I happened to re-watch this series when it came on TV a little while ago so figured I would write up a blog post / review on it.
This is actually one of the few Kevin Cheng series that I like (well, come to think of it now, it might be the ONLY one of his that I like) – not because of him of course (since I still feel his performance in this series was very bland) but rather, because of the supporting cast and the script. The female lead in the series is Nnadia Chan and supporting cast includes Wayne Lai, Halina Tam, Lau Dan, Ching Hor Wai, Sharon Chan, etc.
What I liked most about this series: Wayne's performance -- he definitely stole the show!!! I loved Wayne's witty character Johnny, an extremely nice, sensible guy who returns to his hometown of Stanley after years of taking care of the family business elsewhere. Once again, Wayne puts his awesome acting skills to great use, as the character of Johnny is very 'mysterious' at first, with the residents of Stanley thinking that he may have a possible hidden motive for returning due to the actions of his now deceased father (who stole from the residents to pay off gambling debts) many years ago but then later revealing that he is actually an extremely generous and likable guy with no hidden motive -- except to fulfill his dad's dying wish of being buried with his mother. His character also has a great sense of humor but Wayne portrays the humor in a way that isn't the traditional 'comical funny' type -- it's almost like he doesn't try to be funny on purpose, yet you can't help but laugh at his actions. I guess the closest way I can describe it is that his character possesses a 'witty charm' that is at times sarcastic but balances it with just the right amount of seriousness -- plus his personality is always very optimistic and upbeat without going overboard.
Surprisingly, I found myself very much attached to the pairing of Wayne and Halina in this series. I say 'surprisingly' because 1) general audience reaction would be to become attached to the main leads rather than the supporting ones, so I definitely parted from 'tradition' in this case, and 2) I'm not a particular fan of Halina's and have not watched enough of her series to like or dislike her, so normally, I would not have any 'reaction' so to speak with her performances. Wayne and Halina actually complemented each other quite well in the series, even though their personalities were so opposite (he is honest, generous, humble, nice, constantly helping others, etc. whereas she is selfish, brash, and constantly 'pretending' to charm people in order to cheat them out of their money). From the beginning, it looked like they would never get together because they are constantly bickering and Halina even tries to deceive Wayne and cheat him out of his money -- yet she does it in a way that makes it 'funny' rather than 'hateful' (and Wayne 'pretending' to fall for it is absolutely hilarious). I loved the interaction between these two and found almost every scene they were in very enjoyable (special mention goes out to the restaurant scene early on in the series where Halina is trying to 'seduce' Nnadia's uncle so she can cheat him of his money and Wayne purposefully ruins it because Halina's son asked for his help to keep an eye on her -- the way that Wayne 'pretends' to be Halina's boyfriend and his facial expressions during that scene really cracked me up!)
I actually could go on some more about Wayne and Halina, but I don't want this post to go on forever, so I'll move on to the next highlight.....
Though I liked Nnadia's character and with the fine actress that she is, I definitely enjoyed her performance overall, however I wasn't too keen on her pairing with Kevin. For some reason, I just didn't feel any chemistry with their pairing -- in fact, I would have to say that I found some scenes of theirs very boring. I'm thinking that perhaps it's because of Kevin's bland acting that affected things for me because I've always felt that Kevin's acting is very 'wooden' and unnatural (that's why I don't like to watch his series because I get bored to death)....I actually did try to put my bias aside and give him a chance when I first watched the series way back when (as well as when I re-watched it just now), but he still failed to impress me. It could be perhaps that the rest of the supporting cast in this series is so strong that it makes Kevin look particularly weak compared to them -- but whatever the reason, I would much rather have preferred that they cast someone else in that role (on a side note: I can't help but think that perhaps TVB put a strong supporting cast in there on purpose to try to 'cover up' his weak acting and then use it as an excuse to promote him, since the series itself was enjoyable overall).
To cite an example that supports the above (the weakness of Kevin's acting and strength of the rest of the cast) -- and so that people reading this can't say that I'm biased against Kevin without merit -- the scene at the hospital where each of the main characters react to the death of Kevin's mom in the series (Ching Hor Wai) really provides a good comparison/contrast. Kevin's reaction was very bland -- it's not that he didn't look sad or cry or anything, but it just came across very fake to me-- like he was trying to force a reaction to a situation that has nothing to do with him. (After watching that scene for the first time, I remember thinking to myself -- wait, that's it? that's how you react when someone so close to you who raised you and protected you and loved you all your life dies?) In comparisons -- being the veteran 'green leaf' actor, of course Lau Dan's reaction over the death of his wife in the series was perfectly expressed -- and very touching. Nnadia's reaction was very natural and you could really feel how saddened she was even though she is not related to Ching at all in the series. And Wayne's reaction – I mean, you would think that Ching was his mother rather than Kevin's! To sum it up -- Kevin really looked like he was trying too hard to act that scene (that's why it came across as fake) whereas the other 3 had such natural reactions that they were able to make the scene moving and emotional for the audience.
Again, I could come up with more examples as well, but I'll leave it at that, since it already gets my point across...
Overall, I liked the series' heartwarming storyline and the lessons that it teaches. Of course, there is the typical TVB lack of originality and so the formula is not much different from their other run-of-the-mill light-hearted yet serious family-oriented drama series -- but somehow, I was still drawn to the series and enjoyed it, even with the 'cheesiness' of some of the scenes and the predictability of the plot. I also disliked the Nnadia/Kevin/Sharon love triangle thing and thought that it was sort of pointless, especially in the second half of the series (maybe it was done as 'space-filler'?)....I would much rather they had spent more time developing Wayne's storyline instead.