Friday, March 23, 2012

Review of TVB Series “The Hippocratic Crush”《On Call 36小時》(2012)

Main Cast (partial list): Kenneth Ma (馬國明), Tavia Yeung (楊怡), Him Law (羅仲謙), Mandy Wong (黃智雯), Ben Wong (黃智賢), Nathan Ngai (魏焌皓), Candy Chang (張慧雯), Benjamin Yuen (袁偉豪), Derek Kok (郭政鴻), Gigi Wong (黃淑儀), Raymond Cho (曹永廉), Wilson Tsui (艾威), Mary Hon (韓馬利), Paisley Wu (胡蓓蔚), Bak Yan (白茵), Kyle Tse (謝卓言), Marcus Kwok (郭田葰), Candice Chiu (趙希洛), Brian Tse (謝東閔), Catherine Chau (周家怡), King Lam (林景程)


** Disclaimer: This series is about doctors working at a hospital. I'm not in the medical field and am not entirely familiar with much of the terminology used in the medical industry. Therefore, I apologize ahead of time if there is any medical terminology that is misused in the course of writing this review. If anyone reading this is in the medical field and would like to clarify any incorrect terms used, please feel free to let me know. Thanks. **


“The Hippocratic Crush” [referred to in the rest of this review as THC] is one of TVB’s newest series that just finished airing this past week. Those who know me know that I’m not too fond of most of the series that TVB has produced in the past decade or so (for various reasons) and therefore I rarely bother to finish watching a TVB series completely (from beginning to end) anymore nowadays. When I first started watching this particular series, I honestly thought that it would go down the same path (I’d watch the first few episodes, get bored with it, and not bother finishing it) because 1) there were a lot of ‘newbies’ in the cast and in general, I try to stay away from series with too many newbies due to the fact I usually get extremely frustrated with the horrible acting of newbies (and unfortunately, TVB has a bad track record when it comes to casting newbies in series who can’t act to save their lives); and 2) based on the stuff that I had read of the series beforehand, it really sounded like this series would be another “Healing Hands” wannabe [the series was being billed as ‘the younger version of “Healing Hands”’] and since I wasn’t fond of HH in the first place, I wasn’t too interested in watching a similar series that seemed to be yet another lame attempt by TVB to piggyback off the success of a previous franchise.

To my surprise, this series exceeded my expectations and I ended up not only liking the series, I actually ended up ‘falling in love’ with it (to the point that I actually felt like re-watching the series almost immediately after the finale aired…LOL). The newbies in the series weren’t too bad and a few of them actually did pretty good jobs given that this was their first series (though part of it was due to the way their characters were written)…most of all though, this series was nothing at all like “Healing Hands” – in fact, the way the series was written and the storyline flowed made it way better than HH in my opinion (more on this later).

Indeed, there is truly A LOT to like about this series – the awesome script with beautifully written and memorable dialogue, the well-developed characters (the main ones at least) that are written realistically in such a way that we are able to see their flaws and can relate to them on a personal level, the way the storyline flowed naturally to the point that we (the audiences) didn’t have to exert a whole lot of effort trying to watch and understand the series, and lastly, the acting in this series was absolutely superb….practically the entire cast (even the newbies) put in great performances!

For me, an important element in watching a series is whether I feel an emotional attachment to the characters in the series and alot of this has to do with how natural and convincing the acting is. I feel that this is one area where a lot of TVB’s series in the past decades have been lacking – the ‘emotional relevance’ aspect. Granted, the lack of emotional relevance could be due to bad scripts or bad acting or both (as well as a combination of other things), but to me, I've felt that in the past decade, TVB has been more concerned with churning out worthless series in efforts to promote their favorites rather than truly focusing on giving us audiences (and many long-time followers of TVB dramas) a sincere, high quality drama. With THC, I feel that that TVB has finally broken this cycle by delivering a well-written, well-produced, well-acted, and overall well put together series (though whether they will be able to keep up the momentum with their upcoming series remains to be seen – personally, I highly doubt that the consistency will be there).

Ok, so with all that said (believe it or not, I’m actually just getting started…LOL), on to the actual analysis….


SCRIPT / STORYLINE

As I mentioned above, one of the biggest draws to this series is the excellent, well-written script. It’s been a long time since I’ve come across a script written this beautifully, with so much heartfelt dialogue [no, not the ‘cheesy’ type] and so many memorable lines.

With this being a medical drama, putting together the script is definitely no easy feat, as the writers have to do their research so that the medical piece is presented in a way that is true to the profession, yet not too overly technical for regular TV audiences. At the same time, the storyline still has to be both engaging and realistic so that audiences can relate and want to continue ‘chasing’ the series – trying to keep the script well-balanced is definitely a huge challenge.

In terms of the ‘medical drama’ part, I feel that I really need to praise the writers (Poon Man Hung & Suen Ho Ho) as well as producer (Poon Ka Tak) for their “sincerity” with the script and the overall production – throughout the entire process (from writing the script to actual filming), the team actually had 2 real-life doctors on the set serving as consultants, helping to give advice on various aspects of working at a hospital and also ensuring that the surgery scenes were done as realistically as possible. In addition, one of the actors in the series – Marcus Kwok (who played neurosurgery trainee Tong Han Bong) – is a doctor in real life (he was a hospital emergency room doctor back when he lived in Australia) and so he was able to provide some guidance with the medical piece as well.

If I had to describe the script for this series in one word, I would have to say – REALISTIC. In a nutshell, that’s truly the essence of what made this series so unique. All of the characters in the series are portrayed in a way that we as audiences can relate to, even those of us who are not in the medical field, because they are presented to us so realistically. The doctors in the series are portrayed not as ‘superheroes’ who can always be counted on to save lives, but rather, they are ordinary, flawed human beings just like the rest of us – they make wrong decisions, they do things that are irrational and at times selfishly unreasonable, they go through periods of not knowing what they want in life, they have their ‘off’ days where nothing seems to go as planned and they let their frustrations get the best of them – in other words, they are regular people driven by their emotions just like us, except with the added pressure of the work they do. This made each of the characters very ‘relatable’ for us as audiences – for me personally, I found myself disliking a few of the characters in the beginning but then as the series progressed, I eventually grew to like them.

Overall, the storyline also flowed extremely well – most of the scenes were done very meticulously, which helped to keep the storyline engaging and the emotional level high….to the point that it didn’t feel like we were watching a drama series, but rather we were right there in the middle of the action. Hand in hand with this is the dialogue -- it’s very obvious that the writers put a lot of thought into coming up with the dialogue in this series, as much of the dialogue was heartfelt, meaningful, and really made the audiences reflect on how it applies in our own lives. I especially liked the ‘montage’ segments where a series of short yet related scenes were tied together simply by Zi Yu’s (Tavia Yeung) narrative in the background – there may not have been any exchange of dialogue between the characters in those segments, yet the emotions conveyed were especially poignant and touching.

Here are a few examples of the scenes where some of my favorite dialogue occurred (NOT all-inclusive, as there were way too many great scenes with great dialogue – too difficult to list them all):

.-- the scene where Andy’s grandmother (Helena Law) dies – the last dialogue she has where she expresses her thoughts about death and regrets was really moving (and so true too!).

.-- the entire memorial service segment for Yat Hong (Nathan Ngai) – the speeches that both Jing Jing (Candy Chang) and Yat Kin (Kenneth Ma) gave were so heartfelt, moved me to tears…

.-- both scenes where Yat Kin (Kenneth Ma) proposes to Ji Yu (Tavia Yeung) -- the one at their colleagues’ wedding as well as the one at the hospital…those scenes definitely had the BEST dialogue in the entire series!

.-- all of the scenes where Ben (Benjamin Yuen) reprimands Mei Suet (Mandy Wong) – absolutely loved all of Ben’s ‘speeches’

Lastly, I have to say that it’s really too bad that the 2 main scriptwriters for the series (Poon Man Hung and Suen Ho Ho) already left TVB (they work for CTI now) because they truly did an excellent job with the script for this series. Their departure is definitely TVB’s loss!

.---.


CAST / CHARACTERS

This is another one of those series that proves you don’t necessarily need an ‘all-star’ ensemble cast in order for a series to be successful – the right mix of talented artists, veterans, and newbies (plus a good script of course) can also create a ‘runaway’ hit.

On first glance, the cast for this series may not seem very impressive, especially considering how almost a third of the main cast consists of newcomers with little to no acting experience. Yet, somehow, the chemistry of the cast was excellent and each person – whether lead, supporting, or guest star – gave it their all, resulting in well-acted, high quality performances from practically everyone in the cast. Now THAT is definitely a rare occurrence in TVB series, especially in the past decade.

Unlike my past reviews, I’m actually not going to go into too much detail about the characters themselves, since this series just finished airing and most people have already seen the series. Also, the cast is quite large, so it would be too difficult to do a detailed analysis of every single character.

So to start off with the main cast….

Kenneth Ma (Cheung Yat Kin) – nicknamed ‘Yat Kin Tau’, he is a neurosurgery final year trainee who later becomes a neurosurgeon specialist. I really like the way the character of Yat Kin Tau was written (actually, I like the way all the characters were written to be honest) – his character is very well-developed in that the focus isn’t just on him being a doctor and saving lives, rather there’s also a huge focus on his life as an ‘ordinary’ person outside of work – plus there’s the emotional transformation that he goes through, especially in the second half of the series when he encounters one setback after another. This made his character very realistic in the sense that we are able to relate to him as a person. Without a doubt, Yat Kin was definitely my favorite character in this series!

In terms of Kenneth’s performance in this series….well, let me put it this way – the first word that came to my mind after watching Kenneth’s performance here was: WOW!!!! His acting in this series was excellent, outstanding, superb, awesome, etc. (I could go on and on with the adjectives!). He delivered each line of dialogue with such great precision, every facial expression and body gesture was done perfectly, which I applaud him for because that's one of the areas that is the most difficult when it comes to acting -- having the right facial expressions at the right times for the right situations! Kenneth’s performance was so natural and realistic that he was able to make his character Cheung Yat Kin became a real person to me and I couldn’t resist feeling emotionally attached to him. This was especially true during the last 5 episodes of the series when his character is going through difficult times with the loss of his brother and finding out the woman he loves has a potentially life-threatening illness -- he did the emotional scenes so perfectly that I couldn't help but be drawn in by his performance. I absolutely felt for him during all the emotional scenes and found myself laughing and crying with him in many of the episodes.

Kenneth definitely has a way of conveying emotion well through his eyes – this was especially apparent during the scene where his character Yat Kin performs surgery on his brother Yat Hong (who is gravely injured after an accident) but is unsuccessful and he ends up dying from his injuries – even though most of Kenneth’s face was covered with a surgeon’s mask during that time, the intense emotion of that scene was still apparent just based on the ‘acting’ he did with his eyes! Another great scene that really showcased Kenneth’s strong acting skills was the ‘crying’ scene with Tavia at the basketball court (where Yat Kin releases his feelings of frustration and guilt over his brother’s death) – his crying was so sincere and heartfelt that I could totally feel his pain and ended up crying as well [to be honest, I really felt like reaching out and just saying -- NO, IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT!!!]. The other part that I was absolutely impressed by with that scene is that Kenneth was still able to say his dialogue so CLEARLY and with so much emotion! Alot of times, when I watch crying scenes, I actually cringe because so many of the artists nowadays can't seem to cry and talk clearly at the same time, so when they do crying scenes, the dialogue gets all jumbled (I have to rely on reading the Chinese subtitles on the screen to understand what they're saying...) -- on top of that, alot of them can't get the emotion right either, so the crying scenes end up being just so lame and unconvincing. But with this particular scene -- everything was done perfectly: the crying, the dialogue, the emotion.....BRILLIANT!

I’ve always felt that Kenneth has a certain ‘sincerity’ about him when it comes to his acting – perhaps that’s why most of the characters he plays are so endearing to me (I really enjoyed his performance in “A Fistful of Stances” and absolutely ‘adored’ him in “Speech of Silence”…also liked most of his other performances in between…). Out of all the male artists from his ‘generation’ (those who started in the late 90s/early 2000s), he’s pretty much the only one whom I’ve liked since the beginning (and the only one who has been able to evoke an emotional response from me when watching his series). It’s really a shame that all these years, he was never really promoted as much compared to the others from his ‘group’ despite his acting skills being so much better than some of the others (aiye, TVB and their politics!). Well, I’m glad that Kenneth is finally getting the recognition he deserves now, after his well-received performance in THC – he absolutely deserves it! And yes, I am going to throw my name in the hat to support him for TV King this year (I know he won’t win, but I would love to at least see him in the Top 5). Definitely looking forward to more great acting from him!


Tavia Yeung (Fan Ji Yu) – nicknamed ‘Yu Jai’, she’s also a final year trainee, though her specialty changes from neurosurgery (since her father is a renown neurosurgeon) to cardiothoracic surgery later on in the series. I will admit that I found Yu Jai a bit annoying in the beginning of the series because she seemed to carry a lot of bias with her and allowed it to cloud her judgment at times, to the point that she would refuse to listen to what others had to say, even if it was the truth. Luckily her personality changes later on in the series (still a bit stubborn, but in a good way – maybe that’s why she matched so well with Yat Kin? LOL) and I actually found myself liking her (though not as much as I liked Kenneth’s character, of course).

This series definitely changed my impression of Tavia as an actress – maybe it’s the way her character was written or perhaps she has truly matured in her acting now. In the past, Tavia has always been on my ‘tolerable’ list in terms of actresses (meaning that I didn’t hate her, but I wasn’t fond of her either). I actually felt that she had potential when she started off (in the late 90s), but unfortunately, TVB didn’t do a very good job with her career because in the last 7 to 8 years, they either gave her too many ‘similar’ roles (i.e.: “Rippling Blossom”, “Yes Sir, Sorry Sir”, “Men With No Shadows”, etc.) or they gave her roles that didn’t fit her (i.e.: “Beyond the Realm of Conscience”) -- since her characters always seemed to be similar, it made her acting come across as the same as well…the result is that I slowly became tired of her and just didn’t want to see her in series anymore. Also, she was one of the actresses whom I felt didn’t do crying scenes very well – the crying always appeared forced and exaggerated to me (I especially hated the crying scenes in “Mysteries of Love” and “Men with No Shadows” – I pretty much cringed every time I saw a crying scene and didn’t even bother finishing either series). In THC though, my experience was completely different – her crying scenes were done really well and she was truly able to bring out the emotional element in her scenes. And for the FIRST TIME, I actually enjoyed Tavia’s performance! I felt that she portrayed the character of ‘Fan Ji Yu’ perfectly, bringing out the character’s professionalism as well as reserve and determination, yet showing that she’s only human and will go through those same ‘breakdown’ moments that most of us do when we encounter tough situations. In fact, I went from disliking her character in the beginning (as I mentioned above, her character was a bit annoying in the first few episodes) to liking her character a lot and actually rooting for her and ‘Yat Kin’ (Kenneth) to get together!

After seeing Tavia’s performance in THC, it dawned on me that TVB has perhaps been taking the wrong direction with her career – I feel that Tavia is actually better suited for ‘professional’ roles (i.e.: doctor, lawyer, etc.), especially at this point in her career. Both her recent role as a doctor in THC and as a lawyer in “The Other Truth” were well-received by audiences and can be considered ‘breakthrough’ roles for her. For the record, despite how much I liked Tavia’s performance in this series, I’m still not a fan of hers by any means (and I don’t think I ever will be), but I do want to see her do well and hope that TVB will do the right thing when it comes to managing her career.


Kenneth / Tavia pairing -- Ok, I admit that I'm definitely a 'Yu-Tau’ (Yu Jai + Yat Kin Tau) fan after watching this series! I absolutely adored the Kenneth / Tavia pairing – they had such awesome chemistry throughout the series, even though the two of them don’t officially become a couple until the very last episode. Of course, I would have loved for Yat Kin and Yu Jai to have gotten together earlier in the series, but I realize now that it was actually better the way their relationship progressed slowly because that’s part of what made the relationship so poignant and endearing. I really like how their relationship was portrayed in the series, as it was not the typical ‘cheesy’ romantic formula that TVB likes to use: from the start, even when they were just colleagues working in the same hospital, their relationship was a rocky one, with Yu Jai misunderstanding Yat Kin in the beginning and letting her personal bias get in the way of seeing the type of person he truly was. Throughout the series, the relationship between Yat Kin and Yu Jai develops gradually (they go from colleagues to friends and then eventually to lovers) – they grow to love each other after overcoming various misunderstandings and hardships…in a sense, they had to build their relationship from scratch and to me, the path that they took to get there is more in line with what a real-life couple would go through. I have to say that I absolutely enjoyed every scene between Kenneth and Tavia in this series, whether it was an intense emotion-filled scene or a relaxed, playful one (which definitely says something about how well their relationship was written, given that there have not been very many on-screen couples that I’ve liked in the past decade or so). I will definitely miss ‘Yu-Tau’ now that the series is over!


Him Law (Yeung Pui Chung) – nicknamed ‘Onion’, he is a first year neurosurgery trainee (I believe the official term is ‘houseman’?). He’s really the opposite of what we would consider a doctor to be like, as he’s a bit ‘messy’ (his shirt is always untucked and his hair is somewhat disheveled in some scenes) and he has a very playful attitude (which at times is mistaken for being lazy). Underneath all that though, he’s really a good doctor who cares a lot about his patients, which becomes more apparent once he finally ‘cleans up his act’ – plus he has a great sense of humor!

I really enjoyed Him Law’s portrayal of Pui Chung in this series – he made the character very human and very lovable from the beginning (pretty much no matter what mistakes Pui Chung made, it was hard to be mad at him for long because he just had that ‘cuteness’ about him that made audiences like me want to easily forgive him…lol). Him is definitely one of those younger generation actors with huge potential to become an established actor one day – it’s amazing that he’s relatively new in terms of acting (he started in movies in 2005 and only started filming TV series in 2008 – prior to that, he was a lifeguard) and pretty much had no acting training or experience when he started in the industry, yet his acting is way better than many of TVB’s current ‘popular’ siu sangs! Now I’m not just saying this because he did a great job in THC – the reality is, he has delivered consistently solid performances in all of the series that he’s been in since 2008, to the point that in a few of his previous series (“Suspects in Love” and “Your Class or Mine” for example), he even ‘out-performed’ many of his ‘seniors’ (veteran actors such as Joe Ma, Bobby Au-Yeung, etc.). I’ve always found Him’s acting very natural and convincing, so there’s no doubt in my mind that he CAN act, he just needs a little more polish and also a forum where he can continue to cultivate his skills – unfortunately though, he’s not a TVB-managed artist (to my understanding), which means that most likely TVB is not going to invest much time or energy in promoting him. If he’s going to continue working for TVB in a greater capacity, let’s hope that Him will be able to reach his potential there and not become a ‘victim’ of TVB’s notorious politics like many of the talented actors who came before him.


Mandy Wong (Hung Mei Suet) – she is also a first year neurosurgery trainee (houseman) and is Yu Jai’s long lost biological sister. Mei Suet has a very strong, bold personality – she is overconfident, smug, and often unwilling to accept defeat or failure. Also, after she finds out that Yu Jai is her sister, she becomes very ‘competitive’ and constantly wants to be better than her (whether it’s her love life or career), which causes her to do things that are irrational and immature. I actually hated her character in the beginning because of all the things she does (plus I just found her outright rude and annoying) – luckily though, she’s not a bad person at the core and after she makes a huge mistake at the hospital that almost costs a patient his life, she finally listens to the advice that her colleague (and later her boyfriend) Ben gives her and changes her ways. In the last 5 episodes of the series, she actually becomes quite likable!

Just like Him Law, Mandy is another one of those artists who is particularly gifted in the area of acting, though the difference with her is that she actually graduated from the HK Academy of Performing Arts and also participated in TVB’s Acting Classes. I was actually surprised to read that she’s a former Miss HK (2007 pageant, where she made it to the Top 5 in the finals) because my impression of the Miss HK contestants from the past decade is that very few of them (if any) can actually act (huge difference from the Miss HKs of the 70s/80s/90s). Even though I respect Mandy as an actress and feel that she definitely has the potential to become a strong actress some day, I’m just not very fond of her on a personal level – I can’t explain why because I actually don’t know why….maybe because she comes across as a bit ‘diva-ish’ to me and that happens to be one of my pet peeves? Well, whatever the case, Mandy definitely did a good job in this series from an acting standpoint, though it probably would have been better if her character was a bit more developed (since she’s pretty much just ‘there’ for like the first third of the series and only becomes ‘part of the action’ about midway through the series).


Benjamin Yuen (Lau Bing Chan) – his character is actually named Benjamin in the series (haha..I wonder how that happened?) and he’s also a senior trainee (3rd year?) specializing in Orthopedics. His character is portrayed as a ‘playboy’ whose main interest outside of work is inviting his female colleagues out on dates. He’s one of Yat Kin’s best friends and together with their other good friend (Derek Kok’s character Lui Siu Yik), they all hang out together after work – their relationship is like brothers. Ben’s character is actually quite interesting because the impression he gives everyone is that he’s very nonchalant and doesn’t take love relationships seriously, but later on in the series, we find out that all of that is actually a façade to help him cope with a previous failed relationship. Even though it always seems like he’s very carefree and takes everything lightly, he’s actually the most observant out of the group and stands up for his friends when it’s most needed. Surprisingly, Ben was actually one of my favorite characters in the series – I really liked the way his character would reprimand Mei Suet whenever it was appropriate and set her back on the right path. And I also loved the brotherly relationship between him and Yat Kin as well as Siu Yik – their chemistry in this series was excellent!

In terms of Benjamin as an actor –this is actually the first time that I’ve ever seen him in a significant role (or it could be that I just never paid attention in the past because his roles never really stood out) and I was pleasantly surprised by the way he ‘delivered the goods’ with his performance in this series. I use the word ‘surprised’ because he’s the Mr. HK winner from 2007 and everyone knows how I feel about beauty pageant winners from the past decade – my impression has always been that they can’t act and are better off keeping whatever job they had prior to participating in the pageant. This is the first time that I’ve actually liked a performance from a Mr. HK pageant winner! Anyway, I’m glad that Ben had a standout role in this series – let’s see if he keeps up the momentum with his upcoming series.


Ben Wong (Chong Bok Mun) – Ben plays a senior neurosurgeon and is Yat Kin’s superior. As always, Ben put in a fine performance and even though I wasn’t too fond of his character in the beginning (because he would always get all jealous and worked up over something that he thought existed but really didn’t), his character sort of grew on me as the series progressed and I ended up liking him a lot, especially in the last few episodes in the series when he finally ‘wakes up’ and realizes he was wrong all along. I’ve always liked Ben as an actor since back in the “Kindred Spirit” days, so I was happy to see him as part of the cast – he was one of the reasons why I chose to watch this series in the first place and he definitely did not disappoint!


Nathan Ngai (Cheung Yat Hong) – Nathan plays Kenneth’s younger brother Yat Hong; he was seriously injured in a car accident during his youth and as a result, he is confined to a wheelchair for life. Even though he is disabled, he does not let that get in the way of living his life to the fullest – he pretty much approaches life with a very upbeat, positive attitude. To be honest, I don’t know anything about Nathan except that he’s a newbie and this was pretty much his first significant role in a series. I liked his performance though and I must say that for a newbie, his acting is not bad – in fact, a few of his scenes actually moved me to tears (which rarely ever happens when I’m watching a newbie performance). Sounds like I will be paying more attention to his performances in the future!


Candy Chang (Gan Jing Jing) – Candy plays a trainee / intern at the hospital, but I honestly can’t remember what her specialty was – all I remember is that she is good friends with Him Law’s character Pui Chung and later becomes Yat Hong’s girlfriend (though they’re only together for a few hours due to Yat Hong dying in an accident). I don’t know a whole lot about Candy either except that she’s another one of those beauty pageant winners, though I do remember that she was one of the ‘Star Ladies’ in the variety show “All Star Glam Exam” hosted by Grasshoppers. TVB must really like her because this was her very first TV series, yet she already had a significant role (I guess you could say she was third female lead after Tavia and Mandy)...hmmmm….well, in terms of performance, I actually don’t think she was that great– the way she said her dialogue, I could totally tell that she was a newbie. I guess I would say that her performance was ‘tolerable’, though I’m not too interested in watching future performances from her – I’m pretty much going to wait until she proves herself with her performances in upcoming series.


Gigi Wong (Wong Siu Ying) – the mother of Yat Kin and Yat Hong; she works at the hospital as a cleaning lady (I think?). Gigi was absolutely brilliant in her role, especially during the episodes when her beloved son Yat Hong is injured and subsequently dies – her portrayal of a mother’s reaction upon losing her son was soooo convincing and heartwrenching, I couldn’t help crying throughout all of those scenes. Of course, I’m not surprised that Gigi put in such a good performance because my mom is actually a fan of hers and I’ve been watching her series since I was little – the younger generation may not realize it, but Gigi was actually one of TVB’s most popular fa dans in the 70s and back then, was known for her acting as well as her looks. She was retired for many decades and only returned to the industry recently (well, relatively recently – about 10 years ago). I loved her performance in this series – another great performance from a veteran actress!


Derek Kok (Lui Siu Yik) – Derek plays a nurse (yes, a nurse) at the hospital; he is Yat Kin’s good friend and is a single father with a young son named Lung Jai. To be honest, I really didn’t see the point of Derek’s character in this series – I mean, he has a relatively decent amount of screen time, but he really doesn’t do much to advance the storyline. For me, it seemed that pretty much anyone could have been placed in his role because the character itself was kind of useless (except to provide some comedic relief every once in awhile) – in fact, his character could have been cut out of the series completely and I doubt anyone would have noticed the difference! Derek is one of the most underrated actors in TVB – I grew up watching his performances throughout the 80s / 90s and he’s one of the best ‘green leaf’ actors from that generation that is still around. It’s really a pity that TVB has been giving him sucky roles in the past few years (can’t remember any significant or ‘breakout’ role that he’s had in the past 5 years or so) – not sure what they have against him (probably TVB politics at play again), but I really wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up leaving TVB due to the lack of recognition for his talent.


Wilson Tsui (Fan Chi Ngok) – Wilson plays Tavia’s father and also happens to be a renown neurosurgeon; he’s also Yat Kin’s (Kenneth) teacher and mentor. Wilson is another great veteran actor from the 80s generation whom I also grew up watching. He’s very talented and his acting skills are excellent, but personality wise, he’s not the vocal type and so all these years, he’s pretty much been relegated to playing either villain roles or insignificant fourth/fifth line roles. If I remember correctly, this is one of the few times that he actually plays a famous doctor and I actually feel he did a great job (though there are audiences out there who feel that he doesn’t fit the role). Whatever the case, I liked his performance and especially enjoyed his chemistry with Tavia and Kenneth. Unfortunately though, we won’t be seeing him in any more TVB series because his contract already expired last month and he has already signed with Ricky Wong’s CTI. Such a shame – another talented actor who served TVB for over 30 years has left the company!


Raymond Cho (Chin Ho Tak) – Ray is a cardiothoracic surgeon and is Yu Jai’s superior (after she switches to that specialty midway through the series). Ray didn’t have very much screen time in the series (darn!) but the few times he did appear, he made a significant impact. Even though he doesn’t appear too often, I still enjoyed his performance in the series and absolutely loved his character – the scene in episode 23 (or was it 24?) where Yu Jai goes to Dr. Chin’s house for dinner and he advises her to tell her family about her illness was one of my favorite scenes from the series – the interaction between him and the actress who played his wife during that scene was absolutely sincere and natural! Of course, I was hoping to see more of Ray, since he’s one of my favorite actors, but given the storyline and the huge cast, I could understand why his screen time would be limited. Oh well….


Kyle Tse (Andy Law On Dik) – Kyle plays an orthopedic first year trainee; in the series, there was actually a storyline involving him and his grandmother (played by Helena Law). Just like with the others, I don’t know much about Kyle except that he’s a newbie and his acting definitely needs polish (he had the same problem as Candy in that the acting was a bit stiff and the way he said the dialogue made it obvious he lacked experience). I actually didn’t mind his performance, but that’s because he had the benefit of acting opposite Helena Law, who was absolutely EXCELLENT in her role as his grandmother. The scenes between Andy and his grandmother were able to move me to tears primarily because of the way the story was written as well as the awesome acting of Helena – if it weren’t for her, those scenes probably would not have had as huge of an impact.


Paisley Wu (Tou Kar Mun) – Paisley plays the Head Nurse (not sure if that’s the right term) at the hospital and is Lui Siu Yik’s superior (she becomes his girlfriend later on). Just like with Derek’s character, Paisley’s character Tou Kar Mun is another one of those characters whom I feel didn’t need to be in the series. The storyline involving her and Derek’s Siu Yik was a little weird and really did not have much to do with the overall plot / storyline at all – to me, it was pretty much a filler. This was one area of the otherwise awesome script that I didn’t like – I would rather that they remove the storyline involving Derek and Paisley completely and instead spend more time on the other sub-stories. If I were the writer, I definitely would have written this piece differently. With regard to Paisley’s performance – did anyone else think that her performance was a bit too OTT? The way she talked sounded like a little girl throwing a tantrum – I sort of got annoyed with her voice after awhile….maybe she should stick to her ‘day job’ as a singer rather than trying to venture into acting….


“The Hippocratic Crush” versus “Healing Hands”?

A lot of people have been trying to compare THC to one of TVB’s classic doctor series, “Healing Hands” (HH) – in fact, the HK Media now refer to Kenneth as ‘the new generation Paul Ching’ (Lawrence Ng’s character in HH)! If you want to hear my honest opinion – THC is a way better series than HH. I’m actually one of the few people who was not fond of the original HH in the first place (don’t shoot me!) – all these year’s, I’ve only watched the HH trilogy once and pretty much refuse to re-watch any of the installments because I just didn’t like the series overall. The main reason is because despite the strong cast (many of whom were my favorites at the time), I felt that the storyline in HH was way too “messy” and didn’t flow. And the way the relationships were done in that series was so lame (please don’t get me started on the whole Paul and Jackie thing in HH…absolutely hated that storyline!) – I didn’t feel anything for any of the characters and was pretty much annoyed with most of the series (which is why I only watched it once – didn’t want to frustrate myself by sitting through the series again). In THC, the characters and their relationships were written in such a way that we as audiences were able to relate on an emotional level.

The reason why THC is better than HH in my opinion is because THC portrays doctors more realistically – the premise of the series is that doctors are ordinary people and will go through the same trials and tribulations that the rest of us do -- whereas HH goes with the more ‘stereotypical’ approach of putting doctors on a ‘pedestal’ as a very unattainable and unapproachable profession. For example: in THC, when the doctors get off work, they go home and spend time with their family or ‘hang out’ at each other’s homes or play basketball (or some other sport) together….in HH, when the doctors get off work, they all meet up at some fancy bar to sip red wine and chase after pretty girls – the impression I get is that they’re pretty much ‘living the good life’, which is not in line with what we ordinary folks do in our daily lives.


CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

As I said earlier in this review, “The Hippocratic Crush” is one of the best series that I’ve seen from TVB in years – from the script to the acting to the overall production, the series was very well-put together. It’s been awhile since I’ve watched a series where there was very little to complain about -- even the ending to the series was done well, which is VERY RARE when it comes to TVB series (as a point of reference: out of all of 2011’s series, I only liked the ending to 1 series -- all the rest I didn’t care for).

I actually loved the way they did the ending to THC – it was not tragic, but it wasn’t ‘happily ever after’ either…the way they did it was perfect and very fitting to the overall theme of the series. In fact, I loved the ending so much that after the finale aired, I kept re-watching that last scene several times (couldn’t get enough of Yat Kin and Yu Jai holding hands and calling each other ‘husband’ and ‘wife’…LOL).

As much as I will miss the ‘Yu-Tau’ pairing now that the series is over, I’m actually not too keen on watching a sequel to this series that continues their story, primarily because I already know that TVB is going to completely screw things up by going the ‘love triangle’ route (which is their typical formula). I’m sure many fans of the series will agree with me when I say that I don’t want to see ‘Yu-Tau’ separated in the sequel – and I absolutely don’t want the series to follow in the “Healing Hands” mold where the relationships are poorly done in the sequels and the male lead ends up having one girlfriend after another because his other half always ends up dying (argh….that was the other thing I hated about HH).

In terms of recommendation – it’s obvious that I loved this series and would absolutely recommend watching it, especially since my review only ‘scratches the surface’ and doesn’t even do justice to how good the series is. My only real complaint overall is that the series was way too short, resulting in some parts being a bit too rushed (episode 21 is a great example of this) -- there were certain sub-stories that had so much potential and could have been further developed, but weren’t. They definitely should have made this series 30 episodes instead of 25 – an additional 5 episodes would have been perfect to develop a few of the sub-stories and tie up some of the loose ends a little better.

Lastly, I wanted to make one comment regarding ratings and awards. Those who know me know that I’ve never been one to care about ratings or awards (especially TVB awards) because they mean absolutely nothing to me and will never affect my opinion of a series. However, seeing that both ratings and awards mean a lot in the HK entertainment industry and can pretty much be considered the ‘determining factor’ on whether someone becomes popular or not (it’s sad, but that’s the reality unfortunately), then for the sake of the artists and the crew who did such an awesome job in this series, I sincerely hope that both the artists and the series will get the recognition they deserve come awards time (at least the ratings for the series were high, so that definitely helps!). Of course, with TVB’s stupid politics, there’s no telling what will happen – but seriously, if no one gets any recognition at all during awards time (which I hope doesn’t happen), I am really going to consider boycotting TVB!

4 comments:

  1. lovely read!! I also adored the series! my question is, would you watch the sequel?? Lawrence Ng will likely join the cast and he has requested that he would not like to break up Yu-Tau.... your thoughts on the HH-THC crossover??

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  2. @sandalls:

    Thanks for your comment.

    With regard to the sequel -- no, I probably won't watch it because I was pretty much opposed to a sequel from the beginning (prior to the news of Lawrence joining). I'm one of those who can't stand sequels, especially the ones that 'try to' continue the original series' storyline or at least keep the same characters. There have been very few sequels over the years that I feel were better than the originals -- unfortunately, majority of the sequels that TVB does are just a poor excuse to piggyback off the success of the original...I'm sure that with the THC sequel, TVB is going to screw it up big time (especially since part of the reason for the series success was the script and both main scriptwriters already left TVB).

    With regard to Lawrence possibly joining the cast of the sequel -- I don't care if he says he won't break up Yu-Tau...it's just going to be weird and awkward having him in there. I'm one of the few people who really didn't like the whole Healing Hands franchise in the first place (despite the great cast, the storyline of the series was so-so...and with each sequel, the series got worse and worse) and never really felt anything for any of the characters in any of the installments....since I most likely won't watch a HH sequel, I'm definitely not keen on watching a HH-THC crossover series....

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  3. Good comment. I watched Tavia's series yrs before but later found bore. And after watching the other truth and THC I am back as her fan again. I support And vote for Tavia, Kenneth & THC as best this yr. let us vote for them. Good serie. Good casts. Good job Tavia & Kenneth. They are best couple on screen.

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    1. @Anonymous: Too bad TVB got rid of that Best Partners (aka Best Onscreen Couple) award years ago...otherwise, I would definitely root for 'Yu-Tau' for that award! :-)

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