Objectively, all TVB dramas are terrible, the Cantonese equivalent of Monster Dog or Space Truckers, but at the same time weirdly addictive. If you switch on during an episode, there’s a good chance you’ll see it through to the end [of the episode] cos the plot and time within the drama move at lightspeed.
If a character decides to do something, even something that takes a really long journey like go to Holland to find an ancient artefact, the very next scene will be that character walking around Amsterdam with a map.
This is common in a lot of movies, but TVB stands out more cos a] it happens frequently, and b] it’s juxtaposed with endless scenes of characters exchanging bland dialogue + life philosophies.
E.g. Relationships are just like the waves of the sea, sometimes they’re choppy, sometimes they’re calm. But if you are good at surfing, you can ride them for 10-15 seconds before falling off and potentially hitting your head on a submerged rock.
That’s not a hundred per cent accurate, but I remember hearing the first part of it in one of the dramas and it gives you the basic idea of what I’m talking about.
Rumour has it TVB has an archive of these philosophies that they recycle every 2-3 years, in new dramas. No one really notices, due to the abundance of them, so they keep doing it. New ideas are frowned upon.
It’s not just the dialogue that’s bad. The writing in general is awful, no subtlety at all, which I guess is understandable when you consider they often write the script as the drama is being filmed. This obviously leads to ridiculous plot twists, uneven performances and copycatting.
E.g. in the new vampire drama, the main female character [Kay Tse, channelling a P4 student playing a tree in the school nativity play] can touch dead bodies and bring them back to life for 1 minute. Obviously, the writers have never seen or heard of the US show ‘Pushing Daisies’.
Frankly, I can’t blame the writers for not giving a shit, when the studio and the audience don’t either.
Is the new vampire drama any good?
Well, when it’s not promoting KFC in Ming Dynasty era flashbacks, it’s okay. Definitely watchable. So bad it’s funny sometimes, mostly during the action scenes.
Most of my students can’t stand it, any of the dramas, though maybe I have more tolerance for them as I’m not from Hong Kong, so the style is something I’m not used to. The fact that I can only understand about 30% of what they’re saying probably helps too.
The main actor, Kevin Cheng, is an immortal vampire slayer and has the same haircut as Begbie from Trainspotting, instantly making him 40% less attractive and 67% more likely to glass someone. His acting is not the best in the world, but is serviceable. In fact, this is par for the course on TVB as all actors and actresses are trained by the studio in how to act, though some of them manage to standout e.g. Vincent Wong in the previous drama ‘EU: time travel’, probably one of the best TVB actors as he can play multiple roles and handle a character arc without changing into a completely different person.
Also, when some of them escape the TVB leash long enough to make a movie, like Myolie Wu in ‘Life without Principles’, they surprise a lot of critics by showing they can break their TVB brainwashing and actually act like a regular human.
Kay Tse, a famous singer in HK, is pretty bad, but it’s her first time acting [so I heard] so I won’t be too harsh. Also, my Cantonese is still limited so I don’t really know how good she is at delivering her lines. I don’t think she’s as bad as the rival mag editor from the recent TVB Moses Chan fashion drama, she doesn’t overact, but she doesn’t have much range either.
Grace Chan [ex-Miss Hong Kong] isn’t as annoying as the Sisley Choi template character TVB has established over the last year or so, but she does have quite a pointy chin and, for some reason, is mute, which is dramatic suicide for a main character in a TVB drama. Remember how I said these dramas have never-ending scenes of dialogue? Well, her character has to write everything she wants to say on note paper and then hold it up, which takes forever. I think they realised the mistake as in the last few episodes she has started to speak. Yup, she was just temporarily mute.
As for her acting, I don’t know. It’s not offensive, but it’s not very subtle either. When she’s up, she’s up, when she’s down, she’s down, and her huge eyes will adjust size to help you know it.
The supporting characters have a bit of charisma, especially the guy with glasses. They get quite a big role in the story too, which is good. When their kung fu mentor died it was actually quite a moving scene…until they ruined it by playing shitty emo-pop over the top of it.
I like the restaurant/bar the main guy is running. Its entrance is in the middle of a flight of steps, possibly near Club 71 in the Mid Levels, which is very HK style. Well, HK island style at least. I don’t know why I like it, I just like the idea of his character doing that as his job, and taking over the place by murdering the demon owner.
Like the scorpion and the frog story, it’s still a TVB drama…
Probably the worst part of this drama is the action and its delineation of vampires, who seem to be 20 times stronger than humans, instead of just 3 times stronger.
It makes the plot very inconsistent.
E.g. one scene will have a vampire massacring an entire team of swat police at hyper speed. Then the next scene will have the two human sidekicks fighting the same vampires and doing quite well, mostly cos the vamps are suddenly swinging like a pair of drunks.
It does not make sense and, obviously, drains all tension from the scene.
Kind of like the time the main character fought the main vampire and broke off a huge chunk of a Dutch museum, then a week or two later, the museum has been 100% repaired. There wasn’t even any scaffolding.
TVB don’t give a shit.
Despite all this, I keep watching, though only if it happens to be on. I wouldn’t rush home for an episode. Even the finale of a drama is never worth it. TVB rules say: every drama must end the same way i.e. happily, with the bad guys punished.
HK is quite a conservative city in terms of cultural values, especially in the mainstream, but this seems like overkill to me. There can never be an unhappy ending?
It makes you realise why Infernal Affairs was such a breakout hit, finally, the bad guy wins, or kind of wins.
EU: time Travel, the preceding drama, was a little different too, to be fair. The bad guys didn’t win exactly, but the plot restarted at the end so, in effect, events never transpired that would make the police officer boyfriend a bad guy, which is actually quite subtle for TVB. That means Tracey Chu would’ve carried on dating him, not knowing what he was capable of becoming if things didn’t go his way.
The above paragraph only makes sense if you watched that drama. I’m too drained of energy to write out the plot/characters of that one too.
I think I’ve written too much about TVB
but I do watch their dramas quite a lot so I might as well write something about them.
It’s a good way to practise Cantonese too
if I really were fluent, I’m pretty sure the dialogue would become unbearable and I’d end up either switching off or hitting the mute button.