Friday, February 20, 2015

"Madam Cutie on Duty" Review

Before I started "Madam Cutie on Duty," I thought the series would go in either one of two different directions: It would be an enjoyable lighthearted drama, or a very lame and unfunny one. The selection of scenes from the theme video seemed to make it point towards the latter. Thankfully, after a more over the top premiere episode, "Madam Cutie" becomes yet another funny and fun series that is very entertaining.

Although the series has a likable supporting cast consisting of faces like Mandy Wong, Kaki Leung, Rachel Kan, and Raymond Cho, it is romantic leads Priscilla Wong and Edwin Siu who make it worth watching. 

Priscilla and Edwin met filming this series, but what is surprising to hear is that the two did not even befriend each other until after filming completed, and would typically go into their respective corners when the cameras stopped rolling. This does not show at all on screen, as the two looked completely comfortable with each other and evoke playful chemistry while their characters bickered, and sweetness as they started to become friends and care for one another. Without this chemistry between the leads, "Madam Cutie" would have been a complete bust.

On her own, Priscilla is able to prove critics who say her acting is one-note wrong. Here, she has plenty of room to show audiences her comedic talent and timing and delivers as "Fa Ping." She is endearing, cute, and at often times laugh-out-loud funny without becoming too exaggerated. The moments where she notices herself morphing more and more into a housewife were probably the most comical. I hope to see her in more comedic roles such as this.

Edwin does not shine as much on his own as his female lead, but is still likable as "Law Dai Shu" and it is nice to be able to see him finally taking on a lead role. He delivers solidly with what he is given, but the script does not provide him with anything he has not done before. My major complaint is that while it was appropriate for the character, I constantly wanted to brush Edwin's messy hair.

Although not a star-studded trio besides for Mandy Wong, the three housewives Priscilla befriends are great. While Mandy's screen time significantly decreases in the last few episodes, it is obvious that she has got these housewife roles down pat. Instead of being loud-mouthed and obnoxious, her character is much more soft-spoken yet still clever here, and she plays it effortlessly and with cuteness. Kaki Leung has vastly improved since her debut in "E.U." and is quite likable to watch now. It was a pleasure to see Rachel Kan in a larger role, and she proved to be quite amusing at times, particularly with her superstitions, all the while being sympathetic. The sweetest part though was seeing Fa Ping genuinely growing closer and caring about the housewives and developing a real friendship with them.

The subplots of the supporting characters themselves are watchable enough, but are not as interesting and entertaining as the main storyline of Priscilla and Edwin living and working together to investigate the case. However, I did enjoy Rachel's storyline with her son, and how he gradually matured and came to appreciate her.

Unfortunately, the series is not without some weak links that bring the series down from being the most easy and light fun it can be. Lee Yee Man gives the most annoying performance as well as the creepiest. Many of the older cast member's characters were a drag to watch too. How many more times is TVB going to make Rosanne Lui play the mean and spiteful mother-in-law and Mary Hon the mother who abandons her kids? Susan Tse's character is also rather irritating, and I would much rather either see her in more kindhearted mother or clever villain roles again. The worst storyline though is the return of Mary as Dai Shu's mother in the last few episodes of the series, which seemed like more of an excuse to give Edwin some emotional scenes and push Dai Shu and Fa Ping closer together. It is TVB at their usual with the overdramatic and soapy family drama. Luckily though, the series bounces right back for a hilarious final episode that sees the housewives defending themselves (and winning!) against gangsters with pots and pans and ketchup bottles. 

Overall, while there are some less than stellar points, "Madam Cutie on Duty" is yet another easy and enjoyable watch from TVB, while also being funnier than most lighthearted series. Leads Priscilla and Edwin are what make the series a delight to watch, but Mandy, Kaki, and Rachel shine at their own certain moments as well.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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