Friday, June 21, 2013

ND Daily Exclusive: A different way of filming HK television series -- interview with the creators of HKTV’s new crime thriller “Borderline”

Here’s another interesting article from ND Daily where they interview the creators of HKTV’s new series Borderline and  find out from them some of the details involving in the ‘making’ of the series.  In the process, we also get to learn more about HKTV’s operations internally and the goals of the station in terms of production values and such.

I’m not going to comment much, as I feel the article really speaks for itself.   But I will say this – understanding now the behind-the-scenes effort that HKTV put into making each of their series, I definitely applaud and appreciate them more.  I’ve been following this free TV license issue thing for close to 2 years already and throughout the process, my respect for HKTV has continued to grow.  When I first read about some of the ‘non-traditional’ (in the context of HK series filming process) things that HKTV was doing to purposefully stand apart from rival TVB (i.e.:  100% complete scripts prior to filming, 8-12 hour workdays for employees, real location filming for all their series, catered full meals including 3 dishes + 1 soup for its filming crew, investing in high quality filming equipment that is regularly used in Hollywood productions, etc.), I was already thoroughly impressed with the efforts, especially given how ‘different’ the methods were from the standard HK series production methods employed by TVB.  Now, after reading the below article, I’m even more impressed!

Wow – when Ricky Wong said that his company takes the production of TV series very seriously, he truly wasn’t kidding!   Really, let’s be honest here – how many other local TV stations can you think of (not counting Hollywood) that would go to such great lengths (research / study filming techniques, focus group studies, series re-shoots, trial screenings, etc.) as well as invest so much time and money to produce quality series?  And not just that, but pretty much making their productions primarily ‘audience-driven?  

Lastly, I want to emphasize one thing – no matter how much people may dislike Ricky Wong because of his arrogant / aggressive personality, irreverent rhetoric, or whatever reason, we can’t deny the fact that he and his company (HKTV) have put in tremendous effort into trying to ‘change’ the HK television industry for the better.  Speaking from the perspective of an audience / consumer -- no matter what I think of him as a person (I will admit that I still have reservations about him), I appreciate the efforts that have been made and will gladly give credit where it is due.  Regardless of whether HKTV ends up getting their license or not in the future, they have already made a positive impact on the HK television industry – that should at least count for something!

P.S.:  For the record – I’m one of those ‘overseas’ audiences who is already used to watching Hollywood productions, so for people like us, the stuff that HKTV is doing might not seem like a big deal (since those methods are ‘standard fare’ in Hollywood).  But at the same time, I’m also part of the HK audience (since I’m also a long-time follower of HK entertainment and TVB) and if I look at this whole issue purely from an HK audience’s perspective, all the stuff HKTV is attempting to do is truly ‘different’ and ‘groundbreaking’.  [Just wanted to clarify this so as to avoid unnecessary confusion for those who may not be regular readers of my blog.]


ND Daily Exclusive:  A different way of filming HK television series -- interview with the creators of HKTV’s new crime thriller Borderline

Source:  ND Daily News

Translation:  llwy12

Article originally published June 19th, 2013

It has been more than 1200 days since HKTV (formerly CTI) chairman Ricky Wong (王维基) submitted his application for a free-to-air television license to the HK government – as of right now, the license still has not been issued.

The HK television industry has seen a pretty dismal ratings slump recently – with the lack of ‘refreshing’ series for HK audiences to be excited about in recent months, what choice do audiences have except to either turn off their television sets completely or just leave the television on unattended while they go about their chores and tend to other more important matters?

Actually, there IS another choice!  During their arduous 3 year (and counting) wait for a license, HKTV has been quite busy – they currently have 8 completed series in their inventory, with additional series still filming.  Not one to sit idly and ‘wait for the tea to get cold’, Ricky Wong started up a ‘Like’ campaign on Facebook last week that featured links to short trailer clips of the first episode of his series on Youtube, ultimately culminating in a poll that allowed netizens to choose which series they wanted to watch most.  The result:  crime thriller Borderline (警界线) – starring Liu Kai Chi (廖啟), Dominic Lam (林嘉), Lawrence Chou (周俊), etc. – garnered 3000 of the 7000 votes submitted, making it the ‘winner’ amongst the 8 series.  Therefore, as promised, HKTV premiered the complete, 42 minute commercial-free first episode of Borderline on Youtube last Friday night at 9:30pm (HKT).  Within 48 hours, the first episode garnered 300,000 hits on Youtube and as of yesterday (6/18/13), that number has risen to more than 380,000 hits, which is equivalent to an estimated 6 to 7 ratings points in the television world.   In addition, the feedback [toward the series]  from netizens on Youtube and Facebook have been overwhelmingly positive.   Indeed, the enthusiastic response from netizens has been very encouraging for the HKTV staff and as a result, they are considering the possibility of further on-line ‘activity’ for the series in the near future. [TN:  I take this to mean that HKTV might air additional episodes of the series online in the future?  Hope so!]

Last week, ND Daily’s reporter visited HKTV’s headquarters and interviewed 2 of the ‘brains’ behind the series Borderline: HKTV’s creative director Chu King Kei (朱镜祺) and main producer So Man Chung (蘇萬). [TN: both Chu Sir and So Man Chung used to work for TVB – see their descriptions below at the end of the article.]  Together, the 2 of them provide us with detailed insight into some of the work involved in producing the crime drama and also attempt to explain, from their perspective, the reason behind the premiere episode’s tremendous success.

As a sidenote – you may be wondering why we [ND Daily] are paying so much attention to a series that hasn’t even seen the light of day on HK’s television screens yet?   One reason is because out of the 8 HKTV series previewed so far, Borderline’s strong, fast pace and spectacular movie quality action scenes give viewers a sense of freshness.  The most important reason though is actually all the behind-the-scenes effort that the HKTV production team put into creating their series:  in the past 1000+ days, the HKTV staff weren’t just sitting around helplessly waiting for their license – rather, they’ve been actively doing a lot of non-traditional ‘pre-production’ work, such as specialized ‘focus group’ studies, audience trial screenings and feedback meetings, sample  re-shoots of American TV series, research and study of movie-filming techniques, etc…..all of this is part of HKTV’s ‘attempt’ to change the stagnant situation that the HK television industry has been in for the past decade.  With that said though, HKTV will be the first to admit that it’s impossible for HK series to change to a purely Westernized method of filming right away – but with the current feeble state of the HK television industry as well as audiences growing tired of the unchanging ‘TVB method’ to drama series, HKTV should at least deserve some credit for their well-intentioned ‘attempt’ at filming a “new type of HK series”.

PART A:   What exactly does a “new type of HK series” entail?

To help us understand HKTV’s direction and focus, Chu King Kei and So Man Chung provided a detailed ‘summary’ of Ricky Wong’s vision and instructions when it comes to producing quality TV series:

** TV series can’t be boring -- the dialogue needs to be short and precise so that audiences don’t feel like they’re ‘listening’ to the TV, the visual effects need to make audiences feel like they are ‘watching’ TV.

Recently, TVB experienced a ‘meltdown’ when a few of their ‘heavyweight’ series failed to garner both high ratings and good word of mouth, with audiences lamenting that TVB’s series have “lost their past splendor” and instead have resorted to becoming “housewife soap operas” and “highbrow literary series”.  In the face of such criticism, how should a production team go about finding a path straight to audiences’ hearts while at the same time ensuring they create a high quality, meticulous product with a captivating story?

HKTV’s creative director Chu King Kei (Chu Sir) explains it this way:  “Let’s take TVB’s Beauty at War (金枝慾孽) for example – I feel that it definitely was a breakthrough series, but unfortunately, there were too many ‘personal’ elements in it.  [Scriptwriter] Chow Yuk Ming (周旭) and [producer] Jonathan Chik (戚其) liked to use Kunqu opera and the ‘rumor’ theme to ‘package’ the series, but that only caused the ‘dramatic’ element to be lowered.  That type of series requires audiences to pay careful attention and follow along closely as the drama slowly unfolds – in other words, it’s not much of a ‘commercial’ work.”

Chu Sir continues:  “Ricky Wong requires us to produce works that are more ‘commercial’ in nature.  For example, he requires us to have the best artistry and aesthetic effects in every series, so we have to pay very close attention to everything – we have to use the best cameras and ensure that things such as use of lenses, editing, color scheme, etc. meet the highest level standard – our goal is to give the series a ‘movie’ effect.  First and foremost though, the number one requirement is that the series cannot be ‘boring’ to the point that audiences don’t want to watch.  It doesn’t matter if the production team feels that the series is of high quality – the audiences have to feel the same way in order for it to count.  Given this standard, we pretty much have to edit every single one of our series multiple times – for example, with Borderline, we did a lot of editing and cut a lot of stuff out so that the series overall is more compact.  A good thing about this method is that it helps you further understand what exactly about this series is most appealing to audiences.  Also, in a sense, we are trying to change audience’s habit of ‘listening’ to the TV rather than watching it, hence our huge emphasis on the best visual effects – if we are successful in this area, then there is no need for unnecessary dialogue.  These past 6 months, one of the biggest things that Mr. Wong has been trying to do is make our series more ‘Westernized’.”

** The first 15 minutes of a series is crucial and determines its ‘life’ or ‘death’; TVB is the established ‘first wife’, how can a ‘third party’ compete?  Got to be overly excited and zealous!

Last week, HKTV put up 5 to 10 minute trailers of their 8 completed series on Youtube and from the number of ‘hits’ they received, determined which series was the most popular.  For these types of trailers, most production teams would do a ‘special feature’ version where all the best parts of the series are included in those few minutes, however HKTV chose to do the opposite:  for Borderline, they chose to air the unedited first 11 minutes of the series and to everyone’s surprise, the clip garnered 44,000 ‘Likes’ on Facebook within the very first day it was posted.

Towards the popularity of Borderline after only viewing the first 11 minutes of the series, Chu Sir explains:  “It’s no secret that ‘the first 15 minutes of a series determines its life or death’ – this concept applies to HK series as well, it’s just that most production teams don’t really pay close enough attention to this.  American series actually place heavy emphasis on the first 15 minutes – the competition is greater over there because 1) there are a lot of TV stations to choose from and 2) American audiences have too many good things to watch, so they are a lot more selective and picky when it comes to this stuff.  When I used to work at a TV station in Taiwan, I felt the same way.  Taiwan has more than 100 TV stations, so audiences could sit at home with their remote and switch back and forth between channels –they could watch a minute of a series and if they don’t like it, switch to something else.  Knowing this, we put a lot of thought into the opening 15 minutes of Borderline – we wanted to make sure that within the first 10 minutes, there was enough suspense to make audiences feel that the entire segment is worth watching; every 5 minutes or so we would present a crisis, an intense moment, or situation that moves audiences.”

Why pack so much suspense in the first 15 minutes?  Chu Sir explains:  “Because we believe in competition!  It’s necessary to make the first 15 minutes such high density to ensure that audiences remain engaged and don’t want to take their eyes off the screen. We’re fighting a life and death battle here!”

Chu Sir shared the analogy that Ricky Wong often used:  “Mr. Wong often tells us that audiences will naturally have an emotional attachment to TVB, after all they’ve been ‘together’ for so long, like a couple that has been married for more than 40 years – as the newly joined ‘third party’, how can we compete?  If you want to pull the audiences over to your side, you need put on the charm – this requires a lot of hard work as well as lots of energy and commitment.  Sometimes, you may need to be overly zealous and excited.”

** A different way of watching TV series – make the series feel like a movie.

After the first episode of Borderline premiered on Youtube last Friday, HKTV also uploaded the episode to Tudou and Youku so that Mainland audiences would be able to watch as well.  ND Daily’s reporter gathered together some of the comments that Mainland audiences posted on sites such as Sina Weibo, Douban, etc. after watching the first episode and overall the comments have been positive.  A few examples of the comments from Mainland audiences:  “The picture quality is awesome, the movie-like feel is great, gives me the urge to once again turn on the television and chase series everyday;  the editing, lighting, props, story, characters, etc. leave TVB behind by miles;  the veteran actors draw us in with their fine acting, the dramatic tension is just right, the gun battle scenes feel like they’re from a movie;  after watching TVB’s ‘traditional formula’ series for decades, I would like to give Ricky Wong some encouragement and hope that audiences have more options…”

After reading through all the comments, ND Daily’s reporter was surprised to discover that the feedback from audiences coincided perfectly with the HKTV production team’s ‘original intention’ as relayed to us when we interviewed the series’ director So Man Chung last week.  Chung Gor feels that audiences who enjoy watching movies and overseas (i.e. American) series are used to ‘battling wits’ with the directors and scriptwriters – they like to take apart each scene, catch on to every underlying signal or message, etc. and from doing so, they find joy in the viewing experience.  HK audiences on the other hand are completely opposite -- they’ve essentially been ‘spoiled’ by decades of watching HK ‘formula’ series and feel that they should just be able to sit at home and watch without having to think and still be able to understand what’s going on. Indeed, the era of ‘blindly’ watching series should be gone already….with Borderline, HKTV is attempting to give HK audiences a different type of viewing experience – a TV series with a movie-like feel.

Below are a few more ‘guidelines’ that the HKTV production team must keep in mind in the course of putting together their series:

** Our series should maintain a fast pace – think of it as targeting audiences with fast CPUs.

**   Don’t give the characters too much dialogue, as the audiences shouldn’t be able to see through what the characters are thinking; audiences will feel that handling the dialogue this way is ‘cool’.

** Don’t make the dialogue too long, one line after another, and have the artists speak slower – this helps to draw out the emotional factor a bit more

** We sometimes put the camera at unconventional angles, completely opposite of what the audiences may be used to seeing – this helps to draw in a more ‘movie-like’ feel and changes audiences’ viewing experience.

** We often utilize a nonlinear, balanced editing method for certain scenes that will make audiences feel as though they’ve just been ‘played’, but then when they figure things out, it gives them a huge sense of satisfaction.

PART B:   What type of pre-production ‘homework’ is the production team required to do?

With the goal of pursuing a more ‘Westernized’ method of filming HK series, the HKTV team has been observing the filming methods of overseas series (i.e. American series) and instituting similar ‘prep work’ processes with their production team.

** Scriptwriters are required to write a ‘biography’ for each character that never makes it into the final production.

When it comes to the scripts for their series, the standard is very high.  In addition to the full script, each scriptwriter is required to write a complete ‘character biography’.  Chu Sir explains:  “When we were at TVB, they would also require us to write what we call a ‘script bible’ (天書), which basically consisted of a plot summary and brief character descriptions – each department would utilize this to go about their business.  But here at HKTV, we go much more in-depth than that:  we actually focus on the meticulous details of each character, to the point that we are essentially writing a ‘biography’ of the character – for example, what is this character’s personality, what has he done from the time he was born until now, who are his parents and where are they from, what are their backgrounds, where did he go to school, when did he have his first relationship and what was that experience like, etc….all the details.  The important thing to note is that these character biographies serve as the scriptwriters’ ‘homework’ only – none of these details make it into the final production.  In fact, we don’t even include any of these details in the plot summary!  The only people who end up reading these biographies are the production team (producer, director, etc.) and the artists who portray the characters.  Doing these character biographies forces us to get an in-depth understanding of each character so that even if it’s only the developmental stage, the dramatic element is already there.”

** Production team is required to re-shoot (re-enact) scenes from American series to understand what the challenges are to adapting those filming methods.

During the course of the interview, Chu King Kei also revealed another detail involved in HKTV’s productions:  “One of the ‘projects’ that we had to do was spend 4 days exploring the success and failure of certain American series.  Very few TV stations will do this kind of thing, but here at HKTV, they truly do allow the production team to halt production for a few days just to do this kind of research and analysis.  Not only that, we were also asked to try re-shooting scenes from certain American series ourselves and in the process of doing so, identify any challenges / obstacles we see.  Of course, the most obvious challenge is money, as the production costs for American series is 10x more than ours – outside of that though, what are the biggest obstacles to being able to film HK series in a similar fashion?  Is it a problem with lack of proper skill and technique?  Is it lack of knowledge?  How do they handle storyline and plot development?  Understanding all of these things helps us learn how produce better series.”

** Audience involvement in production of series through utilization of ‘focus groups’

Most of the general public seems to be under the impression that in the past 3 years, HKTV’s staff hasn’t done much except sit around waiting for their license to be issued and that the series they have completed are just sitting in the warehouse collecting dust.  After visiting HKTV’s headquarters, ND  Daily’s reporters can tell you directly that this ‘impression’ is entirely false.  In reality, the HKTV team has been quite busy these past 3 years, working on various projects outside of filming series. 

Starting in November 2011, the HKTV production team divided themselves up into 8 teams, with each team focused on the production details of a particular series.   One of the most interesting ‘exercises’ that these teams went through was working with specialized ‘focus groups’ --  groups consisting of audience members who would give feedback on the series being filmed throughout the entire production process.  This was one of the methods they had learned that American series production teams often utilized.   In accordance with HKTV’s philosophy of being ‘HK audience’s station’, there is heavy emphasis on audience participation and them having a say on how the productions turn out.  Therefore, the production team is constantly encouraged to interact with audiences and are provided various opportunities to do so – one of these opportunities is in the form of ‘focus groups’.

Amongst all of HKTV’s series, Borderline went through the most ‘focus group’ exercises and as a result, the series’ total points were the highest amongst the audiences surveyed.  The first group consisted of audiences who only watch TVB series – they rated the series an average of 7.8 points.  The second group consisted of audiences who watch both TVB series as well as overseas series (i.e. series from U.S. and other countries) – they rated the series at 8 points.  Lastly, the third group consisted of audiences who don’t watch free TV at all and pretty much only watched overseas series – their score was 8.4 points.  This exercise was an eye-opener for the production team – back when they all worked for TVB, it was pretty much a given that the younger audiences would be the most difficult to attract and retain, since majority of them are already too used to watching stuff on a computer.  But with the results of the focus group exercises as well as the feedback on Borderline’s airing, the production team realized that it actually IS possible to draw in the younger audiences.

** Film a pilot episode first, then hold audience trial screenings before deciding whether to continue with the series

Ricky Wong has always been known as an expert businessman who is very adept at his craft – he understands very well how to utilize scientific knowledge and methods to obtain information and feedback from customers.  Utilizing these skills, Ricky Wong instituted the concept of having the production team film a pilot episode of a series first, then hold audience trial screenings to obtain feedback and from there, determine whether to continue filming the series or abandon it.  The first series they tried this ‘pilot episode’ concept with is Flow of the Years (歲月樓) [starring Ha Yu (夏雨), Paw Hee Ching (鲍起静), Felix Wong (黃日), Leila Tong (), etc.].  After filming the pilot episode, HKTV held a large-scale ‘trial screening’ for the series, inviting approximately 120 audience members to participate – after watching, the audience had to fill out a detailed survey.  The production team would then reflect on the feedback from those surveys and make improvements to their filming process, script, plot, etc. in accordance with it.  This process is actually very similar to what American production companies do with their TV series – they film a pilot episode first, then do market analysis via surveys from audiences before deciding whether to continue with the series.  This is another example of HKTV’s goal of ‘Westernizing’ their filming methods.

** With Borderline’s premiere on Youtube, if majority feedback is negative, then immediate changes will be made…

The premiere of Borderline’s first episode last Friday launched another round of audience interaction with the HKTV production team.  The series’ producer So Man Chung admits that they (the production team) already anticipated a positive response to the first episode:  “Actually, back when we aired the 11 minute trailer clip, we received feedback almost immediately.  The netizens on Youtube and Facebook were actually pretty fierce – they are able to speak freely with no burdens and certainly are not going to worry about giving you any face!  Based on the feedback we received at that time, we did a lot of self-reflection – could it be that there was truly a problem with the way we structured the series?  Perhaps we need to adjust the way we handled certain scenes?  Actually, the first episode of the series that we aired on Youtube last Friday is different from the original version that we filmed internally – I made some additional edits to the episode and cut out 2 major scenes.  A few audiences also complained that some of Lawrence Chou’s lines weren’t spoken clearly enough, so I had him come in and re-dub some of his scenes.”

Chu Sir also praised this method of interacting with the audiences and making changes based on their feedback:  “This is a new, refreshing experience for us – it’s actually quite exciting!  The reactions from netizens are more forthcoming and real, since they can speak without burden – production teams should face these criticisms head-on and not be afraid to make improvements when things aren’t right.  The direction given to us by the company is that whatever can be changed should be changed.  If there is any one thing that a lot of people complain about as being ‘not good’, then it needs to be changed immediately!”

** At TVB, the production team would only receive survey results every couple of years

The ideas of ‘focus groups’ and filming pilot episodes have been in existence for a long time already and the concept of audience surveys is often utilized by many of HK’s large-scale media companies.  Hasn’t TVB ever done these types of surveys or realized their importance?  Chu Sir responds:  “To be honest, when I was at TVB, I had never heard about ‘focus groups’ – I was never involved in any matters related to market research and analysis, so my knowledge of this stuff was very limited.  My understanding is that TVB did do phone surveys and there would be reports summarizing those results every so often, but the production team never got the chance to interact so closely with audiences and actually see / hear their feedback.  It’s possible that the colleagues in the sales and marketing department and the executives [at TVB] did have interaction with audiences and get to see the reports, but perhaps they felt it wasn’t important for the rest of the production team to know the results.  I remember when I was one of the head scriptwriters for TVB, I would receive 1 or 2 reports every couple of years that summarized how audiences felt about certain series, but it was nowhere near as detailed as what we do here at HKTV.”


About the series Borderline (警界)

Borderline is yet another story about an ‘undercover cop’, however in the series, there isn’t just one undercover agent.   Liu Kai Chi, Dominic Lam, Lawrence Chou, Leila Tong, and Joman Chiang share the 5 lead roles in the series.  Amongst the group, one of the characters is a ‘marginalized’ cop who spent12 years working as an undercover agent (Liu Kai Chi), another is an experienced left-handed sniper (Dominic), another is a hot-tempered cop who was once framed for a murder he didn’t commit (Lawrence), the fourth is a spinster female cop who has never used a gun before, but ends up firing 3 shots that become critical to solving the case (Leila), and lastly is a female senior inspector who is also a military weapons expert (Joman).  Together, this group of ‘cops and criminals’ will match wits and strength and in the process, defy the boundaries between ‘black’ and ‘white’.


TN:  Below is the translation of the ‘official’ plot summary that HKTV released back in August 2012 when they held the official press conference for the series.  I chose to include it because it gives a bit more detailed summary of the plot:

Plot Summary:  
Haivng a clear separation between black and white, placing heavy emphasis on discipline – both are the most important ‘boundaries’ for a cop. But if those boundaries are broken through and cops collaborate with crooks, the investigative process as well as the probability of cracking the case becomes limitlessly greater. A 12 year undercover agent living on the edge, a hot-tempered cop who once broke out of jail after he was framed for crime, a ‘King of Robbers’ who was once jailed for a crime he didn’t commit and now specializes in robbing crooks, a ‘spinster’ female cop who had never fired a single shot in her life and relies on her wits as well as life experiences to ‘figure out’ criminals, a fugitive from the law who is obsessed with female cops but always puts righteousness ahead of all else, and finally a high-ranking female officer who is also a military weapons expert – together, they will match wits as well as match strength. Out of this will come not only love, hate, and sparks, it will also break all boundaries – joining forces to crack cold cases and locate criminals, it creates an entirely different battlefield. Through blood, tears, life, and death, these most ‘hot-blooded’ of cops and criminals manifest the brilliance of human nature, leaving behind one touching, heart-stopping story after another.


PROFILE of the creative team behind Borderline:

Chu King Kei (朱镜祺):  Known as ‘Chu Sir’ to those in the industry, Chu King Kei was formerly one of TVB’s ‘golden’ scriptwriters.  Throughout his 25 year career at TVB, Chu Sir participated in the production of numerous series, including E.U. (學警狙), Burning Flame (烈火雄), La Femme Desperado (女人唔易), You’re Hired (絕代商), etc.   Amongst those, Chu Sir’s most representative work is E.U., as he is credited for creating the character of ‘Laughing Gor’.  Chu Sir is currently one of HKTV’s creative directors (aka scriptwriter).

So Man Chung (蘇萬):  Known as ‘MC’ to his colleagues, So Man Chung was formerly one of TVB’s main directors.  In his long career at TVB, he also participated in the production of numerous series, including Triumph in the Skies (衝上雲), Detective Investigation Files I-IV (刑事偵緝檔I-IV), Lives of Omission (潛行狙), etc.  So Man Chung is currently one of HKTV’s main directors (aka producer).


  1. Thanks for the article translation. wonder Lawrence is speaking better than the trailer :P ...
    I already watched the first episode. Meant to comment on the other article but nvm...

    IMO, it was good, I didn't fast forward (well, I did a lot of FF in TVB series). But I dont like the editing in the first episode. Im not an expert in analysing dramas or acting but what I felt when watching it was that the transitions between scenes were not that smooth.

    I like, however, the fast-moving plot. And that they are not afraid to kill of characters. Although I dont think they will kill off any of the 5 leads that soon.

    Im happy with the background settings, the characters and the plot so far. My fav character so far is Liu Kai Chi. Leila have yet to appear so cant comment on that.

    1. Still need to finish this article preview posting more comments.
      I totally agree with you! I forward almost every TVB series/episode that I watch! I never used to do that with their classic series such as DIF1-4.

      lol I really like how they noticed the habit of audience, including myself, listening to the tv/series and multitasking rather than actually watching it!

    2. Oddly enough I never do that with American TV shows. I'm even willing to rewatch their episodes several times without forwarding that's the quality that HKTV should aim for!

      I remember I only rewatched DIF1-4 many times and several ATV series such as Good Old Days, My Date With A Vampire trilogy, Project Ji Xiang, etc Mostly because Joey Meng's husband Chan13 is such an amazing scriptwriter and the acting was always solid.

      Though their failure in ratings was probably due to poor filming equipment and visual quality. Audience complained so many times about the hue of their series that made them look old, yet they never changed it.

    3. @fangorn: You're welcome and thanks for commenting! Though I didn't have too much problem with the editing of the first episode, I do see where some of the transitions appear choppy and not as smooth....regardless though, still way way better than what we're used to seeing from the other station...

      Omg, totally agree with you on the FF thing...I've been finding myself doing that for pretty much every single TVB series nowadays (though to save time, I pretty much just skip watching entire episodes altogether...even doing so though, I still don't feel like I've missed anything...LOL). With the limited time that I do have in a day, I would much rather spend it watching worthwhile stuff rather than junk.

    4. @sport3888: Yup....TVB series have definitely deteriorated from how they were in the past (like they say in the article, TVB's series have lost their past splendor...). DIF 1-4 was also one of my favorite franchises and I've rewatched all 4 of those installments so much that i feel like I can recite the dialogue...haha! Also, with past TVB series, I would oftentimes get that 'chasing series' feeling, which had caused me to do some 'crazy' things such as finish watching an entire series in 1 sitting (don't ask me how, but I've actually done it many times before...LOL). Nowadays, I can barely stand watching a series in its entirety even ONCE, let alone multiple times!

    5. @fangorn: Uncle Chi's character is definitely my favorite so far as well! I've always loved him as an actor even back when he was doing supporting roles in TVB, so with him having the lead role in this series, I absolutely had to support! From the moment he appeared on screen (in that first gun fight scene) he was already so cool-looking....and absolutely loved that scene in the convalescent home (Yu Mo Lian was absolutely hilarious in that scene...LOL). I actually can't wait to see more of Uncle Chi and Dominic battling acting chops in future scenes.

      @sport3888: Speaking of DIF....seeing Uncle Chi playing a cop again in a TV series made me want to go pull DIF3 and rewatch his performance in there again (yes, that's how much i miss seeing him onscreen, especially since I don't watch HK movies as much as I used to anymore, so less opportunity for me to see him onscreen).

  2. Wow, after reading the article it just makes me appreciate the whole 42 minutes so much more. I agree that there are still some imperfections in the first episode like editing and the flow of the dialogue but the overall episode still blew me a away. I'm just curious how they will weave in the "case by case" aspect into it because right now it is very like "story" based. I suppose they will slowly bring it to full circle and resolve the initial "conflict" at the end and have the various cases build up to a final confrontation. I was totally not expecting a confrontation of the two sides in the very first episode. I'm also looking forward to how they handle Lawrence's life after the incident. A lot of things have changed since.

    Now I want to see what happens when you get HKTV to make an ancient series. I think they will only venture into that when they establish themselves in the industry, build their HQ and get their license. Ancient TVB series are a joke now and Mainland only gives good visuals but poor script or acting.

    I think they bring up a good point about Beauty at War. Although it is not necessarily "commercial" but I like that it is different from the mix. There should always be someone out there to take risks and make something unconventional or else we will never improve. I think Chik's series are best left at 20-25 episodes but what it feels like is that the execs at the top forced them to make a 30 episode series so they had to elongate the plot.

    @ Sport - that is so true about ATV! They really had decent scripts and good actors but they never had the chance to "shine" because HK is very appearance based. Plus they don't promote their artists properly so the audience never really knows who they are unlike TVB who shoves them in your face 24/7.

    1. @redmittens: Yup, that’s the exact same feeling I had – better appreciation for the entire 42 minutes of the episode! It’s definitely refreshing to see HKTV actually putting audience’s interests ahead of their own revenue / profit and also see them taking our input so seriously (unlike TVB who pretty much just denies everything and makes it sound like we – the audiences – are the problem!).

      I actually have a feeling that Lawrence’s story will be resolved earlier than expected in that he’s probably going to be put in jail and then somehow breaks out or is proven innocent and then the rest of the time will be dedicated to figuring who the real killer is (this is based on the plot summaries because every version of the summaries I’ve read seem to allude to Lawrence getting framed for murder as being ‘in the past’ rather than something that drags out over many episodes….this actually makes sense given how fast-paced the first episode was and how much story they were already able to cover within those first 42 minutes.

      I agree with you about the ancient series part. I also highly doubt that they are even going to try and tackle that until they get their license, since so much more investment is needed for ancient series, so it’s wise to wait until things are more stable. Writing-wise, I’m not too worried because HKTV seems to have most of TVB’s best scriptwriters working for them now and with a more ‘free’ environment, the outcome will likely be better than what TVB had.

      Regarding BAW – while I agree about the necessity for unconventional series, I still feel that Chow and Chik went a bit overboard with that series – meaning that they made that series way more ‘pretentious’ than it really needed to be. In comparisons, I actually liked When Heaven Burns much more because it didn’t try as hard to be ‘complicated’ and ‘pretentious’ – sure, WHB was a bit on the ‘deep’ side, but not in the sense of being ‘difficult to understand’ – the story and premise were pretty simple and the dialogue during many segments were very well-thought out and expressed – the ‘deep’ part refers to it making us reflect on the series’ underlying message and lessons and in a way, it made us think about our own lives / actions as well as those within society. BAW on the other hand, was too complicated – I think where that series failed is that Chow / Chik tried to use the WHB approach with that series, but it failed because it just doesn’t work as well for ancient series due to the more complicated dialogue and such.

      I also wasn’t too thrilled with Chow Yuk Ming’s response back a few months ago when he was interviewed by ND Daily and talked about why BAW failed. Sure, at least he was truthful, but still, when you say things like “we knew what the audiences wanted but we purposefully wanted to give them something else in the hopes that they will like it” and also “I was being selfish and put more of my own personal stuff into the script than I should have, completely neglecting the needs / desires of the audiences as well as the artists”, I think it shows that innately, the person cares more about getting personal satisfaction out of a script / series than fulfilling the needs of the audience. At the end of the day, there’s probably nothing ‘wrong’ with this persay, but it’s just way too much going on the opposite side of the spectrum in my opinion….

    2. @redmittens & sport3888: Agreed regarding ATV…though I also feel that another reason for their failure was the fact that they had bad management for decades who, time and time again, made bad decisions that really did them more harm than good. Related to this, I also feel that ATV management throughout the decades had too much of an ‘arrogant’ attitude and as a result, never felt the need to acknowledge issues or even attempt to rectify them until it was too late….unfortunately, I sort of see TVB going down that same path right now with the way their management has been the past 10-15 years or so. Too bad….