Friday, November 22, 2013

Top Ten HIGHEST and LOWEST Rated TVB Series from the past 15-20 years (Part 2)

As mentioned in my previous post, below is part 2 of the Singpao article recapping the highest and lowest rated TVB series from the past 2 decades or so.  Part 1 covered the HIGHEST rated series and now Part 2 covers the LOWEST rated ones. 

***NOTE:  If you haven't read part 1 yet, please do that first before continuing with part 2 because there are some 'disclaimers' in part 1 that are important to note.  Thanks!

I actually don’t have a whole lot to say about the series on the LOWEST rated list because frankly, I didn’t bother watching some of them because I was not interested.  But there are 2 series on the list that I DO want to ‘make a case’ for because I strongly feel that those 2 series were ‘victims’ of circumstances and probably wouldn’t be on this list if times were different.

The first series that I feel is sort of unjustified is Ultra Protection – granted, I only saw that series once and it was so long ago that I really don’t remember a whole lot about the series…but I do remember thinking to myself that the series actually was quite engaging and the performances were quite solid as well.  But of course, with the overwhelming popularity of Princess Pearl – a series that managed to take all of Asia by storm back then – I don’t think any series that TVB aired would have been able to compete.  Too bad for Ultra Protection, which ended up becoming the ‘sacrificial lamb’ in the ratings war between TVB and ATV.

The other series that I feel strongly about is The Intangible Truth.  I actually watched that series for the first time a few months back and even though I can totally understand why audiences might not like the series (because it definitely IS a very dark and depressing series), calling it ‘the worst’ series is absolutely ridiculous.   Sure, the theme might not have been too attractive and given the heavy political undertones in the series, it probably was a bad idea to make and air this series in the pre-handover era (especially in the mid-90s, when the anti-China sentiment was quite heavy in HK and many Hong Kongers were ‘dreading’ the impending return of HK to China in 1997).  With that said though, the biggest ‘redeeming quality’ for this series is its cast -- the stellar performances from majority of the cast in this series was enough to make me overlook the ‘dark’ theme and the political piece.  Roger Kwok actually gave one of the BEST performances of his career in this series (my humble opinion based on all the Roger series I’ve watched from the 80s til now) – not only that, the rest of the cast (including Esther, Sheren, Alex, So Hang Suen, Law Lok Lam, Lau Kong, Chun Wong, etc.) put in solid performances as well.  In fact, watching this series was an emotional roller coaster for me because there were times where I was so angry I wanted to slap some sense into the main characters for their ‘stubbornness’ yet at the same time, I felt so sad for their plight and couldn’t help crying with them during their moments of desperation.  Overall, this is actually a pretty good series that really should have been made post 1997 rather than prior….

Anyway…I will ask the same question that I did at the end of Part 1:  What are your thoughts on this list?  Agree? Disagree?  Shocked?  Don’t care?


Top Ten LOWEST Rated TVB Series

Source:  Singpao

Translation: llwy12

A few months ago, when the finale for popular TVB series Triumph in the Skies II (衝上雲霄II) aired, it was able to pull in average ratings of 38 points, peaking at 41 points, which marked the first time in at least 2 years that TVB was able to break its ‘dismal’ ratings trend.  Unfortunately, most of the series aired after that, including the recent highly touted SDU-themed thriller Sniper Standoff (神鎗狙擊) were not able to keep up the momentum, with not a single series able to break the 30 point mark in ratings.

Earlier, we (Singpao) did a recap on TVB’s Top Ten HIGHEST rated series [from the past 20 years] – now let’s take a look at the opposite side of the spectrum and recap TVB’s ten LOWEST rated series from the same time period.   

Through a look back at TVB’s highest and lowest rated series, several conclusions can be drawn, one of which is this:  TVB’s ‘habitual ratings’ (慣性收視) phenomenon has helped them stay in the forefront of the HK television industry the past few decades and will likely continue to play a huge role in helping them maintain that status in the future, however relying on this phenomenon alone is unlikely to benefit them in the long run.  TVB needs to put much more thought into deciding what types of series to produce – a wrong move in this area could cause them to lose significant audience support as reflected in the ratings.

Rankings and summary below (note that this list should be read differently from the HIGHEST rated series list; the higher the ranking on the below list, the lower the ratings):

1st PLACE:   Dressage to Win (盛裝舞步愛作戰) [2008] – averaged 14 points, peaked at 20 points

This equestrian-themed series was one of TVB’s rare attempts at bringing Taiwan’s ‘youthful idol series’ genre to Hong Kong audiences.  Starring Andy Hui (許志安), Mandy Lieu, Michelle Wai (衛詩雅), Ken Hung (洪卓立), etc., this series was the 3rd installment in TVB’s popular ‘Four Leaf Clover (四葉草)’ franchise. [The first installment was Hearts of Fencing (當四葉草碰上劍尖) in 2003 and second installment was Sunshine Heartbeat (赤沙印記@四葉草2) in 2004].  The series aired in May of 2008 and with average ratings (for the entire series) of only 14 points, it ‘tops’ the list as TVB’s lowest rated series, perhaps of all time.

2nd PLACE:  ICAC Investigators 2007 (廉政行動2007) [2007] – averaged 17 points, peaked at 20 points

Spanning a total of 5 episodes, this series was one of TVB’s many collaborations with HK’s ICAC bureau that followed the usual format of multiple individualized stories making up the entire series.  With TVB’s director of production Tommy Leung (梁家樹) personally serving as producer alongside ICAC Media Relations Bureau Supervisor Law Heung Lan (羅香蘭) as co-producer, the series brought together a varying ensemble cast comprised of popular veterans such as Sunny Chan (陳錦鴻), Michael Miu (苗僑偉), etc. as well as younger favorites such as Teresa Fu (傅穎), Shirley Yeung (楊思琦), etc., with the cast rotating from one episode to the next.  The series aired starting in October 2006, however it was only able to pull in average ratings of 17 points – by far the lowest amongst the many ICAC-themed productions.

3rd PLACE:  Colours of Love (森之愛情) [2007] – averaged 17 points, peaked at 19 points

This series was TVB’s adaptation of Commercial Radio’s (CRHK) idol drama series of the same name.  Produced by variety program veteran Fok Jak Kei (霍澤基), this 10 episode series also followed the ‘short story’ format and featured CRHK’s popular DJs Sammy Leung (森美) and Kitty Yuen (阮小儀) starring as the main leads.   Though the series boasted a cast of popular female idols from the television, movie, and music industries such as Ivana Wong (王菀之), Stephy Tang (鄧麗欣), Charlene Choi (蔡卓妍), Fiona Sit (薛凱琪), Niki Chow (周麗淇), Fala Chen (陳法拉), Miriam Yeung (楊千嬅), etc. in lead roles for each episode, that did not help the ratings much, as the series only managed to rake in 19 points at its peak.

4th PLACE:  Dropping by Cloud Nine (你們我們他們) [2011] – averaged 20 points, peaked at 21 points

Adapted from Taiwanese author Jimmy Liao’s (幾米) novel of the same name, this series was helmed by TVB’s variety program supervisor Ho Siu Wai (何小慧). [TN:  Ho Siu Wai was responsible for most of TVB’s large scale variety programs such as Miss HK Pageants, Tung Wah Charity shows, etc.]  Despite being one of the ‘recommended’ series during TVB’s 2008/2009 Sales Presentation as well as boasting a leading cast of popular favorites such as Ron Ng (吳卓羲), Kate Tsui (徐子珊), Mag Lam (林欣彤), Jacqueline Chong (莊思敏), and Taiwanese idol Figaro Tseng (曾少宗), the 10 episode series was only able to muster a dismal 20 points average ratings.

5th PLACE:  Gentle Reflections (恨鎖金瓶) [1994] – averaged 21 points, peaked at 24 points

As the TVB adaptation of the ancient Chinese classical novel The Plum in the Golden Vase (金瓶梅), this 20 episode series starred Pal Sinn (單立文) as ‘Ximen Qing’ and Irene Wan (潘金蓮) as ‘Pan Jinlian’ alongside a strong cast that included Kenix Kwok (郭可盈), Liu Kai Chi (廖啟智), Patrick Tam (譚耀文), Savio Tsang (曾偉), Gordon Lam (林家棟), etc.  Unfortunately, even a strong cast was not able to save the series from becoming a ratings disaster, averaging only 21 points throughout its 4 week run.

6th PLACE:  Ultra Protection (非常保鑣) [1999] – averaged 21 points, peaked at 22 points

This 20 episode modern day crime drama was helmed by ‘golden’ producer Mui Siu Ching (梅小青) and featured a stellar cast comprised of Bowie Lam (林保怡), Marianne Chan (陳妙瑛), Eddie Cheung (張兆輝), Steven Ma (馬浚偉), etc.  With its popular ‘cop thriller’ theme and solid cast, the series had all the makings of becoming a hit -- unfortunately, it was given a timeslot that ended up sinking the series before it had a chance to prove itself.  When the series aired in August 1999, it was pitted up against Taiwan’s runaway hit Princess Pearl (還珠格格), which rival station ATV had bought the rights to broadcast -- in the face of stiff competition from a series that was so popular throughout all of Asia, Ultra Protection ended up failing miserably in the ratings department [TN:  this was one of the few times in HK television history where ATV actually beat TVB in terms of ratings].  In a desperate effort to salvage its ratings, TVB decided to air the new season of the hugely popular game show Super Trio (驚天動地獎門人), hosted by Eric Tsang (曾志偉), right after Ultra Protection finished airing.

7th PLACE:  Dragon Love (人龍傳說) [1999] -- averaged 21 points, peaked at 22 points

Produced by Marco Law (羅永賢), this 20 episode ancient romance drama starred Benny Chan (陳浩民), Fennie Yuen (袁潔瑩), Chin Kar Lok (錢嘉樂), Nicola Cheung (張燊悅), Michael Tse (謝天華), etc.  In ‘recovery’ mode after being ‘pummeled’ by ATV in the ratings department for the first time in 30 years, TVB decided to air this series in September 1999, right after Princess Pearl finished airing on ATV.  As ‘counter-attack’, ATV decided to ride on the momentum that Princess Pearl had generated just a few weeks back by airing the sequel to the popular series, Princess Pearl II, in the same timeslot.  Of course, the result was just as they expected -- Dragon Love’s ratings were hugely affected and the series ended up suffering the same fate as the series that aired before it:  average ratings of 21 points, peaking at 22 points.

8th PLACE:  The Intangible Truth (生死訟) [1994] – averaged 21 points, peaked at 21 points

Written and produced by renowned veteran scriptwriter/producer Tsang Gan Cheung (曾謹昌), The Intangible Truth boasted a stellar cast of fine actors such as Roger Kwok (郭晉安), Esther Kwan (關詠荷), Sheren Tang (鄧萃雯), Alex Fong (方中信), So Hang Suen (蘇杏璇), Law Lok Lam (羅樂林), etc.   Unfortunately though, with its plot revolving around Mainland China’s criminal court system and the ‘melodramatic to the point of depressing’ story line, the series was very poorly received by audiences at that time.  Not only did the series pull in the lowest ratings of all series aired that year, it was also dubbed ‘the worst series’ because of its overly dark theme.

9th PLACE:  Beauty at War (金枝欲孽貳) [2013] – averaged 21 points, peaked at 26 points

Prior to its broadcast, Beauty at War was originally met with huge anticipation – of course, this was primarily due to its position as the sequel to the tremendously successful War and Beauty (金枝欲孽) back in 2003, whose finale episode garnered a record breaking [at that time] 40 points average ratings, peaking at 44 points, thereby cementing the series’ status in history as the most ‘classic’ of palace fighting-themed dramas.  Unfortunately, the sequel itself did not live up to expectations.  With its storyline revolving around ‘rumors’ and ‘dreams’, the sequel took a completely different approach from its predecessor and instead, attempted to ‘explain’ the events that occurred in the first installment as merely ‘a figment of one’s imagination’.  After the series aired to disastrously low ratings, analyses were done that indicated the low ratings were primarily due to the complex, difficult to understand script, which caused audiences to lose interest.  In the end, the series averaged 21 points, peaking at 26 points.

10th PLACE:  A Stage of Turbulence (刀馬旦) [1995] – averaged 22 points, peaked at ???

This 20 episode pre-modern series starring Sunny Chan (陳錦鴻) and singer Vivian Chow (周慧敏) revolved around the trials and tribulations of a Cantonese opera troupe in China.  The theme song Confidante (紅顏知己) was sung by lead actress Vivian Chow and the series itself was actually TVB’s 28th year anniversary series.  However, despite its strong cast and ‘anniversary series’ status, the only managed to pull in average ratings of 22 points.


  1. Wow I feel sorry for my childhood favorite actor Sunny Chan appearing on two posters of top ten lowest rated series! That's sad...Though to be fair 5/10 episode ICAC series rarely garnered high ratings.

    1. @sport3888: I know...depressing isn't it? I guess it's not enough that Sunny is already known as 'warehouse king' (for having the most series 'warehoused' out of all TVB artists), looks like he has the 'honor' of being the one with the most series on the 'lowest rated series' list as well....aiye...

      That's true about the ICAC series, though it's interesting that out of all the ICAC series made, the one that starred Sunny was the lowest rated one. But oh well....I actually don't really consider those 'true' TVB series anyway -- personally, I would actually classify those series in the 'specialty series' category if there were one...

    2. Yea what "coincidence". Seriously why did they even include the ICAC one, everyone knows it's not a "real" series.