If you ask me whether "A Great Way to Care 2" is better than it's prequel or not, the answer would be no. But if you ask me whether it's a good series or not, I would say that it was an enjoyable watch. So depending on the question, this review will come out differently. For this review, I'm just going to be talking about "A Great Way to Care 2" without making any comparisons to it's prequel. (I will then later write one comparing the two.)
General Storyline: With a mixture of psychiatry and police work, "A Great Way to Care 2"'s story line weaves in between the two forces as they work together and solve the cases. From the forensic psychiatry branch: Alex Fong, Yoyo Mung, Edwin Siu, Power Chan, Oscar Leung, Eric Li, Henry Lee and Christine Kuo. The police force consists of Ben Wong and Tavia Yeung. Aside from these two main teams, other supporting characters also includes Ram Chiang, Aimee Chan and Leanne Li.
Waste of a Good Cast? I initially wanted to list all the character names of the artistes but as you guys can see, there were just too many names. Unfortunately out of that chunk, only a few were focused on. There were just too many necessary characters, or should I say, the characters were too small for the assigned artistes. With other series lacking artistes, they just had to throw a bunch into "A Great Way to Care 2". Trying to make it 'star-studded'? Meh. I found it frustrating.
You know what? It would've been alright if the series focused on the cases alone. But no, that didn't happen. Instead, there were a bunch of unnecessary side-stories thrown into the script to distribute the screen time to all the characters. That's why the typical cases that are usually 1-3 episodes long stretched to 6-7 episodes. While I was okay with it in the first 1-2 cases (because they had to introduce the characters), it got on my nerves afterwards as I struggled to focus on the continuously "disrupted" cases.
Overall comments, a lot of the cast members could have been put to better use.
picture credit http://starphoto.joinbbs.net/Characters and Acting:
I was not a big fan of Alex Fong, but I've begun to like him since "A Great Way to Care". Resuming his role as Ko Lap Yan, his character did not differ much beside the huge screen-time cut! It is such a pity because I actually like Ko Lap Yan alot, and was looking forward to watching him every time he appeared onscreen.
Best scene? It'd have to be the one where he was reading Monkey's (Kate Tsui) letters. Didn't think Alex would be good in an emotional scene like this, but he proved me wrong.
Though Alex often comes off monotone, there is something about the guy that makes him interesting to watch. I cannot clearly describe it, but it's definitely not something a lot of actors can do nowadays. So despite the fact that he had little screen-time in each episode, I can still feel that he's leading the series.
His character had the potential to shine but that did not happen. If I were to define Leung Kai Wing by a geometric shape, he'd be a circle. Absolutely pointless. Wanna know his story line?
"I have a crush on this girl and is trying to woo her (lasted for half of the series). Finally got together with her! But wait, my childhood friend. I want to be there and protect her too. So in the end, who should I choose? I love both Q.Q Becomes a two-timer. Busted. Realization. Too late."While I may have exaggerated this a bit, it's still pretty close to what actually happened. Honestly they should have just crossed Scarlett (Christine Kuo) out of the whole picture (bias here because I actually really enjoyed the scenes he had with Aimee Chan). Personally disappointed by how much they focused on his love life instead of his profession when he's one of the main characters.
Acting wise, Edwin is a capable actor and was funny at times in the series. Unfortunately his story line was just nonsense.
Don't let her position on the poster fool you. As a matter of fact, she and Edwin should switch places on that thing! Yoyo Mung barely had any screen-time and when she did, her sub story was boring and random. Maybe the scriptwriters/producers realized that they did not give her any screen-time even after the first 8 episodes or something, and so had to squeeze in that story about Franco And speaking of Franco, we never got to see his face or anything but at least we got to see his shadow right? Had an entire episode dedicated to that guy! Overall, she serves little purpose to the series and is only there because TVB wanted to push more stars in.
Putting my rants aside, Yoyo's "Cheuk Wai Kui" was pleasant to watch. I really liked her personality: stubborn and straight forward. Her relationship with her subordinates is quite cute and I love how they call her "Big Brother". And when she got "together" with Alex Fong, they called Alex dai sao (sister-in-law). Though this character is nothing new for Yoyo, I still enjoyed seeing her again (which is why I am unhappy that she did not have much screen-time).
If there's a character worth watching for, it would be Lam Chung Yan. She first appeared as the daring and spunky prostitute who then turns out to be an undercover cop. TVB always like to surprise us don't they? Anyways, after she finished her case, Chung Yan returned to being a cop and begins to work under Chung Kwok Ban (Ben Wong). Growing up as an orphan, Chung Yan endured many hardships and there were a number of times when she almost lost her life too. But even then, she continued to live on an optimistic life. Unfortunately there is a limit to all of us and she eventually reached the level that she herself could no longer handle...
To be honest, I think a majority of the series was dedicated to Tavia Yeung. Thus she ended up being one of the very few with a decent character development. Thoroughly enjoyed Tavia's performance and notably in episode 23.
As for her pairing with Ben Wong, there was nothing special going on. Instead, I think that it would've been better if Alex paired up with Tavia since I liked the two of them together. But then, Alex would be dating another police woman like he did in the prequel. What are the possibilities of TVB copying something from the prequel into the sequel? BTW, this is within that rare percentage that they did not.
picture credit http://starphoto.joinbbs.net/
The 'Others': While I would love to talk more about the other characters, there is little to talk about due to their minimal screen-time. So I'm just going to sum it up that the rest of the cast were great with the exception of Christine Kuo. I'm relatively easy going when I talk about newcomers (or at least I think I am), but Christine has driven me to the point where I want to bang my head against the wall. More so than the bad acting, it's the fact that her acting is going absolutely nowhere. Back in "Ghetto Justice 2", I understand that her character in there may have been too complicated for her to portray. But even in here, she's still not giving me much to look out for. Acting in 8 or so series already, I expect her to be a bit better than now.
**To make it clear I am not criticizing her accent because I do not know Canto :P Just the acting (ie. facial expressions, body language etc).
The Cases: I would talk about each individual case if I wasn't so confused which case is which.
While there are a few main cases that are featured in the series, there were also a lot of sub-cases within those big cases that confused me. So I'll only talk about a few:
Otto Chan and Aimee Chan: Wrote this in a separate post before-hand.
The Pedophile Case: This case focused on Chung Yan (Tavia)'s childhood friends, who she considers as brothers. They grew up together in an orphanage: Chiu, Wai, Man and Yan. Unfortunately Man disappeared when they were young. Chiu and Yan then ended up working for the government (police officer and the other a lawyer). On the other hand, Wai is crippled and often went into debts. On with the case; a few murders took place. Father, the one who took care of them (Yan, Chiu, Wai and Man) then confessed that he was the one who killed them. Why? Father works as a volunteer for a kids recreation center and cares a lot for the kids. Later, he discovered that some of the kids were being sexually abused by a volunteer, foster father etc and thus couldn't stand it and killed all those pedophiles. Eventually, we find out that he's taking up the blame for someone else (though the true murderer is also killed for the same reason).
While the identity of the murderer did not surprise me, I liked how the case slowly unwrapped itself. Though the subject (issue) is something that's also used in other series, the length and the pace this one went at made it even more disturbing. Honestly, I just really wanted the case to end because as it goes on more victims would be discovered and I just couldn't handle it. More so, as it progressed I began to think of such situations happening in reality (which I know are not rare cases) and I just felt worse from there...
There are things in life you just wish you did not know because you won't have to worry or get hurt by it. But then if you don't know about it, you can't do anything to help solve the problem. On the other hand, there are so many things that is not within our power to resolve even when we do have knowledge of the issue. I find it quite ironic how Ah Chiu is the murderer even though he's a lawyer. Though he may work in the legal field, Ah Chiu couldn't see how law can punish those pedophiles and therefore took the matter into his own hands. Thus this case in turn displays the imperfections of our justice system (nothing is perfect). I personally pity Ah Chiu despite his wrongdoings and was saddened by his death in the end.
***Pedophilia is actually a psychiatric disorder.
Serial Killer Case: A number of people are killed and the police is investigating who the murderer is. This is the last case of the series and it was quite interesting to watch. Though I must say that its ending felt kind of disrupt. (Not going to talk about it anymore since I don't want to give away spoilers.)
The Unnecessary Bits:
1) Just cross out that whole love triangle between Edwin, Christine and Aimee. More so, just cross out Christine because I liked Edwin's and Aimee's characters together.
2) Yoyo getting a sperm donation from Alex. While it increased their interaction with each other, it just felt ridiculous. Although I know that they wanted to get the two 'together', this development was too hard to absorb.
3) You know what, there's probably more but those two up above were the most frustrating to watch.
Here we have two professional psychiatrists helping a murderer escape. Sounds a bit sketchy? I can understand why they would want to help her, but yet at the same time, their whole set up is kind of ridiculous. More so, even if she did manage to escape from the police, how in the world is she going to board the plane? I'm sure the police would have restricted her (passport profile) from crossing the borders (or something like that). Overall, it just seems too irrational. I guess TVB wanted to be creative and add a "twist" to the ending. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out so well.
"A Great Way to Care 2"'s story line did not run as smoothly since it kind of jumped from one character to the next, but the series overall is not bad to watch. It's actually one of the more enjoyable series released this year and if you have time, I would recommend it. But if you're one of those who loved the original "A Great Way to Care", just watch this without comparing it too much to the prequel, since it focuses less on psychiatry and more on the police force.