just didn’t care as much for the contestants regardless of how much they improved for this round.)

They were trying to do it different this year. Getting rid of three at a time until they reached top 5. Don’t know it would come to that but I guess it was something to keep people tune in. Hacken’s so funny!

Eric’s return. Awww…Alan was subbing for Eric. Just when Eric return, they made him be the bad guy to eliminate 3 contestants, LOL. Still funny. What was Hacken looking at, kept staring at Eric’s head. So funny that Eric was reassuring the others to come back next year, LOL.

More questionings. They were given a statement and then they had to pick if they agree with the phrase or not. Then they had to argue for or against it. Alan was too funny! He lost during the first time! He and Hacken are cracking me up! Hacken was saying how Alan was only the witness and did not have to input. It got even funnier when they were attempting to translate for this one contestant. Then Alan translated before she was even finished. Natalis was poking at Alan for it. (Actually, he was pretending to talk about Alan with Hacken, LOL.) Man, it was way funnier watching the hosts argue. Man, Natalis’ comment!

They invited Anne to help with determining who had beautiful skin? Shirley got it. I guess the judges were careful and inspected everything so no complaints.#3, #9, and #18 got the creativity prize since they were able to impress the judges with their cooking skills and creation.

I totally forgot that Jacky was in here! Cool! I guess it wouldn’t be complete without him. Jacky and Kelly Chen? OKAY…but for all the fun of it. Funny ending since he was just dreaming and his wife (portrayed by Kelly) was rousing him up. So much for it…(LOL) Again, save the best for last, right? Since it was supposed to be the last performance before they eliminate 3 more. But the top 12 got to return so they could announce the ‘most improved’ prize and the Miss International Goodwill. #4 got ‘most improved’ and #6 got Miss International Goodwill. Not bad. I don’t know. Somehow they looked better around this time. *shrugs*

Alan, Hacken, and Natalis were arguing over who should sing for the last part? But they ended up using the dancing routines to determine who was the top 4. At least they didn’t have to argue. That was interesting that Johnson Lee was one of the ones holding the sign up when they were answering the last round of questions. #2 and #3 got eliminated after that.

The ones who were eliminated had to come out and tell us who they support to be the winner. #6 got 3rd place, #4 got 2nd, and of course Shirley got first. Not bad. NOT the best of all time, but I guess it will have to do.

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