Raising the Bar

Surprisingly, I also watched this ages back and do not remember much anymore. However, I couldn’t get some things out of my mind regarding this for some reason, so I thought I might as well do a review and get it all out. I have already forgotten about most of the characters since there were a lot. Yet I remember some stuff, so will try to discuss those areas.

The reason why I even watched this in the first place was because of Ben Wong and how he managed to make it back to the main lead at long last. Yes, that was the sole reason why I wanted to watch at first. I usually do not watch legal series, but I made an exception for Ben. So, yeah, if Ben ever read this, he should be happy, lol. (YEAH, right, lol.) Anyway, how was it? To say that it was a mistake was an understatement. There were some good things about it–for sure. But some things were just too whatever.

Main Cast:

  • Ben Wong as Marcus Fan Chi Ngai (范智毅). So, Ben’s back as the main guy. How was he? In a sense of acting, I didn’t doubt him at all throughout. He delivered. It was a long journey for him making up top again so I applaud him. In a sense of character, I guess he was a typical good guy, so there wasn’t much to say about that. I actually liked his goofy off-work side more, lol. Because he would end up in all these strange debates with the other senior lawyers or with his friends.
  • Louis Cheung as Quinton Chow Chi Pok (周梓博). Coming in from Black Heart White Soul, I say my perception was mixed feelings. Yes, my last series of him before watching this one was that one, so yeah, it was going great for him really. (Yes, sarcasm.) However, I swear, he did better in the other one. Yes, even if he was a mix character in the other one, he delivered better in terms of acting. In this one, I thought he was too trying, possibly because of taking on a student a role or something. I’m not sure. I couldn’t figure it out. But his charater was all right. Nothing really special that stood out for me. At least, he wasn’t annoying either?
  • Ram Chiang as Woody Lam Sam Muk (林森木). He was the other shining character in here for me. I thought he contributed to shouldering the series for the majority of the main cast already and deserved a call out for that. He had some interesting insights and often the voice of reason among their group of senior lawyers at times.
  • Grace Chan as Giselle Tong Ching Chi (唐靖姿). I tried really hard to like her but I just couldn’t. Seriously, it was really hard. First, I had my bias with Grace–thanks a lot to Overachievers, I didn’t like her at all in there. So yeah, seeing her in here, it was hard to restrain. Battling that bias took several episodes for me and it became easier because once I got into her character, I did like her ambition and her willingness to work toward her goal. Her character was interesting in that sense and she did have some principles or at least, tried to live by the codes, not cutting corners, etc. But as the series went along, her character became boring for me in a sense. I guess, I was just impatient. So I tried to focus on other parts of the plot and see how it went with her journey to becoming a lawyer. What went completely downhill and became a nail in the coffin for me was the last conflict of the series. The one where Marcus was accused of having an affair with one of the students (or it was said he manipulated his way into it via his power). I seriously wanted to reach into the screen and strangle her. Yeah, that bad. I know we–as the audience–witnessed along with Giselle throughout how lawyers had gone astray or forgot their original goal after having been in the industry for too long. Giselle, herself, was also a victim of those harassment throughout the series. However, having been with Marcus for that long and understanding him like that, how could she disregard his words and believe the other girl completely? What happened to innocent until proven guilty or relying on evidence or whatever else. I do understand in those cases, there was a posibility of people in higher places abusing their power, etc. However, I thought she would have given Marcus the benefit of a doubt because she worked alongside him for so long. Nope, she not only disregard his integrity entirely but also withheld evidence, causing the situation to drag out until the girl’s family member decided to submit the journal on her own. What the hell? I don’t know how the legal system over there work (because I don’t live there, so this isn’t a snappy comment, just saying I don’t have firsthand information), but when you found something relevant to an ongoing case, you submit it. Or at least, that was how it was supposed to be. She withheld it and thought it was fine? Seriously? Even though it was someone’s personal journal, but there was an ongoing case regarding a very serious matter, that should qualify as evidence. I don’t know if that was an error of the scriptwriters OR just a flaw in the character, but that totally did it for me, not caring for her character at all. She shoudln’t have become a lawyer either if she acted like that. OR maybe she fitted right in with all those flaky lawyers? Seriously, I didn’t even know why Marcus forgave her at all. Sure, she had determination, etc. But she made the wrong call major time regarding legalities.

Supporting:

  • Elaine Yiu as Vivian Cheung Wai Wan (張慧芸). I was really, really surprised they didn’t throw Elaine off the bus this time. Well, in some ways, they did. She cheated, no doubt about it. But I was surprised they redeemed her later and made her character realized what was important during the car accident scene. I was also surprised that they allowed for her to return to her family all intact and didn’t forgo some side drama in that area also. It was strange because I swear I still have PTSD from all the times TVB threw Elaine under the bus because she wasn’t the main lead and was taking on continuous similar roles. I guessed that because they had to focus on other major characters, so they just let her off–or ran out of time. But I liked that she got to portray a lawyer this time around.
  • Natalie Tong as Ashley Cheng Cheuk Tung (鄭妁彤). I never thought there came the day I wanted Natalie to have more scenes. Yes, coming from me who kept complaining nonstop about her repetitive roles. However, this was seriously a different type of role for her and shone through. I was surprised they let her portray this role since it was completely different from her cutesy roles or innocent ones. I actually quite liked this side of Natalie with the professional front, but also a mysterious background–somewhat at first. She was daring, witty and charming. It was indeed addicting to watch her in here. I thought this type of role was more challeinging for her or more interesting to watch than the usual they kept giving her. It seemed more of a challenge.
  • Timothy Cheng as Duncan Yam Suen Yip (任雋燁). He was hilarious. Seriously, he cooked up a lot of schemes for Marcus. One of the rare roles I liked of his. Maybe it was because whenever I watched a series he was in, he took on a less than likable role. So, yes, this one was refreshing for me in that playful and light-hearted way. Of course, he took part in his own set of intense dramas, but for the majority of the time, he seemed to take on a comedic role among their group of senior lawyers.
  • Elena Kong as Judge Amanda Lui (呂官). I don’t remember much about her anymore. But I remember liking her.
  • Sam Tsang as Don Chu Yiu Lik (朱耀力). I kind of liked him at first, then the cheating came into play and I was just like, throw him away. However, for some odd reason, knowing his age, I didn’t find him trying too hard the way Louis did with his lively vibe. Maybe it was Sam’s experience or how his character was that made it less annoying. I don’t know.

Pairings:

  • Ben and Elaine. I remember reading some articles about how Elaine talked about her collaboration with Ben and they worked well together because they knew each other a long time already, etc. I don’t want to disregard all that. I thought it was interesting in a way that they paired up in here and even have a small family of their own. However, I still didn’t feel the chemistry as strong. Sure, I liked them together at times and the way they were at times. It seemed they were comfortable in their roles and their interactions. That was good. But in my weird brain, it didn’t work as a “wow” over the top chemistry as I spotted with some of their past on screen partners. It was still fun to watch though.
  • Elaine and Sam. I know, I must be crazy to be put them in. But I swear they had more chemistry for some odd reason. AND no, I don’t promote cheating or whatever. I hate those people and their excuses the most. However, in an interesting turn of events, them as actor and actress, I found more chemistry with them for some reason. So, what I’m trying to say is if they ever work together in another drama, I would support this pairing.
  • Natalie and Timothy. Normally, I wouldn’t like this repetitive formula. But considering the options of the drama, I found them much more interesting to watch than some couples in here. It was somewhat tragic or maybe just sad when the plot was laid out at some parts. But the ending was seriously hilarious. He had to work super hard for their family of three, lol.

Recommended? I would say you have to love the main cast to watch. It was hard for me mostly because of some of the things I listed up there. So, it wasn’t enjoyable for me. But those who like legal dramas might want to check it out. It’s not in my top 20, but it was somewhat okay to watch.

Dropping By Cloud Nine

Since this was 10 episodes, I decided to give it a try. I meant what harm could it do, right? Only ten. YET…I was actually quite stumped how people couldn’t even get it right with short stories.

Opening, In-Between, and Ending:

  • Ron Ng as Jesse aka Professional Photographer.
  • Kate Tsui as June aka Tourist. Funny that she wasn’t scolding him for taking her picture at first but was just wanting him to take pictures of her right side more than left.
  • First Thought: Wow, obvious with how they appeared like that with the fate talk and all.
  • Second Thought: OMG! They’re not the main couple? Like really?
  • Third Thought: Okay…whatever…works…really…NOT…
  • Ron and Kate as a couple. I don’t know, after the whole The Brink of Law, I’m already sold. So I guess I’ll take whatever I could for this case. At least no one dies, right? Though they’re not linked either since he’s attached and she’s waiting for someone, playing the fate game.
Story #1: Let Go / Bu She Bu De (不捨不得)
  • Figaro Ceng as Li Li Jun (李勵軍). He’s laid-back as always with his composure. It’s nice to see him lead for a change (instead of those supporting roles–though I don’t mind him in those unique roles). Just want to see him lead, that’s all. (Better than some of the current TW leads actually.)
  • Mag Lam as Li Li Jun ( 李麗君). No comment since could be considered cute but the story’s too short to observe more.
  • Wong Cho Lam as Travel Agent. No surprise that he’s so enthusiastic toward convincing others to buy the travel packages, etc.
  • Wong Lai Yee as Xiao Yun (小韻). Kind of charming with her exchanges with the other two.
  • Thoughts: Would I get stuff tossed at me if I say I rather see Figaro with Wong Lai Lee? I meant just by their compatibility with one another when he sat down next to her at the restaurant and they had a little chat. Of course I’m missing the point here. Anyway, then when she checked on his phone’s screensaver, it reminded me of the field of flowers at the beginning of I Do?–and yes, that’s kind of creepy in a sense but whatever works since I’m sure it’s a coincidence. And imagine two people with the same name. At least the same sounding and all.
  • Definition of FATE: Two people who DO NOT do anything but somehow ended up meeting and ending up together. What is this story? Um…a mutual friend who intentionally, purposefully tossed a phone into one party’s bag when the other had accidentally forgotten about his phone. NICE? Sorry for being so sarcastic, but I usually think of fate as some unknown force of nature aka an invisible hand of some sort, NOT some planned action by a known being.
  • Other thoughts: Aww…that flower field was indeed quite beautiful and mesmerizing.
  • Question: They actually went to Taiwan to film it? I meant Figaro didn’t have to go anywhere. But I meant the TVB crew. Like seriously?
Story #2: Merry Single Christmas / Yi Ge Ren De Kuai Le Sheng Dan (一個人的快樂聖誕)
  • Jacqueline Chong as Emily. I don’t feel like she’s one of those hostile bosses though. Maybe it’s because she’s not good with socializing with her co-workers but that doesn’t make her like some evil being either. She’s just too occupied with her work but she still contributes in with paying the party’s fees–though she doesn’t participate actively. She only needs to slow down a bit and enjoy the simplest things.
  • Mandy Lam as Helen.
  • Kibby Lau as Sandy.
  • Derek Chow as Wei.
  • Kelvin Lee as David.
  • Match Lau as Joe.
  • Joey Yau as Linda.
  • Kim Li as Raymond.
  • Question: How in the world did they make such an interesting and exciting theme so boring? I’m so serious here! I’m like NOT that glued to the screen and multi-tasked like mad. AND of course, I had to pause it about a bunch of times before I got done watching it. Not that I didn’t enjoy the cast and the atmosphere, but it was just so lacking even if they tried to cover it all up with trying to make it so glamorous. (As always…like that would work…)
  • Moral of the story: Okay, got it. I was surprised I actually liked it. I meant they didn’t make it like it was a crime to be single. You could find happiness through yourself or how you view things as.
Story #3: Two Unchanging Hearts / Lian Ke Bu Bian Xin (兩顆不變心)
  • Stephanie Ho as Sue.
  • Yuang Cheung as Eric.
  • Miu Miu Ko as Abby. I found her extremely funny. GOSH, her plans backfired major time with the haunted house thing. Then she attempted to drive away Eric’s pursuers.
  • Calvin Chan as Ian. I found him extremely cute and funny also, trying to follow with Abby’s schemes.
  • Brian Tse as John. The poor clueless dude. Not too clueless since he sort of got Abby’s hint but it was sort of sad, lol. Oh well, not everyone can win.
  • Suyen Cheung as Celia.
  • I was impatient even with the first 2 minutes into it. YET glad I stayed since it sort of reminded me of those weird games in school days. Like matchmaking and crazy pranks.
  • Eric and Sue’s communication method and tacit understanding. I loved those subtle gestures at times. It was kind of cute. Like the part where they were in the library studying and Abby was sneaking up on them and watching from one of the bookshelves, Eric sort of sent a message to Sue that someone was there and she just pretended to search for something else while spotting Abby standing there–to which Abby was pretending to not notice and walk away, lol. (Busted I guess so had to get out of there…)
  • Abby and Ian as conspirators. Honestly, they were sort of somewhat more fun to watch. Crazy plans, etc. Mostly her plans and he followed along. Yet it was so funny seeing them cooking up new schemes to pull Eric and Sue together.
  • The grand finale. OMG! That was so unexpected! Eric liked Abby, NOT Sue. Man, that was so playing on the audience’s emotions big time. I meant it seemed Eric and Sue were meant for each other with their coincidences with picking the same book, etc. Then it was like he was always smiling at Sue, etc. But he was just trying to get Abby’s attention. I guess opposites attract, eh? LOL! I sort of favor this ending though since I thought Abby was so cute in her own way, trying so hard to matchmake but didn’t realize it that she was the one Eric was after.
Story #4: Romance on a Ride / Yi Cheng Che De Chun Tian (一程車的春天)
  • Sherry Chen as Jia Hui (嘉慧).
  • Lai Lok Yi as Qian (謙). Cute, nerdy glasses.
  • Cheung Wing Hong as Chun (春).
  • Sarah Song as Katy.
  • Chan Nim Gwun as Iris.
  • Rachel Kan as Carol.
  • Sherry and Lai Lok Yi. They were quite cute together as a couple.
  • The real version. Oh…so the ride only became romantic or full of happiness when she was thinking about her boyfriend AND not that dude who was sleeping away and leaning on her.
  • Moral of the story. Braveness. Okay, got it why she let the guy leaned on her for so long. I meant she wasn’t even brave enough to tell him off and all, sort of relating to her and her boyfriend’s situation. Yet she was glad she didn’t tell the person sitting next to her off since she learned something from him. But if it was real life, I think the situation would be different. Like would anyone let some dude lean on her like that? It didn’t matter if she sympathized with his fatigue or not. Back to the story, it was kind of interesting how she was observing different passengers and incorporating her story into her own with her boyfriend and friends, etc. Yup, what a time to reflect on life’s many possibilities.
Story #5: Marriage’s Secret Language / Jie Hun Mi Yu (結婚密語)
  • Elle Lee as as Grace.
  • Vincent Wong as Gary.
  • Jacky Lei as Jack.
  • Lam Sau Yi as Jacqueline.
  • Jones Lee as Tony.
  • Amy Tsang as Ada.
  • Kitterick Yiu as Wilson.
  • Eddie Law as Ben. Funny dude.
  • Jack and Grace. I so didn’t see that coming. I meant I thought it was a flashback of Gary and Grace years ago so they let different actor and actress portray the roles. YET it was actually Grace and Jack. So he remembered. But it was too late anyway. Doesn’t matter anymore.
  • Moral of the Story. Got it. So they were reflecting about the past with their exes, mostly Grace. Then Grace was realizing how she shouldn’t dwell on what couldn’t be more than focusing on what could really be (something that was within reach).
  • Thoughts. Not bad actually. But not the best either.
Story #6: Our Romantic Story / Wo Men De Liang Man Gu Shi (我們的浪漫故事)
  • Man Cheung as Jun (俊).
  • Yaka as Wincy.
  • Joel Chan as Ivan.
  • Macy Chan as Ying Ying (影影).
  • Hoffman Cheng as Wallace.
  • Alan Luk as Daniel.
  • Lydia Law as Jie Dai Yuan (接待員).
  • Chloe Nguyen as Sherry.
  • Kaka Chan as Theater Staff.
  • Thoughts. Surprisingly good to me. I meant I was looking for the typical ending just like what happened in that movie they saw at the theater that one time. Yet even though some details were the same, such as Wincy leaving her umbrella at that one restaurant or how she lost her wallet in the streets, but the outcome was different. Like how the restaurant staff brought Wincy’s umbrella out for her and her wallet was actually somewhere in one of those bushes (not in her purse all along). Then there was also the part where Wincy was saying how she hadn’t seen stars for so long but they just proceeded on with Jun eating his purchased food while Wincy browsed a magazine in her purse to pass time while they were waiting for the bus. I actually liked how the situation presented itself to them like the movie yet because of their similar circumstances (being dumped and getting over the relationship), their reactions were different. Despite the fact that they’d seen the movie together. And perhaps it was like how they were in the same circumstance so they didn’t take on the role of reassuring one or the other like the leading actor in the movie did.
  • The cast. I actually enjoyed the cast more this time around since I felt they weren’t really the usual main cast in the typical long series of TVB but they surpassed some of those cast major time. Not to mention how it made it more realistic because these situations happen to people holding a normal job too, not too glamorous but not too pitiful either.
  • The fact that they didn’t end up together. Well, not really or it was that way for us to dwell upon. But it was not cliche. Sure, there were people in your life you often encounter and could chat up a storm yet it didn’t mean you have to step further into it. It was just someone to talk to at times.
Story #7: Love’s Shift / Ai Qing Zhuan Yi (愛情轉移)
  • Lisa Ch’ng as Elaine. I’m not sure if I’d seen her before but have good impressions of her for portraying a somewhat strict, strange being to letting us see the real her in the end (aka from her point of view).
  • Kaki Leung as Ivy. Seriously, I think she was the one barking more than Elaine when she used the term ‘bark’ on Elaine and Mag Mag.
  • Jason Chan as Tom. Perhaps, he was the wisest in here, not judging Elaine or willing to participate in gossips with others. He knew from different details that it wasn’t like so thus not caving in with the rest of the public to sling even more mud on Elaine.
  • Edwin Siu as Victor. NO comment. He was portraying another asshole role so what should I say?
  • Eddie Lee as George. The poor guy who got rejected.
  • Calvin Lui as John.
  • Thoughts. I felt that this was getting better and better with the story. OR it was just me. People often criticize others for being blind with being the person in the situation versus those not involved are more clear-headed, etc. YET this proved wrong. Sometimes other people DO NOT know the real version or know the story exactly as it was. They just want to form their own conclusion. AND it was because they were not involved in the matter that they could say or give advice as they pleased, thinking it was the best solution YET they were not the ones having to deal with it all. It was those who were involved and had all the pieces of the puzzle who knew. That was why it was hard to deal with situations. They know whether they have too much to lose or not. Another good episode with the whole reflection and healing one–without the element of romance involved.
Story #8: Beautiful Daydream / Bai Ri Qi Meng (白日綺夢)
  • James Ng as Bai Zhan Ting (白占庭).
  • Alfred Hui as Gan Zu Xiong (甘祖雄).
  • Ria Tong as Zhong Xiao Qi (鍾曉淇).
  • Nicole Wan as Stacy.
  • Winnie Ma as Susan.
  • Kaka Chan as Natalie.
  • Koni Lui as special guest aka trophy presenter.
  • First Thought. Awww…the feeling of being used by someone so they could get through your friend. Well, if you experienced it before, it sucks big time–to the point that sometimes you just can’t get over it no matter how others told you it’s no big deal. They DO NOT get it.
  • Second Thought. OMG! It was all a dream like even the whole idea of the girl using him to get to his friend? Okay…at least he didn’t get used by others. PHEW!
  • Last Thought. I honestly don’t think Zhan Ting was too fat or too unattractive though. He just fit those schoolboy images perfectly though, with the dorky glasses and somewhat ruffled hair. It was probably his confidence–and maybe others’ views. Or his own paranoia. Or he was just bored or read too much manga to dream up of different stories so he could be involved in it.
Story #9: I Do / Wo Yuan Yi (我願意)
  • Phoebe Pang as Hu Ke Ling (胡可玲).
  • Sheldon Lo as Shi Zhi Qing (石志青).
  • Anita Kwan as Hu Ke Yi (胡可怡).
  • Cheng Tse Sing as Ling’s father.
  • Elena Kong May Yee as Ling’s mother.
  • Alvina Kong as 3rd Aunt.
  • Ko Jun Man as Qing’s father.
  • Tsang Wai Man as Qing’s mother.
  • Shek Sau as Uncle Zhu.
  • Mary Hon as Uncle Zhu’s wife.
  • Joseph Yeung as Wedding Host/Witness.
  • Ronald Leung as Alfred, Hu Ke Yi’s first husband.
  • Stephen Huynh as Ben, Hu Ke Yi’s second husband.
  • Jim Tang as John Hu Ke Yi’s third husband.
  • Thougts. Awww…that was so cute, especially the ending. Well, imagine playing the game of ‘getting married’ when they were little and growing up together, etc. Cliche but sometimes people prefer those who didn’t grow up with them since it was more of a family feeling than romance. Yet this one sort of fell back on that one and when the feeling was mutual, it was really cute.
  • Regarding marriage. I guess no one has the right to judge how many times one gets married OR if it’s real or not. Again, outsiders have no right to judge because they do not have all the pieces and they could form their own opinions however they want to.
  • The ending. I thought Ling Ling would catch it since her sister did signal to her. But then it was Zhi Qing who caught it and then handed the bouquet to her.
Story #10:  When an Old Sweater Met an Old Scarf / Dang Jiu Mao Yi Yu Shang Jiu Wei Jin (當舊毛衣遇上舊圍巾)
  • Gregory Wong as Wen (文).
  • Cheung Kwok Keung as Old Wen.
  • Candice Chiu as Lan (蘭).
  • Lisa Lui Yau Wai as Old Lan.
  • Janet Chow as Fion.
  • Thoughts. Man, I wasn’t sure if I was more involved with seeing how Cheung Kwok Keung and Lisa Lui portrayed the older version or the younger versions of Wen and Lan. Though the older couple only appeared a bit, their emotions said a lot with their expressions. It was interesting how things turned out because I thought his wife wouldn’t care anymore or how they would eventually end up together but separated years ago. But it wasn’t so. It was just those little memories and then they continued with their lives–to be reunited briefly again, but separated because of their different course of life. Call me a crybaby but I actually cried near the end when they were just crossing paths to walk in opposite directions. It was like so close, yet it was not meant to be.

Favorite story? At first, I thought it was kind of brainless because of the first few stories having nothing special except it was a bit different. But then I was wrong since the later stories were better (for me). So for me, it was a toss between story # 3, #6, #9, and #10. But I must say that the story that left the deepest impression was the last one. Honestly, that was so, so sad. Though I know it was kind of forbidden and was glad there was no cheating or breaking up some marriage’s involved yet it was like so sad. I guess they weren’t meant to be anyway since they would never say anything more than the initial exchange in response to the little lunch box she prepared for him that last time when she brought it to the airport.

Other thoughts? Honestly, aside from some familiar faces, I think this was just an attempt to introduce new faces to us. What better way than to do it with some short stories, right? What I did like about it was how it was planned was with those cute drawings that played into the theme video instead of the actual people and some song. The music was very soothing as well. But it was strange in a sense too because it would be more suitable for the autumn theme with the colors used and not Valentine’s Day theme as TVB had intended for it to be.

Recommended? Your choice really. ‘Cause I thought it was a series of light-hearted episodes to pass time, not something intense if you were looking for that. It was more along of those meaningful messages about life than typical dramas TVB tried so hard to push forth these past years.

*Cast names are listed by how they are known as by region, character names are listed by Mandarin Pinyin (as relevant).