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Written by Bridget Au

"Kind of a minor rip-off of The Family Man , My Family plays like an afterschool special. Preaching family communication and the importance of having a good relationship with family members, the series is watchable yet unnecessary."

SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!




Chinese Title
Tim Suen Ye Ye ( Sweet & Sour Grandpa )

Released In
2005

# of episodes
20

Theme Song
Alex Fong

Cast
Ha Yu as Kit (father to Long, Hei, and Ching)
Chung King-Fai as Ye Ye
Rebecca Chan Sau Ju as Sin (mother to Long, Hei, and Ching)
Hawick Lau Hoi Wai as Freeman (Long)
Alex Fong Lik Sun as Ray (Hei)
Sam Chan Yu Sum as Kevin (Ching)
Shirley Yeung Si Kei as Miki
Belinda Hamnett as Akubi

Plot Summary
The Man family is headed by the paternal grandfather, Ye Ye, whose traditionalism and wisdom is rooted in his long-time career as a school principal. Ye Ye sets all the rules of the house, including the sons' curfews and what the family will have for dinner daily. Misunderstanding and miscommunication has created a tense relationship between Ye Ye and his son, Kit - the former has always been disappointed with Kit's carefree, undisciplined ways, while Kit has always resented his father's dominance within his own family.

The Man family also consists of three sons who enjoy an excellent relationship with the family despite their differing personalities. Oldest son Freeman is 25 and has a "my way or the highway" of doing things, not caring too much about anything in particular (he is neither sad or troubled when his longtime girlfriend dumps him) yet remaining very loyal to his family. After some family disputes, he finally chooses a career path that matches his personality: a singer in Hong Kong's notorious entertainment circle.

Middle son Ray is a fresh university graduate seeking a job. Possibly the most unselfish member of the family with the exception of the mother, Ray is also caring, filial, responsible and devoted. Extremely family-oriented, he often acts as the "middle man" in family disputes. Youngest son Kevin spends his days playing video games, begging for a new computer, breaking curfew, and barely passing his university courses. The three brothers get along extremely well despite their differences, and often team up to discuss family matters and problems.

Enter Miki. Outgoing, bubbly, and hardworking, she befriends Freeman and Ray under some peculiar circumstances. Working for Freeman's record company, Miki becomes his "boh moh" (a singer's personal assistant) although the two often butt heads. Ray falls in love with Miki after befriending her, and predictably, Freeman also falls for Miki. Although Freeman is the one Miki loves, their relationship is rocky due to the record company's disdain for singers dating assistants. There are also other problems.

Freeman and Ray engage in a classic 2-brothers-over-one-girl argument that is surprisingly affecting, concluding in an agreement that the "good man will win". In the end Freeman and Miki begin dating, but Freeman's carefree ways reveal that he is not a girlfriend kind of guy (i.e. non-committal). So they break up.

Meanwhile, tension is brewing between the father and grandfather. Ye Ye hands over the "man of the house" position the his son, who serves to turn the whole house around, claiming democracy in the family while imposing even harsher rules. In addition, Kit happens to be a monetarily petty man, and refuses to acknowledge that he has a lot to learn about his new role. Indeed, under his "leadership", both Ray and Kevin end up leaving home to live with the recently moved-out Freeman. The family remains somewhat intact due to the fact that Ye Ye has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, and then Ye Ye and Kit get kidnapped. Welcome to Hell.

Basically all of the family's problems come down to this kidnapping. Ye Ye and Kit have a heart-to-heart while they're in the kidnappers' hands, who in turn were smart enough to keep them in an apartment unit that is directly across from their home. The police and the rest of the family come save them. Cue happy happy ending.

Comments
Kind of a minor rip-off of The Family Man , My Family plays like an afterschool special. Preaching family communication and the importance of having a good relationship with family members, the series is watchable yet unnecessary. Let's start with the positive aspects.

Rebecca Chan. A veteran actress seen in many TVB series, she manages to portray a mother who is both authoritative and understanding. Very nice performance, a huge diversion from her role as the Empress in War & Beauty . Rebecca excels in both dramatic and comedic roles, she is proof that versatility will get you far in TVB.

Alex Fong. My Family is his first TVB acting job. He is 25, an average singer, and enjoys a squeaky clean image within Hong Kong's relentless, dog-eat-dog media. I like him here not because he is a good actor per se, but because his real-life sunny, positive demeanor translates onto the screen. As played by Alex Fong, Ray is giving, dedicated, and thus very easy to like. In fact, Alex Fong is a lot like Bernice Liu. Both are not-so-great actors, yet are very cute, very watchable, and very likeable. I can see why Alex Fong won a Best Newcomer Award for this role, although if acting was part of the criteria, the award should have been named Most Popular Newcomer or Most Welcome.

I never thought I'd say this, but Shirley Yeung is another reason this series is watchable. Before all you Shirley Yeung haters throw raw eggs and tomatoes at me, let me explain my logic. By no means am I saying she is a good actress. I have never been a fan nor a hater of Shirley. In fact, My Family is her first work I've seen. I have read nothing but attacks and criticisms, so I expected to start ranting about how she overacts and tries to be cutie cutie.

So why do I like Shirley in here? It is in part due to the character of Miki, a chipper, hardworking girl who is very believable yet not at all cartoonish (though I was hoping that Freeman and Ray would both kick her to the curb for her initial undecisiveness between the two brothers) I must give the actress some credit here because she is, after all, the one portraying Miki. Nonetheless, I do not see any real potential in Shirley and I can't really picture her delivering an engaging performance in any role beyond this one. She is simply a young girl playing a young girl, which is probably why she is so convincing.

Chung King-Fai. Like Shirley, an old man who plays an old man. Neither cartoonish, precarious, nor particularly engrossing, this never-seen-before actor delivers a quite ok performance as a grandfather who is trying to change with the times. Though there are times where my patience ran out with his delayed lines, this actor is quite adequate. However, like Shirley, I can't picture him in any other role besides that of Man Tai Loi. Of course, Chun Pui would be fabulous in this role.

The Man family dynamic. TVB's scriptwriters have always had a talent for portraying real, strong friendships ( Burning Flame I ) and family relationships, whether they be positive ( Triumph in the Skies ) or dysfunctional ( War & Beauty ). The Man family is yet another very watchable family whose everyday disputes are unexceptional yet still affecting. Of course, everything goes to hell when the father takes over as man of the house... which leads me to the bad stuff of this series.

The father, Kit. Oh my god he is annoying. The actor, the character, everything about this being on the screen just made me want to kick his bulgy-eyed face in. How can I summarize everything that's wrong with this guy? Let's start with the character. Kit is, pardon my language, a jackass. Cowardly, stingy, sleazy, and astonishingly dumb, he just refuses to grow up. Even after he is given the chance to play man of the house, he manages to make his own sons turn against him. He never seeks to communicate with or appreciate all his father has done for him (given, the latter hasn't done that great a job in the communication department either), and instead embarks on an almost maniacal journey to turn the Man family into a tyrannical household where no one has any say.

Then there is the actor, Ha Yu. So likeable as Ji's dopey father in AR IV, here he is annoyingly dopey. He provides little depth to perhaps the most potentially interesting character of the series. There are deep-rooted reasons as to why Kit is the way he is, but this actor gives an Kit irritatingly cartoonish demeanor that is inadequate and simply wrong for Kit.

Then there are the other bad performances. Notable ones come from the good-looking but charismatically challenged Hawick Lau, the irrelevant Sam Chan, and the two actresses who played Miki's friends, whoever they were.

Through the Grapevine
Cue drumroll... Alex Fong is dating Gillian Chung from Twins! Like anyone cares.

Consensus
I'd pass. My Family is nothing exceptional although it manages to wring some affecting moments out of its cheesy plot and actors. Fans of Alex Fong will enjoy this.

Rating


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