A Great Way to Care

If you ignore the corny English title, this was actually very good. The funniest thing was if you watched this and The Threshold of a Persona at the same time, you would realize the majority of the supporting cast were the same. It might cause confusion also but it was still interesting to see how each portray their roles for both series.

Anyway, first off, what was TVB thinking in warehousing this series? I understand that they aired The Threshold of a Persona because of Roger’s popularity. But warehousing this one was a big mistake. (Or perhaps it was the reason that I mentioned above about the similarity with the supporting cast.) This was quite fast pace and interesting because of the different psychological issues addressed throughout this series. It was surprisingly good because of all the cases involved and it was not draggy since it managed to stay on topic for the majority of the time. There were side stories and romances too but it did not dwell long. It let the cases integrate with their daily life problems too so it was just right.

The Like(s):

  • Alex Fong as Dr. Ko Lap Yan. I was actually doubtful about watching this since I’m not much of an Alex fan or think much about his acting. However, I admit he does have it to pull through, making us love him at times as the brilliant doctor but hates him sometimes for using sharp words. Dr. Ko is actually very kind and really cares for his patients. But he’s harsh toward his interns because he wants them to succeed and be good at what they do. (If he’s not harsh and they rely on him too much or would not work hard enough, what would happen when they become real doctors and get careless, which could result in the worst?)
  • Ram Tseung as Dr. Lien Chi Sum. Having like Ram for his performances in several series, I really like the role given to him in here. He is such a funny character yet there is this apparent morality within him that one must respect. He seems to be really laid-back and could almost be dubbed as being lazy but his sense of sincerity and care given to his patients are really admirable. He takes his job seriously with proper responsibilities of each patient. Although he has his moments of immaturity, it is only within friends and off-work that shows another side of his character. And although he seems weak or easily persuaded with his behaviors, he is very firm on his belief and would not use any other means to gain status over other colleagues. It seems like he does not really care for what is being done at home either or seems careless but he really does care and support his wife in the time of need, not taking one side or another. The conversations they have various times show that he does support her and not just ignore it or dismiss it altogether. He does treat it in seriousness, considering all angles, not like other husbands who only take one side or the other. He tries hard to sort everything out and make it work for his family accordingly.
  • Raymond Wong as Lee Ying Chun. I’m not really a fan of Raymond Wong–mostly because of how he portrays his characters in other series. He is not the worst but I just don’t like his style. However, I must admit I really like his character and portrayal in here. I like the character of Chun because he’s very caring toward patients and would not mind the nature of his job but really love it for what it is. It does not matter that others might misunderstand or look down on him, but he feels happy that he could help others. It is also very nice to see the balance in his character that he would not get stepped on easily. I like the part where he found out his girlfriend cheated on him and insulted him of his weakness. At first, he was all quiet and I was getting disappointed that he might be all talks and would be weakened by all the words. But then it showed that he was only thinking and he actually took the action to sever the ties right away, i.e. destroying all the furniture in the room. (It sounds violent but shows that he could stand up for himself, not being someone’s doormat.) I must give TVB credit for giving him the right image in here. It’s like he doesn’t seem to shine much, just the typical nice guy character but there’s this sense of mystery within him, making him more complex.
  • Vivien Yeo as Suen Ka Bik. For the first time, I feel that Vivien isn’t robbed of a role. It’s about time too. Her character as Ka Bik is really strange at first if you do not understand her. But we, as the audience,’ are lead into her story and what actually happened that led to her self-destructive mode and depression. Although her character is an obese person, I really like it that it acknowledges and associates it with her internal and external conflicts, tying in with the main theme. Vivien was really cute in here (when she actually appears as her thin self again). Not that she wasn’t cute at the beginning but it was hard to tell through the prop. Her character was really bubbly and childish in a way but it was really funny and surprisingly cute how innocent she was.
  • Ben Wong as Chung Kwok Ban. I know he seemed really, really mean at the beginning but I start to like his character in the later episodes. In a way, he just felt that newbies usually have this great enthusiasm but no talents so he worried for Mandy’s safety if she were to jump in and do it without thinking of the consequences (which was true that almost cost her life several times). However, he was still capable of seeing through that she did have what it took to be a cop. He also was not an unreasonable person who didn’t have a brain but only wanted to be bossy about everything. He actually could think up of different solutions and connect the dots pretty well. He cared for others but just didn’t know how to express it properly. Since I was watching like this and Threshold and at the same time, I must say that I was impressed with Ben’s portrayal for both roles. It contained humor and kindness for the other one versus the whole intense character in here with a mixture of brilliant elements. (Must give TVB credit also for giving the right image for both characters, seeing him as a simple cop in the other one yet in this one, it gave more confidence with the suit, plus the hairdo. He looked really handsome in here–if I have to admit it, lol.) Anyway, another interesting character and I think Ben has gone a long way since his very first series that made me cringed when I was watching it and never finished. Although it took a while to actually be impressed with his performances, I think he does work really hard and knows his weaknesses or takes it into a note to improve and get to this point.
  • The friendship between Ko Lap Yan (Alex Fong), Lien Chi Sum (Ram Tseung), and  Lee Ying Chun (Raymond Wong). Although the other two were doctors and Ying Chun was a nurse, the three men got along really well, sharing jokes and seeking advice from each other when in need. The fact that Ying Chun lived with Dr. Ko was funnier. They got into these weird fights about who should have the power to speak or decide at times but it showed how close they were to not be afraid to speak up about matters. Although they talked nonsense the majority of the time and only were serious some of the time, it did show the bond of their friendship and the ability to make one another forget their stress for the time being.
  • The relationship between Dr. Ko (Alex Fong), Dr. Leung (Chung King Fai), and Mandy (Kate Tsui). I think it was a bit funny how Dr. Leung knew them both–because one was his student and the other was his god-daughter, but they did not know it–at first.
  • The interns. I especially liked the relationship between the interns and the doctors in here, except for some doctor who was taking advantage of the situation–that was. I also liked how Nelson (Timmy Hung), Leo (Ruco Chan), and Brian (Ellesmere Choi) got along and discussed cases together, sharing experiences. I did not like Martha (Yoyo Chen) as much although I understand where she was coming from. There were side stories with them too and the randomness between the interns and it got funny at times but not too much as into the whole ‘corny’ zone. Their interactions showed some bonding among the interns with how they were all going through it together. Of course, there were conflicts at times but it did not lose its elements with making it too dramatic either.
  • The guest stars. The guest stars in each case made it interesting and you got to see how each actor/ actress would portray their role in here as well as their characters contributing to the overall story.
  • The ensemble. Yes, I got tired of listing every single character or actor/actress so just put in this one since I really liked it that they were not making someone shine on purpose. But everyone was in it together to make everything work out well. You could feel the realness of it, just normal people trying to work and get on with their daily life. (There was the whole deal with the excitement of the cases but it was there for the purpose of the series’ theme.) I didn’t have the feeling of anyone hogging the camera on purpose, except for one person, which I will discuss in the next section. Other than that, this group worked really well together. (Kudos to the production team for making everything possible.)
  • Not too cheesy. I liked it that there was actually some acknowledgment that it should not be too gift-wrapped. Yes, there were closure and some kind of ending for everyone but they did not put in pairings for every single character. Like how we were misled into believing that Ko Sau Yee (Elliot Yue) would end up with his old fiancee or at least have a great friendship throughout the story with her giving up gambling and all. However, things happen and what she passed onto her son caught up with her. It goes into the whole thing with wanting something to happen versus its actual outcome. There was also the part where Ko Sau Yee lost one leg due to the accident (that was not so accidental) and the internal conflicts afterward. Everything was not perfect but it worked out as long as they learned to accept and look on the bright side.

The Dislike(s):

  • Suet Nei as Ram’s mother. Seriously, I’m getting sick of seeing her in series. Can’t they find someone else? I mean I’m all right if she’s around sometimes but like most of the time? I guess I do not watch the right series to avoid her but her pattern is quite repetitive. Although she tries to shine through her portrayal, it gets super fake and annoying more than attract the appropriate attention. Lucky she’s only around for a while or if it focuses on her too much, I would’ve gone mad.

Favorite Couples:

  • Raymond Wong and Vivien Yeo as Lee Ying Chun and Suen Ka Bik. They had a really cute story together and I really liked the development of it. It was kind of different from other dramas that it actually showed that he didn’t care for appearances and learned to love the real her, not just with words but his actual actions. It showed that because they made it that Ka Bik was really fat at the beginning and he was still willing to help her overcome the worst and gain confidence again. (Other series, it was all about talks about not minding but we never got to see the test. It sounded too much like nonsense sweet words used to reassure one party or the other. But this one just went right into addressing it about minding it or not.)
  • Alex Fong and Kate Tsui as Dr. Ko and Mandy. Their relationship was interesting in a sense because I would’ve never liked it when I first heard of the collaboration–considering TVB’s recent casting with older men with younger women, but I must give them credit for making it work this time around. Actually setting his age at the about right level made it more realistic since making him portray a younger character than his actual age would be too fake. They even addressed and stressed the age difference throughout the series so it was not too fake or seemed like they were trying to hide something. It could’ve been worse if they put in some corny lines like, “Age doesn’t matter as long as there are feelings.” I liked it there was the talk between Dr. Ko and Mandy about all the possible issues although he had feelings for her, which she took it as a joke that he was such a worry-wart at first, actually reassured him with the seriousness of the situation and how she understood, etc.
  • Ram Tseung and Astrid Chan as Dr. Lien and Sau Wai. I like how their team of husband and wife worked together. It was funny how it seemed that he was really scared of her and would leave everything up to her. But they really supported each other when trouble came along. He had his silly moments and she would complement it with her reasoning. It was just too funny with their interactions at times. She seemed to be the naggy-slash-controlling wife but that was just the harsh words she used sometimes to keep him in line about his craziness, like trying to buy a car just to show off to one of the rival doctors.
  • Ellesmere Choi and Iris Wong as Brian and Daisy. They were just too funny at times. They worked at the same clinic yet there was only constant interaction related to their work. However, they got to know each other better through a religious group. It was just funny to see how he sort of turned her down and she was sort of embarrassed but managed to dive out of it safely. I was a bit disappointed that nothing more happened but was happy to see that they ended up together after all. Perhaps, he lacked confidence and didn’t feel it was the right time? Or he didn’t know and he was too busy trying to pass the exams that he couldn’t focus on relationships? Still a cute couple.

Posted (on Xanga): August 7, 2009

Re-posted: Saturday, March 27th, 2010

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The Threshold of a Persona

Was I the only one who thought that this was a waste of the majority of the cast’s time? Honestly. I’ve never suffered through a Roger Kwok series before. (Even the ones that he portrayed the villain.) I think every time TVB does a series on the Immigration Department, it becomes draggy because they fail to focus on the main points of the plot. I do not want them to twist some major facts about it to make it more interesting. But I mean they should’ve cut it short if they do not know where to focus on. 30 episodes of this?

First off, the theme song of the series, Conceal (掩飾). I like collaborations, especially between singers for a song but Roger and Patrick? I heard that TVB’s trying to promote Patrick but pick one or the other. Their voices do not go well together. I think one of my favorite ones is Steven Ma and Ron Ng’s collaboration for The Brink of Law and I do know that Ron’s not that good but their voices flow well for the theme song, making it memorable and suitable.

Let’s start with the likes before I get any further.

The Good:

  • The friendship revolving around Kit (Roger), Kei (Yoyo), Lun (Power), and Yu (Raymond). I actually like how their friendship was given to us at the beginning and how other factors influenced their path throughout the series. It really came to the question of if they could pass the test of obstacles or not. It was unbelievable that Yu turned so evil toward the end, killing everyone and destroying everything that dared to stand in his path, but it was not out of nowhere. We could see that he had a strong sense of ambition through his actions and words to others (although ambition is not a sin). However, he easily wavered because he did not have a strong sense of morality. He did not care how things were done as long as it got done and would use others as stepping stones. He would also violate the laws to get where he wanted to be. (It made it double bad because he was a cop.) Lun, although he had a foul mouth at times, he was just very straight-forward and wasn’t good with words. It didn’t mean he wasn’t clever. Despite all his criticisms about Yu and their disputes, he still helped Yu at the end because he valued friendship very much. Kit and Kei were on the same line as Lun that they tried to keep their friendship intact. They always tried to keep in check with one another, especially the part where they helped Lun with getting him to stop gambling. However, Yu broke that bond when he decided to target his friends and not back down from his actions. Their friendship was somewhat typical that one or two within the group would turn bad, but still a nice one to see. The only complaint I have is they should’ve been focused on more to develop the climax rather than focusing on subplots too much that reduced their significance until like the last two episodes.
  • The friendship between Kit (Roger) and Shun Fong (Patrick). It seemed that they were casual friends and co-workers but they did share this special bond with each other. I liked how they often gave each other advice with solving cases to lessen the stress from one or the other. Also, the whole thing with Shun Fong trying to help Kit with patching up his family again regarding Chi Yan.
  • The brotherly bond between Kit (Roger) and Wing (Ben). Although they weren’t related by blood, their actions showed a deeper relationship than that. I liked it that it wasn’t just another typical thing with brothers who were not from the same parents would argue non-stop or would plot against each other, etc. There was an admittance of being shocked or confused about being put together because their parents got married. But the acceptance of it because of their parents’ happiness and of having a family brought them together as brothers. They really cared for each other–not just for the sake of the parents. It showed through many times like Kit always supported his brother and tried to get along with his sister-in-law when Lai Man was being unreasonable. Wing would always support Kit, especially the time he almost beat up Wu Shum to save his brother or trying to stop Kit from shooting Yu and be blinded by revenge. One of my favorite scenes must be the part where they were both in the hospital and wanted to beat Yu up. It was rash of their behaviors, but it showed a bit of their unification and bond. They not only cared for each other but for one another’s loved ones and friends as well.
  • The relationship within Kit and Wing’s family. Although things seemed hectic at the beginning, later on, it seemed like they were really close. The father only asked one question, “Are you okay with it?” Then if the answer was yes, he would make sure that everyone supported the person in the situation. He won’t question otherwise. But it will depend on the person, just like in Kit’s case with his wife. Yes, there were many other barriers that they couldn’t get past but it still counted that they tried their hardest to make it work for everyone. Lai Man seemed very unreasonable and wicked at the beginning but only her words sounded mean because she was harmless for the most part. I liked the parts where she supported Kit’s kid, Hei, when the kid was bullied by his classmates. It really showed that she cared but sometimes her words were sharp. There was also the part where they know that Chi Yan was not really related to the father but Lai Man still told her husband, Wing, to look after Yan, saying that she was still his sister after all. For the most part, their family encountered a lot of problems at first but could overcome it all with their sincerity and determination.

The Bad:

  • Creating the whole story with Shun Sui (Joey Mak) and Kelvin (Ruco Chan). Do they need this too? This reminded me of the character Ruco portrayed in Project Ji Xiang where he landed in prison at the end of the series. However, this time, it was because of other stuff too. To get back onto the subject at hand, I admit that Kelvin was a spoiled guy and could not stand firm when he encountered obstacles, but he should not be blamed for what happened between him and Shun Sui in totality. “He was drunk” was not a good excuse BUT in this case, that qualified as part of it. He did not like her and made clear of that from the very start. He might be spoiled, but he wasn’t a playboy. He didn’t flirt with other girls just for the thrill. His weakness was probably his father since he wished to prove to his father that he could do it, but when his father only delivered lectures and expectations, it made him feel inferior and frustrated at the same time. He didn’t have proper guidance because both his parents were busy or doing other things and I don’t blame them. But he just seemed like one lost guy. He still had a good heart in general. How could they just listen to one side only–aka Shun Sui–and blame it on him for what happened that night? Shun Sui was a spoiled kid (although they weren’t rich), plus she did whatever she wanted. It didn’t matter if her brother yelled at her or not. She was just that way. Why did the mother act super dramatic? She could’ve used all those times she used to run around on her own to look after her daughter instead of blaming the other family after what happened. I don’t expect her to be perfect, but I just hate that she wouldn’t look at herself first before pointing the fingers at others. Only Shun Fong would care enough to yell or look after Shun Sui–yet he was yelled at for being naggy. That was just messed up. Yes, he should’ve handled it better and not yell, but it did not help either that he was very much on his own to care for his sister instead of the mother doing that. So, Shun Sui should take the partial blame too yet Kelvin was dubbed out to be the bad guy without a chance for explanation. When he did say it wasn’t his fault–which it wasn’t–no one believed him. What the heck? Like she was that innocent. She ran away once. (I know holding the past on her head was not a good idea but they should at least consider all angles instead of just listening to her blindly.) All in all, no one had the right to yell at Kelvin in this case, except for Shun Fong since he seemed to be the only one to care enough. The only thing I saw fit in this was that they did not make Kelvin marry Shun Sui in the end. That would be too lame.
  • The draggy parts of Shun Fong (Patrick), Kelvin (Ruco), On Yi (Natalie), and Chi Yan (Toby). I know they (the writers) wanted to do a friendship and another quartet with this group–like how they did with Kit’s group, plus other stuff, but it was just too much with the irrelevant parts, not to mention they didn’t have that good of a friendship to begin with except being random. Maybe that was some sort of bond and innocent friendship at the beginning too. But what kind of friends were they not to trust Kelvin but just jump to the decision of thinking him as a spoiled rich boy? Only Shun Fong could have a say in this or could react fiercely because he was Shun Sui’s brother and couldn’t control his anger. But On Yi had no right since she knew that she was playing around with Kelvin’s feelings and giving him hope. She knew she didn’t like him but didn’t say it. She didn’t agree but not saying anything was misleading. Why didn’t she just say it first or clarify it? But she had to give him hope until it was too late, which made him feel betrayed with the whole misunderstandings, leading to him getting drunk in the first place–and leading to the worst of it all.
  • More romances than cases. This was a crime/ law show after all. Why did I see more of romances here and there, especially senseless ones than the main point? I like to see romance and all too but they weren’t developing with the right couples. I understood the essential of Kit’s story but I hated it that the subplots and other characters got more in the way with dumb stories.

Who got robbed?

  • Ruco Chan. This was personal opinions of course. This was honestly insulting him and wasting his time. I know he has to start somewhere since he just came back to TVB but honestly? Casting him in a typical rich spoiled boy wasn’t helping. This was the effect of watching Ben Xiao Hai right before I dive into this series. Since his portrayal took me away in the other one, but for Threshold, I felt like, “What the heck was that?” TVB probably wanted viewers who do not watch ATV series to get used to him but must they cast him in this role? I see people who act poorly gets meatier roles than this. I just hope he isn’t typecast for these roles in the future. Since it has been TVB’s ultimate habit to cast people in similar roles that it’s boring to the point of dullness that either makes people ponder if it’s just the similar roles or the actor could not act.
  • Raymond and Yoyo. I do not mean their characters either since they are like part of the main cast of the drama. However, I thought that this is like the second time around and they do not end up together–once again. (Maybe TVB was compensating for Roger and Yoyo regarding to Last One Standing.)
  • Ellesmere Choi and Queenie Chu. I know they were leading Team A of the three teams involved in the cases but I felt I rather see more development of their characters than seeing the draggy parts of the other characters. I actually liked this pairing very much but too bad not enough scenes of them. I liked their subtle fights and conflict of interests. Then later they became more understanding of each other and thus came to peace with each other. (We could see hints that they will end up together but still would love to see that part rather than the other relationships in here.)
  • Roger and Yoyo. They were like the main couple but I feel like they were robbed major time because I would rather the plot speed up a bit, leaving more room for Roger and Yoyo to be together.
  • Power Chan. I know he was one of the major characters too but somehow he only had one story of his own–the gambling problem. There was also the one with his grandpa. But it was like other than being their friend, he didn’t have other side stories. It was sad. I don’t mean to give him a romance story–that would be a bonus, but it was like he seemed to come and go for the most part. I rather they create other stories for him than focus too much on other people. He played a great part near the end but it didn’t count either because it tied in with everyone in the story also, not his own story.

Having said all that, I do appreciate the entire cast and production team’s effort in their hard work in bringing us such a series with the major issues and subplots involved. It was really complex on some levels but some parts could seriously do without–like mentioned throughout this review many times already. After all, it was better than A Matter of Customs on some level since the other one was more draggy with revolving around a certain plot too much. I must admit also that this series had a very good cast. It was just that the story-line could’ve done better. They should’ve cut back instead of dragging everything out to the point of dullness. The fact that only the first few episodes were relevant for the purpose of the plot and then the last two episodes were where the excitement kicked in was just lame. Shame.

Posted (on Xanga): August 6, 2009

Re-posted: March 26th, 2010