Sunday, September 18, 2016

"House of Spirits" Review

"With or Without You" may not have made a splash in the ratings last year, but Bobby Au-Yeung proves he can still headline a talked-about comedy series. 

Supernatural comedy "House of Spirits" generated buzz and high ratings (in the context of today's Internet and streaming-based world), but most of the praises sung were for its cast, and for good reason. 

"House" is an average TVB comedy, which means there's some slapstick humor, but also some genuine laugh out loud moments with heartwarming moments. There is no concrete plot and t's really a family comedy drama with a supernatural twist. As a result, the 31-episode count is unnecessary and it often feels like the writers are just spinning their wheels trying to think of content to fill up the episodes, such as the subplot with Chow Chung and his cat.

All in all though, the series at its best is goodhearted fun. I found the early episodes where Bobby first gets to know the ghosts, played by Wu Fung and Helena Law, pretty funny despite not being a big fan of slapstick comedy. The series is however also a little grating in earlier episodes with the siblings, particularly Joyce Tang and Koni Lui constantly at each other's throats. Towards the middle though, as the family becomes close, the series is an easy and enjoyable watch.

This is completely thanks to the surprisingly great and unlikely cast ensemble, which is a mix of veteran actors like Bobby and Joyce, but also smaller names like Koni and Jonathan Cheung, who is able to take on his largest role to date. The chemistry between the siblings was wonderful and gave a feeling of warmth.

Bobby gets to show his usual lighthearted humor here. While some complain that Bobby's acting is the same in all his series, in this case, I enjoyed his natural and easygoing acting and playful demeanor.

Joyce plays a tough but caring woman working to balance her life as a mother and career woman. These tough and clever roles are a piece of cake for Joyce and what she does most well in, so it's nice to see she received recognition for this. She also has her own comedic moments as well. The scene where Helena possesses Joyce's body to apologize to Koni had me barreling over with laughter due to Joyce's acting.

I have liked Jonathan a lot in the series I've seen him in. He is a natural and likable actor who excels at comedic roles, but can also do drama, and this performance further proves that. I was so pleased to see he had such a major role here, and he had no problem holding his own against a veteran like Bobby. I'm thrilled for Jonathan, who just received his first acting nomination for "Best Supporting Actor" at the Starhub TVB Awards. I hope TVB will continue to give him larger roles and that this isn't just a one and done, even if he doesn't fit the handsome boy image they look for in promoting males.

Koni pulls off the spoiled princess character well, though that meant she could often be irrita
ting to watch, especially in the earlier episodes. With that said, she also has her own funny moments. Unfortunately, despite pretty natural acting, her high-pitched voice probably holds her back from getting more roles.

Nancy Wu serves little purpose here until the very end other than being Bobby's love interest and feels a little out of place, but is still likable as the tomboyish Chan-Chan. Bobby and Nancy sounded like a terrible pair on paper and are very physically incompatible, but luckily both are professional actors who make it work and are surprisingly funny and entertaining together. I actually liked seeing them become friends before slowly becoming more. 


Bobby, Joyce, Jonathan, Koni, and Bob Cheung play a very convincing family, in all its bickering, dysfunctional, but loving and warm glory. The combination felt like a bit of a random one other than the Bobby and Joyce reunion, but couldn't have worked out better.

With all the praise I can sing for the cast and the moments of humor though, I do have to reiterate that the series was occasionally (or often) grating in the beginning, with a lot of filler or boring subplots. It makes for a good lazy summer watch, but if it weren't for the cast, I probably would not have bothered to go all the way through if I had watched it during a busier time. However, it does still have laughs to offer.

Rating: 3 stars

On a side note though, "House of Spirits" must be the biggest offense of "overacting in a poster" I've ever seen for a TVB series...


  1. this being a comedy, i treat it as a fun watch, and thus i don't want to be critical. but you are right, the biggest problem is it being way too long. it would have been much more perfect if they could trim it down to 18 or 20 eps.

    otherwise, i find it fun watching the 2 elderly actors as the spirits and bobby as the eldest bro. i enjoy the watching all the siblings too, but like you, all that quarrelling did get a bit too much for me too.

    i'd give it 3 stars, cos the last 10 eps or so was kinda draggy.

    1. Yeah I definitely feel like this review would have been much more positive had the series been 20 episodes, because most of its problems lie in filler story lines trying to reach the 32 episode count, which is so not necessary for a comedy. But the cast was just fun to watch!

  2. It was one of the rare TVB shows I enjoyed in the last couple of years so I didn't minded it being 32 epis..
    Just thought that the ending was a bit rushed - they could have paced some things better.
    Still, it had a reasonable script and solid acting!