Naive and ignorant at first, Ko Ching cannot find a job she likes and instead wants to be a 'star.' Unfortunately, her personality is not the least bit fit for the entertainment industry. She quickly becomes victims of the paprazzi (courtesy of our Paprazzi Prince, Kwok Fun played by Wong Cho Lam). She is betrayed by her 'best friend' Cally numerous times. This all causes Ko Ching to run into the arms of her mom's enemy, Chin Fung Jeh (Christine Ng). She is furious to find out Chin Fung Jeh was just putting on an act of being nice to her and was secretly scheming to turn her into another Kan Po Yee to get rid of her. Gone goes the innocent and naive Ko Ching, who as a method of 'self defense' uses the same conniving tactics to ruin Chin Fung Jeh. Eventually, she becomes worse than Cally and Chin Fung, causing her friends and family to either abandon or become angered with her. After a wake up call from her dad, Ko Ching reverts to her old self. Unfortunately, Chin Fung Jeh, who is now aware of Ko Ching's scheming, hires a man to do something to Ko Ching that will force her to quit the entertainment industry forever...or not.
Ko Ching was a well developed character. Although her change from good to bad, then back to good was quick (in the matter of an episode), it felt reasonable enough.
Having observed her rival Kan Po Yee and her down fall with drugs, it is understandable that unlike Cally, Ko Ching did not give into them. It made sense that Ko Ching's sudden change took place upon her finding out Chin Fung Jeh's intentions. If there was anything unrealistic about this change, it is that I doubt Ko Ching would've been smart enough to think of how to put on an act. She may have lost her naivety, but I doubt she lost her ignorance.
Ko Ching turning back to good was more of the 'meh' change. It was not written as well as Ko Ching's change to bad. It was still reasonable enough though. After all, slaps equal wake up calls in TVB series. How Ko Ching further woke up as a result of her face being cut made sense as well. I enjoyed her revert back to good. The scene where she goes onto the roof top to practice her emotional scenes, the scenes that she couldn't do before, was very touching.
Keung Chin Fung
As a newcomer to the entertainment industry 20 years ago, she was bullied by Lai Heung Jeh (Kingdom Yuen), Ko Ching's mother. After Lai Heung is forced to retire, Chin Fung rises to the top. Although Lai Heung has turned a new leaf, Chin Fung has not abandoned her cheating and scheming ways so many years later. Instead, she bullies Ko Ching as she enters the industry to take revenge. Feeling vulnerable to young newcomers like Ko Ching and Cally, she does everything to hold on to her Best Actress title.
Although all the 'good' things Chin Fung did for Ko Ching was all an act, I wonder if she ever felt the slightest pity or care towards her. One particular scene that stood out to me was the one where Ko Ching is crying outside of TVB studios in the rain, and Chin Fung watches her from her car with a sad looking expression. Did she feel sorry for Ko Ching, feeling like she related to Ko Ching when she was a newcomer? Just the slightest bit?
It's obvious Chin Fung was conniving. It was obvious she was posessive of "her" Best Actress award. But was she (literally) crazy? No. The last episode where Chin Fung takes Ko Ching up to the roof top to try to kill her as a way of keeping her from getting the Best Actress award was unreasonable and out of her character. Look where that got her. Then again, I'm probably just over thinking things.
Kate Tsui - Ko Ching Man
I see what Kate meant when she had said this role was her most challenging yet. The role of the developed Ko Ching was definitely a character hard to play, but I couldn't feel Kate's effort. It may be a huge improvement from before, but it still falls short and continues to remind me she is not leading material. Her performance is a roller coaster that goes from over acting to under acting. The roof top scene I mentioned above was one of the scenes I believed she did a much better job in though. One thing I noticed about Kate though was that although she can do some scenes well, her eyes are 'dead' like fellow TVB artiste Ron Ng.
Christine Ng - "Keung Chin Fung"
Better performance than Kate, but not as great as Kingdom's. She did well as the villain, despite Keung Chin Fung not being an easy character to portray. The scenes where Chin Fung's excessive use of Botox went wrong were realistically done too.Sharon Chan - "Tong Ho Yee/Cally"
I was probably most disappointed with this character/performance. That goes to show you shouldn't ever get your expectations too high. I had expected Sharon's first portrayal of a villain and drug addict to be her much delayed breakthrough. Not only did the character turn out not to be a villain after all, Sharon's performance was just average. Sharon however has never looked more beautiful.
Kingdom Yuen - "Cheung Lai Heung"
If this series didn't get such poor ratings and the year wasn't just starting, Kingdom would have my vote for Best Supporting Actress. Taking a break from her quirky and hilarious characters, Kingdom wows me with this particular drama performance. With her flawless acting, I felt the most pity for Lai Heung Jeh, even shedding a couple tears for her. After seeing the scene on the roof top with Kate, I am craving to see Kingdom in an ancient series as the villain. What haunting and convincing acting!
Chris Lai Lok Yi - "Deacon"
As TVB doesn't seem to wish to promote Chris as their next male lead, I don't see why he landed this role anyway. Since this series was focused on the women anyway, he didn't have a lot of screen time anyway. Other than yelling "cut" and being the love interest of Kate and Sharon, Chris didn't have much to work with. My fondness for the actor has been decreasing a lot lately, his on screen prescence feels rather dull. In fact, the only reason I ever became fond of him in the first place was because of his overexaggerative but adorable character in Speech of Silence, in which he made a cute couple with Elaine Yiu. I've yet to enjoy a performance of his since.
Stephen Huynh - "Tom Tom"
Unlike Chris, my like for Stephen increases with each series I watch instead of the opposite. In the past year, the actor has finally started to improve. However, I'm a little confused about his character. In the first episode, it is hinted Tom Tom is either gay or feminine. In the following episodes, he appears completely normal with a crush on Cally.
Wong Cho Lam - "Yuen Kwok Fun"
The short actor may be exaggerative, but I still enjoy his on screen presence. Not to mention, he is one of the only in his generation who is so good at saying his lines so quickly and accurrately. While the height difference makes it appear awkward, Cho Lam and Mimi were cute and enjoyable to watch.
Chemistry. There was none. Like the acting, the chemistry disappointed too. Then again, it was expected. Lai Lok Yi does not have chemistry with Kate or Sharon.
Entertainment Industry. Who doesn't enjoy the juicy world where most of our gossip and rumors come from? The theme was interesting and refreshing. In fact, it was amusing and fun to watch TVB portray themselves. It was practically TVB's own satire of themselves...
Drug Abuse. Although not as interesting as watching the entertainment industry unfold in this entertaining series, the drug abuse theme was still smart. It was effective in showing the consequeneces of taking drugs. Hopefully, it managed to reach out to some rebellious teenagers.
Pace. For once, I was able to watch a series where the pacing was just right. There were no draggy parts or unnecessary scenes. It did not feel rushed. Everything served a purpose. However, I wouldn't have minded if the series was a bit longer. This would've allowed everything to develop more.
Plot Left Hanging. The sub plot with To Teng (Evergreen Mak) was never solved. Did his wife divorce him? We don't know. Whether or not Chin Fung Jeh and To Teng got together again was never revisited. For a character I had thought would make a big impact on the main plot and characters in the end, there was much left desired.
Script. Acting can not save a bad script. However, a good script can save bad acting. It's no mystery that the acting for this series was just mediocre. Although not flawless, it is one of the scripts I've felt most for in a while.
Expectations. I'm relieved that all the anticipation I had for the series was not killed in the end. It met my expectations, maybe even surprassed them. Perhaps I was not disappointed because Beauty was not a hyped up series, just a series I was anxiously waiting for.
Theme. Hands down, my favorite theme song of the year. It is a beautiful ballad, and Denise has a wonderful voice. I'm so happy that this song was not given to Kate to sing.
Recommended? Definitely. Just not for fantastic acting, with the exception of Kingdom Yuen.Rating: 4 stars