Monday, January 30, 2012

A.E. Insights: TVB 2011 Report Card

Asian Entertainment Experience introduces its first special feature, A.E. Insights! A question or topic relating to Asian entertainment will be proposed, and the two web mistresses (Niki and I), will give our own take on it and discuss the subject with each other. Since C-Pop and TVB are the two things we are both familiar with, this feature will have a heavy focus on HK entertainment. There will be occasional K-Pop discussion as well. This will hopefully open up our readers to interact with us by voicing their opinion on the proposed matter too.

TOPIC: Report card for TVB in the year of 2011. How did they do?

Niki: First off, going into 2011, what were the most anticipated series of the general public?

Iris: "Forensic Heroes III", "My Sister of Eternal Flower" and "When Heaven Burns".  FH3 since it was a sequel to such a beloved series, Eternal Flower for Charmaine's mentally challenged role, and WHB for its unconventional theme.  They were all met with different response though.

Niki: Forensic Heroes fared very well with viewership. Personally, I liked the series itself, but didn't view it as the continuation of Forensic Heroes and would've appreciated a different title.

Iris: I agree.  I love how the new cast worked together, but the original cast had something special and was so beloved.  Ironic how so many people complained about the existence of a third one and said they wouldn't watch it, yet it became the highest rated series of the year.  And while I anticipated MSOEF when the sales presentation clip came out, it immediately turned me off when it actually came out.  Too silly I guess?  The HK audience wasn't as nice and the series was panned.

Niki: I felt the same. I thought MSOEF was cute, but I didnt't think much of the storyline. I also wasn't used to seeing Charmaine in such a role and it wasn't convincing to me. I believe the HK audience felt frustrated by Charmaine's role as well.

Iris: Meanwhile, WHB was just way too different.  I appreciate a little uniqueness, but WHB was so unlike any other series it felt like a culture shock to TVB viewers.  I watched the first six episodes, and while I applaud Producer Chik's effort, it was just too slow and draggy.  I'd like to think I'm pretty open minded, but in the end the problem wasn't the unconventional style, but the snail pace.  What a shame, because it was so anticipated for so long.

Niki: WHB for me felt draggy at some parts and picked up in others. Some of the philosophy in it was interesting while the rest I didn't bother to pay attention to. This resulted in me skimming through the series and tuning in at random times. Though, I found the ending pretty interesting as it shows Charmaine changing the past in her own mind and making an alternate ending for her and everyone else.

Niki: So, besides the three above which other dramas did you personally anticipate?

Iris: "The Other Truth"!  I was ecstatic to hear Ruco would get to be lead for the first time ever.  I love Raymond Wong as well.   It had my two favorite actors as leads and I like lawyer dramas.  I was also looking forward to "7 Days in Life" for its cast and original storyline.

Niki: My anticipated dramas were rather peculiar as I looked forward to seeing "Super Snoops" and "Curse of the Royal Harem". "Curse" seemed interesting to me because of the cast and mainly Myolie. This was the first that I've seen her in a "bad" role. As for "Super Snoops", the promotion videos were extremely silly and weird, so I was curious as to what the actual series would be like.

Iris: Haha!  You're probably in the minority for looking forward to "Super Snoops".  For me, it just made me not want to watch it right away.  As for "Curse", I just dislike palatial dramas.  Hm, what were your favorite series of the year?

Niki: My favorite dramas of the year are "Ghetto Justice", "The Other Truth", and "Forensic Heroes III". In TOT, I really enjoyed Ruco's performance and wish he had more cases like his first one. I also liked Raymond Wong's performance and thought his acting was cute as the rich guy. "Ghetto Justice" was good as well and I really liked Sharon's character as well as Myolie's.

Iris: Those are my three favorites as well!  I absolutely loved Ruco and Raymond in TOT.  The series itself was average (above average in terms of recent TVB series), but I loved watching the cast, particularly Ruco.  "Ghetto Justice" was overall a well written and well acted series that was very enjoyable.  FH3 wasn't anything amazing, but was definitely entertaining.  I also really enjoyed "7 Days".  Steven and Sonija were a drag, but the rest of the characters were so fun and colorful.  The comedy was unique and genuinely funny.

Iris: Now here's a question that we can go on and on about:  What series were disappointing?

Niki: The disappointing series for me were "River of Wine", "Yes Sir, Sorry, Sir", and "Men with No Shadows". I couldn't even get through half of the first episode of River of Wine. No matter how hard I tried, I was still uninterested. "Yes Sir, Sorry Sir" was boring and nothing special, if not silly.  Moses' acting was too exaggerated and became annoying after a while. As for Men With No Shadows, it was just plain weird, I was confused as to what happened when Bobby and Raymond crashed their cars. Apparently, Raymond learned hypnosis in order to trick Bobby into believing he's the Devil, but then they both confronted with the Devil in their coma state. So was there a real devil, or was it just an illusion? If it was an illusion, then why did they have the same illusion? The graphics were also very fake and tacky.

Iris: Ugh, don't get me started on MWNS.  Hands down the most disappointing series of the year.  Even ratings king Bobby couldn't save this stinker.  It started off tacky with the overdone graphics, then became quite enjoyable, then became the most aggravating piece of junk I watched all year.  Then again, I only watched a handful of series this year.  The "plot twist" is what made it turn from enjoyable to terrible and confused people like poor you.  Raymond Lam also went from being one of the top contenders for Best Actor to not getting into the top 5 to not even being nominated for My Favorite Male Character.  Talk about a downturn!  As for "Yes Sir, Sorry Sir"...I couldn't even get past the first two episodes due to Moses' annoying exaggeration, which was the producer's distorted idea of "comedy".

Iris: Before we keep rambling on and on about the numerous ways TVB has disappointed us (we could go on forever), what series were just simply bad?  Besides the above three of course.  For me, it was "Links to Temptation".  I expected a mystery drama, but at first got lighthearted comedy.  I didn't mind at first, but then it reached its "climax".  It was all downhill from there.  Poor writing, poor plot, poor characters.  Every last character was literally stupid.  Just talking about it makes me annoyed...

Niki: For me is was Home Troopers, the series was boring and there didn't seem to be much in the storyline. The characters didn't have much depth to them either.

Iris: I actually enjoyed the first few episodes.  I thought it was funny and sweet, they showed the collaboration of the family well.  It was all downhill after that though.  Bernice's character started off so bubbly and cute (much like herself in real life), but the abrupt characterization change ruined it.

Iris: Any series you're in the middle with?  I have mixed feelings about "The Rippling Blossom".  I loved watching Chilam and Myolie, they were so cute!  Damien was hilarious too in the first comedic role I've seen of his.  Such an underrated supporting performance.  However, I couldn't stand Michael Tse and Tavia.  The scenery of Japan was beautiful though.

Niki: I feel the same about "Rippling Blossom" and I was also tired of watching sushi making because of my mom's job.  The series I was neutral about was "The Life and Times of a Sentinel". I enjoyed Steven and Selena's performances in "Life and Times", they were cute. I was disturbed by Selena's unnecessary and sudden death at the end. But besides that the series was nothing special to me, though I don't hate it either and it was decent to pass time with.

Iris: Oh gosh, I can't comment on that since I skipped so many series this year.  What about overrated and underrated series?  "Lives of Omission" wasn't my cup of tea and I only watched a couple of episodes, but I won't say it's a bad series.  There was just so much hype though.  For underrated, I thought "Wax and Wane" wasn't given a fair chance by viewers.  It was labeled as a "Moonlight Resonance" rip off so quickly it ended up becoming the series with the lowest viewership of the year.  In my opinion, it was more toned down than MR.  There were its draggy or over the top parts, but overall it wasn't that bad.  Roger and Kate made it worth watching for me.  "7 Days in Life" started off with great ratings but I feel it still wasn't recognized.

Niki: Lives of Omission was decent indeed, but I don't get why they put Fala back into the story line as Michael's look alike girlfriends just to kill her off in the end again. I would have to agree with you on the underrated and overrated series. While "Wax and Wane " for me was another neutral drama, it definitely deserved more attention.

Overall 2011 was a compilation of both pleasant surprises and disappointment, with a few hidden gems as well. With another year gone, let us see what TVB has in for us this year.
Authors' Notes:
Iris: That's a wrap on our first collaboration post!  I've always wanted to do something like this, so it's great I finally get to do it with my best friend.  We had a hard time starting this off, but it became easier and more fun to do after we settled in.  It was a great change to be more interactive and work with another person on a post as opposed to doing a formal write up myself.  There will be more of these on different topics.  Do share your opinion on the topic and give us feedback on this new feature!

Niki: This post was surely something different for both of us. We've been talking about this for a few days already and finally got to doing it! We want to do this regularly and hope for your support. Since this is our first collaboration post we weren't really sure of how we should do it, therefore it came out as something formal when it's supposed to be more fun and lighthearted. Hopefully next time we'll  relax a bit and show you guys more humor. Feel free to comment and join in on our conversations and tell us your opinion of the topic as well!


  1. This is a very enjoyable read!! I really like the format!

    Iris-- Haven't had time to comment on your earlier posts till now! Once again, congratulations to the whole team and may this new blogging journey be successful and enjoyable (:

    Niki-- Nah, it's not formal, actually I feel that it's informal and very engaging!

    2011 was a horribly disappointing year for TVB series! I haven't watched the later series, so I now know what to steer clear of!

    I have to say the 2 best series of 2011 (which I've watched so far) were the 2 lawyer dramas! I actually enjoyed TOT more than GJ because the storyline of TOT appealed more to me. The characters in GJ were definitely more dynamic and colourful but I feel that the whole drama was a tad too exaggerated! TOT on the other hand, did a good job of slowly building up the characters through the various cases. Loved Ruco and Raymond, and even though Tavia's character wasn't as well-developed, the chemistry of the leads made it a joy to watch!

    Another series which wasn't talked much about was Relic of an Emissary -- I thought it was quite intriguing and had a good storyline; the acting was good too.

    I enjoyed The Rippling Blossom; Michael Tse was so good at acting bad it made my blood boil every time he appeared onscreen. Chilam, Myolie and Damien made the show all the more enjoyable. My main grouse about the story was that it was progressing well, then all of a sudden it seemed to lose its direction and just ended rather abruptly.

    Grace Under Fire was not bad. Pre-modern series appeal to me, and even though it definitely wasn't the best I'd seen, it was still engaging. The ending was rather anti-climax though.

    7 Days was quite funny, I enjoyed it even though Steven and Sonija's storyline started getting on my nerves! The rest of the characters were well written and the plot progressed well, thankfully!

    Home Troopers and Only You were mediocre series, good to watch just to pass the time.

    Yes Sir Sorry Sir had a great cast! On paper. Moses' acting was awful and Tavia, Linda and Ron's characters were so badly written. And to think it lasted 30 episodes! What a waste time and of good talent.

    Didn't even bother with MSOEF. It was just so ridiculous!

    Am currently skimming through Wax and Wane. It's an okay series, and to say it was another HOG or MR is an insult, especially to the latter, as I thought MR was one of the best family sagas TVB has produced recently. Wax and Wane has a strong cast, Roger is awesome, but the rest of the characters aren't written very well -- Sunny's character is so annoying, and Ron's is so wishy-washy. The cast dynamics aren't that good.


  2. Krystal - Thanks for the wishes! It's nice to read another comment from you again. Niki and I have been having a lot of fun running this blog together. :) There will be more insights posts in the near future! Depending on when we'll have time since it requires both of us to sit down and work on it.

    What TVB series are you watching next? Watching Forensic Heroes 3 soon?

    Happy to hear you enjoyed GJ and TOT. They were definitely the best series of the year. :) The chemistry between the three leads was definitely a highlight. Glad you finally see why I liked Ruco so much too. ;)

    Yeah, I realized we failed to mention a couple series. By the end, we were rushing a bit and didn't mention every single series that aired this year. I heard Joe's performance there was very strong and underrated though. Oh, and of course, Sammul. Haven't seen him in too long, so most of my love for him for anything other than his cuteness has faded.

    Yeah, Rippling Blossom wasn't too consistent. It definitely lost its direction after a while though it started off so strongly. Before it went downhill though, it was very fun to watch for Chilam, Myolie, and Damien. I'm tempted to rewatch select scenes of it now!

    I heard GUF started off strong but lost steam. It's not the first time I heard that it became anti-climatic.

    7 Days - Ah, very enjoyable, very funny. Steven and Sonija definitely got on my nerves though. It did progress well though. Even the smaller supporting actors like newcomer Oceanne Zhu and mean hotel manager Eric Li shined!

    I've actually heard many good things about Only You being a relaxing and enjoyable series. Is it worth going back and watching? I watched a couple of the storylines and really enjoyed them (Raymond and Elena, Kitty and Stefan). I remember Chin Ka Lok and Ella really annoyed me though, even though I love Ella.

    I know, how could YSSS possibly be 30 episodes? I couldn't even get past 3. Did you ever finish it?

    When they said it was another HOG or MR though, they meant it as an insult, saying they were both loud and over the top. Ron's character here is hist worst yet. What do you think of Kate? Her performance was so-so but her character was sweet and I enjoyed the dynamic between her and Roger. Mannor Chan did very well as the tragic mom.

    Enough for now, I don't want to rehash my opinions on these series for the nth time. Thanks for commenting and supporting! :)

  3. I like your creative format of writing a year end tvb review. :) you girls have very good memory! i have to open a wikipedia page of all the 2011 tvb series in order to comment. ;p

    For me, i generally do not anticipate any series as i don't really read up on what's coming up. i just judge them from the cast and poster when the series start airing. and whatever the case, i tend to just watch every series if possible. so my most anticipated based on cast and posters, just before i start watching the shows were (1) The Rippling Blosson (2) MWNS (3) FH3 (in no particular order).
    I guess by now it's no secret that i like eye candies. so my choices are (1) and (2) are obvious. for FH3 it's cos i've been a FH fan since part 1. but as my friends who also watch America's CSI, they told me FH series are really amateurish compared to that. i wouldn't know as i've never watched a complete episode of CSI. Oops.

    My top 3 favourites were (1) TOT (2) GJ (3) FH. No surprises there because there weren't really that many good productions for 2011 anyway. if i have to put down a (4), i guess i would choose *surprise surprise!* Super Snoops. It's not a great production, but at least it's lighthearted and about solving crimes, exactly the kind of genre that i like. most of the cases were pretty good and funny in the beginning, although, as per tvb's style, the plot weakened towards the end.

    Top 3 most disappointing picks were (1) WHB (2) MWNS (3) Yes Sir Sorry Sir. My definition of 'disappointing' is the greatest inverse relationship of anticipation versus outcome. For these, based on the strong cast, poster & synopsis, i never thought it could go so badly. For (3), i think it's the kind of comedy that is common in many HK movies (mo lay tao) popularized by Stephen Chow. And i've hated this kinda slapstick comedy since the stephen chow heydays. NB: this kinda slapstick is different from the super snoops kind, which i like if exerted well. the super snoops kind is the kind that reminds me of this really old popular tvb serials (according to wiki, "Old Time Buddy") starring Gallen Lo and Maggie Cheung.

    And now the top 3 most rotten series (1) Links to Temp (2) MWNS (3) MSOEF. For (1) i read some review of people who have watched it before i started on it. so my expectation wasn't high to begin with, but who knew it turned out to be much much much worse. i think i watched only a few eps before i jumped to the last ep to end my agony. For (2) no need for explanation as the whole world feels the same. (3) in the 1st place the premise of this love story is already too unbelievable. where would you find a (i) young + (ii) rich +(iii) handsome Asian man who would fall in love with a mentally challenged girl? 1 in a million? Maybe for the more open minded westerners. for asians, i place my bet more on 1 in a gazillion. Personally, i find a girl falling for a mentally challenged guy much more believable than the other way around, because inherently, girls and guys look for different things in their partners and a normal girl who has it all may choose a mentally challenged guy just because she considers him to be the most caring and faithful guy she can find. but for a guy, especially one who has all the choices in the world (cos he's young rich handsome), what is the chances really for him to go for Ah Fa? The ah wong series are also much more successful because besides the premise being a little more believable, it also benefitted from great script writing of yester years. Hence MSOEF is a double whammy. besides trying to build a story on the most unbelievable premise, the script is weak. very weak.


  4. Queen_owl - Thanks! This was a nice format change for us too. Haha, a big no to the good memory. We pulled up the wikipedia page too. ;p)

    I can't judge from the cast and poster anymore because 1) acting can not save a bad script, no matter how strong it is, and 2) posters tend to be poorly done nowadays.

    I've never watched CSI either, but I believe it's focused on the cases/procedures more than the characters? FH tries to balance the two.

    Those 3 are probably most people's favorites. You know, since so many series this year sucked, heh. Plus, I really like lawyer and police dramas and the three boosted strong casts. I can't comment too much on Super Snoops since I never bothered to watch it, but I do recall a couple people saying it wasn't that bad. Should ask Niki about what she thinks more. :P

    I hate slapstick comedy, so I'm with you on that. After barely 15 minutes I wanted to punch Moses' character in YSSS in the face. Did you even finish it? I see you're still terrible at remembering names. ;) What's your take on WHB? Too different/unconventional? You said it's one of your most disappointed but didn't elaborate on why.

    I agree with what you said about MSOEF. I found the premise unbelievable too. The first thing (most) guys will look for in a girl will be their looks, whether they'd like to admit it or not, because it's the first thing they see. Nevermind for Raymond's character, who could get any girl he wanted. Oh, all those great scriptwriters of yester year are all mostly gone (or just tired of putting good effort in?). Not to mention there are so many mediocre scriptwriters and producers currently in TVB who intend on leaving. The new blood in TVB will either make things worse or better. I'm interested in seeing how this will all turn out, especially with the new TV station City Telecom that is signing so many big names.

  5. Haha ok, then i don't feel so bad with my memory.;P

    Oh yes, Moses in YSSS, quite unbearable indeed. yes i'm embarrassed to admit that i did finish it. hahaha. i must have been so so so bored at that time to have watched every episode. i did fast fwd quite a bit though.

    My take on WHB. being different/unconventional can lead to both super success as well as failure. so i personally don't think this series failed in ratings cos it's different. for me, i had some anticipation for it because of the strong cast, esp having bowie, moses and charmaine all in 1 show. next was it's rock theme, which i thought may be quite cool. finally, the synopsis talked about cannibalism, which was unconventional for modern series, so i was kinda looking forward to see what kind of fireworks would come out of these 3 interestingly fresh combination.

    Unfortunately, the outcome was....... ,personally, i thought the problem wasn't that it was different, but in it's execution. they have a fresh idea, but executed it badly. which resulted in what you and Niki have said, draggy. tv series unlike movies, are long and hence it's importantly that viewers don't find it overly slow and it often requires mini cliffhangers regularly to hold on to audience for the next episode. this show moved so slowly, that although it roused my curiosity in wanting to watch more to know what happened to the character etc, yet it moved so slowly that i no longer wanted to satisfy my curiosity after a while. i would say more that it couldn't capture audience's attention to want to continue watching faithfully. fresh take, but terrible execution.

  6. queen_owl - I can barely finish a 20 episode series these days, so when I saw that I was barely finishing 3 episodes of YSSS, I was definitely not going to even try to finish it since it's 30 episodes. I also realized that I typically don't watch dramas during the April-May time period unless they interest me, because that's when I'm on spring break and go out with friends, then come back and get swept into the new school quarter and start studying for exams.

    Did you finish WHB? TVB usually has many promising premises with potential, but the problem lies in the execution. I agree the problem lied in the execution, not because it was different. TV shows will have a hard time succeeding if they don't use straightforward storytelling, because people will get easily bored. On a side note, the series looked great visually. There was some awesome cinematography that made it nice and refreshing to look at. Sadly, the same can't be said about the storyline.