At first, I didn't want to write this post because I didn't want to give the particular artist mentioned in this post any more 'publicity' than he already has, but once again, TVB pissed me off big time and I needed to vent about it to get it out of my system. So here it goes....
I just finished watching the finale episode of the variety series "All Star Glam Exam (華麗明星賽)" hosted by HK veteran Cantopop band/group Grasshopper. Up until yesterday, I was fine with the show, as I feel that throughout the season, there were definitely funny moments and the show wasn't really 'raunchy' like alot of the other variety shows out there recently (except for a few episodes that sort of pushed the envelope) -- it's actually one of the few variety shows that I've been able to tolerate in the past few years (needless to say, the quality of TVB's variety shows, just like their series, have gone done the toilet!!). Plus I like the hosts, as I grew up listening to the music of Grasshopper, and they are one of my favorite HK Cantopop bands / groups (not that there are that many to begin with anyway).
However, after watching the two-part finale episode, my opinion has somewhat changed.
Just to quickly "set the scene" for those who did not watch the finale yet: since it was to be the last show of the season (and possibly the show itself, since Grasshopper will be going on a World Tour concert in the coming year, so won't be able to host the show anymore, at least for now), TVB had a "special edition" of the show in which 10 guests were invited on the show to compete in various categories for prizes and money (as opposed to the usual 4 to 6 guests). Most of the guests who were invited for the finale had already gone on the show before and only a few of them were truly 'brand new' to the show. The guests who are invited are usually 'friends' of each of the 3 Grasshopper, as the 3 of them are sort of ‘competing’ as well (if their guests win, they win) -- the 10 guests were paired up into teams of 2 to compete against each other. The teams consisted of: Sammy Leung and King Kong, Nat Chan and Mandy Lieu, Louis Yuen and Nancy Sit, Raymond Lam and Wong Cho Lam, Johnson Lee and Bosco Wong. In general, each guest participates in 5-6 rounds of games and the highest cumulative score wins -- with the finale, the scores of the 2 guests in each team are combined together to form the cumulative total.
There were quite a few things in the finale to "complain" about but for the purpose of this post, I am going to focus on one thing in particular -- TVB's obvious favoritism of their 'favorite son' Raymond Lam. From the time the show first started about a year ago, I just knew that Raymond was going to appear on 1 of the episodes -- just didn't know which one (of course TVB wouldn't give up on the opportunity to promote their favorite son even more!)...turns out his one and only appearance was on the finale episode in which he paired up with Wong Cho Lam to compete in the games (I have a feeling it was deliberately planned this way by TVB for reasons that I won't get into here).
From the very first ‘game’ that the guests played, the favoritism of Raymond Lam was already very obvious. In the first game segment called “King of Posing”, each of the guests are given a series of camera numbers (camera 1, camera 2, etc.) to memorize – then, as the theme music to the show (sung by Grasshoppers) starts up, they do a ‘catwalk’ along the stage (in whatever manner they like) and pose for the cameras during the appropriate pauses in the music – the object of the game is to face the correct camera when posing (according to the sequence of numbers the guests were given earlier) and to get as many right as possible (8 angles total). Of course, each guest had their own way of doing the ‘catwalk’ – some were funny, some were silly, some were serious, etc. But when it came time for Raymond’s turn, things were completely different. First, instead of using the standard Glam Exam theme music for the game as everyone else did, he was the ONLY one of the 10 guests who was allowed to use his own song for the game – obvious and convenient ‘plug’ on the part of TVB, no? (And no, I don’t buy into the “well, Raymond is a singer but the others are not” crap because both Bosco and Cho Lam are officially singers as well). Second, instead of stopping to pose for the cameras at the appropriate times, all Raymond did was pretty much dance around the stage in beat with his song, completely ignoring the object of the game (needless to say, he scored a big fat ‘zero’ on that game!). So my question is – why is it that Raymond Lam gets the ‘special privilege’ of plugging his song as well as his dance during this segment instead of actually ‘playing the game’ properly like everyone else? There were many singers who appeared on the show previously and none of them got the same ‘privilege’ of plugging their songs and completely ignoring the objective of the game, so why does he get to?
The other segment where there was obvious favoritism was during the “Great Grasshopper Meal’ game where the guests are all seated around the table and while given special dishes to eat, they are asked a series of questions. Each time they answer a question wrong, they are “punished” in some form -- i.e. their utensils are taken away and they must eat with ‘specially-made’ utensils (usually something silly like long chopsticks, heavy paperweight utensils, celery sticks, other food, etc.), or they have to wear some type of silly accessory (anything from silly hats to jewelry to glasses, etc.), or they have to sit on something through the rest of the meal (i.e. a balloon, a cone chair, etc.)….there were other ‘punishments’ as well, but those were the main ones. After one of the Grasshopper hosts reads the question from a card, they are supposed to pick one of the guests (or in this case, the team of guests) to answer the questions (which range from the obvious ‘giveaway’ type questions to the extremely difficult / trick-type questions).
Well, during this segment, Raymond (and his partner Wong Cho Lam) had the ‘privilege’ of only answering 2 questions (yes, I counted and it was only 2) and was only ‘punished’ once (since the other question they answered was super-easy), whereas everyone else was being asked difficult questions and were being ‘punished’ left and right. The other thing too is that technically, Raymond himself didn’t even answer any questions – he just sat there and ate while Cho Lam was asked the questions (the hosts even called on Cho Lam specifically) and gave the answers. For those who get a chance to watch this segment, you will definitely notice the ‘favoritism’, as after the host asked each question, they would call out each group EXCEPT Raymond’s, even if they were ‘next in line (Raymond and Cho Lam sat between the Nat/Mandy group and the Sammy / King Kong group). Several times, the hosts went around the table -- sometimes even in order, going from Nat’s group then to Sammy’s group (skipping Raymond’s group) then around the table again, once again skipping the Raymond / Cho Lam group once it got to their side of the table. Even my mom, who was watching the show with me (and she is certainly an ‘impartial’ audience, as she pretty much watches everything without bias towards or against any artist or any show), commented several times while watching the segment: “Hey, did they just skip over Raymond and Cho Lam again?” I think even the guests themselves were starting to notice it, as some of them had surprised looks on their faces when they kept getting called on (someone even said “me again?”) – it wasn’t until close to the end of the segment that Raymond’s group got called on (to put things in perspective, the guests were served 3 dishes during the segment and they went several rounds for each dish – Raymond/Cho Lam didn’t get ‘picked’ to answer any questions until the very last dish was served….). So again, why did Raymond / his team get the ‘special privilege’ of not being called on for most of the game? Is it because they knew he wouldn’t be able to answer the question(s) correctly and didn’t want him to make a fool of himself with the silly ‘punishments’? Or was it some other reason? I could go on and on with all sorts of ‘speculation’ as to why this happened (but again, I will refrain from doing so).
Oh, and to ‘add salt to the wound’ so to speak, of course all the entertainment news reports that came out after the filming of that particular episode were pretty much ‘all about Raymond’ (oooh, he finally appeared on the show; oooh, he was ‘chok’-ing all night, oooh, he looks so handsome up there, blahblahblah….) – in the scheme of things, the other guests didn’t get talked about as much (though it seems that no one complained, so I guess they don’t really care…or maybe they are already used to TVB’s ‘tactics’ and so just turned a blind eye to it?).
I honestly don’t know what TVB’s intention was behind the ‘favoritism’, but I do know that it’s unfair to the rest of the guests who actually took the games seriously and were ‘good sports’ with their participation (again, this is just my personal opinion – the guests probably didn’t even care).
Lastly, I know that some may argue that the hosts were the ones at fault for the favoritism in a sense because they were the ones who told Raymond to show his ‘chok’ look during the Pose segment and they were the ones who ‘skipped’ over Raymond’s team during the Meal segment. In response to that, all I am going to say is that no matter what type of ‘atmosphere’ the hosts create, at the end of the day, all of these shows are ‘scripted’ to some extent and with the show being “TVB-produced”, the company definitely has a say in things. So no, TVB can’t claim ignorance in this case! End of story!