** Warning: This post contains spoilers – read at your own risk. **
Just finished watching an old TVB series from 2001 called "Reaching Out". It's actually airing on TV right now on the weekends, but because it's a pretty good series and I went ahead and watched the rest of it on my own.
There are many things to like about this series, one of them being the cast, which is quite well-balanced between newbies and veterans. The main/supporting leads in this series are Gordon Lam, Kenix Kwok, Benny Chan, Nicola Cheung, Michelle Ye, Ha Yu, Michelle Yim, and Sammul Chan -- plus a pretty solid cast of 'green leaf' veterans such as Gordon Lau, Wu Fung, Luo Lan, etc. The story primarily revolves around childhood friends Gordon, Benny, and Nicola, who grew up in an orphanage together and have a close-knit brother/sister relationship. It's interesting how different each of their personalities are, despite growing up together -- the chemistry of the 3 together in this series was also very well done:
> Gordon plays the quintessential 'big brother' Fook Sung who always has an optimistic and positive outlook on life no matter what happens to him (and alot does happen)...even when people wrong him, he always forgives them and always tries to put a positive spin on a negative situation -- his life philosophy is to "be the match that illuminates other people's lives". I actually liked the way Gordon portrayed the character because he was able to bring forth the essence of the character without going overboard and making it look cheesy. And I think that whoever cast him in that role knew that he would be a perfect fit because I've always felt that Gordon is good at portraying 'positive' characters that have a certain ‘boy-next-door’ 'naiveness' and 'aloofness' about them -- in fact, I sort of saw his character in this series as a modern day equivalent to the character he played in the ancient series "Crimson Sabre" (Yuen Sing Chi). The personality and character attributes are very similar.
> Benny plays 'second' brother Yee Sook who is pretty much a lazy bum with a big ego who likes chasing after pretty girls. I was a bit annoyed by his character at first, especially with how he constantly tries to take advantage of Gordon’s kindness and also his attitude toward his father, Ha Yu. But later on in the series, he redeems himself (after some things happen of course), gets a job, quits the ‘chasing pretty girls’ bit, and becomes more likable. He also brings a bit of ‘comic relief’ to the series, especially in his scenes with Ha Yu as well as Gordon.
> Nicola plays ‘little sister’ Ting Ting who has a secret crush on Gordon’s character but ends up becoming a couple with Benny’s character. She is a feisty reporter who is also very hard-working. She has a bit of that ‘little girl’ innocence that causes her to sometimes get ‘worked up’ over minor things and overreact at times, but her intentions are always well-meaning. I rarely ever watch any of Nicola’s series and frankly I’ve never really liked her because I always felt that she has an arrogant attitude. But I must admit that she did a good job with the character (though to be honest, I also found her character annoying at times because she would try to be ‘overly’ righteous and stubborn about a particular issue when she should just ‘let up’ a little).
In terms of the other artists / characters in the story, I will make a brief mention of the main ones:
> Kenix Kwok – she actually has a dual role in this story, as she plays the character Yuk Hiu Gwan as well as her older look-alike sister Yuk Hiu Nga. Kenix’s acting skills really shine in this series because the 2 characters she plays have completely opposite personalities: older sister Hiu Nga (who is plagued with an incurable hereditary illness) is very reserved, quiet, reasonable, extremely nice (the typical ‘school teacher’), and is the ultimate optimist, whereas younger sister Hiu Gwan (who is portrayed as a rich, young socialite with a complicated background) is loud, stubborn, can be mean and obnoxious at times when she wants to be (ex: making a production company ‘delete’ all their film just because they accidently captured her on film as she was walking by, filing lawsuits against people for minor issues, etc.), and is the ultimate pessimist.
Hiu Gwan’s relationship with Fook Sung is very interesting and actually quite enjoyable (it’s sort of a ‘love/hate’ relationship that ends up blossoming into true love). Ever the pessimist, Hiu Gwan’s goal throughout most of the series is to prove to her older sister that there are no ‘good’ people in this world and that Fook Sung – whom her sister regards very highly – is no exception. So she constantly tries to do stuff to ‘hurt’ Fook Sung (ex: trying to sabotage his relationships with his friends, etc.) in the hopes that he will reveal his ‘true colors’ (aka get mad at her and cut off all ties with her), but of course he never does. Instead, he sort of ‘plays along’ and uses his goodness and righteousness to change her (obviously, they fall in love and end up as a couple).
I’ve always enjoyed Kenix’s acting and have liked almost every single series she has been in. Her acting was absolutely awesome in this series and her pairing with Gordon was very unique and refreshing (I don’t think they were ever a couple in any other series). My only complaint is that she appeared way too late in the series – her character wasn’t ‘in the picture’ until episode 26 or 27…..since the series is 50 episodes (very long!), she was pretty much there for ½ the series, but I would have liked to see her more, especially since I enjoyed the scenes she had with Gordon.
> Michelle Ye – she played Gordon’s first girlfriend Shuet Yi who later leaves him and falls for Sammul instead (who is young and rich). Her character is very arrogant and also has a big ego – I hated how she ‘used’ Gordon’s character as a “shui po” after her failed relationship with her cousin and tries to ‘use’ him again after she breaks up with Sammul. Her character was the only one that I couldn’t stand throughout the entire series, especially in the last few episodes when she tries to ‘come between’ Gordon and Kenix.
If I remember correctly, I think this was one of Michelle’s first series, so for a newbie, she wasn’t bad in terms of the acting, though there was definitely lots of room for improvement. I still didn’t like her character though and to be honest, I don’t think she’s a good match for Gordon – she has more of that ‘childish’ look that is better fitted with Sammul than with Gordon. Plus, seeing Gordon and Kenix as a couple was much more endearing to me.
> Ha Yu / Michelle Yim – knowing nothing about this series going into it, I wasn’t expecting Ha Yu and Michelle’s pairing at all (I had thought that their first ‘official’ collaboration as a couple was in “Moonlight Resonance”). But I’m glad that they were in this series because – as usual – their acting was brilliant! Ha Yu played Benny’s father and Michelle played Gordon’s mother (though we find out later in the series that she is not really his mother). I love the chemistry between these two and how they would constantly bicker one minute then be friendly with each other the next minute….it was actually kind of funny at times. And their acting is “perfect” as usual -- just the right amount of delivery to get the characters’ personalities across without going overboard…..2 great veterans and a great pairing that I’m looking forward to seeing more of in the future.
In terms of the storyline and series itself, I feel that this is definitely one of the better ones that TVB has done. It has the perfect balance of comedic and dramatic elements and also sends a very positive message of hope, optimism, and the power of love. The series is very heartwarming and I personally was really touched by the storyline and what some of the characters go through. This message / theme was really brought forth through the evolvement of Gordon and Kenix’s relationship in the series, especially with the sacrifices that they had to make in order to find true love and happiness.
The last 10 episodes or so of the series were an emotional roller coaster for me, as there were moments of light humor and laughter (Ha Yu/Michelle and Benny / Nicola), but also moments of poignancy and tears (Gordon / Kenix). The last episode where Hiu Gwan (Kenix) was on the brink of death due to her hereditary illness and the sacrifice that Fook Sung (Gordon) made for her was especially touching – I cried when watching it, which is rare for me, especially with TVB series (the only other 2 series where I’ve gotten teary-eyed while watching are “A Kindred Spirit” and “Remembrance” – both of which happened to have Kenix as well….)
Anyway, even though this series was extremely long (50 episodes!) and there were parts that sort of dragged out unnecessarily (some of which I skipped), overall, it was very well-made! I definitely recommend this series to anyone who wants to watch a good quality series!