I just finished watching this series for the 3rd time (again, not intentionally, but because it happened to come on TV, so I decided to watch again). I’m actually quite glad I did because again, it reaffirmed for me what great actors both Steven and Kent are and how much I enjoy watching their series.
I’ve heard many good things about this series and in my opinion, all the accolades that it has gotten are absolutely well-deserved – this series is one of those rare gems that has a very well-written script, great cast, good chemistry, and just overall brilliant performances from the artists. The fact that I took the time to re-watch this series not twice but three times shows how good it is, as I’m the type of person who has very little patience with badly made series and can barely finish watching bad series even once, let alone more than that (I can truthfully say that I’ve struggled through most of the series from this year, finishing only a handful of them) – so when a series like AJCL comes along (though it’s from a couple years ago), it’s definitely very refreshing!
This is also another one of those rare series that does a good job with balancing dramatic elements with comedic ones, bringing both together to come up with a great story that is tragic, yet not without humor. The story itself is both heartwarming and heart-wrenching, making the audience laugh one minute (i.e. Kent’s banter with Steven and his relationship with his wife and Halina, Steven/Linda constantly teasing Kent, etc.) and cry the next (i.e.: the birthing scene, the death scenes, etc.). Not all series are able to incorporate both elements so well without making the series turn out awfully cheesy, so I definitely applaud the writers as well as the cast and crew of AJCL for doing such a great job.
There is so much good stuff to talk about with this series, it was sort of difficult for me to decide what to include in this post. So instead of doing an in-depth analysis, I decided to focus only on a few things that stuck out for me (pretty much the first things that came to my mind regarding this series).
So here goes…
.>> Steven / Linda relationship – I have to say that I was quite impressed with Linda’s performance in this series. I for one am not too keen on Linda and am one of those who feels that she can’t really act (sorry, but HOG and MR totally ruined my impression of her), but for some reason, I’ve actually been able to tolerate her performance in a few series – this being one of them. But I also have to say that it’s not completely Linda’s own merit because I also feel that depending on who her male co-star is, he has the ability of bringing out the best in her. This is definitely the case with her performance in AJCL – I feel that Steven complemented Linda and helped bring out one of her better performances.
The best way to describe Steven’s and Linda’s relationship in the series is pretty much ‘opposites attract’. I mean, you’ve got the typical ‘good boy’ (good personality, loves his family and friends, hardworking, doesn’t fool around, etc. etc.) paired with the ‘bad girl’ (the ‘wet girl’ who leads a ‘colorful’ and sexually promiscuous life) who eventually is reformed and becomes a ‘good girl.’ Although Linda’s performance can’t exactly be characterized as ‘stellar’, she did much better than in her previous series – during her scenes with Steven, especially the poignant ones (for example, the scene where she tells Steven that she can’t have children, their ‘breakup’ and ‘makeup’ scenes, the birthing scene, etc.), I could really sense the emotion of the scenes and therefore was thoroughly moved by their performances. I also feel that they had great chemistry in the series, though I will admit that so far, in all of Steven’s series that I’ve seen, I’ve felt that he had good chemistry with all his female co-stars, not just with Linda (i.e.: Charmaine, Ada, Fala, Bernice, etc.).
.>> Chemistry between Steven / Kent (and Linda) – Ok, I will have to admit that Steven and Kent were really the ones who ‘sold’ me in terms of wanting to watch this series at first, as both of them are truly fine actors and I’ve liked most of their individual works thus far. This was the first time that they collaborated in a series and I was amazed at how great the chemistry was! Though their relationship was technically that of boss/employee, their friendship really exceeded beyond that, resulting in an almost father/son like relationship. In my opinion, their ‘friendly banter’ throughout the series was very sweet and it was partly what made the series so enjoyable for me (I love that type of ‘light comedy-esque’ banter that injects a little bit of humor in an otherwise serious and tragic story, yet not going overboard to the point of sounding cheesy). The ‘Kent-isms’ throughout the series were very endearing and also made it memorable for me (i.e.: Kent’s nickname for Steven’s character is “On Boy”, his own son Raymond is “Bad Boy”, and he’s always saying “So Bad!”whenever something bad occurs….). Of course, the parts where Steven and Kent tease each other (or better yet, when Steven and Linda ‘gang up’ to tease Kent) are especially hilarious (and sweet).
.>> Storyline / script – As I said earlier, this series is very well-written…it wasn’t too overboard with its plot nor did it rely on repetitious scenes throughout the series (compared to a series like MR for instance, which had arguing scene after arguing scene and got to the point where I just felt like asking “can’t everyone just get along?”). And even though there were a lot of emotionally-charged scenes in the series, there wasn’t an overwhelming number of ‘crying’ scenes (again, unlike HOG and MR, which went overboard in that area) – also, the ‘crying’ scenes that did exist were done quite well and brought out just the right amount of emotion….most importantly though, I didn’t ‘cringe’ through any of the crying scenes (which is always a good sign, since the crying scenes in many of TVB’s series lately have been ‘cringe-worthy’ for me).
Overall, this was a great series, one of the few from this decade that I would put in the ‘high quality’ and ‘like’ categories (those of you who know my history with TVB know that my lists for these 2 categories are very short when it comes to series from the past 10 years). I like the storytelling that goes on in the series as well as the various lessons that are learned. Most of all though, I like that it brings forth a message of love and hope in the face of adversity, but does so in a way that is realistic and believable rather than cheesy and ‘over the top’. A definite ‘recommend’ for those who have not seen this series yet (or those who feel like re-watching).
Lastly, I need to put in a ‘plug’ for the themesong “A Little Story” sung by Steven Ma and Linda Chung. The themesong complements the series perfectly and the lyrics are very moving. I’ve always enjoyed Steven’s vocal skills (I’ve got quite a few of his songs in my ipod), but never been a fan of Linda’s – this song, however, is excellent and will definitely be a keeper for me.