Friday, September 11, 2015

TVB’s midnight timeslot series – part 2 (follow up post)

Back in July, I wrote a post entitled “TVB’s midnight timeslot series” (read it here).  Well, it’s now September and due to some recent things that transpired, I felt the need to do this follow up post.

First….is it just me or has the ‘hype’ surrounding TVB’s midnight timeslot waned?  Does anyone know which series TVB is airing in that timeslot right now? (the answer is Time Before Time in case you haven’t heard)  I don’t blame you if you don’t because the Media sure didn’t ‘talk about’ it as much as they did the earlier series in that timeslot.  Why?  Not the Media’s fault (for once…lol) by any means.  Rather, the problem lies with TVB’s poor choice of subsequent series lineup, resulting in them not being able to keep up the momentum that had started with the airing of The Greed of Man in that timeslot.  Actually, this problem of TVB making stupid decisions is not new -- in fact, it’s such a common issue with them that they’ve actually become notorious for it over the past decade.   I mean, for a station that has been in existence for 48 years and is pretty much the only local option for ordinary Hong Kongers to watch free TV programming, TVB’s lack of proper decision-making ability is appalling!   The complaint over the years that TVB does not know how to properly utilize opportunities that stare them right in the face, but rather, they only know how to employ 24/7 in-your-face promotional tactics without regard for quality or value, is indeed very valid.  The way they handled the midnight timeslot series thing is yet another example of this.

In my earlier post about the midnight timeslot, I had informally given TVB a few suggestions on what they SHOULD HAVE aired following The Greed of Man that would’ve allowed them to maintain the ‘hype’ and ‘momentum’ they had gained.  Well, let me lay it out more clearly.  If I were the person responsible for putting together the midnight timeslot schedule, here’s what I would’ve done:  instead of airing The Justice of Life and The Final Verdict (2 great series for the record, but not ‘the best of the best’), the series I would’ve put in the line-up after TGOM is Looking Back in Anger -- um, hello, given this series’ popularity as well as impact on society and the fact that it has been hailed as one of TVB’s best productions of all-time -- well, to me, this is a NO-BRAINER!  (In my previous post, I actually gave my ‘speculations’ for why TVB decided not to air this series).  Then after that I would’ve aired another one of TVB’s greatest productions of all-time:  Blood of Good and Evil (if LBIA was TVB’s best series to come out of the 80s era, then BOGAE is surely their best series to come out of the 90s era!!) – again, this is also a NO-BRAINER.  With those 2 series alone, TVB would’ve had it made, as there are many many audiences who either haven’t seen these 2 series despite hearing such great things about them (probably because they were born after these series aired or they didn’t ‘follow’ TVB back then) or audiences who have seen these series but love them so much that they would jump at the opportunity to re-watch.  Personally, I fall into the latter category – despite the fact that I’ve re-watched both series more times than I can count AND I own both series as part of my TVB series collection, I have absolutely no problem pulling up a chair and doing nothing but stare at the TV screen for the hour or so that the series is on.

After both of those awesome series, next in my line-up would probably be The Breaking Point (another one of my favorites that I’ve watched a gazillion times), which, coincidentally, TVB is actually re-airing right now during the weekends here on their U.S. satellite channels [sidenote:  I’ve got to say that whoever puts together the lineup for TVB’s overseas satellite channels is much smarter than their counterpart in HK…lol].  TBP was a hugely popular series at the time it aired and rightfully so given the awesome cast and acting (though in my opinion, there were definitely issues with the script/story, but taken as a whole, it’s not hard to overlook those flaws).  Then, to give audiences a ‘break’ from all the heavy, serious dramas (which I personally don’t feel is necessary but fine), I would choose a light-hearted comedy to air.  Actually, from what I read, it sounded like this was TVB’s original intention back after The Greed of Man aired (to give audiences a break by airing something less ‘heavy’).  While that’s not a bad idea, unfortunately TVB picked the wrong series.  If they wanted to air a Stephen Chow classic, they should’ve picked The Final Combat instead, as that series was the most representative of Stephen’s TVB career and was truly the series that shot him to stardom (plus he was the lead in that series whereas he was only supporting in The Justice of Life).  Oh and let’s not forget that while Stephen did show a bit of his trademark ‘mo lei tou’ comedy style in TJOL, it was really in The Final Combat that it’s unleashed in full force – plus the series was unique in terms of being a ‘wuxia comedy’ (which was a rarity back then, since most of the wuxia dramas at the time were pretty serious).

Speaking of wuxia… many times have you heard audiences complain about the lack of true wuxia series the past 15 years?  I, for one, hear that complaint every year and my response is always the same:  TVB can’t make wuxia series like they used to – they lack the resources for one and two they lack the know-how (I’m talking about the ‘traditional’ skills and knowledge involved in choreographing complicated fight scenes and working with wiring, not the crappy, fake CGI stuff that they love to use nowadays).  Of course, the fact that they no longer have the rights to remake Jin Yong’s works also doesn’t help (not that I would want another JY remake, as there have been way too many already, plus the remakes get worse every decade).  In terms of program line-up though, to feed the wuxia series drought, I would’ve seized the opportunity to re-broadcast a few classic wuxia series in that timeslot -- anyone familiar with the old days of TVB would know that there are plenty of great wuxia series from the 80s to choose from – for example: Legend of the Condor Heroes, Return of the Condor Heroes, The New Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre, The Two Most Honorable Knights, etc. – all are good choices in terms of wuxia classics that were popular back in the day and absolutely well-made/produced (plus, judging from the comments I’ve heard over the years, it’s obvious that many of the newer generation audiences have not seen the JY remakes from the 80s – well, this would give them the opportunity to see why us old-timers keep praising the 80s remakes as ‘the best’).

If we go back to modern series, other great choices include:  The Bund, Police Cadet ’84 as well as its sequel Police Cadet ’85 (don’t bother with the third and final installment, Police Cadet ’88, because it sucked), The Feud of Two Brothers, The Challenge of Life, Files of Justice, Detective Investigation Files, etc.  I could keep going on forever on this topic actually (I’ve got plenty more ‘classics’ that I would definitely include in the lineup), but I think those of you reading this get my drift already.  

In addition to airing all these series, the other thing I would’ve done is ‘poll the audience’ – meaning that I would send out a survey to audiences with the question:  “Which classic series from the 80s/90s era do you most want to see re-broadcasted in the midnight timeslot?” (keyword here is ‘80s/90s era’ because unfortunately, everyone’s definition of ‘classic’ is different).  This method sounds familiar, you say?  Yes, very discerning!  This is the exact thing that those ‘smart’ people over at HKTV did when they were preparing to launch their station last year – they put up a poll on their website and asked audiences to vote for which series (out of the 16 series they had produced) they wanted to watch first.  As we all know, the outcome was that their political-themed series The Election came out on top.  Originally, the plan was for HKTV to air their cop-themed series The Borderline as their debut series due to the tremendous reception the first episode had garnered months earlier during its ‘test run’ on Youtube.  But last minute, they decided to do a poll instead (which is not surprising since HKTV has had heavy interaction with audiences from the getgo – much unlike TVB who doesn’t give a crap about what their audiences think/feel/want).  I’m sure they were thinking that The Borderline would end up being the winner (so they could just move forward with original plan) but surprisingly (well, maybe not given that this was post-Occupy timeframe), their newest filmed series The Election ended up garnering the most votes (with The Borderline coming in at second place).  So what did HKTV do?  Well, this is where the ‘smart’ part kicks in (no, I didn’t use that word just because I felt like it):  they decided to air both series simultaneously – The Election was aired first, debuting on the weekend, and The Borderline followed right after, debuting the following weekday [sidenote:  for those wondering why The Election aired on a weekend, it’s because the series had just wrapped filming and there was still post-production work that needed to be done on it – by airing it once a week instead of every day, it gave the production team more time to complete the post-production].  So it ended up being a win/win situation for both sides:  the audiences got their pick (The Election) and HKTV still got to move forward with their original plan (air The Borderline as debut series).   See, it’s not that difficult to make audiences happy – so why can’t TVB get it right?? 

In any case, it’s obviously ‘too little too late now’, since TVB already lost their momentum with the midnight timeslot and who knows whether they will be able to gain it back (I highly doubt they can with the idiotic management team running the station currently).  Such a shame!  It’s sad how ‘not in tune’ TVB’s current management team is with their own programming and the station’s history / trends.  My advice:  change out this management team and get people in there who actually know what they are doing and can make proper decisions.  Otherwise….well just take one look at ATV – seeing what happened to them should be enough motivation for TVB to want a competent management team in place that is capable of making wise decisions that actually benefit the station.  I know it’s wishful thinking on my part but hey, I tried….


  1. Your mentioning of The Breaking Point made me curious so I decided to search the songs on youtube then was totally surprised that one of the songs 仍是痛在我心的你 was composed and penned by Deric Wan himself. His wikipedia says he's also a songwriter and knows how to play the piano? Deric Wan's past actions and pro China antics in recent years is very dislikable but I'm just surprised at the fact that he was multi-talented. Although I'm not sure how well his piano and songwriting skills are. Also not sure if he was always like that despicable but he seems to have taken on the personality of his past villain characters over the years.

    1. @sport: Regarding Deric – actually, he’s been a singer/songwriter since way back when. He was actually a DJ at a radio station before he entered TVB, so he has a pretty extensive history in music – it’s just that his acting career overshadowed his music one. Not sure about the playing the piano part though I wouldn’t be surprised – most songwriters know how to play at least one instrument, since it helps them write songs. I can tell you his songwriting skills are pretty good based on the songs I’ve listened to that he wrote.

      As for his personality – well, I will tell you that he has always been that way, even back in the 80s when he started and in the early 90s at the peak of his TVB career. He has always been very anti-social and barely got along with anyone, plus his relationships in his personal life were a mess (I kind of lost track already but I think he’s on his third marriage now? And there was all that controversy with his earlier relationships about money issues and being betrayed, etc….not sure how much of that was actually true). Sure, having a messed up personal life technically shouldn’t affect things but we all know that in the entertainment industry, image is very important and can impact your career if you make the wrong move. Deric has always been one of my favorite actors and my mom’s as well – I remember we used to always talk about what a shame it was that Deric screwed up his own career….even when he returned to TVB in the after 2000s era, I still enjoyed his acting, but kind of already knew he wouldn’t last long (and sure enough, history repeated itself with his personality and also that whole relationship debacle with Sonjia Kwok).

      In terms of the pro-China thing – I think that actually started later after he had been working in Mainland for awhile…part of it is due to the fact that the Media in China is not as intense as HK (HK media is notorious for being harsh and focusing on the negative side of everyone/everything more than the positive side). I think since the Media over there leaves him alone for the most part, that’s probably why he enjoys it there. I personally don’t think that Deric will ever return to HK for anything career-related – he hates it there too much.

  2. Oh llwy12 safe your breath, just go read apple daily facebook comments and you will know just how many people don't watch CCTVB anymore and hate them saying they will become the next ATV. TVB is just beyond saving. Everything is from top to bottom and when you have a CEO who doesn't care about making quality production and shares sold to Mainland partner, it's a recipe for disaster and history repeating itself! Latest news is that Moses Chan will leave along with his wife who is filming Chapman To's new move right now. Well I never liked those 2 actors but it's quite obvious those with or without popularity will either leave TVB for movies or China.

    It's quite sad though, many HK artistes pretending to be Pro-China with their fake comments on weibo. So many are unwilling to speak up regarding the social and poliical issues. Even though they know how messed up China's ruling is and how much it has affected HK's development, who are so behind compared to other countries right now.

    Actually I've been wondering what you think in regards to those artistes keeping silent or pretending to be Pro-China (when it's obviously cause of the large amounts of money they can make over there). I can't help but lose respect to those artistes. I know it's entertainment and people being realistic but still.

    I just have so much more respect to those like Hocc, Gregory Wong, and Catherine Chau willing to speak up for society issues.

    Even Mimi Lo's recent yahoo interview revealed how she felt HKTV's not receiving their license was unfair and felt strongly about the issue more than her husband Power Chan but their focus was on him due to his TVB contract. Speaking of Power since he was filming for RTHK Elite Brigade III does that mean he's not with TVB anymore?

    1. @sport: Yea, I know….though the problem with basing off Apply Daily comments is that their parent company Next Media is at odds with TVB (the boycott that TVB initiated of all Next Media stuff is still in effect) -- so it’s an easy excuse for TVB to say those comments aren’t true and Next Media is out to get them.
      I definitely agree though that TVB is beyond saving. The way I see it, if the station doesn’t want to save themselves and insists on continuing to act arrogantly and stupidly (because they can), then so be it – if they want to dig their own grave, then they can absolutely lie in it. And yes, they are definitely heading down ATV’s path – the writing has been on the wall for quite some time already, it’s just that a lot of people don’t want to believe it or even think about it. I think part of the problem is that people tend to mix up TVB’s glorious past history with current day and because of that little bit of sentimentality, they don’t want to see or hear anything negative about TVB. Believe me, I’m probably more sentimental than most people when it comes to TVB (obvious from all the nostalgia for the old days that I keep going on and on about…lol)…and my mom as well (her ‘attachment’ to TVB goes all the way back to the Shaw Brother days, which was obviously before TVB even existed) – but yet, we are still able to recognize that TVB is not what it used to be. The feedback I’ve actually gotten from people over the years is disbelief that I was (and still am to some extent) such a huge TVB supporter/follower because I criticize them so much. I guess those people don’t realize that there is such a thing as constructive criticism – just because I call out things that TVB does wrong or the various missteps they take, doesn’t mean that I hate them to the point of hoping they fold. Rather, I look at it from a more practical standpoint....the feedback and constructive criticism can only go so far – if TVB refuses to change, then that’s their own doing that they will eventually have to answer for…no one can help them if they refuse to be helped. (Meanwhile, I will continue to enjoy my nostalgia over the ‘good old days’ of TVB and support the artists I want to support, regardless of which station they work for).

    2. @sport: Power is still with TVB. It's actually pretty common for TVB to lend their artists to film for RTHK, since technically RTHK is not a TV station and therefore is not their competitor. In fact, most of RTHK's TV series air on TVB anyway (I think there's a contract involved between the 2 of them)...though it's kind of weird to see artists who've left TVB appear on their station again (especially those who didn't leave on good terms, like Wong Hei for example).

      I've always liked Power as an actor and now I like him as a person too. I have alot of respect for him and Mimi for not being afraid to speak up for what they feel is right and not letting what other people say dissuade them from sticking to their beliefs. And I like how they aren't 'extremists' in that they focus on the issue, not the person/company -- for example, I love the stance he took and the stuff he said when he attended that protest against the government's license decision a few years ago. He didn't bash TVB, yet at the same time, he didn't 'kiss up' to them either -- he was there on a personal mission with his family that had nothing to do with TVB.

    3. @sport:  I realized I didn’t really answer your question about what I think of artists who are pro-China or keep silent in order to not affect their careers.  To be honest, I really don’t care what their political stance is, rather, I look more at their actions and what that tells me about what kind of person they are.  I actually don’t have a problem with artists keeping silent in order to not affect their careers, since they’re not making a stance either way….in fact, I would rather they keep silent than to open their mouths and say something stupid that’s very obviously a TVB/government kiss-up type response (like when some artists deny that the quality of TVB’s series has declined when it’s such an obvious fact that everyone sees – to me, those types of responses are pure kiss-up responses).

      The artists that actually annoy me most are those who break off friendships/relationships/ties or avoid supporting their friends or deliberately distance themselves from close friends just because those friends are associated with a rival company and they don’t want  it to affect their careers.  To me, that’s just wrong and absolutely not worth it – I mean, let’s think about it:  which one lasts longer --  working for TVB or a close friendship?  A few years ago, back during the height of the free TV license thing (prior to the government’s license decision when the rivalry between TVB and HKTV was especially fierce/intense), there was a lot of this type of stuff happening and it was obvious where some artists’ loyalties lie.

      The artists I do have respect for are those like Power Chan who are able to separate work from personal life and not let one affect the other (and also not let other people’s opinions affect his own decisions).  I also have respect for artists like Charmaine Sheh – true, I may not like her acting much, but I respect the fact that she does not ‘kow-tow’ to TVB (though it could be argued that in her position, she can do whatever she wants technically, but still…).  Like I remember back when The Menu was airing, she had expressed support for her best friend Catherine on Weibo and how happy she was that she found success – she also had no problem stating that she watched The Menu (despite it being produced by not only a rival station, but also a company that TVB hates) and praised Catherine’s performance in it.

      Another example – I just saw on Weibo that Evergreen Mak went to the premiere of the film The Merger (which we all know the cast and crew are mostly former HKTV people) to support his buddy Frankie Lam (who is one of the executive producers of the film as well as one of the male leads in it).  He even posted a picture congratulating Frankie and, after watching the film, also recommended it to others.  He didn’t shy away from supporting his friend just because they are on opposing sides in terms of career - to me, that’s true friendship.

    4. What I meant by Pro China was recently how many artistes purposely posted/re-shared comments on weibo in regards to China War anniversary. It was so obvious that those artistes were pretending to love the country just cause of the money making opportunities.

      Oh I noticed how Charmaine Sheh wasn't afraid of saying she watched The Menu and supporting Catherine, true friendship and sister relationship right there. For a long while I felt Charmaine Sheh had these diva expression and her smiles weren't as genuine. But then recently I saw this news about how she purposely contacted a media company to donated money for a girl who had medical issues after seeing the news. I guess you really can't judge a book by it's cover.

      Who are some of the people who broke off their friendship with HKTV artistes?

      Evergreen Mak is definitely a very nice person.

      By the way why did Oscar Leung get so many negative comments recently? I heard the news but not sure what happened that caused that.

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    6. I think TVB's stupidity will continue due to their arrogance and unwillingness to listen criticisms and black listing those who speaking out about filming issues (ex: Sheren Tang) as well as those who left. LOL I got a kick out of the reporters asking whether she would return to TVB with so many artistes leaving the dynasty. Sheren's response was "So many people leaving and you're telling me to go back?" haha :D

      Also those biggest issue is not giving any creative freedom to their production crew. It's about A,B,C, D meals so of course their series will be outdated. Not to mention their cheap filming equipment and fake set filming instead of using real locations.

    7. Oh I forgot to mention yes I do believe there are some recent ties between OnTV and TVB just like how I've wondered for a long time whether EEG have ties with OnTV since they promote and cover their popular and unpopular artistes so much.

    8. @sport:  Oh, I see.  Sorry, I think I misunderstood what you meant.  I actually don’t have much comment on the China War anniversary thing….to me, it wasn’t that big of a deal and so whether artists showed their support or not didn’t really matter.

      Off the top of my head, I can’t remember names of specific artists, but I do remember getting upset at it in a general sense several years back.  I think at that time, more than anything, there was a sense of awkwardness and not knowing how to react on the part of some of the artists – plus it didn’t help that the HK Media would continually add fuel to the fire by putting artists on the spot and hounding them on what they thought about the license thing.

      Oh, I read that bit about Oscar Leung too, but I didn’t really pay attention to the details, so I don’t know the whole story either.  From the little I read, it sounded like a netizen was bored so he/she decided to open up a topic in Golden discussion forum asking what fellow netizens thought of Oscar Leung – within like 2 days or something, there were over 10,000 comments and almost all of them were negative (I think the comparison was something along the lines of 100 or so comments supporting Oscar and over 10,000 comments bashing him).  I actually didn’t know he was that ‘hated’ amongst audiences.  I personally am ‘neutral’ towards him – meaning that he’s an artist I neither like nor dislike (he’s pretty much just ‘there’…lol), so I don’t really take the time to dig into his news or anything.

    9. @sport:  Haha…yup, I got a kick out of Sheren’s response too!  You know, sometimes I can’t help but laugh at the stupidity of the HK Media with some of the questions they ask and also the timing of when/who they ask.  On second thought, it’s actually kind of sad when I think about it because not only has the HK entertainment industry deteriorated over the years, the HK media has as well.  Nowadays it’s all about gossip and negative news, and putting artists on the spot as much as possible – sure, all that happened in the old days as well, but the difference is that back then, you could still find some reporters that were truly good people and had high ethical standards when it came to journalistic practices (i.e. veteran Mingpao reporters such as Tsui Yong Yong, Wong Lai Ling, Wang Man Ling, Charles Chak, etc.).  These were the reporters who actually respected the artists and didn’t hang them out to dry in order to get a news story, which is why they were able to form long-lasting relationships with artists and get a lot of good, in-depth interviews with them.  This is one of the reasons why I still read Mingpao Weekly magazine – it’s one of the few publications out there that hasn’t turned 100% tabloid and gossipy (of course, there’s some gossipy stuff in there, but it’s well-balanced, plus the articles are better written – unlike the Next Media stuff where I feel like they always try to take a negative slant to stuff)….and that’s also why Mingpao is still the only publication that consistently has the most interesting and in-depth interviews with artists (since a few of those veteran reporters still write free-lance for them).