Friday, November 22, 2013

REPOST: Top Ten HIGHEST and LOWEST Rated TVB Series from the past 15-20 years (Part 1)

This article was actually written back in September 2013 and I had actually already posted up Part 1 not too long after the original article was published, however, before I got a chance to post up Part 2, I got sidetracked with the whole free TV license thing.  Now that things have settled a bit, I finally found some time to translate Part 2 – therefore, I figured it would be best to ‘re-post’ Part 1 so that people can read both parts together….besides, there are some important ‘disclaimers’ that I wrote when I posted Part 1 initially that also apply to Part 2 – this way, I don’t have to repeat myself for Part 2…LOL.

Anyway….those who didn’t get a chance to read Part 1 can do so now.  Part 2 will follow right after this…


Here’s an article that I came across earlier in the week.  It’s kind of a ‘two-parter’ special feature of sorts where Singpao (newspaper in HK) counts down the Top 10 highest rated and lowest rated TVB series from the past 15-20 years (the article doesn’t specify the dates, but based on the content, looks like the oldest series is from 1992).

I actually didn’t get the chance to ‘vet’ this article yet to see how ‘credible’ the information is – therefore, please take this article for what it is and don’t get too worked up if certain series are not on the list and you feel they should be (and vice versa).   I personally won’t vouch for the information in this article, but I will say this – I definitely have heard about a few of the series on the list having high or low ratings in the past, so there weren’t too many ‘shockers’ for me when I first read the article (for example:  The Intangible Truth being on the ‘lowest rated’ series list and Square Pegs being on the ‘highest rated’ series list are both accurate for sure, as the star of both series -- Roger Kwok -- had talked about this several years ago on his Be My Guest interview with Stephen Chan).

The one part I question about this article is the timeframe – I wish that it were more clearly defined.  It would make sense to say that the series were all from the past 15 years or so (late 90s to post-2000s), but then they threw in the series Key Man in there, which is from 1992  (which is why I threw the ‘20’ in the title of this post) – true, that was the only early 90s series on the list, but still, makes me wonder about the gap in timeframe.

Anyway, one thing to note – both the ‘highest’ and ‘lowest’ lists only count the ‘top ten’ series….so just because a series didn’t make the list doesn’t mean that it had good or bad ratings – it just didn’t get a ‘placement’ on the list based on mathematical calculation.  I emphasize this point because some people may misread the title and think that this is one of those ‘highest/lowest of all time’ type countdown, which is definitely NOT the case – there are actually NO 1980s or early 1990s series on this list at all.  [As a sidenote:  If you would like an idea of what the top rated TVB series were from the 1970s to early 1990s (1991 or so), check out this particular blog post that I wrote several years back – it’s a recap of the ‘top rated series countdown’ that TVB did themselves during one of their Anniversary Galas (complete with a video excerpt from the gala itself!): TVB 28th Anniversary Gala]

Back to the article…..part 1 will cover the ‘highest rated’ series while Part 2 will cover the ‘lowest rated’ series. (Again, both lists were put together by Singpao – I’m not too familiar with that particular newspaper, so not sure how ‘trustworthy’ it is…therefore, please don’t shoot me if the information is wrong….)

What are your thoughts on this list?  Agree?  Disagree?  Shocked?  Don’t care?


Top Ten HIGHEST Rated TVB Series 

Source:  Singpao

Translation: llwy12

In recent years, there has been an obvious downward trend in the ratings for TVB series.  Some of the criticisms towards TVB series that have arisen over the years include poor production quality, accusations of ‘copying’ ideas from other series, plot and story arcs being too ‘heavy taste’, etc. – the result is that TVB series have lost a lot of their previous luster and appeal.  In addition, the rapid advancement of technology such as the Internet -- which gives audiences the choice of viewing series online rather than on television -- plus TVB’s recent switch to a different ratings measurement company, all contributed to majority of TVB’s series not being able to reach the 30 point mark in the past year.  In fact, it has gotten to the point where even TVB’s own ‘TV King’ and ‘TV Queen’ winners aren’t able to pull the station out of its ratings rut, as evidenced by the disastrous ratings that both Bullet Brain (神探高倫布) [starring 3-time TV King winner Wayne Lai (黎耀祥)] and Beauty at War (金枝慾孽) [starring 2-time TV Queen winner Sheren Tang (鄧萃雯)] garnered.  With all these factors combined together, it’s no wonder that so many people have called into question the relevancy of TVB’s series in recent years.  It wasn’t until this past summer when the airline-themed Triumph in the Skies II (衝上雲霄II) finally aired that TVB was able to regain their lost ground in the ratings department – unfortunately though, since the series was a sequel to their hit series from 10 years ago and brought many of the characters back from the original series, it can be said that the ratings increase was partially due to the popularity of the original.

Given the recent ratings situation, we (Singpao) decided to put together a list of TVB’s highest rated series from the past 15 years or so to ‘reminisce’ together with our readers.  However, one interesting thing to note is that even the number one highest rated HK series on the list could not reach the ‘ratings peak’ that Korean drama Jewel in the Palace (大長今) created when it aired on TVB back in 2005.

Rankings and summary below:

1st PLACESquare Pegs (戇夫成龍) [2003] – averaged 37 points, peaked at 46 points

Set in the late Qing / early Republic era, this series aired at the end of 2002 going into early 2003 and starred Roger Kwok (郭晉安), Jessica Hsuan (宣萱), Raymond Cho (曹永廉), Winnie Yeung (楊婉儀), Yuen Wah (元華), etc.  Not only did the series garner the highest overall ratings (based on calculation), it also proved to pay off greatly for the series’ lead actor Roger Kwok, as he won both the TV King and Favorite TV Male Character awards at that year’s (2003) Anniversary Gala for his performance, which catapulted him once again to the height of his career.  In 2005, the sequel Life Made Simple (阿旺新傳) was made, which was set in the modern era and re-assembled many of the same cast members from the original series – unfortunately though, the series was not able to achieve the type of record-setting success that its predecessor did.

2nd PLACEReturn of the Cuckoo (十月初五的月光) [2000] – averaged 36 points, peaked at 46 points

At the mention of this series, the first thing most people will probably remember is Julian ‘Chilam’ Cheung’s (張智霖) character Brother Chor (初哥哥).  Set against the backdrop of one of Macau’s most famous streets (Rua de Cinco de Outubro十月初五街), the main plot of the series revolved around both family love and romance.

In addition to setting ratings records at the time, the series also received quite a few awards, including the Best Serial Drama award from Taiwan’s APTV as well as various awards at TVB’s Anniversary Awards Gala, such as the ‘Favorite Television Character’ award for Chilam Cheung, Charmaine Sheh (佘詩曼), and Nancy Sit (薛家燕) [TN: the Favorite Character award back then was given out to as many as 10-15 artists in a given year] and also the ‘Favorite On-screen Partners – Drama Series’ award for Chilam and Charmaine.

The series also successfully cemented lead actress Charmaine Sheh’s ‘first line fadan’ status at TVB; at the same time, Chilam Cheung’s theme song for the series, Wishing Kwan Well (祝君好) became an instant hit and even today, enjoys a status as one of TVB’s most popular, ‘classic’ love ballads.

3rd PLACEArmed Reaction 2 (陀槍師姐II) [2000] – averaged 36 points, peaked at 47 points

Fans who enjoy watching the ‘magical’ chemistry between ‘golden’ pairing Bobby Au Yeung (歐陽震華) and Esther Kwan (關詠荷) can check out their latest collaboration Always and Ever (情逆三世緣) [which just finished airing on TVB].  But when it comes to recounting one of the most representative, ‘classic’ collaborations between these two, the Armed Reaction (陀槍師姐) franchise is definitely at the top of most audience’s lists.   Set in the modern era, the first installment to this police comedy/drama franchise originally aired in 1998 to almost instant popularity, resulting in a sequel to be made in 2000 that not only reunited the entire original cast, it also continued the story exactly where the original left off.  In an interesting twist, the ratings for the second installment far surpassed the original -- not only did the series break ratings records for franchised series, it also shattered the widely held notion that sequels are never as good as the originals.  The franchise also expanded its reach into Taiwan at one point and was well-received there as well.

The characters in the series also left a deep impression with audiences – Esther Kwan’s Ngor Jeh and Joyce Tang’s (滕麗明) Sam Yue’ were especially memorable and can be considered both actresses’ most ‘representative’ performances.

4th PLACETime Before Time (大鬧廣昌隆) [1997] – averaged 36 points, peaked at 46 points

Starring Gordon Lam (林家棟), Kathy Chow (周海媚), Florence Kwok (郭少芸), etc., this pre-modern ‘supernatural’ themed series premiered in 1997 with a plot that revolved around the romance between ‘Ah Gwong’ (Gordon) and a ‘ghost’ named ‘Siu Fu Yong’ (Kathy) who resides in an umbrella.  Even though the series was technically a ‘ghost story’, the underlying message was actually about interpersonal relationships (whether between family, friends, lovers, etc.) – resulting in a story that resonated on an emotional level with audiences.

5th PLACEJourney to the West (西遊記) [1996] – averaged 36 points, peaked at 43 points

Starring Dicky Cheung (張衛健) in the lead role as the Monkey King, Journey to the West first premiered in 1996.  In 1998, the series was rebroadcast on TVB’s Jade Pearl channel [TN: TVB’s English language channel] in both English and Cantonese – that same year, a sequel to the iconic series, Journey to the West II, debuted on TVB’s Jade channel, however this time around, Dicky’s starring role was replaced by fellow actor Benny Chan (陳浩民).

Journey to the West was an important series in many aspects, but one of its biggest ‘contributions’ was that it shot each of the main actors in the series to almost instant stardom, including ‘Monkey King Sun WuKong’ Dicky Cheung, ‘Tang Sanzang’ Kong Wah (江華), ‘Zhu Bajie’ Wayne Lai (黎耀祥), and ‘Sha Wujing’ Evergreen Mak (麥長青).  The series proved to be immensely popular with audiences, especially the younger crowd – back when the series aired, audiences throughout HK could be heard repeating Dicky Cheung’s ‘golden phrase’ from the series:  “Yo!  Nothing to be afraid of!” [Yo使乜驚呀]

6th PLACE:  Detective Investigation Files III (刑事偵緝檔案III) [1997] – averaged 36 points, peaked at 44 points

When it comes to cop series, the entire Detective Investigation Files franchise can be counted as a ‘classic’ that was immensely popular with audiences back then and continues to be even now.  Back in 1995, the first installment in the franchise debuted to stellar ratings, prompting a sequel to be filmed immediately and aired in December that same year, thereby making DIF the first franchise in TVB history to have both its original and sequel air within the same year.  The 3rd installment of the franchise – the last one with the original cast from the first 2 installments -- aired in 1997 and broke ratings records.  In addition, the DIF franchise also succeeded in cementing star Michael Tao’s (陶大宇) status as a lead actor – he also became especially popular amongst TVB’s female audiences, earning him the title of ‘housewife killer’ (a title he shared with fellow actor and close friend Bobby AuYeung 歐陽震華).

7th PLACEThe Key Man (巨人) [1992] – averaged 36 points, peaked at 43 points 

Out of the 10 series on this list, 1992’s The Key Man can be considered the one that dates back the longest.  Many of the artists who participated in this series became ‘stars’ in their own right – amongst them including Alex Man (萬梓良), Louise Lee (李司棋), Idy Chan (陳玉蓮), Monica Chan (陳法蓉), Dicky Cheung (張衛健), Cutie Mui (梅小惠), etc.  With its storyline surrounding the complicated love/hate relationships between several generations of 2 families, The Key Man can be considered a ‘model’ for classic, family conflict themed modern series.  In addition, this series started the ‘trend’ of series that revolved around business world conflicts and battles amongst families – a theme that was pushed to its ultimate peak with TVB’s famous classic The Greed of Man (大時代), which aired later that year.  This series can also be considered one of veteran actor Alex Man’s most representative works.

8th PLACEWar of the Genders (男親女愛) [2000] – averaged 35 points, peaked at 50 points

Every time comedian Dayo Wong (黃子華) films a series for TVB, it almost always garners attention and becomes a hot discussion topic -- in this way, he is absolutely a ‘ratings guarantee’.   In 2000, Dayo teamed up with Dodo Cheng (鄭裕玲), Marsha Yuen (原子鏸), Patrick Tang (鄧健泓), etc. in a situational comedy (sitcom) called War of the Genders that not only became an immensely popular ‘classic’, it also ‘smashed’ ratings records when it peaked at 50 points near the latter part of the series.  War of the Genders was the first TVB series to reach the 50 point mark in ratings and shares the record as being one of only 4 series that have been able to achieve this so far. [TN:  The other series were:  Korean drama Jewel in the Palace (大長今), which aired on TVB in 2005, 2008’s Moonlight Resonance (溏心風暴之家好月圓), and 2009’s Beyond the Realm of Conscience (宮心計)].  In addition, this was one of the few TVB series that was also turned into a stage musical not long after its successful television run, thereby allowing audiences to enjoy the hilarious antics of the cast and the humorous story all over again.

9th PLACE:   Moonlight Resonance (溏心風暴之家好月圓) [2008] – averaged 35 points, peaked at 50 points

Billed as the ‘sequel’ to 2007’s grand production Heart of Greed (溏心風暴), Moonlight Resonance went down in the history books as one of HK’s highest rated series ever.  With its huge ensemble cast comprised of TV veterans such as Ha Yu (夏雨), Louise Lee (李司棋), Susanna Kwan (關菊英), Michelle Yim (米雪), Lee Heung Kam (李香琴) as well as popular idols such as Raymond Lam (林峯), Moses Chan (陳豪), Linda Chung (鍾嘉欣), Tavia Yeung (楊怡), etc., the series not only lived up to the ‘success’ of its predecessor Heart of Greed, it also far surpassed it in terms of ratings and popularity.  Further to re-assembling most of the original cast from the first installment, the sequel also boasted the addition of popular artists such as future 3-time TV King Wayne La, Kate Tsui (徐子珊), etc.

10th PLACEBeyond the Realm of Conscience (宮心計) [2009] – averaged 35 points, peaked at 50 points

Due to its ancient series genre and palace conflict theme, Beyond the Realm of Conscience has often been compared to TVB’s 2004 hit palace series War and Beauty (金枝慾孽) since it debuted 4 years ago.  At TVB’s Anniversary Awards ceremony in 2009, the battle for TV Queen ended up coming down to a heated race between BTROC’s Tavia Yeung (楊怡) and veteran actress Sheren Tang (鄧萃雯), who was nominated for her phenomenal performance in Rosy Business (巾幗梟雄) [coincidentally, Sheren had also starred in War and Beauty back in 2004 and was widely viewed as having been ‘robbed’ of the TV Queen award that year for her stellar portrayal of Concubine Yu in the series].  In the end, Sheren triumphed by winning the coveted TV Queen award for her portrayal of Fourth Mistress in Rosy Business while Tavia took home the Favorite Female TV Character award for her performance in BTROC.


  1. Overall the list seems legit except maybe Beyond the Realm of Conscience? Not sure whether it was that popular especially since they copied Jewel in the Palace. Not to mention why isn't Files of Justice in this list?! That series had a total of 5 sequels! That was like the last time a tvb series had that many sequels with each having a great storyline! I'm sure that drama also helped establish Bobby AuYeung and Michael Tao's careers! Who can forget Michael and Jessica Hsuan's pairing in part 5? Most of the series listed are dramas that are worth rewatching several times. Time Before Time was a series I rewatched for like 3 times including DIF and War of Genders. I for sure rewatched Return of the Cuckoo more than once, yes Chilam's character Chor Go Go was the most memorable. I remember how I hated the ending and that fact that he didn't end up with Charmaine just cause Steven Ma's character was better off. It made me question whether that's real love so lame.

    1. Also Files of Justice was the start of many upcoming leading actors including Ada Choi and Lawerence Ng who paired in part 5 first with a sad ending before their main leads in Healing Hands. Part 5 was Flora Chan's first drama and start of her "professional" roles. Then there's Sheren Tang, Amy Chan, William So, etc FOJ helped shot William So to fame too, his themes/subthemes for the series are some of his biggest hits.

    2. @sport3888: I thought the same thing about BTROC at first, but it actually makes sense now when I think about it because remember the whole thing about BTROC being ‘over-promoted’ and ‘overhyped’? It was definitely ‘popular’ in that sense thanks to TVB’s 24/7 promotion machine….so for it to get such high ratings really isn’t too surprising.

      There are actually a lot of series that I felt should have made it on this list but didn’t -- looking at the average ratings calculations though, it’s possible that some of those series you mentioned may have just missed it by a point or two (the 10th series is average 35 points, so if a series averaged 34 points – which is still quite good if you ask me – it still wouldn’t make the list). I honestly don’t remember what ratings FOJ got (since I’ve never been one to care about ratings, so I never really paid attention over the years) – but regardless, not being on this list isn’t a big deal, since everyone already knows the FOJ franchise is truly ‘classic’. With that said, I think if this were a top 20 or top 50 list, then it would make more sense because we’d be able to see some of the ‘lower 30’ series on there.

      And yes, I agree with you that many of the series on the list are worthy of ‘re-watching’ several times (though to be honest, for me, I’ve actually re-watched 80s/early 90s series way more….). Take DIF for example – I’ve re-watched that franchise (all 4 installments) so much that at one point, I practically had the scenes memorized (and no matter how many times I re-watch that franchise, I never get tired of it).

    3. @sport3888: Yup! Absolutely agree! And that’s why FOJ will always be hailed as one of the greatest ‘franchises’ that TVB ever produced (though technically, most of the credit should go to that franchise’s producer Gary Tang rather than TVB). The other thing remarkable about FOJ is how all 5 installments were consistently good for the most part (true, there were some illogical story arcs and some storylines that made my blood boil, but those are forgivable since the overall production is high quality) – which is a testament to how important it is that ‘franchise’ series involve the same producer and production team (scriptwriters, directors, etc.). This concept also applies to DIF as well (though that franchise was under a different producer). To me, this is where Healing Hands failed as a franchise – the first installment was produced by Gary Tang, which is why it was so good, but the subsequent 2 sequels were produced and written by others (since Gary had already jumped ship to ATV by then) who obviously didn’t have the same ‘vision’ as he did (from what Lawrence Ng has stated, Gary Tang is involved with the scriptwriting piece for all his series as well, so Gary Tang’s productions are truly ‘his’ productions all the way through)…..that’s why HH2 and 3 were such disasters. Though of course, there are also examples of franchises having the same producer but the sequels still turn out disastrous (Burning Flame and Forensic Heroes are 2 examples)…

      Basically, I’m just glad that Gary Tang left TVB AFTER FOJ was completed and not before – otherwise, who knows how FOJ would have turned out!

    4. Well those sequels disastrous results may be more due to the cast being changed than the producer's fault? Both BF and FH were forced to include new leads where as FOJ had the same 4 main leads through out with only the female leads changing here and there.

      I do agree that FOJ did have illogical elements but yes overall quality was kept in the entire Franchise.

  2. Moonlight Resonance and BTRoC that popular to be included? I watched MR but gave up halfway - too many FF spoils the watching - even though I watched it for Raymond Lam (his character is ok in that series). I took a look at BTRoC poster and gave up already :D

    They forgotten to mention that War of the Genders also introduced to us the famous "Siu Keung". I believe Siu Keung is as famous as both the leads.

    As for Return of the Cuckoo, yes I was also not happy with the ending and I still dont get it why Chi Lam has to give up his love - just because he thinks he is mute and therefore, "less perfect" than Steven ??? Shld have asked the girl's view first before making his decision.

    1. Totally agree! I think it was more the fact taht Steven's character was more educated and well off so he can give Charmaine a so called "better life". The way they ended it was just unrealistic and lame! Also I believe Charmaine's character was in love with Chor Go Go so she wouldn't give up just cause he says he liked someone else, that's dumb! The message they were sending the audience just rubbed me the wrong way! It's like they're saying if the guy is poor and uneducated then you shouldn't pick him when true love isn't like that! I'm telling you, those TVB dramas has been brainwashing alot of HK girls and it's no wonder so many of them are materialistic and look at the guy's wealth/job first.

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    3. @fangorn: Well, one thing I noticed is that all the series that peaked at 50 points (which is pretty much only 3 TVB series) made it onto the list (which is partly why I put in that disclaimer of mine, since I'm not 100% sure whether the numbers actually add up). Personally, I didn't really care for MR or BTROC either but the fact that both series got such high ratings proves once again that ratings don’t tell the whole story – ratings may be a good indicator of how ‘popular’ a particular series is, but that’s about it…the ‘quality’ piece of it will always be subjective.

      Haha! Yes….how could they forget ‘Siu Keung’! That ‘little dude’ was indeed very popular back when War of the Genders aired….including Siu Keung as an important element in the series was actually a pretty clever tactic. I’m willing to bet that Dayo probably came up with that idea himself (sorry, but TVB scriptwriters aren’t that creative…LOL).

      As for Return of the Cuckoo – definitely agree with you guys. As much as I liked Steven’s character in the series, I was also one of those people who was rooting for Chilam and Charmaine’s characters to get together in the end. While I was definitely touched with the ending scene (yes, I did shed a tear or two), overall I was quite disappointed at how the entire ending segment (pretty much the last half of the finale episode) played out. Though I will say that the storyline as a whole was very fitting with the lyrics of the theme song (especially the part of the lyrics that goes “if in the event you meet someone better than me, I only hope to continue wishing you [Kwan] well from afar”)…love the theme song, but breaks my heart every time I listen to it….

  3. Hmm, most of those series are pretty good but far behind to be perfect in all elements. Really surprise that comedy series like Square Pegs reached top position, sounds not make sense.

    I give 100% agree for the top-10 highest rated series of all time that announced in 28th TVB Anniversary back to 1997.

    TVB should rated their series from 1980-2012 and we'll know their big different quality.

    1. @Anonymous: I agree with you for the most part. Though I actually would prefer that TVB NOT rate their series from 1980 to 2012 because I don't have any confidence that such a list would be credible now -- unless they get people who actually grew up in those eras and watched all of those series back then to be the ones who put the list together (to me, this is important for the 'credibility' piece). The stupid ‘Top Onscreen Couples of All Time’ poll that TVB put together last year (reference this link to read the ‘rant’ I wrote about it back : is a perfect example of how disastrous the results are when the current generation who never experienced the ‘TVB of the past’ try to put together polls/surveys/countdowns, etc. that include ‘classics’ from previous eras. Besides, I think a comparison of the older series versus the newer ones from a ratings perspective probably won’t work because the way the ratings were calculated was way different back then versus now….we wouldn’t necessarily be comparing ‘apples to apples’ from a ‘numbers’ perspective, so it would definitely be hard…