Monday, October 23, 2017

OCTB - Latest News!!

Source: HK01

So now that OCTB has officially aired its finale, here are some "final numbers" in terms of internet viewership ratings as well as some info about the series and its sequel(s) straight from the mouths of the series' producers (Jones Soong and Danny Chan) and screenwriter.

As anticipated, viewership ratings in Mainland China (via streaming platform Youku) reached 1.3 billion for the finale (quite impressive if you ask me!).  In HK, viewership ratings via Youtube clocked in at 28 million (also impressive considering the production company is relatively unknown and there were duplicate versions of the series uploaded to other channels on Youtube).  During the celebratory dinner, Jones Soong announced that they there will definitely be season 2 (which starts filming early 2018), but to many people's surprise, he also said that they are planning season 3 as well (I actually wasn't surprised, as I had read an interview that Danny Chan did earlier where he said that the script for seasons 1 through 3 had already been written awhile back ago).

As I'm sure those who've been following this series know, there has been much speculation amongst fans on who will be participating in OCTB's sequel(s).  One of the strengths of the series was in its veteran cast and their top-notch acting, which garnered a lot of praise from netizens and general audiences who were tired of the overall crappy performances from TVB's younger generation.  [***SPOILER ALERT***] Those who watched OCTB from beginning to end know that almost all of the veterans in the series either died or went to jail (except for Michael Chan, who remains the head of triad group Wo Hing Sing…for now)….so it makes sense that they will need to recruit another group of veterans for the sequel(s).

On the day the finale aired, the production team held a celebratory banquet attended by the series' cast and crew.  At the dinner, reporters asked the series director / executive producer Jones Soong what the plans were for seasons 2 and 3 as well as whether the rumors about certain artists participating in the sequels have any merit (for the record, the rumored "names" so far that fans are most concerned about are:  Ekin Cheng, Michael Tse, Anthony Wong, Roy Cheung – all from Young and Dangerous franchise).  Here is Jones Soong's response (excerpted and translated directly from the above HK01 article): "All I can say is that for season 2, there will definitely be a few 'heavyweights' participating…who those artists are though, I cannot reveal right now.  We actually have plans to do season 3 as well, so we can't use up all the artists in one shot – we need to add them in slowly.  One thing I can tell you is that the list of rumored artists currently circulating on the internet, majority of them you will likely see [in upcoming seasons].  The purpose of our series is actually to pay tribute to the triad films of the 1990s, so it's natural to incorporate classic characters from the Y&D franchise.  Audiences will need to wait and see!"

Screenwriter Paul Chung (鍾盛遠) revealed that in season 2, 'Dai Sir's' room will be occupied by a "heavyweight" character. [**SPOILER** Remember that in the first season, Dai Sir was played by Philip Chan, who was killed in a bomb blast after being kidnapped by Justin Cheung's character].  He also revealed that in Season 2, one member of the B1-1 police team will "defect to the other side" – who that person is and why, of course we will have to wait until season 2 to find out.

A few other tidbits (some of these are spoilers for those who didn't watch the finale, so read at your own risk)….

-          OCTB's production team gave us a few "Easter eggs" at the end of the series.  One of them was the revelation by Wo Hing Sing's leader Sun Ye (Michael Chan) that he has a son named 'Michael' who will be returning to HK to take over the group.  This is obviously significant given a lot of the stuff that happened in the series was the direct result of the various triad guys fighting over the top leadership spot.   There has been speculation on who 'Michael' will be.  Based on the scene where Sun Ye 'calls' Michael and tells him it's time to come back and we see the back of a guy sitting at a desk picking up the phone, there is much speculation that 'Michael' will be Danny Chan's character turned bad (the backside of the person in the scene actually does look like Danny)….this speculation was further strengthened through the second "Easter egg" where Danny's character meets up with Jordan's character to say goodbye and tells him that, after everything that's happened, he is not sure about his plans for the future and for now just wants a break from everything.  So is Danny actually going to be 'Michael'?  I guess we will have to wait until season 2 to find out.

-          Regarding the speculation about Michael Tse possibly participating in the sequel….supposedly, reporters had asked Michael whether he will be joining the cast and he had said no he won't.  The reporters asked Jones Soong at the celebration dinner, telling him that Michael said he won't be participating in the series.  Jones replied:  "He will be in it.  Actually, from the beginning [season 1], we had invited him to participate, but it wasn't able to happen.  You will see it happen in season 2.." The reporter then asked further whether that means Michael Tse will for sure be part of the season 2 cast, to which Jones then said:  "Let's wait for the official announcement, since I'm not supposed to say anything right now.  We are planning to start filming season 2 in January 2018 and the entire cast will be announced prior to that, so keep an eye out for that.  Since it will be in December, consider it our Christmas present to you!"

-          It's pretty obvious from the finale (the third "Easter Egg") that Justin Cheung will continue to be in season 2 and his villain character Jiu Jik (I probably butchered the spelling) will return to wreak havoc on Wo Hing Sing.  He was essentially the ultimate villain in season 1, but what will his role be in season 2?  From what has come out so far, it sounds like there will be another battle for the Wo Hing Sing top spot in season 2, though to what capacity we don't know. 

-          Rumor has it that Jordan Chan might not return as a lead in season 2..  The production team said that they are working with him, but it depends on his schedule next year.  If they are able to work out his schedule, then he will reprise his role in the same capacity.  If not, then he will still participate in the series, but in a smaller role where he will only show up every once in a while – as often as his schedule allows (in the reduced role, his character will get promoted to Superintendent of Police and will be in scenes as necessary, similar to Gregory Rivers in the first season).  If Jordan won't be able to participate, then that leaves Danny as the main lead going into season 2 – if the rumors of Danny's character defecting are true, then they are going to need another lead to take Jordan's place on the police side…makes it more likely that the person might be Michael Tse or Ekin Cheng (or someone else altogether of course, but it would need to be someone around same level / age).  As I said earlier, I'm pretty sure Anthony Wong will be in season 2 (no confirmation, just a gut feeling on my part), but highly doubt he will take Jordan's spot, as he is too old for that role – most likely he will either be Dai Sir (if he is on the police side) or one of the big shot gangster guys (if he is on the triad side).  Could also be someone else entirely who has not been mentioned yet of course….I guess we will find out in December.

-          Within 24 hours of the final episode's broadcast, the entire series was removed from Youtube.  There was actually warning of this on the production team's Facebook page, but they didn't make the announcement until the day of – obviously they got some heat from audiences on this, since it wasn't enough notice for people who hadn't caught up yet to finish watching the series (there was speculation that the production team took down the series because of marketing concerns and they would have to start charging to watch the series or repackage as DVD).  For  those of you who haven't finished watching the series yet and are freaking out right now – DON'T WORRY….at the dinner, Jones Soong explained the reason for removing the series (to enhance the series and correct any mistakes that were in there) and confirmed that they will be putting back up a 2.0 version that will also be free for audiences to watch.  He said they are not sure when the date will be but to watch for the official announcement on their website.


  1. So I finished watching the series before it got taken down (and to those who haven't watched it yet, there are still some floating around on the internet on other platforms, because from their latest facebook post it sounds like they will be charging to view).

    Overall opinion:
    - the script was mostly solid, good quality until the ending part where the plot holes became too big to ignore. But compared to TVB productions and some other Mainland productions I have seen, still decent.
    - acting from the veterans were top notch and there were some promising young actors that stole the limelight aka Justin Cheung. Even though it was basically a copy of The Joker from Batman, he still managed to pull it off really well and was convincing as a psychopath.
    - The acting from the 2 leads (Jordan and Danny), were probably the worse in the whole series but they were lucky to have veterans acting with them to take away the focus from them
    - I liked the filming and directing angles, it was new and made the whole production more movie like. Not the best cinematography that I have seen in a Chinese TV series (that goes to Nirvina in Fire and The Disguiser) but some scenes were very impressive e.g. the dream scene where Jordan walks through those corridors of junk material and ends up shooting Danny
    - I'm way too young to appreciate most of the inside jokes and references (or the historical period references for that matter too), which may have impacted on overall enjoyment level

    Looking forward to season 2 - I just hope it doesn't become repetitive in terms of plot lines and ideas. They should really consider making the series shorter if they were planning to do multiple seasons.

    1. @Phixster: That post on Facebook is actually from before they took the series down. Most people who read that also assumed that they were going to start charging for it, which is why reporters asked Jones Soong at the dinner whether that was true. Jones said at the dinner that they are not planning on charging audiences to watch and that the reason for taking it down was to create a 2.0 version. He said the plan at the moment is to put the series back up once the editing is done and to continue to let audiences watch for free. So far, that’s the latest “update” from what I can see (of course, this could change later but for now, let’s hope they keep to their word).

      I agree with all of your points. The script definitely isn’t without its flaws, but overall, they did a better job than what we’ve seen from TVB’s scriptwriters in years. I’m actually not familiar with this particular scriptwriter so trying to do some research on him – from what I can see so far, he has mostly written scripts for films and most of them small films, a lot of it “cultish” stuff, which makes sense why he hooked up with Jones Soong, since they aren’t the “big budget production” type of movie guys. I liked the filming and directing angles as well. My understanding is that this style is kind of unique to Jones Soong and is the results of him studying filming for many years. Having a movie feel makes sense, since most of the behind-the-scenes crew are movie people, so that’s what they know.

      Absolutely agree on the top notch acting from the veterans. They essentially carried the show and it was smart of the production team to focus on them rather than Danny and Jordan (both of whom have never been “great” actors to begin with). With that said, no doubt that all eyes will be on who the veterans will end up being for season 2, as we already know how important they are to this series.

      I’m impressed with Justin Cheung as well – for him to kind of be a newbie (6 years in the industry) and still be able to hold his own so well against so many top notch veterans, really says something about his talent. His acting was way better than Jordan’s and Danny’s, that’s for sure. Yes, his character was a copy of Joker, but at least he is upfront about it for one and two, he did put his own spin to it – he said in previous interviews that he is a huge super hero movie fan and Heath Ledger’s Joker is one of his favorite characters, so in a way, he was trying to pay tribute to that through his performance (it also helps that Jones Soong is also a fan of Joker, so he was totally stoked on the idea). I actually started noticing Justin last year when I found out he would be part of The Menu movie version cast (his management company is Stephen Shiu Jr’s China 3D, the company that produced The Menu movie) and did some research on him…obviously I haven’t watched his previous movies (lol) but I had heard that his acting was pretty decent even when he debuted. I heard he’s gotten quite a few movie offers now after OCTB (including having the opportunity to film with Chow Yun Fat earlier in the year in a movie that I actually want to watch, as it has some of my favorite artists in it, like Liu Kai Chi, Catherine Chau, etc., plus the premise sounds interesting). Anyway…I’m actually looking forward to seeing Justin in season 2 and seeing what else he can do.

      Yea, I’m a bit concerned about the plot for season 2 as well. The good thing is that with the experience of season 1 behind them, they still have time to tweak the script if need be and make sure everything makes sense. From what Sam Lee said during the dinner (he’s actually one of the producers of the series as well, as he’s one of the company’s partners), that sounds like what they are planning on doing….

    2. Hopefully they learn from season 1 and improve on it for season 2. I'm really glad that the solid acting in this series (from veterans to newbies) are getting recognition. It's a change from the current trend of Chinese artists only being recognised for their looks.

      OCTB is one of the better series to come out in the last 5 years. Of course HKTV still probably wins (Especially The Menu and Borderline/ Nightshift if you ignore the endings), but since HKTV is not producing series anymore, hopefully this will inspire other small production companies to make cantonese web dramas. Or better yet, inspire HKTV to start producing series again lol.

    3. @Phixster: Well-said! It’s definitely rare for both veterans and newbies to all put in solid performances in a series, which is why seeing OCTB’s success is so refreshing and encouraging!

      With that said though, there are a lot of companies jumping on the web series bandwagon nowadays, though so far OCTB is the only one I’ve seen that is a quality production targeted 100% toward HK audiences. Most of the other series emphasize the Mainland component more than HK, which of course isn’t surprising but frustrating when there are already so few purely HK/Cantonese options out there now.

      Definitely agree that HKTV still wins hands-down (and not just their series, but also the way they operated as well as the overall philosophy of the company). I think for me, I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that HKTV is done and over with, though of course they will continue to live on through fans like us as a wonderful memory of what “could have been”. I will still support HKTV if they ever decide to resume filming again, but it’s going to be a tough road for them given everything that has happened and also the fact that the HK television industry’s landscape is different now. I think all we can really do at this point is hope for the best…

      After seeing OCTB’s success, I’m actually interested in seeing how things are going to pan out for the next ‘major player’ in the HK drama world – Fox Asia. From what I’ve read, it sounds like they are planning to push out their series before the end of the year (though which series they are going to release first is hard to say) – there are some big names backing those series and also quite a few veterans involved in the production (some of the same people from OCTB and also HKTV’s series are in Fox Asia’s series as well), so on paper, it sounds promising…but we will have to see once the series come out…

    4. @Phixter Totally agree about HKTV's The Menu, Borderline, and Night Shift. Although I haven't watched OCTB yet I did catch a glimpse when my dad was watching it and I couldn't help but wonder if the police station was the same one used in Borderline? Anyway I have the same sentiments as you that I wish this success which inspire HKTV to resume productions again. In fact I feel this "success" will be another kicker for Ricky Wong who regretted not going the web series route when 100Most/TVMost skyrocketed to popularity online.

      @llwy12 Need to check back my previous comments but did you ever figure out whether some of HKTV"s production crew are working for Visual Brother's Limited? Can't be a coincidence that their filming style, real locations, and ideology are almost a mirror image of HKTV. If so it's great to see those trained by HKTV overseas and in different ways were able to find a platform to express themselves instead of returning to TVB.

      All in all it's nice to see new life and hope for HK tv series because I'm sure most like me have given up on the TVBully or TVCopycat ahem. Unlike the rest of my family I haven't watched any HK tv series minus Margaret and David: Green Bean after HKTV stopped.

      I think Fox's biggest issue will be whether their story-lines can resonate with HK culture and lifestyle. I believe tapping into HK culture and nostalgia was the main success to OCTB. If Fox can have storyline that reflects the true side of HK preferably right now then it'd be great. Though from the looks their focus seem to be on older eras such as premodern and 80s. Hopefully they will have some modern series as well.

  2. Finally….Jones Soong did a few in-depth interviews with HK01 where he talks about his life prior to entering the industry and also the difficult path that he and his industry “brothers” went through in order to get OCTB made. There’s some really good stuff in the interviews – gave me some new insight into the series and also Visual Brothers company as a whole. I’ll try to put up some highlights when I have time…

  3. Notice that Jiu Jik is bearing resemblance to Joker from Dark Knight. Purple shirt, white skin, maniac laugh, Trying to bring the good person to the dark side, smeared red lips and saying he wont kill the main character cause he is nothing without him

  4. @Eric Lim: Yes, Jiu Jik was based on Heath Ledger's Joker character from Dark Knight. The actor who plays Jiu Jik -- Justin Cheung -- actually did an interview last year where he talked about his inspiration for Jiu Jik and how he's a huge fan of Heath as well as his portrayal of Joker, which is why he modeled the character after him. Justin said that his own portrayal is nowhere near Heath's level, but he sees his performance as more his way of paying tribute to the late actor.