Sunday, February 4, 2018

TVB Anniversary Awards 2017: Results + Comments


Global Netizen’s Favorite Drama: “The Exorcist’s Meter”
Not a surprise and well-deserved. I’m so glad TVB didn’t give this to “Line Walker 2” and always love a good underdog story. This series had a low budget and the farest thing from a star-studded cast, but heart and creativity. There probably isn’t any other series in the last few years that dealt with the subject of human loss and love so well, much less while tying together supernatural elements.



Most Improved Actor: Mat Yeung
I said “Matthew” out loud just as the winner was announced and was completely blindsided in the best way possible when Mat’s name was announced instead. I pegged Mat as having no chance, especially as the two drama series he is nominated for did not receive much attention. Yes he’s overqualified for the award, and perhaps Owen deserved it most solely in terms of actual improvements in acting, but I am so happy that he has finally received recognition. Next stop, best supporting actor with the big boys?


Most Improved Actress: Mayanne Mak
I was totally surprised by this, and don’t watch variety shows so I cannot give an opinion as to whether or not Mayanne deserves it. From all the applause and cheers she received, it seems like she did, and in that respect I’m happy for her. However, I still think TVB needs to separate out the most improved acting and hosting categories. I’m mostly just glad Jacqueline Wong didn’t win (sorry Kenneth).



Most Popular Drama Theme Song: Hubert Wu’s theme song for “The Exorcist’s Meter”
Woo so happy Hana didn’t win for her sub theme for “Line Walker 2”! This is definitely my favorite theme song of the year. No complaints. So glad Hubert, who is a far superior singer, finally nabbed this award out of the hands of Jinny, Hana, and Co. Also loved the "Hearts of Fencing" reunion. When I first heard the theme song by 2R start playing, I was wondering why it sounded so familiar before I was flooded with memories of the series.



Most Favorite Onscreen Partnership: Edwin Siu, Raymond Cho, and Matthew Ho for “A General, A Scholar, And An Eunuch”
I didn’t actually put this down as my prediction, but did expect this would be a very likely scenario. Edwin, Raymond, and Matthew were such a fun ensemble with chemistry while each having comedic talent in their own right. Edwin looked completely surprised and unprepared when giving the acceptance speech though, which was quite funny.



Best Supporting Actor: Joel Chan for “The Unholy Alliance”
Top 5: Joel Chan, Jimmy Au, Andrew Yuen, Owen Cheung, Anthony Ho


This category was obviously one “The Unholy Alliance” co-star versus another. In the end, I’m not surprised Joel won, and that is more fitting anyway because as solid of an actor as Jimmy is, his bodyguard role in the series probably could not even have been considered a supporting role. Joel was one of the more emotional people of the night, which makes sense given he was given a second opportunity at TVB and has experienced so much more success this time around after putting in a lot of hard work. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Joel. It was sweet seeing Elaine present the award to Joel and tearing up behind him as he gave his speech, before regaining composure and watching him in admiration.




Best Supporting Actress: Rebecca Zhu for “A General, A Scholar, And An Eunuch”
Top 5: Rebecca Zhu, Tracy Chu, Mandy Lam, Elaine Yiu, Sharon Chan


I don’t think I’ve ever been so genuinely offended and confused by an anniversary awards winner in my life? While I did not agree with Katy and Elaine’s wins in the last two years for this award, at least they were for meaty roles. Meanwhile, Rebecca had the least to do of all the females in “A General.” She stood around and flirted with Matthew sometimes. What’s even more offensive is that her co-star Grace Wong did not even place into a top 5 despite giving a far superior, more entertaining performance. However, I was pleasantly surprised Mandy Lam placed for “Lo and Behold.” I haven’t been watching it, but been hearing good things about her and always like it when actors from sitcoms can get short-listed. Either Tracy, Mandy, or Elaine winning would have been better than Rebecca. And this is saying a lot, considering Tracy only had a guest starring role and Elaine gave a typical performance and already previously won. I can’t believe Sharon was short-listed for her cringeworthy, adulterer role in “Heart and Greed 3” either. This has been one of the weakest categories in the last few years, but Rebecca’s win is probably one of the most uncalled for and unfair since Fala first won in 2007 very shortly after debuting.




Favorite Male Character: Kenneth Ma for “The Exorcist’s Meter”
Top 5: Kenneth Ma, Vincent Wong, Moses Chan, Edwin Siu, Benjamin Yuen


Most of us definitely called this. “Ma Kwai” is definitely one of the most easily likable characters of the year. All the top five nominees’ characters were likable though, which is a nice change from some categories sometimes not even having one solid nominee recently.




Favorite Female Character: Sisley Choi for “Legal Mavericks”
Top 5: Sisley Choi, Natalie Tong, Nancy Wu, Mandy Wong, Ali Lee

Slightly surprising, but not that much considering it’s TVB. Sisley should have been nominated for and won Most Improved Actress instead. If we are looking solely at character, I really did like her “Din Jie” character, which was a refreshing female character who was bad ass, did not care she was unattractive, and was unapologetically herself. I would still easily choose Ali’s “Paris” over Sisley, and am disappointed Ali went home empty-handed despite giving such a solid performance in “My Ages Apart.” Unfortunately, what I dreaded would happen to Ali happened to Sisley instead. She isn’t necessarily undeserving and has genuinely improved, but she won such a major award sooner than others usually do, which has already given her criticism. TVB is hurting Sisley more than helping her by pulling this move, while the audience may have actually been happy for her had she won Most Improved.


I might be in the minority here, but I liked Sisley’s speech about how the criticism she has received for her acting made her question her self-worth, while getting to play this role helped her to finally get some it back. You can tell that the attacks and negative words have really gotten to her, but instead of questioning why people are criticizing her (ahem, Grace Chan), or letting it get the best of her her, but you can also tell she has taken it to heart and tried her best to improve. But yes, it was bizarre that she didn’t actually thank people in her speech. On another note, every main cast member except Mandy deserved praise for “The Exorcist’s Meter,” but here we are. Moon Lau should have taken her place.




Best Actor: Vincent Wong for “Legal Mavericks”
Top 5: Vincent Wong, Kenneth Ma, Ruco Chan, Michael Miu, Moses Chan


Expected, but still satisfying. Vincent obviously knew he was going to win barring an upset by Kenneth, so he was calm and collected and had a well-rehearsed speech. Vincent is a perfect example of someone who may not have as much experience under his belt as other winners (12 years, and just a mere three series as a leading actor), but won based on merit instead of timing, and the luck of receiving a great role he could nail. I would love to see more actors in the future winning based on the merit of performance alone, rather than it just being “the right time” or the luck of being cast in a series with high buzz. I definitely felt Vincent had the potential to win TV King when “Legal Mavericks” and his role was first announced - called it!




Best Actress: Natalie Tong for “My Unfair Lady”
Top 5: Natalie Tong, Jessica Hsuan, Nancy Wu, Nina Paw, Ali Lee


My jaw dropped when Natalie’s name was called. I wasn’t angry like for Rebecca, but I was just shocked. I did not read the reports that Natalie’s fans had been campaigning for her or that she was rumored to sign a new contract in exchange for the award, so I was completely confused. I have liked Natalie for a long time and think she is a good actress, but not Best Actress caliber (she was also in the awkward position of being a second lead in “My Unfair Lady,” neither a leading or supporting actress).




Best Drama: “My Ages Apart”


I’m surprised that TVB didn’t give this award to “Line Walker: The Prelude” and allowed it to go home empty-handed. But if this award was going to go to any other series, I’m not surprised they decided to give it to the anniversary drama that didn’t make a splash, but at least didn’t completely tank (ahem, Heart and Greed). I am very happy this series won though, because it was a refreshing series with a great sense of humor. I am a fan of meta and satirical humor, as well as series that are not afraid to poke fun at themselves. As crazy as the main family and some plot lines could get, you could tell the writers were well-aware of its own absurdity and never took themselves too seriously. It’s something I really wish more TVB comedies could incorporate. And while it understandably dragged sometimes at a whooping length of 50 episodes, with its large ensemble, I did not feel like it dragged significantly more than series that ran just a mere 20 or 30 episodes can sometimes. I wish more people would have tuned in.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

TVB Anniversary Awards 2017: My Predictions and Picks

Hello everyone, it's time for my yearly emergence from hibernation! Unfortunately I have had a crazy and busy year, leading me to realize today that my last blog post was from over a year ago (but in my defense, TVB also decided to push back the anniversary awards until the end of January). Since I did not write any reviews this year, this year's awards predictions post is particularly long as it is doubling as a post with my thoughts on the series I've watched this year and the performances I saw.

Best Actor



Top 5: Vincent Wong, Ruco Chan, Michael Miu, Kenneth Ma, Moses Chan
Predicted Winner: Vincent
Most Deserving: Vincent Wong
Personal Choice: Vincent Wong
Snub: Louis Cheung for "My Ages Apart"

I could see this going either way and would be pleased with either, but am giving Vincent an edge over Kenneth. With "Heart of Greed 3" being a complete failure, "My Ages Apart" barely registering a blimp on the radar, and other series starring veterans like Dicky Cheung being pushed to later this year, Vincent’s competition has ended up being much weaker than previously predicted. Kenneth is the only one giving him a run for his money, and it is interesting to see that the major contenders in the Best Actor category for the first time is between two “younger” siu sangs instead of mixed with older veterans.

Timing-wise, it certainly feels like Vincent winning is a little premature, especially given Kenneth has yet to win it. If we were to judge solely on performance though, Vincent deserves it more, as the character was multi-dimensional and called on him to be a range of things from aloof, narcissistic, manipulative, to vulnerable, and even sometimes a little goofy and fun all without being able to communicate without his eyes. I’m sure Vincent will have more interesting roles in the future, but it’s difficult to see a better role for him to win TV King for than “Man Hap,” at least in the near future. Kenneth definitely gives a strong performance as Ma Kwai that makes you feel for his unlikely hero character. He nails his scrappy, laidback, potty mouth character while injecting sentimental ness and emotion so that you can’t help but root for him. Kenneth does so well with what he is given, but he doesn’t get to show as much range or do anything new. This is certainly an appropriate time for him to win, and it would be for a strong character, not to mention for a totally unexpected but nevertheless satisfying underdog series. I’m honestly cheering for both, but still think Vincent deserves it more based on performance alone and has a slight edge.

A notable snub is Louis, who is currently being "frozen" by TVB despite being one of their most valuable actors right now. He gives an enjoyable and solid performance as usual as "Walking," and it's ridiculous that TVB is punishing him for something that was not even in his control, while Tony can get a nomination for "Recipes to Live By."

Best Actress


Top 5: Jessica Hsuan, Nina Paw, Nancy Wu, Ali Lee, Louise Lee
Predicted Winner: Jessica
Most Deserving: *shrugs*
Personal Choice: *shrugs*

It really is sad how weak of categories Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress have become in recent years. My best guess is that Jessica will win because there really isn't anyone else, and "My Unfair Lady" was a success that gave Jessica a resurgence in popularity. I like Jessica and she performed fine, but I couldn't get through the series and did not like her character "Mall Jie." Nina Paw for "The Unholy Alliance" would be a cool choice, but she is certainly a black horse candidate having come from a film career. Then again, Josie Ho unexpectedly won Best Supporting Actress for "Tomorrow is Another Day" in 2014, so it's not impossible. My only hope is that Ali does not win. I genuinely do think she has improved this year, and I have thoroughly enjoyed her performance in "My Ages Apart." She is natural, fun, and cute without being annoying and shows the changes and maturity in her character "Paris."  For her to win Best Actress just a year after winning Most Improved will undoubtedly garner her criticism and hate that she does not deserve.

Favorite Male Character


Top 5: Vincent Wong, Ruco Chan, Benjamin Yuen, Kenneth Ma, Moses Chan
Predicted Winner: Kenneth Ma
Most Deserving: Kenneth Ma
Personal Choice: Kenneth Ma, Hubert Wu
Snub: Louis Cheung for "My Ages Apart"

As stated above, Kenneth plays an unlikely hero, but one that is easy to like and root for nevertheless.  Ma Kwai may be funny, but is also an underdog character who goes from questioning to how he became embroiled in the messy world of the supernatural to accepting his destiny. Should Kenneth win Best Actor over Favorite Male Character, I doubt Vincent will go home empty-handed and instead will receive this. "Man Hap" is definitely an interesting and memorable character, but with his many layers buried under an often arrogant and detached exterior, Ma Kwai was the more easily likable character. Hubert's "Shek Kam Dong" was also endearing and entertaining to watch. I enjoyed seeing him become increasingly aware of the human nature of those around him and going from involuntary alliances with Kenneth to being true friends and "brothers." Louis' "Walking" was also a fun and quirky character and as usual Louis makes him even more likable and dynamic.

Favorite Female Character


Top 5: Natalie Tong, Jessica Hsuan, Nancy Wu, Ali Lee, Tracy Chu
Predicted Winner:
Ali
Most Deserving: Ali
Personal Choice: Ali, Moon Lau
Snub: Grace Wong 

I'm surprised Ali was nominated for "My Ages Apart" over "Legal Mavericks" since her "Never Wong" character was quite popular. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I actually personally liked "Paris" more than "Never" since Paris was a more dynamic character where you were able to witness her growth while Never remained static. Paris went from a snobby and immature girl to someone who is much more compassionate, hardworking, and sweet, and I wish Ali had received more attention for the role. With the actress' popularity this year for "Legal Mavericks," it won't be surprising if she goes home with this award, but should a black horse candidate like Nina or someone completely random emerge victorious as TV Queen, I can see Jessica winning this too.

*spoiler alert ahead* 
Moon's character "Bei Bei" in "The Exorcist's Meter" seemed like she would just be a cutesy and idealistic character, but she was also sweet, caring, and pleasantly optimistic, and proved to be such a loyal and genuine friend. She genuinely loved and cared about Kenneth, but it didn’t feel like a blind, foolish one - she just wanted him to be happy and safe. Her somewhat unexpected death was probably the one character death this year that left me sad and wanting to crawl in a corner. I also, completely unexpectedly, quite liked Sisley's "Dang Jie" in "Legal Maverick." While she could be a bit too self-sacrificial at times, I liked the character's strength, loyalty, and how she accepted and embraced who she was (born with buckteeth and the daughter of a triad boss).

One snub I noticed though is Grace Wong, who played a pretty bad ass and fun character in "A General, A Soldier, and An Eunuch." I realize she won this award last year, but surely she still deserved a nomination in what's a ridiculously long list anyway?

Best Supporting Actor


Top 3: Owen Cheung, Jimmy Au, and Joel Chan
Predicted Winner: Jimmy Au
Most Deserving: Jimmy Au
Personal Choice: Jimmy Au

TVB does this ridiculous thing where they do something different for the supporting category almost every year. They've named every single nominee, the top 5, top 2, and last year, the top 3, so that's what I will go with here.

Jimmy Au became a reliable veteran supporting actor that gained a lot of attention after playing a villain in last year's "A Fist Within Four Walls" and then the loyal bodyguard this year in "The Unholy Alliance." Yet, when it came to winning awards, it was his co-star Joel who won in Malaysia. Joel has definitely dedicated himself after being given a second chance from TVB and is a solid actor. However, this category for many years now has been an older (aged 50+) veteran actors club it seems, making Jimmy seem like the more likely winner, though it could easily go either way. I was not particularly impressed by Joel's performance though since he didn't have that much to work with, and I have come to really like Jimmy, from his villainous roles, to his comedic ones like in "Come Home Love," and his dramatic but good and loyal roles like the one he is nominated for. It's always so rewarding to see hardworking actors who have gone unrecognized for decades upon decades finally win an award and receive a standing ovation from their colleagues, and a win for Jimmy would be no different. With that said, Joel is also going into his 20th year into the industry and grown as an actor in his own right, so I wouldn't be mad if he won either.

Best Supporting Actress


Top 3: Tracy Chu, Grace Wong, and Elaine Yiu
Predicted Winner: Grace
Most Deserving: Grace
Personal Choice: Grace

The good news is there is one decently strong nominee for this category in Grace Wong, but the bad news is that it ends there. I'm not sure if I would go as far to say as Grace's performance in "A General, A Soldier, and An Eunuch" is award-worthy, but it was definitely an enjoyable and solid one. Grace has quietly improved as an actress by heaps and bounds over the last few years, and I loved seeing her hold her own as the would-be princess turned modern-day independent woman in this male-dominated series. Plus, she earned praise for her villainous turn in "My Dangerous Mind Hunter," which she probably should have been nominated for instead (though I did not personally watch it). I'm assuming Elaine will find herself onto the short-list as well, even though she and Joel really did not have much to work with in "The Unholy Alliance." Joyce is always a strong actress and I'm still disappointed she lost this award last year despite being a hot choice, but she is nominated for a sitcom this year.

Most Improved Actor



Predicted Winner: Matthew Ho
Most Deserving: Mat or Hugo
Personal Choice: Mat
Snub: Fred Cheng

After the weakest competition I’ve ever seen last year in a usually exciting or at least interesting category, all the nominees in this category actually feel deserved (except maybe host Luk Ho Ming, who I'm not familiar with). None of the actors feel prematurely nominated or too overqualified, with the exception of maybe Mat. Hubert is the weakest actor/nominee of the bunch, but he still played the role of Shek Kam Dong very well, nailing the ancient language the character used as well as the character’s sense of responsibility yet occasional awe at today’s objects. 

This is now Mat’s fourth nomination in this category, having previously been nominated in 2011, 2014, and 2015. Poor guy is always a solid contender every time, but always overshadowed by someone who attracts more buzz, and this year is no different. He just never seems to be in the right series or in one at the right time, and hopefully one of these days he is.

Hugo has caught my eye since his small role and emotional scenes in “Triumph in the Skies II” as Nancy’s early boyfriend. Since then, I’ve found him to be full of potential and easy on the eyes, yet he’s always been stuck in minor roles. With the exodus of actors his luck has changed, and it has been nice to see him in increasingly major roles like the villain in The Exorcist’s Meter. This nomination was well-deserved, and one I was very happy to see.

I did not think much of Owen when I first saw him in "Come Home Love" and went into "Legal Maverick" with no expectations for him as a second lead. Yet I was surprised and impressed by his comic timing. He may have previously been known as a Chilam and Bosco lookalike, but he finally distinguished himself as Owen this year. I would like to see how he fares in a more dramatic and/or soft-spoken role than his usual more loud, upbeat, and comedic ones though before I pin him as an actor who has vastly improved.

One notable snub is Fred. With his baby face, I mostly picture him happy and more cheerful characters, so he really surprised me in "Provocateur" as the vengeful and manipulative protagonist. I never would have thought he could creep me out or scare me, but at many points in this series he did. He was the first person I pegged this year as a contender for Most Improved, and it’s a shame he was barely noticed for his performance.

The winner is obviously going to be Matthew after all the buzz he received for playing an eunuch in “A General, A Scholar, and An Eunuch.” Its a choice I agree with and think makes sense, but I must admit I am more excited by some of the other guys, because I am still not yet convinced Matthew can impressively play more than “Siu Tung," but looking forward to how he fares in his action drama opposite Joe Ma. The only one I could see having a tiny, tiny chance of pulling an upset is Owen, who nabbed Best Supporting Actor in Singapore.

Most Improved Actress


Predicted Winner: Samantha Ko
Most Deserving: Roxanne Tong
Personal Choice: Roxanne Tong
Snub: Sisley Choi

And then we have the female category, and while it's not a total mess, still leaves much to be desired compared to the male category. My best guess is Samantha will win, since she has the buzzed-about "My Unfair Lady" under her name, and she won this award in Singapore. I'd be indifferent to this result. I remember really liking her performance in "Friendly Fire" several years ago, but she has not left an impression on me since then.

Zoie Tam won in Malaysia though, and I wouldn't be overly surprised if she won, since she has been appearing in more and more series recently. At least to me though, her look suits very well for cool and detached characters, and not much else, making her feel dull to me.

I have been very pleasantly surprised by Roxanne Tong, who gave an okay but rather bland performance in "Come Home Love," but was incredibly endearing and natural in last year's "Between Love and Desire." I'm happy to see she was able to receive a nomination this year, since she gave another strong performance in "Provocateur" and sparked great chemistry with co-star Jonathan Cheung, and she's definitely my pick. Unfortunately, TVB can't seem to make up their mind about whether to promote her, because she seems to switch back and forth from playing more major roles to small supporting ones. 

Surprisingly, Sisley once again walked away without a nomination for Most Improved. It seems strange that despite being so heavily promoted since her debut, Sisley has never been nominated for this award while Grace Chan was nominated twice (before winning the second time). It's even a little disappointing she wasn't nominated this year specifically, given that she did show improvement in "Legal Mavericks" after finally receiving an interesting character to work with.

Best Drama

Predicted Winner: Line Walker 2
Most Deserving: The Exorcist’s Meter
Personal Choice: The Exorcist’s Meter

With its high (by today's standards) ratings across all platforms and its collaboration with Mainland China, it's hard seeing any other series besides "Line Walker 2" win. However, it's "The Exorcist's Meter" that ended up being the year's most pleasant surprise. This supernatural series looked hopelessly tacky and strange in promos and had a seemingly very weak cast other than leading man Kenneth. Yet, it ended up being the most refreshing one with its supernatural elements and mixing of comedy with some slight horror. What surprised me most though was that this low-budget supernatural series also ended up being the one with the most heart and thoughtful writing for a TVB series in years. Sure there were some inconsistencies and it felt like it sometimes got carried away, but the supernatural genre was a smart and creative platform to deal with very real things like life and death and cherishing the people around you in a way that left an impact on you. It's a black horse contender with a lot of fan support behind it, but probably not enough to trump TVB's tendency to play favorites.

Global Netizen’s Favorite Series

Predicted Winner: The Exorcist’s Meter
Most Deserving: The Exorcist’s Meter
Personal Choice: The Exorcist’s Meter

The inclusion of this new category is puzzling, but makes me think that TVB wants to recognize it's surprise supernatural hit or maybe "Legal Mavericks" in some way without shafting "Line Walker 2" (or maybe even vice versa?). Line Walker 2 was noted for being a hit on online platforms, so it would make sense for it to win this award, but having it win both categories seems redundant, so I'm holding out for this consolation win for The Exorcist's Meter.

Favorite TV Partnership

Predicted Winner: Vincent Wong and Natalie Tong for "My Unfair Lady"
Most Deserving: Kenneth Ma and Hubert Wu for "The Exorcist's Meter"
Personal Choice: Vincent Wong and Owen Cheung for "Legal Mavericks," Kenneth Ma and Hubert Wu for "The Exorcist's Meter"

I'm really not sure about this category, but do know Vincent and Natalie were a very popular onscreen pairing this year. I wouldn't be surprised if Edwin Siu, Raymond Cho, and Matthew Ho won for their partnership in "A General, A Soldier, and An Eunuch," which was a fun and entertaining ensemble to watch though the comedy dragged on for a little longer than it should have. I'm a little torn between which partnership I enjoyed more of the two I listed as my personal choice, but the love and compassion felt more obvious between Kenneth and Hubert and the nature of their relationship was just so unique. It was touching to see that while Hubert was only pretending to be Kenneth's long lost "brother" for Kenneth's mother, he and Kenneth came to saw each other as brothers, even if they never verbalized it. Vincent and Owen, along with Sisley, were all still absolutely hilarious and fun together though.

Best Theme Song

Predicted Winner: Hana Kuk’s theme song for “Line Walker 2”
Most Deserving: Hubert Wu's theme song for The Exorcist’s Meter
Personal Choice: Hubert Wu's theme song for The Exorcist’s Meter

I know, I've mentioned The Exorcist's Meter a million times now, but I only managed to watch and finish five series this year, and it really was a standout this year, right down to its soundtrack. Both Hubert's theme and sub theme song were memorable and played up the emotion of every scene it was played in. I especially liked the theme song which has a nice blend with the piano and dance beats. The female dance cover of the song with Jacqueline Wong and Sisley Choi though was...so unnecessary. I also have a soft spot for his sub theme though, and listening to it just makes me think back to some of the sad scenes the song was played in and become a little misty-eyed. Of course, Hana's theme song for "Line Walker 2" will win because she's the new Jinny that we're getting shoved down our throats even though her songs are only, like Jinny's, just okay.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

"Dead Wrong" Review



*Major spoilers ahead!

TVB seems to follow a pattern of producing a thriller drama once every few years, and in their first foray into the genre since 2014's "Black Heart White Soul," the cast and crew have outdone themselves. As it turns out, TVB is still capable of putting together a quality drama without unnecessary glitz and glamor.

"Dead Wrong" is an epic thriller that keeps you at the edge of your seat through out all of the suspense and plot twists. The two-hour premiere is probably the best episode of television TVB has produced in years, playing out like a movie that was heart-pounding, gritty, and left me both thrilled yet stressed.

While not as thrilling and nerve-wracking after the adrenaline rush of the premiere, the series remains entertaining and well-written as our protagonist "Vincent" tries to acclimate to his job, family, and society in general again, all while finding out there is more to his kidnapping than he thought. Once it is revealed Kenny's character is the one responsible for Vincent being held hostage for 10 years in the last 8 episodes, the series is sure to be one you want to binge-watch until the very end due to the cliffhangers they keep leaving you on every episode.

Now was the kidnapping storyline realistic? Absolutely not. By the very end, we find out five major characters were involved in Vincent's kidnapping besides for the kidnappers themselves in some way, both intentionally and unintentionally. However, as I finished the drama and watched the flashbacks as well as reflected back to the beginning, I was impressed with how consistent the story was. If you look back, you realize hints had been dropped all along. For example, why was Cathy so worried when Vincent left for his business trip to Vietnam? Why were Cathy and Vincent's brother robbed immediately after leaving the bank with the ransom money? Why was Cathy always willing to go to such lengths, even risking losing her legal license, to help Vincent? In the end, everything fit together like one complicated, but well-thought out puzzle.

So yes, the storyline itself is unrealistic and far-fetched. But with TVB's natural tendency towards inconsistent and haphazard writing, it was very impressive and rewarding to see that everything checked out in the end. It felt like the writers had this road map in mind all along, instead of just writing the script as they came up with things regardless of whether it was consistent with what they had already written. This resulted in a satisfying pay off that resolved most, if not all, questions.

Aside from the suspense and mystery though, what also needs to be commended is the emotionally-charged aspect of this drama, which makes it all the more compelling and dramatic without being soapy. Vincent is of course the main subject of inner emotional turmoil, but almost every character has skeletons in their closet, with guilt and flaws they must live with. In contrast to other dramas, they are also all ultimately forced to face what they have done in some way. It is interesting to see how everything comes back to Vincent, and how the events of his kidnapping and 10 year imprisonment have made such a profound impact on these characters.

This brings us to the cast and characters themselves. While not the biggest name cast for an anniversary series, everyone performs well, but this is an example of a rare TVB scenario where a solid cast brings to life a phenomenal script, instead of the usual "amazing cast tries to make crap look good." As a result, no doubt certain cast members delivered, but this really was a series that deserved recognition for its script and writing before its cast.

Roger Kwok is strong as always, but as a veteran actor who has acted in his third thriller series in the last 8 years (after 2008's "Last One Standing" and 2014's "Black Heart White Soul"), his performance as "Vincent" does not offer anything new from his previous dramatic performances. This is not to underscore how talented and professional of an actor Roger is, but perhaps the people who strongly believed Roger deserved Best Actor again this year were too focused on the intensity of the two-hour premiere. He just knows how to nail these emotional characters who come to be driven by vengeance.

Joey Meng also gives another strong and emotional performance. I must say, I did not really care through out the series whether "Vincent" and "Cathy" got back together, but the build up to the finale where Vincent forgives Cathy for everything and Cathy lets him back into her life again is incredibly satisfying and sweet.

Despite playing a villain who turned out to be responsible for Vincent being held hostage as long as he was, Kenny Wong is mostly expressionless and stoic as usual, but it works in his favor here. However, he certainly has a memorable redemption and ending scene, showing how Ah Yan truly loved Cathy by choosing to commit suicide so that Cathy would not have to kill him, putting an end to Vincent's quest for revenge once and for all.

Vincent Wong further shows how much he has improved and matured as an actor over the years by portraying "Max," who is haunted by memories of his kidnapping and ridden with guilt for not saving Vincent when he had the opportunity to. Perhaps if there was anything inconsequential to the overall plot though, was the love triangle between him, Stephanie Ho and Zoie Tam, but I am glad they kept it mature with Zoie's "Emma" realizing Max was in love with Stephanie's "Tracy" and stepping away. Steph is always good at these cutesy comic relief roles, but I was really hoping she would have more  to do here, since she is quite good in her few dramatic scenes. The writers did much better with writing the friendship between Roger, Vincent, and Tyson Chak's characters, and the actors also had much easier and fun chemistry.

Finally, Rebecca Zhu plays a more mature character here, as shown by her sharp short do and elegant clothes. The actress remains boring and uncharismatic, but the lengths Max and her character "Queenie" were willing to go to to keep Vincent from going down the wrong path was touching, if not a little concerning. Perhaps one plot hole that is still left at the conclusion of the series though, is why Queenie does not show a reaction when it is revealed Cathy indirectly caused her older sister Ivy's death.

If there is one major complaint I had about a character and the series though, is how never at any point in the series does Vincent go to or is asked by someone to go to see a psychologist, even though he clearly and understandably has many underlying emotional issues. I realize mental health is a more taboo subject in Asia, but the guy was underground, trapped, and alone without a regular supply of food and water for ten years. It would have made sense for him to at least see someone for a few sessions for help assimilating into society again, if not for his post traumatic stress, anger, and the other myriad of issues he was suffering from. Everyone makes many references to Max's PTSD and we see how it manifests itself through somatic symptoms. Yet, everything is somehow all fine and mighty with Vincent, and can be resolved with one scene with his child in the finale. But I'm also a psychology major who just took a clinical psychology course, so now I'm just digressing.

Overall, "Dead Wrong" is an all-around strong series with a great plot and direction, a large dosage of suspense and thrill, and some great performances by the cast. However, you can tell there was even more thought and resources put toward this series than others, from the better editing, to the gorgeous location filming in Vietnam that was actually relevant to the plot, to Stephanie's sub theme song playing at all the right moments to intensify the emotion of the scene. The series even makes use of better background music to amplify key moments, such as the powerful scene in the finale where Vincent's son goes up to him in the underground sewer and draws a picture of their family, reminding Vincent of what really matters.

Without a doubt, "Dead Wrong" is TVB's best series in years, and deserved better ratings and "Best Drama" at this year's anniversary awards, but unfortunately lost to the more buzzed about "A Fist Within Four Walls." However, "Dead Wrong" is absolutely the true critical hit that will still hold up many years from now.

Rating: 5 stars 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

"Two Steps From Heaven" Review


*MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!

Anniversary series "Two Steps in Heaven" tries to have a little of everything, from drama through fights for power and office politics, to romance, to sitcom-like comedy, to some outrageous plot twists. The result is that there should be something you'll enjoy, however small, but the series is disjointed and lacks a cohesive plot or direction.

Bosco Wong leads out the cast of this effort to be everything as what has got to be the most unlikable main protagonist in years. "Sheldon" is ambitious and manipulative, to a point where he is willing to betray his friends and leave his family to the dust, even though he already has a pretty darn good job (especially after Priscilla/Edwin become the boss of Rainmakers).

Flashbacks show that he used to be a paparazzi reporter who was seriously beat up and subsequently went into PR, but dead set on more. Despite the flashbacks, viewers are left still unsure of how Sheldon became the way he did. It also still remains unclear why he carried on an affair with "Emma" for over two years. What should have been a complex character was missing layers. In fact, a few scenes seemed to hint he was suffering from PTSD or some kind of mental disorder (such as when he severely assaults a drunk man who threw up on him, and throws away the birthday cake his daughter gives him), but in typical TVB fashion, this potential storyline is thrown under the bus to just make Sheldon despicable and unreasonably ruthless.

With that said, Bosco gives one of the best performances of his career, bringing out all the not so flattering and glamorous traits of Sheldon. Of course, this is just as he announces he is officially leaving TVB.

If there is something the writers really deserve props for though, is killing off Sheldon, and in one of the most cruel and slow ways I have seen for a protagonist. It was incredibly bold, unexpected, and satisfying, but his death-bed redemption was a total cop out. It's as if the writers realized at the last minute they had made Sheldon too bad and unsympathetic, so they tried to claim he actually did love his wife and daughter all along, but it certainly did not fool anyone. I guess every smart writing move has to be balanced out with a bad one.

Similar to "Sheldon," Priscilla Wong's "Sing Seung" leaves the audience still unsure abo
ut how she became so scheming and aggressive. The backstory with her ex-boyfriend does little to explain this, and instead acts as an annoying plot point brought up every once in a while. At a length of 35 episodes, you would think the writers would have actually utilized the length to properly show character development.

Priscilla actually performs relatively well in her most mature role to date and first villain role. I did not originally see her in this kind of role at all. While she is too calm in her portrayal at times, it does reaffirm my belief that she is not as bad of an actress as a lot of people claim she is. At times she left me scared or uncomfortable, which I never thought I'd say about the fun and happy-go-lucky Priscilla. Comedy remains her strength, but I liked seeing her in a more "adult" role for a change.

Meanwhile, Edwin Siu proves that just being one of the main characters in an anniversary drama does not mean you need to be interesting or have any story of your own. He's an all-around too good and nice guy who marries Priscilla and realizes she is not the person he knew her as. He also wears a lot of turtle necks. That's about it. Surely Edwin has been bored at work lately?

Louis Cheung rounds out our trio of male leads as a balance of Bosco and Edwin's character's overly bad and overly good qualities. The sometimes foul-mouthed and sassy "Tim Siu," who is actually a really great guy who would do anything for his friends, is a type of character that Louis has perfected, and gave audiences at least one character to root for. Louis has always excelled at bringing out subtleties and layers in his characters, even if he does not have much to work with, just by nature of his acting. He really showed how "Tim," despite the humor of his character that could suggest otherwise, was such a caring  and genuinely good person. The actor has truly been a gift for TVB.

A news article released shortly before the series started airing suggested that there would be breakthroughs to look for in our three leading men. Perhaps the real breakthrough though was Luk Wing, as "Ted." The introduction of his typical spoiled rich boy character makes it seem like he'll be one of the most annoying characters you will have ever laid eyes on. Yet, as the focus starts to shift to him, and he discovers his passions and how to apply himself, he becomes the heart of the series. As a result, it is heartbreaking when Ted is driven to death, and a void is left for the remainder of the series.

Luk Wing is hilarious and lovable as Ted, stealing the screen in all his scenes without goi
ng too over the top. Instead, he's just entertaining and gives the audience something to laugh about while Bosco and Priscilla are running around doing...whatever it is they were doing, to his complete oblivion. He also proves he can do drama as well, showing Ted's increased frustration and hopelessness before he finally decides to plummet to his death. His top 3 nomination for best supporting actor is well-deserved and I hope TVB will continue to give him meaty roles such as this.

As mentioned earlier, "Two Steps" tries to be a little of everything, and this meant at times it felt like a sitcom, especially in the scenes Louis and Luk Wing shared together. Perhaps one of the writers should have pitched a sitcom with these two instead, because some of the series' best moments is when they are just bickering or horsing around with each other. Gloria Tang's "Maple" throws in some fun to their dynamic as well, but her acting is unnatural and at times awkward. It also annoyed me that despite being his best friend, she seemed to have no reaction to Ted's death and gotten over it in five seconds.

Also worth mentioning is Kandy Wong as "Da Jie," who becomes an unlikely couple with Ted. It was enjoyable seeing her in a mature role despite her babyface and height, and also proves perhaps TVB shouldn't always put their youthful and petite actresses into a box where they're always playing the little sister.

Bosco, Louis, Luk Wing, and Kandy may have turned in some solid performances, but apparently TVB thinks otherwise, as the only person who received recognition for their performance is Katy Kung. Also a victim of the little sister typecast, Katy gets to play a wife and mother here, and a good chunk of performance is adequate and sympathetic. However, her crying scenes are incredibly cringeworthy and show she was trying way too hard. While I'm glad Katy is finally getting some acknowledgement for her work over the years, it's unfortunate that it had to be for a performance where she was actually a weaker link.

No character is weaker than Moon Lau's "Emma" though, who went from the mistress who didn't want to give up, to disappearing, to returning as someone who was just plain crazy. Moon's popularity spiked this year after an endearing performance in "A Fist Within Four Walls," but "Emma" exposes just how many weaknesses she still has an actress. Her emotional scenes are unnatural, and the character itself is hard to have any sympathy for. She should have stayed gone after Sheldon dumped her, but I guess someone had to kill Sing Seung? While that move was also unexpected, it just felt like overboard and one last ditch attempt to shock the audience. I'm just really glad the writers did not have her end up with Louis.

As mentioned earlier, the series tries to be a little of everything, then makes poor attempts to string it all together. While I greatly enjoyed Louis and Luk Wing's comedic scenes, it was always bizarre to remember that this was part of the same series where Bosco beats the lights out of a drunk man, Luk Wing eventually jumps off a building, Priscilla slowly poisons Bosco to death, and Moon stabs Priscilla multiple times with a huge knife out in the middle of the street. To reach the 35-episode length, they also gave random moments to supporting characters, such as Snow Suen's mummy-fetus and Claire Yiu finding out William Chan is a fan of hers from her modeling days. Instead, they could have used this time to better explain how Bosco and Priscilla became the way they did, and oh, I don't know, give poor Edwin a personality.

Overall

Some may disagree with me, but I still found "Two Steps From Heaven" to be quite entertaining at times, if only in a soapy, mindless way. With better execution, it had the potential to be a very compelling series balanced out with elements of comedy. Instead, when looked at objectively, we're left with a bunch of strings that weren't tied together. However, for fans of Bosco (if you're fine with spending 35 episodes hating his guts that is), Louis, and Luk Wing, the series was not a complete waste of time and has its moments.

Rating: 3 stars

TVB 50th Anniversary Awards: Results + Comments

This year's award show, if you haven't already realized, was unsurprisingly a sweep for this year's hit "A Fist Within Four Walls." Overall, the show had its entertaining moments with deserving winners as well as a few surprises. I watched the show as I wrote my post this year (after skimming it the day of so I could find out the results before class), so I hope you enjoy the commentary and screen caps.

Here is the full list of winners.

Most Improved Actress: Ali Lee

I totally should have seen it coming that TVB would make Tony and Edwin present Most Improved Actor and Priscilla and Natalie Most Improved Actress. As predictable as that move was though, their banter was actually entertaining and funny instead of the usual forced presenting of awards. I loved all the jokes they made about each other, starting when Tony replied to Edwin saying he has won awards too...to realize Edwin actually has not (for acting). Poor Tony looked completely blind-sided though when Edwin joked that Kenneth was the one who told him Natalie has a good figure and can cook. The banter level between Priscilla and Tony was also high as always, which was shown by this imitation of what Tony thinks Priscilla looks like in all of her series:


But anyway...Tracy gets robbed again. Ali is far from the least deserving winner in the history of this award, but Tracy is now two years overdue for this award after a critically-acclaimed performance in sleeper hit "Over Run Over." I have loved Ali in her villain and semi-villain roles, especially in "Fashion War," but her first turn as a leading protagonist in "Law Disorder," while partially the fault of a dull and poorly-written character, showed she still has a way to go and lacks the charisma Tracy has. Ali's acting is already at a better level than some of her colleagues at this point in her career, and her win is expected given how heavily she's being promoted. I do like Ali, but this was admittedly, pretty darn disappointing.


Most Improved Actor: Jonathan Cheung 

"Anybody could win and he'd be better than last year's winner!" *camera pans to Tony* Oh Priscilla, even you have to admit that other than Jonathan, Tony was still a stronger nominee than any of the other nominees this year. You knew Jonathan was obviously going to win when literally all the other guys were pointing in his direction when Priscilla and Natalie were about to announce it.


This may have been one of the more obvious winners of the night. I'm still so happy Jonathan won, and he had a sweet and concise acceptance speech. There's really not much to be said other than that, since I've already gone on and on about how he deserves this recognition in my predictions post and "House of Spirits" review.

That performance of "Stand By Me" wasn't great, but for once they sang a song and it didn't make my ears want to bleed and was even quite nice, so that's an improvement. Wasn't exactly acapella, but they're lucky I have a soft spot for this song.

Best Onscreen Partnership: Tracy Chu and Vincent Wong for "Over Run Over"


It was nice to see a mini "Virtues of Harmony" reunion! But yeesh, it looks like Joyce Chen has barely aged since the sitcom.


Neither Tracy or Vincent took home a favorite character award, ruining my prediction that Vincent would win Favorite Male Character. I'm glad they were able to take home SOMETHING, especially considering they were only one of two nominees in this category that actually made sense.

Best Supporting Actor: Raymond Cho for "Short End of the Stick"
Top 3: Raymond Cho, Hugo Ng for "Brother's Keeper II," and Luk Wing for "Two Steps in Heaven"

There are always several solid supporting male performances every year, so I'm glad they've brought back a short-list of nominees after announcing all darn 20 nominees for the past year or two.


Luk Wing became my last minute personal choice for this category after loving him in "Two Steps." I don't think anyone expected him to place in the top 3 though, including Luk Wing himself, as evidenced by the sheer look of shock and excitement on his face when he heard his name called from backstage. I literally jumped up from my seat from excitement for him when they said his name! It's so refreshing of TVB to give acknowledgement, even if just in the form of a top 3 nominee, to someone who is not a TVB managed artist (to my knowledge?) or an acclaimed non-TVB managed veteran.


The announcement of the winner of this category is always fun and heartwarming, with standing ovations for the unappreciated veteran supporting actors who usually take home this award, and this year was not an exception. I did not watch "Short End of the Stick" so I cannot give much personal comment, but I have always enjoyed Raymond Cho's performances and glad he finally got his recognition this year.


On a side note, Louis looked like he was getting his creep on while petting Luk Wing here.

Best Theme Song: Ruco Chan and Nancy Wu's sub theme for "A Fist Within Four Walls"


No surprise, but since "Dead Wrong" went home completely empty-handed and "Fist" made such a major sweep, I would have wanted Stephanie Ho's sub theme for "Dead Wrong" to win. Not just because "Dead Wrong" absolutely deserved to get something, but also because it's a beautiful song in its own right that adds to the emotional factor of the series.


Best Supporting Actress: Katy Kung for "Two Steps in Heaven"
Top 3: Katy Kung, Joyce Tang for "House of Spirits," and Grace Wong for "A Fist Within Four Walls"

This is the one award I really cannot wrap my head around. I was so looking forward to finally seeing Joyce getting acknowledgment for her strong acting. Instead, I'm just left here bitter and confused.

If there was anyone who I heard a lot of buzz about who deserved recognition for their performances in "Two Steps," it would have been Bosco, Louis, and/or Luk Wing. Katy certainly got a different role this time, playing the wife and mother instead of the little sister, and I do usually like her, but she tried too hard here. She supposedly won for her crying scenes, but those were her most cringeworthy and unnatural. She also received a big standing ovation though, so I guess I'm missing something. I never thought TVB would give this award to her, and even now that she has, I honestly don't see them being serious about promoting her like they usually do with winners of this award...

And for the second year in the row, we interrupt this broadcast so the actors can chow down on some chicken. Looks like they didn't secure a sponsorship with KFC this year though, because this time it's homemade.


Rosina Lam doesn't mind that she did not get into the top 3 of Best Supporting Actress because she now has food.

My Favorite Female Character: Grace Wong for "A Fist Within Four Walls"
Top 5: Grace Wong and Nancy Wu for "A Fist Within Four Walls," Natalie Tong for "Speed of Life," Tracy Chu for "Over Run Over," and Joyce Tang for "House of Spirits"


Grace was completely shocked when her name was called, responding with an expression of disbelief that mirrors when Nancy's name was called for Best Actress last year. Like us, she thought this award could only go to lead characters! I guess TVB decided they didn't want anyone pulling double wins. I wasn't ecstatic about the results of this, but I'm not mad either. It was heartwarming yet quite funny watching her get her thanks out in between sniffling and trying to stay calm, which made her voice go up and down. I burst out laughing when she realized she almost forgot to thank her fiancee and let out a very deep "Hi." All other top 5 nominees were not a surprise except for Natalie in "Speed of Life," which was little-watched and talked-about.


Best Actress: Nancy Wu for "A Fist Within Four Walls"
Top 5: Nancy Wu, Maggie Shiu for "The Executioner," Tracy Chu for "Over Run Over," Kristal Tin for "Brother's Keeper II," and Priscilla Wong for "Two Steps From Heaven

I knew Nancy had won for sure when Jessica said she had voted for the winner! Ah, the "Gun Metal Grey" days. She was incredibly calm (but still very gracious) this time, since we all knew it was just too obvious. It was too cute when she asked Frankie to give her a kiss on the cheek. Also, yay for Maggie getting into the top 5!


My Favorite Male Character: Benjamin Yuen for "A Fist Within Four Walls"
Top 5: Benjamin Yuen and Ruco Chan for "A Fist Within Four Walls," Vincent Wong for "Over Run Over," Bobby Au-Yeung for "House of Spirits," and Louis Cheung for "Two Steps in Heaven"

Yeah...I saw this coming after Grace won. But while I'm okay with Grace's win, I am just not into this at all. "Duen Yiu Fung" was a pretty dull character, and was only made interesting when acting alongside Ruco, Nancy, or Grace. But, Benjamin's speech was touching. It was nice to hear him thank Jennifer even though they've broken up for supporting him for three years despite him being so busy with work. However, this award should have been Vincent's.


Best Actor: Ruco Chan for "A Fist Within Four Walls"
Top 5: Ruco Chan and Benjamin Yuen for "A Fist Within Four Walls," Vincent Wong for "Over Run Over," Bosco Wong for "Two Steps in Heaven," and Roger Kwok for "Dead Wrong" 

The moment I've been waiting to see since Ruco became a leading man in 2011. Oh man, was I grinning from ear to ear when his name was called. I shouldn't be surprised that even though he was teary-eyed and emotional, he was very calm and eloquent in his acceptance speech. It was too sweet when he thanked his mom and the camera panned to his mom blowing kisses at him from the audience behind tears. Congratulations, Ruco. <3

Best Drama: "A Fist Within Four Walls"

Oooh, Wayne's burns about TVB executives never willing to talk about money in negotiations and their grueling hours were too good. I was holding out on the hope "Dead Wrong" could go home with Best Drama, but alas, this really was the year of "Fist." But hey, I hope the success of the series will teach TVB to put more effort into their action series like they did with this in the future.

What are your thoughts on the winners? 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

TVB 50th Anniversary Awards: My Predictions and Personal Picks


Best Actor

Predicted Top 5: Ruco Chan, Wayne Lai, Liu Ka Chi, Bobby Au-Yeung, and Roger Kwok
Predicted Winner: Ruco
Most Deserving: Ruco
Personal Choice: Ruco

I'll be completely honest: I was hoping that Roger's performance in "Dead Wrong" would turn out to not be another groundbreaking role so that Ruco would have the best chance possible to win Best Actor. And while this may be premature since I've only watched 13 episodes, it seems like my wish came true. "Dead Wrong" is a very well-written and compelling series and Roger performs well as always, but beyond the two hour premiere, he isn't doing anything new compared to his award-winning performance in 2013's "Black Heart White Soul" that would warrant a fourth Best Actor win.

While Ruco doesn't break any new ground in "A Fist Within Four Walls" either, it is certainly a solid performance where, unlike his past performances that mostly highlighted his capability as a dramatic actor, he is able to show a playful and more comedic side too. It's about time TVB finally awards him Best Actor.


Best Actress

Predicted Top 5: Nancy Wu, Kristal Tin, Tracy Chu, Mandy Wong, Joey Meng
Predicted Winner: Nancy
Most Deserving: Nancy
Personal Choice: Nancy

I genuinely think that Nancy deserves Best Actress this year, and the only thing that makes this less satisfying is her premature win for "Ghost of Relativity" from last year. After a string of weaker and/or less interesting roles in the last two years such as "Ghost," "Overachievers," and "House of Spirits," Nancy really took advantage of her role "Diu Lan" in "A Fist Within Four Walls" by absolutely shining. She is fierce, funny, sassy, and strong, while easily evoking lots of compassion and sympathy from the viewers. Last year's win aside, "Fist" feels like a representative culmination of all the improvements and hard work Nancy has put into her acting over the years.

But also, everyone else kinda bombed. Maggie Shiu received critical acclaim for "The Executioner" but that's obviously not happening. Tracy Chu will (hopefully) take home Most Improved. Bad performances aside, Grace Chan and Selena Li should be in the supporting category.


Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Winner: Raymond Cho
Most Deserving: Power Chan
Personal Choice: Mat Yeung
Wtf? Oscar Li for Fist

I'm not saying I think Raymond isn't deserving since he's always been a reliable supporting actor (though I did not watch "Short End of the Stick"), but Power has long been unappreciated and narrowly lost the award to Koo Ming Wah two years ago as well. This could be TVB's chance to make it up to Power, but my gut's telling me it'll still go to Raymond.

I about hit the table when I realized Mat wasn't nominated for Most Improved again this year, since his chances of winning seemed high without Tony Hung in the running like last year. Instead TVB opted to shoot him up into the Best Supporting category, where he has no chance. This feels like a repeat of last year where his "Momentary Lapse of Reason" co-star Rosina Lam was nominated for Best Actress instead of Best Supporting, ruining any chances of her winning an award. No, from what I saw of "Brother's Keeper II" Mat was not best supporting level, but I'm allowed to have personal biases right? (9 months after watching "Momentary Lapse" and I still strongly believe Louis, Rosina, and Mat were robbed last year)


Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Winner: Joyce Tang
Most Deserving: Joyce
Personal Choice: Joyce

Best Supporting Actress has become a weaker and weaker category over the years, to the point I literally did not put down any predictions or choices for it last year. Surprisingly though, there are some good contenders here this year and it's even a little ~unpredictable~. I won't be mad if either Rosina or Grace wins. People were ready to dislike Rosina when she first started acting a few years ago, but she has genuinely surprised me as an actress. She was out of the running before the race even began last year, and I heard good things about her comedic performance in "Stick." She definitely deserves more opportunities. Grace hasn't had a substantial role since I believe 2013's "Awfully Lawful," so it was nice to see TVB give her a dynamic role in "Fist." While not without her flaws, Grace's performance proved that she is a noteworthy actress that really hasn't been getting enough notable work the last few years. Not quite "best supporting" level, but "Chiu Ha" made an impact and a win would at least make sense.

However, my vote definitely goes to Joyce, who shows her strength in portraying tough, intelligent, and motherly roles in "House of Spirits," as well as making me laugh very hard in certain scenes. She's been long one of my favorite supporting actresses, but never seemed to stand a chance at winning an award. With "House" being one of the highest rated series of the year and her satisfying win in Singapore though, it looks like 2016 is finally Joyce's year to receive recognition.

*Random fact: I usually keep a note on my phone of memorable characters/performances for when anniversary awards season comes around. Joyce was the first (and only) person I wrote down this year when I created the note.



My Favorite Male Character

Top 5: Ruco Chan, Vincent Wong, Louis Cheung, Bosco Wong, Roger Kwok
Predicted Winner: Vincent
Most Deserving: Vincent
Personal Choice: Ruco

Ruco, Vincent, and Tracy each received four nominations, which makes me think... Is TVB setting up Vincent for a Favorite Character win? I've heard so many good things about him and Tracy in "Over Run Over" and have been a long-time fan of Vincent, so I'll be thrilled if Ruco can win Best Actor and Vincent can win this award. If Ruco does not win Best Actor, I will assume this award will go to him as a consolation prize for the second year in a row. Fingers crossed that doesn't happen.

Personally though, if I were to choose any male character as my favorite from this year, it'd probably be Ruco since I did not watch "Over Run Over" (but intend to).

My Favorite Female Character

Top 5: Nancy Wu, Grace Wong, Tracy Chu, Joey Meng, Priscilla Wong
Predicted Winner: Nancy
Most Deserving: Nancy
Personal Choice: Nancy

I see Nancy pulling off a double win, and I would have no problems with that. "Diu Lan" was a wonderful heroine to root for who was dynamic and flawed yet infinitely likable and funny. Even if this wasn't a year where there were very few captivating characters in TVB series, Diu Lan was a stand out.

Most Popular Series Partnership

Predicted Winner: Wayne Lai, Edwin Siu, Power Chan, and Raymond Cho for "Short End of the Stick"
Most Deserving: Vincent Wong and Tracy Chu for "Over Run Over"
Personal Choice: N/A
Snub: Ruco Chan and Nancy Wu

I would've thought that if TVB was going to bring in this category, it would've been to further milk the Ruco and Nancy pairing. Yet, they weren't even nominated but Carat Cheung, Apple Chan, Chloe Nguyen & Doris Chow were? And Eddie Kwan and Vivian Yeo from "My Lover From the Planet Meow"? What's going on here? Vincent and Tracy should get the award for their well-received pairing, but it will probably go to Wayne, Edwin, Power, and Raymond since the comedy quartet was also well-received in "Short End," and was a ratings hit (by today's standards).

Most Popular Theme Song

Predicted Winner: Ruco and Nancy’s subtheme for “A Fist Within Four Walls”
Most Deserving: Ruco and Nancy's subtheme
Personal Choice: Ruco and Nancy's subtheme, Vincent Wong’s theme song and Stephanie Ho’s subtheme for “Dead Wrong”

TVB can't give this to Jinny again...right? I'm putting my money on Ruco and Nancy's subtheme, which has already won in both Singapore and Malaysia. It's a lovely duet that I think complimented the scenes between the two in "Fist" very well.

However, I also really like both Vincent's theme song and Stephanie's subtheme for "Dead Wrong." The former brings out the suspenseful and dark nature of the series, while the latter brings out the emotionally-charged factor. In general, I've been loving the songs Stephanie has been singing for series soundtracks.


Most Improved Actor
Predicted Winner: Jonathan Cheung
Most Deserving: Jonathan
Personal Choice: Jonathan
Snubs: Mat Yeung, Benjamin Yuen, Lai Lok Yi

For as long as I can remember this has always been a strong category and probably my favorite one. Yet when I first saw the nominations for this category this year, my first reaction was "Seriously?" The competition for this year is sad and the weakest it's been in years. Three of the nominees are singers who TVB just started sticking into series, probably for self-promotion! I was so sure Mat would be one of the top contenders this year, but it turns out he didn't even get a nomination (which I'm very salty about), nor did Benjamin, instead getting bounced up to the Best Supporting and Best Actor (???) categories respectively. TVB once again shows they don't give a damn about Lai Lok Yi, despite delivering a chilling villain performance in the last few episodes of "Presumed Accidents."

With that said, I'm so happy Jonathan is nominated and really hope this is TVB's way of paving the road for him to win. I've loved watching him as a supporting actor the last few years. He never fails to make me laugh, but proved in "House of Spirits" he can handle drama and more major roles as well. If Jonathan doesn't win, you can find me at home on my laptop on the 19th, kicking and screaming.


Most Improved Actress

Predicted Winner: Tracy Chu
Most Deserving: Tracy
Personal Choice: Tracy
Snub: Roxanne Tong

Last year Tracy decided to ditch the anniversary awards to go on a school trip to Europe (can't blame her), but now that she's graduated and has the sleeper hit "Over Run Over" under her belt, she has a significant chance of winning. Unlike the Most Improved Actor category though, she faces some competition from Moon Lau and newly minted lead actress Ali Lee. I would not be too mad about Ali winning and think that she has been a decent actress since her debut and getting better, but after enjoying her character in "Fist," Moon proves she is still very raw in "Two Steps in Heaven." So if Tracy has to lose to anyone, I really hope it's Ali, but Tracy definitely deserves this award. Meanwhile, poor Katy is probably going to continue to be a perpetual nominee, but never a winner.

The only notable snub I can think of is Roxanne. I was not crazy about her in "Come Home Love," but she was my favorite part about "Between Love and Desire" once the series started stalling in the second half. She was natural and bubbly with an affable charm that lit up the screen during her scenes. Yet, she was next seen on air playing a tiny role in "Fist." TVB, get on promoting her (consistently)!


Best Series

Top 5: A Fist Within Four Walls, Dead Wrong, Short End of the Stick, Over Run Over, House of Spirits
Predicted Winner: A Fist Within Four Walls
Most Deserving: Dead Wrong or Fist
Personal Choice: Dead or Fist

It's going to be a tough competition between "A Fist Within Four Walls" and "Dead Wong," and I myself can't make a clear decision on which I personally love more, but I'm giving the advantage to "Fist." After all, as critically acclaimed as "Dead Wrong" has been so far, the ratings, buzz, press coverage, and popularity of "Fist" easily beats everything this year.

However, in terms of writing, I personally give an advantage to the 13 episodes I've seen of "Dead Wrong," which feels much more serious and tight, whereas "Fist" felt more entertaining (with a cartoonish villain) than well-written in the last stretch episodes.

What are your predictions? Who are your dream winners? Comment below!