Cast (partial list of the main & supporting cast): Wayne Lai (黎耀祥), Maggie Cheung (張可頤), Ron Ng (吳卓羲), Kate Tsui (徐子珊), Nancy Wu (胡定欣), Yuen Wah (元華), Edwin Siu (蕭正楠), Aimee Chan (陳茵媺), Ram Tseung (蔣志光), Ruco Chan (陳展鵬)
I finished watching FH3 a few weeks ago (simultaneous broadcast with HK), however I actually put off writing a review about this series until now -- mostly because the series sort of wore me out after watching the finale and I really didn't feel like talking about it any more (I guess you could say that I was just glad it was finally over).
Now, don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying that this series was entirely bad because to be honest, I've seen way way worse (and as I will mention later, there were definitely some 'enjoyable' moments in the series) -- but by the same token, compared to many of the other TVB series that I've seen, this one definitely doesn't live up to my standards (now that I think about it though, how many TVB series from the last decade have lived up to my standards? not very many!). I actually wanted to use the word "disappointing" to describe my feeling towards this series, but after thinking about it further, it's really not accurate to say that I was "disappointed" in this series because in actuality, I didn't have any expectations of this series going into it (I've learned to stop 'expecting' anything from TVB series anymore...LOL). In fact, I wasn't even planning on watching the series in the first place, since when I first heard a few years ago that they were going to do FH3 but was going to change the cast, I was quite bitter about it (come on now -- Forensic Heroes is not the same without Bobby and Frankie, just like Burning Flame is not the same without Wong Hei) -- and quite honestly, based on the 'original' storyline concept for FH3 (the one that TVB pitched during their sales presentation a few years ago), I was actually planning on "boycotting" the series altogether (those who watched that sales presentation or read the original concept summary will probably know why I felt that way at the time). Anyway, it's a moot point now, but needless to say, at that time, I was quite ticked off, so pretty much the series didn't start off on the right foot with me, even as far back as the 'conceptual' beginning (prior to it becoming the series it eventually became). The only reason why I decided to give the series a chance was pretty much because of Wayne (and the fact that there was nothing else interesting to watch on TV, since the other series airing around the same time were extremely boring). More about Wayne's role later....
Before I go any further....for those of you who are regular readers of my reviews of TVB series (thank you!), I'm actually going to do this review a bit differently than the other ones I've done in the past. Instead of doing an in-depth analysis of each character / artist like I normally do, I'm going to take a different approach and basically just talk about my 'likes' and 'dislikes' about the series in general (figured that this was the easiest way to do this particular review).
STORYLINE / SCRIPT
One of my biggest "issues" with this series was the seriously flawed script -- there were so many things that didn't make sense, it totally detracted from the series as a whole and made it difficult to enjoy watching it (for me at least). Over the many years that I've been following TVB and HK entertainment, I've watched plenty of TVB series and I can honestly say that I can't recall encountering a series (that I've watched from beginning to end that is) with as many 'head-scratching', 'what-the-heck' moments as this one (and I'm not exaggerating either -- I was pretty much able to find at least 1 thing from each episode that fit into the "WTH" category!). I don't know if the writers were under pressure to produce the script in a short amount of time so they rushed things without realizing it or if there was a particular intention behind the way the script was written (I'm leaning toward the latter, since the 2 writers Choi Ting Ting and Leung Mun Wah are experienced scriptwriters), but whatever the reason, the fact is that the script was very poorly written.
Amongst the most "glaring" of flaws in the script (series) was the very obviously 'rushed' storyline -- the writers didn't spend enough time developing the areas that should have been developed (for example, the relationships of the various characters, some of the details of certain cases, etc.) and instead wasted alot of time with cases that were boring and lame (i.e. that case about the tenants and the owner of a building where the tenant dies after slipping in the bathroom and also that cosplay case near the end of the series, just to name a few). I understand that with these types of series, the premise is about crime-solving, so that should definitely be the focus, but the relationships of the characters are important as well, since, as humans, we spend most of our lives interacting with each other – so in series like these, it’s necessary to have a good balance of both. Unfortunately though, the writers didn’t do a very good job in this area….not only that, but the lack of development in the relationships with this particular series had a significant impact for me because throughout the whole time that I watched, I didn’t feel anything for any of the main pairings – it was almost as though I could care less who was paired up with whom (of course, part of this could have also been due to the lack of chemistry between the artists themselves).
Here are a few examples of the “rushed” parts that I had a problem with (not an all-inclusive list):
.-- Nancy / Wayne divorce – the way the writers wrote the divorce storyline between Nancy and Wayne’s characters was way too ‘purposeful’ to be realistic. Considering how long they had been together as a loving couple, plus they had a daughter that they needed to think about, I was surprised at how quickly they reached the decision to divorce (and pretty much over 1 incident too). The feeling I got was that they went from being the ‘model couple’ one minute to a ‘I don’t love you anymore and can’t stand the way you operate’ relationship the next minute. And of course, this whole thing pretty much happened over the course of like 1 episode (actually, not even, since there was other stuff interspersed throughout the episode) – plus with the way the whole thing played out, I definitely got the impression that neither character (Wayne and Nancy) was too emotional / distraught over the breakup (so maybe they didn’t really love each other that much after all). In any case, the way that whole piece was written was definitely lacking.
.-- Maggie / Ruco breakup – ok, I have to say that as much as I disliked the way the writers handled Nancy and Wayne’s divorce, the way that they handled Maggie and Ruco’s breakup was way worse….in fact, it was so lame and stupid, it’s not even funny! Sure, it’s not like they spent a lot of time developing Maggie and Ruco as a couple in the first place, but at least the writers did bring them together over the course of a few episodes (well, I guess you could say half the series) and up until the point they broke up, there was no indication whatsoever that they were incompatible or planning to separate in any way. Then, at the end of one of the episodes, they ‘suddenly’ mutually realize that they don’t love each other as they thought they did and literally within like 1 scene, they decide to part ways. WTH??? It was so totally random and came out of nowhere that it left me wondering what the whole point was of having Ruco and Maggie together in the first place! Oh, and at least with Nancy and Wayne, they had 1 episode to ‘divorce’ – with Ruco and Maggie, it was like 1-2 scenes max (and at the end of an episode too – by the first scene of the next episode, Ruco’s character was already ‘gone’)….how lame! If they were going to write the breakup this way, then they shouldn’t have put Ruco and Maggie together from the beginning (they definitely could have had Ruco participate in the series without making him a ‘love interest’ for Maggie)!
.-- Wayne / Maggie relationship – with the ‘rushed’ way that the breakups of the 2 main characters were done, it definitely seemed to me that the main purpose of the entire series (from a relationship perspective at least) was to have Wayne and Maggie become a couple. It’s almost as though the writers were trying to say ‘let’s get their previous relationships over with so we can get the 2 of them together’. (The two of them got together pretty much right after Maggie and Ruco broke up, plus the lame way that they did that breakup made it too obvious that the Wayne/Maggie get-together was their main objective). To be honest, I wasn’t too keen on Wayne and Maggie as a couple because I felt that their characters lacked chemistry -- to me, there was actually no difference in their relationship prior to them becoming a couple (when they worked together as partners in the forensics team) and afterwards….
The other major flaw with the script (as far as I noticed at least) was the ‘randomness’ of some of the elements / scenes / characters related to each of the cases. There were some characters and scenes ‘interspersed’ in the series that were completely irrelevant to the development of the storyline and seemed to serve no purpose whatsoever (pretty much you could take those characters out and it would have very little, if any, impact to the script / series). This actually got annoying after awhile because it didn’t just happen once or twice – it was a recurring ‘issue’ throughout the entire series.
A few of the most obvious examples of this:
.-- The ‘nephew scene’ during the tenants vs landlord case (which was already a lame case to begin with) – the guy who played the nephew (whom I found out later was one of the newer Mr HKs) only appeared for like 10 seconds in one scene (he basically had one line of dialogue), then disappeared and was never heard from again. He was mentioned briefly later on during the investigation of the case (yea, for like a minute), but turns out he had nothing to do with the case whatsoever. So what was the point in putting his character in there, especially if he was going to appear for only a few seconds and had nothing to do with the case? Totally didn’t get that part…
.-- Sire Ma’s brief appearance during the case about the murder of the college student was totally random as well. She was only in 2 scenes and had probably about 5 lines of dialogue – her total screentime was probably close to 10 minutes or so (maybe even less). I mean, I could understand putting her in the series if her character had anything at all to do with the case, but she didn’t – she was pretty much just the murdered guy’s ex-girlfriend and was never even considered as a suspect in the case. Totally random character…
.-- Felix Lok’s character was another random one that the writers put in there for no significant reason. He was literally only in 1 scene at the end of an episode, though they did talk about his character a little bit in one of the scenes prior to that. Basically, in those 2 scenes, they made him out to be some sort of powerful mob boss / businessman whom Nancy decides to work for (that’s part of her reasoning for divorcing Wayne and leaving for the U.S.) – based on the way that set things up, made it seem like he would play a significant role in one of the future cases perhaps. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case at all -- after that, his character is not mentioned again until Nancy returns – but even then, the ‘mention’ is lame because he isn’t involved with any type of case. Even with the case involving Nancy at the end of the series, he was completely irrelevant – they pretty much ‘mentioned’ that he was still in the U.S. and was sick on his deathbed (or something like that) and that’s it – never mentioned again. Huh? What was the point of his character then?
The above is just scratching the surface – there were a lot more instances / characters that were ‘interspersed’ the same way. After watching this series, it totally made me question the experience of the scriptwriters (the horribly written script made it seem like newbies who didn’t know what they were doing actually wrote it) and what they were thinking when putting together this script. It was definitely annoying to say the least.
Despite all of the ‘shortcomings’ of the script, there WERE a few enjoyable moments in the series, but unfortunately, not enough for me to ‘overlook’ the flaws. Still, here’s a brief mention of some of the ‘highlights’ of the series for me:
.-- Nancy’s court scenes and her ‘showdown’ with Wayne and Yuen Wah (who played Wayne’s father) during that one murder case involving the rich guy were definitely exceptional and well done. I literally was at the edge of my seat watching those scenes – too bad that it was short-lived though.
.-- The case involving Ram Tseung’s son in the series (the murder of the college student case) was very interesting as well and for me, it was probably one of the best cases in the series (partly because it wasn’t as easy to guess the killer). Another reason why I enjoyed that case was because Ram was heavily involved in those few episodes – since he’s one of my favorite ‘green leaf’ actors, it was definitely a ‘treat’ for me!
.-- Yuen Wah’s character was hilarious (without intending to be) – I enjoyed almost all of his scenes, especially the one in particular with Angela Tong’s character. It’s sort of sad that even though Yuen Wah didn’t have very much screentime, I absolutely enjoyed his performance over everyone else’s – even the main leads.
.-- Ruco’s character is another one that I enjoyed – in fact, I was one of those people who liked his pairing with Maggie (just about the only ‘pairing’ that I liked and felt a connection to in the entire series) – but the stupid writers had to go ruin it with that lame breakup thing that I mentioned earlier! Plus his screentime was way less than Yuen Wah’s and the way they ‘wrote him out of the series’ was quite dumb (and didn’t make sense). For me, the entire series pretty much went downhill after that -- well, it was already starting to go downhill before that quite honestly, but at least there were still scenes worth watching – but after Ruco’s case, the remaining episodes were so boring, I pretty much lost interest and stopped paying attention to the series until the finale episode.
CAST / CHARACTERS
Like I mentioned earlier, I’m not going to do a detailed character analysis in this review, as I feel it would be a waste of time to do so, especially since many people have already seen this series.
Therefore, just some brief thoughts:
.-- Wayne Lai (Pro Sir) – as much as I love Wayne, I really feel that the character of Pro Sir doesn’t suit him all that much. With Wayne’s caliber of acting, this particular character is way too easy for him and in my opinion, is a complete waste of his talent (literally, he can do that character in his sleep!). He needs more dynamic, challenging roles (ones with more depth) that will truly be able to showcase his talent. Hopefully, Wayne chooses his roles more carefully in the future – with his status and position, he can definitely afford to be picky with his roles and not just take whatever (crappy) roles TVB gives him!
.-- Maggie Cheung (Dr. Chung) – Out of all of the 90s fa dans, Maggie has always been near the bottom of my list – nothing against her personally or her acting, it’s just that she has never been my ‘cup of tea’ when it comes to actresses that I enjoy watching -- so to me, her participation in this series doesn’t make much of a difference to me. Overall, I would say that Maggie did a pretty good job in her role as forensic pathologist Dr. Mandy Chung – she was convincing enough in the role and handled the complicated dialogue quite well. Other than that, I don’t really have much opinion on her performance.
.-- Ron Ng (Wind Sir) & Kate Tsui (Madam Ling) – I’m not fond of either artist, so didn’t really pay a whole lot of attention to their scenes…but even then, it was definitely obvious that their characters were ‘second fiddle’ to Wayne and Maggie’s. Honestly, I really didn’t see the value of Ron and Kate’s cop characters because it’s not like they were the ones doing most of the crime-solving anyway – in most of the episodes, it actually seemed as though Wayne and Maggie were the cops instead of Ron and Kate, since they were almost always present when the ‘big reveal’ occurred in many of the episodes (which is one of the other things that didn’t make sense about the script, but oh well). Their roles definitely weren’t memorable and in my opinion, any one of the current TVB 2nd line artists could have done the same role and it wouldn’t have mattered (actually, the other artists may even be able to do it better!).
.-- Nancy Wu (Pro Sir’s wife Eva Chow) – Nancy’s character definitely stood out in this series, as her character was quite strong and she had some of the best scenes -- her portrayal of a lawyer was very convincing and her court-scenes were well-acted. But too bad that her character changed in the latter half of the series after returning from the U.S. (she quit her attorney job and became a freelance writer for a legal journal) – basically, her role became more of a ‘vase’ character later on in the series, which was really dumb of the writers to do when her character had so much potential in the first half of the series. Not sure what the reasoning was behind why her character was written this way, but I know that if I were writing the script, I would definitely have written her character differently, perhaps even making her role more significant than Kate’s (since the cops in this series were pretty useless anyway). The writers pretty much wasted the character’s potential.
.-- Yuen Wah (Uncle Hing) – Yuen Wah’s role as Wayne’s dad in the series was actually quite enjoyable. His somewhat comical character (not purposefully comical, but he just came across that way) provided an interesting juxtaposition to Wayne’s ‘serious’ Pro Sir role. I will admit that I had my doubts at first with how Yuen Wah would fit into the role given his background (I always think of him as a kungfu guy) and with Wayne’s character being so serious and professional, but it actually worked out just fine in my opinion. In fact, I liked the chemistry he and Wayne had as father and son and definitely would have liked to see more scenes of them together. Oh, and I must mention that the scene with Angela Tong (where Yuen Wah thinks she is interested in his son and so tries to play matchmaker for them, only to find out that she is actually interested in him) was absolutely hilarious – I got quite a few good laughs out of that part! And there were other great scenes involving Yuen Wah as well (i.e. the court scene with Nancy, his reaction afterwards, etc.) – both serious and comical – that were thoroughly enjoyable. He was definitely my favorite character in the series.
.-- Ruco Chan (Jim Fong) – I liked Ruco’s performance, but unfortunately, he had WAY too little screentime – which also means that his character wasn’t developed enough for me to ‘enjoy’ his character as much as Yuen Wah’s. I really feel that they should have given Ruco a more significant role in the series (and develop his character more) because the little screentime that he had just wasn’t enough. In my opinion, they (the writers / producer) should have just cut Ron and Kate roles (or reduce their screentime if they wanted to keep them) and expanded Ruco and Nancy’s roles because both of them definitely outshined the ‘main’ characters in this series.
Overall, I would say that this series fell into the ‘tolerable’ category for me: the first half of the series had some good potential, but the second half of the series was sort of bad – the series definitely has that typical ‘strong start, weak ending’ element that is notorious in many of TVB’s series nowadays.
Of course, it’s hard to write a review about FH3 without mentioning FH1 and FH2, since the series IS supposed to be a “sequel” after all (though this installment has absolutely nothing to do with the first 2 in terms of storyline and cast). Without going into a huge comparison / analysis thing (because honestly, FH2 and FH3 can’t compare with the original), I will say that, as part of the same franchise, FH3 definitely did not live up to its hype. I absolutely adored the first installment of FH and the awesome chemistry that the original cast (Bobby, Frankie, Yoyo, and yes, even Linda) had – plus the cases were well-written and the storyline was fast-paced enough without rushing through things ( it’s one of the few series from the post 2000 era that I actually like and can re-watch over and over again without getting bored). FH2 ruined that chemistry with the addition of Charmaine and Kevin, thereby resulting in a reduction in screen time for the original cast (so that the focus could be on 2006’s TV King and Queen, no doubt) – in my opinion though, the script was already poorly written starting with that installment (as I remember there were a lot of scenes that didn’t make sense in that installment as well, though not to the extent of FH3)…the only ‘redeeming factor’ for FH2 that made it watchable was the fact that it still had Bobby and Frankie, so it was less of a struggle to sit through (since I could just forward through other people’s scenes). Now with FH3, not only was the cast completely changed and the characters poorly developed, the script was also poorly written – for me, those 2 factors alone made the installment worse than the previous two.
Lastly, I’d like to briefly talk about the ratings for FH3 – those who know me know that I’ve never been one to care much about ratings, since to me, ratings mean nothing when it comes to determining a ‘quality’ series (high ratings DOES NOT EQUAL quality!). In the HK entertainment industry especially, TV ratings mean absolutely nothing given that the entire industry is monopolized by only 1 TV station (which means that HK audiences pretty much don’t have a choice in terms of which TV station to watch, so naturally the ratings would be high, since basically the entire region watches the same station). I personally feel that the HK media’s obsession with TV ratings is stupid given the dynamics I just described, but for the sake of argument, I will ‘entertain’ the ratings thing for a second – when FH3 aired in HK, its ratings were so high that it became the ‘highest rated series’ of 2011, taking the #1 spot from the Laughing Gor series “Lives of Omission” (for me, the only ‘good’ thing about FH3’s ratings is that it knocked LOO out of the #1 spot – nothing satisfies me more than seeing another series finally beat the crap out of that arrogant Laughing Gor, even if it’s something as stupid as meaningless TV ratings!). Ironically, out of all the FH installments, FH3 was the highest rated, even though it was the worst one of the 3…go figure! Well, whatever – my viewing habits and opinions toward TVB series are rarely in line with the brainwashed HK audiences’ anyway.
One last thought….obviously, I’m not too fond of this series, but if you were to ask me whether I recommend it or not – well, it depends on what context we’re looking at. If you’re looking at 2011 TVB series only, then sure, this series was probably one of the better ones in the bunch (after “Sentinel”, FH3 was the only other series from this year that I was able to sit through from beginning to end), but it definitely was NOT the best series of 2011. If you’re looking at the entire FH franchise (or if you’re like me and have a certain affinity for the original FH series), then no, I wouldn’t recommend it because most likely you will get ticked off (as I did) at how TVB ruined yet another ‘franchise’!