Wow! 2006! I thought 2007 but I checked Wikipedia and found it was 2006.
No. of Episodes
Much too long. 30.
Liza Wang - Kam Yin
Roger Kwok - Law Dai-Dei/Ling Fung
Charmaine Sheh - Chu Yuk-Lan / Fun Lan
Susanna Kwan - Chu Siu-Kiu
Sharon Chan - Sheung Mei-Lai (Carol)
Chris Lai Hui - Wing-Hong (James)
Florence Kwok - Lam Siu-Yan
Paul Chun - Chu Dai-Kat
Joel Chan - Law Wai
Sek Sau - Sheung Sing
Cecilia Fong - Li Yuk-Fung
Halina Tam - Fei Fei
Lui san - Unknown
Taken from Wikipedia.
Set in the glittering late 60s to the early 70s, about entertainers during the time when TVB has yet to make an impact where singers perform in nightclubs until the time when TV came into the picture. But the actual plot is about long lost love, love lost and love found. About reunions, value of family and the patience of love. Basically about love. The whole nightclub/singing thing is just a facade. This story can actually work in any timeline and for any profession.
Long Story Recounted
I was going to write and was in the middle of writing a one long summary for this series but in the end decided not to when it detracted me from actually writing an opinion. So for those who hasn't seen this series, do read the episodic summaries HERE first before reading my complete spoilers comments. My comments will of course contain references to the plot since it is difficult not to talk about plots. I could try but it could be my shortest review ever.
I think I should start with what is the main and major problem with this series. It works backwards. In usual series, we go along for the ride to find things out and then came the aftermath much later in the series where we see attempts, efforts and resolution. This series didn't work that way. Even before we were told about the revelation, I could safely say you can guess from episode one what the resolution will be. For example, when Kam Yin said she is looking for her long lost son, safe conclusion is Ling Fung is the son. When Fun Lan fell for Ling Fung since forever and since no other female characters of any star power introduced later on for Ling Fung or even male characters of any significance introduced for Fun Lan, you can safely conclude they will end up together in the end. Even with a huge slump in his career, you can safely conclude Ling Fung's career will thrive again, even though you can't quite conclude how, where, when. With a setting of entertainment, songs, nightclubs and even the emergence of TVB with an impersonation of the late Lydia Shum and the still very much alive Ho-B, you can also safely conclude the ending scene will be one major reunion of major characters doing song and dance. The last part was a bit tricky though; took me about 10 episodes to figure that out but I knew it would be 20 people and above in 1 scene. I only got 2 surprises which meant 2 wrongs; one major character would not be in the reunion since she died almost at the end of the series (that would be shock value as I shall explain later) and a rather weak end for one major character when I expected from tear jerker scene (that would be inadequate writing). Even if you concluded wrongly, no worries; no one has ever died of wrong conclusions drawn from a TVB series, since TVB series are work of fiction. I mean I have never seen such a relaxed singer as Fun Lan, who seems to have so much time brooding for her lost lover than actually running around performing in her supposed busy schedule since she is supposed to be really red hot famous.
What I mean to say is this series is totally predictable from episode 1. You know what is going on and what will happen so this series to me is like backwards. You know the conclusion and the rest of it are how some characters reconcile with some others. To term this series as an entertainment series as in series about entertainment or a parody of it like Old Time Buddy is wrong. I see this series as a story about making amends, fixing the wrongs and reunion of old lovers, of family and confirmation of the power of love. It can be set in any settings, any century, any profession and you will get the same story, same results. Since it is so predictable, I suppose it is justified to add in some shocking revelations and to me nothing more shocking than the character played by Susanna Kwan dying so suddenly. I can't remember which series I made an observation about the sudden death of a major character but I remembered I wrote something to the effect that the dealing of the death scene was terrible. There was no death scene, just told she was dying and next scene she was dead for some months. What was missed was the raw emotions in between, moments before her death which would pull out that emotional you from the unemotional you, something Jack Neo did with great effect in Money No Enough 2. I think I cried and cried and cried with what happened to Lai Meng's character to the point I had to scream "Enough lar!!". Sometimes Jack Neo can be painfully overboard with such scenes. I could only take so much of raw emotions and often this is missing from recent TVB series though maybe through editing or careless disregard. Anyway I would have wished for some raw emotion from her death rather than the sudden death and cut to a few months later. However this series had one redeeming factor in this death; the writer wrote a scene where Susanna's character sang with such feelings, such emotions of a song to her friends and her son as her tears kept rolling down her cheeks and the pain in her abdomen was too much to bear but she sang on. That scene was terribly sad but again, what happened after was like screw that scene, just get on with the whole Kam Yin business. This series often feels that way; all about Kam Yin and screw everybody else except maybe the star crossed lovers that is Ling Fung and Fun Lan.
The thing is I like Kam Yin or rather I like Liza Wang's portrayal of Kam Yin. So she was absolutely disgusting in the beginning but I must admit, Kam Yin is one gutsy lady. She does what she thinks is right, even if she was prejudiced and her love for her son is touching and how she tried to fix the wrong she did to Ling Fung was also touching. I ended up liking Kam Yin a lot and this is due to Liza Wang's excellent portrayal as she finally managed to break from her preachy mode and actually began to act. That doesn't mean her singing isn't like some cat being strangled to death and still had to meow a few meows for a tune. She should just not sing and just act and when act should just not preach and just you know, act. I think this is probably the only performance of hers that I actually like. Her Kam Yin is hard to like but I love the way Liza threw away the glamour she is often associated with and really played this character as ugly and as rude and without much finesse as she could muster. I hardly see the always wise, always poise and the scene stealing Liza I knew. In fact some scene she seems to just stand there without much stealing into a scene, without demanding the camera focus on her and her only and I welcome that. But we all know who's the main character right? Kam Yin of course and Liza stood out by standing away. Anyone who has seen her past performances would know what I mean. Overall I felt Liza's performance made this series highly enjoyable and made it less predictable than it actually is. After all I was half expecting Liza to have the camera focus on her face 100% of the time and she suddenly preaches the virtues of a great singer but what I didn't expect was she sharing her scenes with Susanna Kwan or Chu Mi Mi and sitting with legs open on the road and sticking her hand into some ditch. This is what I call acting and fans of Liza Wang will be pleasantly surprised at her change of character.
Roger Kwok is another highlight and a surprise. I didn't quite agree with him as Ling Fung as I felt he lack the flamboyance to be a top hot shot arrogant pitch perfect always perfection singer. I thought a proper comedien would have given this character more campy fun but Roger succeeded in the drama department. The scene where he thought he was speaking to his dead mother through Liza's Kam Yin was both touching as he suddenly cried crying "Mother!!" and funny when he said "Mother can you promise me, next time you wish to talk to me, don't go into this woman's body". I have also never seen Liza Wang cried so freely before and again this is one of my most favourite scene. But Roger did show his comic side when he pretended to be an Indian and every time he spoke his lines with Indian accent, I just laughed. He was funny and cute eventhough his character's situation was desperate. I thought he did well with the singing until I found out it wasn't him doing the singing but he did do well with the mannerisms which I was told were dead ringers of stars of that era. Some of the time I found his Ling Fung too calm, however you will see some scenes where he explode in rage but just too few. If I was in his situation I would have been very angry before I became very disappointed. Not much anger, but a lot of disappointment. Whilst I still have my reservations about him as a famous singer of that era, overall I thought Roger did very well since whilst there were a lot of singing and performing, what is more is dramatic acting which Roger excells in. However if I must choose a different actor who fits the bill as someone who can do both funny and sad, I thought Dayo Wong would fit the bill. Not exactly handsome but I am sure he can do the performing part to great effect. A plus point is of course his chemistry with Charmaine Sheh. The only peformance I truly love by Charmaine is in An Herbalist Affair and there she was paired to perfection with Roger who gave an amazing performance. So the chemistry is already there. If I remembered correctly in An Herbalist Affair there was this very romantic kissing scene where they both ran into some telephone booth, wet and already in love and they shared a brief but intimate kiss to great effect. I hope my memory serves me right and in this series there is a similar scene, in the rain, in a telephone booth but this time no kiss, just a tearful Ah Lan after running away disappointed her father had gambled away their money earned from selling the village home and a concerned Ling Fung who went looking for her, liking her but not yet loving her. I see it as an ode to An Herbalist Affair's rather romantic scene but again it could be just pure coincidence. To tell you the truth, between this and An Herbalist Affair, if you wish to see the Charmaine-Roger combo, I would recommend An Herbalist Affair even if they didn't end up together but in that series, Roger's character admires Charmaine's character and that is a rare thing in TVB series isn't it? You have two characters in love, but rarely where one would cry out "Ah Bee (that is Charmaine's character), you're so smart!!" and meant it. Definitely Charmaine's best work as the series really uses her charm and her elegance to great effect.
Anyway back to this series.
You could say this series is more about performance than the story. Story wise there were weak links and characters wise something missing too. This is more apparent with the sudden revelation that Sheung Sing once tried to woo Kam Yin but failed. I never thought their body language ever indicated they were anything more than nightclub owner and troupe owner so I was taken by surprise. And also all the missing parents. Kam Yin's husband was executed, that again was revealed much later and I was surprised to know her husband was Sheug Sing's business partner! Like it was added all of a sudden. Then we don't see Kiu's husband as well and I am not sure what happened to him. Died in the war? And of course Ah Lan's mother. Died of illness perhaps? This series is littered with single parents. Very forward thinking if you ask me and the one family with a mom and dad and a child is the unhappiest family on TV. So what does that say about relationships and family through the eyes of TVB? Family is not necessarily everybody still there? Anyway I am sure this all these little surprise facts were inserted last minute as the series went on and on and on.
My family who was watching this with me commented Liza Wang didn't have much comic timing. I corrected them, not in a way like stuffing my opinion down their throat but rather corrected them by opining that none of them had comic timing.
Look, Liza Wang is not funny as in comedien funny. She can't deliver a punchline and there isn't any in here for her. Roger quite funny when he needs to be but at most time he was more subdue than comedien funny and again not much comic timing. That man can act funny, he can be funny but all out funny? Not quite. Charmaine Sheh no comic timing at all and most would mistake being cute or acting funny as in acting someone funny is comic timing. It is not. Give her a joke and I doubt she can deliver it with punch. Everybody else, no comic timing except for Chu Mi Mi who is funny. And this series isn't a comedy. Just because it has laughs doesn't mean it is a comedy. It just happens to be a dramedy as in drama and comedy. It is not comedy per se since drama rules. So to expect any of these actors to be funny is too high an expectation; I just hope they don't get lost trying to act funny.
Luckily none of them did. Some actors are born to have people laugh at them, like true comediens and like really bad actors. One example of the latter is Shek Sau. I don't know what is wrong with him but he wasn't that bad years before but ever since he returned to TVB, he is just such an awful actor. Here he scowls, threatens, scolds, snipe back, insults, seduces but the truth is he did none of those things. He just did what the script wrote his character did but he himself, he was simply wearing one expression throughout the entire series. Maybe it is the way he talks, that unemotional one tone or the way he looks, the unemotional one look or maybe his body language which is just you know, no body language except walking, sitting, etc. The more I see him act, the more I disliked him and even when he was playing a good guy in like Best Selling Secrets where his character is likeable and he is not the worst in there (Esther Kwan's mom in law wins that title hands down) I still felt his character was fishy. In here he was of course the villain and therefore all out fishy. But somehow he makes himself so slimy, so fishy and so untrustworthy, whatever character he plays is tinted by these 3 conclusions; fishy, slimy, untrustworthy. I suppose it fits his Sheung Sing very well but look carefully at his performance it is is like a one tone throughout. Try giving him a punchline; I doubt he knows how to deliver it. I doubt he even knows which is the punchline. Luckily his character didn't have to be funny or maybe that is unlucky; I am sure he would make a great comedien simply by being the worst actor. I am sure you do know best comediens are often the best actors who are genuinely funny (like Stephen Chow, or TVB example would be Wayne Lai who can do both comedy and drama and everything else you can throw his way; I am sure Wayne Lai can even be a romantic swashbuckling sexy hero if he gets the chance to be one) or are genuinely awful to the point that they're just so funny to watch (TVB example? I disagree with what everybody says, I feel the Mas, Kenneth and Joe are both awful). Never have I seen the reemergence of a gone somewhere but back now actor as awful as Shek Sau. But I must admit; he looks good for his age.
Charmaine Sheh's problem is not her performance. I thought her Chu Yuk Lan was endearing and in some good moments, she shows promise as someone who can be funny. Her lisp is cute, even if it is sometimes there, most of the time not. I notice it is there in her scenes with Roger but when she is by herself, the lisp is sometimes just not there. Even when she was cured of the lisp, one scene sounded she still had the lisp, but momentarily. So she's not consistent, and that is not the first time I have said that about her. But some scenes she was really cute, that I must admit. Like Liza Wang, she had a breakthrough. I remember in Country Spirit her character supposedly crawled back home but her hair and her face was perfectly in place and clean, respectively. I laughed at how "real" her acting was. But in here, some scenes were quite shocking; like the way she sits, squats, the way she walks, some of those little things. That scene where she found out her father sold the village home she said loudly and emotionally "How can I ever face my grandmothers? My great grandmother? My great great grandfather?!". That was funny, truly funny moment. Her training scenes, her interactions with Roger and Liza Wang; all seemed real and quite a breakthrough. Unfortunately all the momentum was lost the moment she became Fun Lan. Like in all her previous performances, however tomboy, bad, evil, whatever, at the end of the day she will end up her old ladylike self again. I am sure you would say that's because Fun Lan changed. I agree but the script was in such a way the moment she became Fun Lan, she was stripped off her personality and she seems to be a wallflower; walking, interacting but of no much use. One huge inconsistent scene had me scratching my head and confirm my criticism that she is a scene per scene actress. But I suppose the fault lies with the writer, not her. Earlier on when she was Ah Lan and she overheard people saying Ling Fung is a sex pervert, she didn't think, she just jumped forward and defended Ling Fung, believing him with all her heart and all her soul and disbelieving everybody else. Ah Lan is a very forthright person and is likeable. Later one when she was Fun Lan, Ling Fung was accused as the heartless rat. Ling Fung was disappointed that she didn't really stood by him when she believed Law Wai was not a bad person. Now that is simply not what Ah Lan would say would it? If she believes Ling Fung, then therefore she wouldn't think Law Wai as a good person since Ling Fung said Law Wai was the one who set him up. If she believes Law Wai, then she couldn't say she believes Ling Fung since Law Wai said he didn't. This is a question of absolute right and absolute wrong; she can't stand by both since one negates the other. So if she believes Ling Fung, she wouldn't have made that observation about Law Waui even if she thinks Law Wai changed for the better because Law Wai never publicly admitted he was wrong or he was looking for Ling Fung and such. So I thought it was realistic for Ling Fung to walk away when she said she feels Law Wai is a good person. For a moment I actually thought she was pretending to be nice to Law Wai so to find out the truth whether Law Wai did fooled everybody else with his romance prince image so as to get back at him but a pity; Fun Lan was a boring and as no personality as a dead chopped tree bark. Ah Lan was full of life and personality and full of confidence in what she believed because her belief in Ling Fung was unwavering but Fun Lan was the total opposite. This change of character looks bad on Charmaine Sheh who when asked to act demure became her old self again. And let's not talk about her performances in this series. I like her singing for the most part. I asked Sehseh, her no. 1 fan for the songs when I head the duet she sang with Roger at the beginning, that Like Mist Like Flower. I asked too soon. Her performance of the Carmen song was particularly awful, not because her diction or singing was off (her diction was off, her singing at times was like screeching but nowhere as bad as Liza Wang) but because her dancing and performance was supposed to be full of sexual energy as Carmen and Charmaine Sheh, pretty, beautiful, graceful, ladylike, feminine, killer electric eyes, flirty, womanly... but sexy? She was hardly sexy. Flirty sometimes but flirty as in flirtatiously sexy is an overstatement. Her performance as Carmen felt flat and rehearsed, like move left, turn right, shake twice... without the passion that the dance dictates, without the forcefulness, anger or even sexual energy the song demands. Thereafter her every stage performance was awful, like getting on with the routine. It is unfair to ask an actor to be a singer as it is unfair to ask a singer to be an actor but once as an actor you step into the shoes of a singer, you must act like it. Her fans will appreciate her effort, I do too but perhaps she had to be onstage far too many times that it came to a point that it was boring to watch her. Her singing improved though; I have heard worse. Her diction was ok although at times it felt like she concentrated too much on the words than the meaning of the words. She certainly didn't sing with her heart but rather she sings much too carefully. She can sing though which was why I asked for her songs in the first place but like her transition from Ah Lan to Fun Lan, she just can't keep the momentum going.
Someone who impressed me with her energy and her super cuteness was the actress who played Wan Yau Mui, whose name I do not know. Not only was she pretty, she was young, fresh and with this bundle of energy. She played her innocent Wan Yau Mui to the hilt; she was cute, nice, playful but never flirtatious like her character is supposed to be. I was very impressed with her interaction with Roger and although her singing is not that great (she wasn't that bad either since she did inject some flirtatiousness in a duet with Roger) I thought overall she was like a breath of fresh air. It came to a point that I thought Charmaine Sheh is too jaded and too experienced for Ah Lan and perhaps this young actress should take that role. Someone asked why not ask a singer to play Ah Lan? Well an actor makes a better singer than a singer makes a better actor I suppose. Case in point; Beyonce. And for the former example, Nicole Kidman. Anyway I was thinking this actress who plays Wan Yau Mui can be Ah Lan but the thing is can she command the viewers' attention for 30 episodes and be consistent about it? Well I wouldn't know until she tried. Not to take Charmaine's efforts lightly, I just feel perhaps it is time Charmaine should move on to more mature role which she had played in her earlier years and seem not to play anymore. This series made me recall her turn as Princess Cheung Ping, not that awful one with Steven Ma but the better one with Gordon Lam. If she were to repeat that performance now, I feel she would have the experience, and the world weariness to play a very stressed out Princess Cheung Ping. She certainly got the feminine poise to do it, something she retains despite the years, sometimes much to my annoyance in certain performances. Let her play the evil queen for once. Enough with this suffering innocent or suffering jaded. Just let her be the queen in a dramatic imperial series. I would love to see her slap some young consorts.
Joel Chan was, how shall I say? ... His character Law Wai was truly the bastard of this series. Betraying his brother, his conscience, in the end he redeemed himself but by then no one cares about his Law Wai anymore. I would have hoped a reunion scene between brothers, a scene where he cried as he confessed, he truly felt guilty over what he did instead of being told that he felt guilty. I want to see it for myself, having invested my feelings and emotions for 30 episodes, I feel I deserve an final resolution with this character, whether by death or by forgiveness. None. Why? Joel Chan was ok. I have seen him in 3 series straight, all as annoying despicable morally corrupt characters. He looks handsome, has the looks of the 60s star, tall, slim and well built and terribly typecast I'm afraid because he does have this playboy look. I think he can act and I hope he gets to break the mould or get to play a truly evil character that will help him break the mould. As Law Wai, he made the extra effort to sound like people from those times with his accent and the slang which I felt was funny. The way he dressed was truly flamboyant, and his hair.. so puffy. Singing was passable as expected from an actor but it was his crying whilst singing that was funny and sickening. Funny because it was funny and sickening because his character is using a girl in coma as stepping stone in his career despite the fact he was an awful singer. Pretending to have a comatose girlfriend, he relied on his prince of romance image to gain fame but for how long? How many times can someone cry and sing onstage to the point he can't go on singing? Everyday? Must have given him a headache. I felt Joel Chan was effective as Law Wai and I expect to see great things from this actor, only if he has the opportunity to do so.
Chris Lai was funny as well, but unintentionally. His hair, a wig obviously was awful. Second part with his hair cut, still a wig was still as awful. Why not use his real hair? Can't he grow it? Anyway he is well cast as the nice guy with a secret passion for music and from what I heard he sang his own songs so even if he can't speak decent English he did sing them well with his one song, One Way Ticket (to the blues). I thought the timeline was wrong but a quick check, it was originally by Neil Sedaka in 1959, so yes, the timeline is right I suppose. With a girlfriend by the name of Carol (pronounced in here as Cawol which is strange) I was expecting Oh Carol song but instead I got More Than I Can Say. Again a quick check and it is by Bobby Vee circa 1961. Again timeline ok. Hell, the music director in TVB is actually very good, much better than the writers and directors and actors. Who else can use Starry Starry Night (aka Vincent) as a backdrop song for the two lovebirds in Heart Of Greed? By the way the lyrics in Vincent is beautiful. Anyway Chris Lai is boring. He just seems stuck at wide eyed and his character hasn't much to do except to fill in some scenes. I like his interaction with Sharon Chan but frankly underused as in not much to do. Lucky too because if he is properly used I won't be able to take his wide eyes performance more than 3 episodes.
Sharon Chan is beautiful even if she has this "say that one more time and I will stare you to death" eyes. I pity her having to do a House performance; walking with a heavy limp all the time. At least she got her limping right so that's a good thing. Her performance as the angry and spoilt Carol was very good and I do think she is a much better actress than she is sometimes given credit for. The scene when she realised her father just took her dog Bobby to be put down was one of the best scenes; her confusion, her distress, her anger, her desperation. Against a stony faced Shek Sau, she seems like the veteran in acting. Anyway I also like Carol's change in this series. She loves her father but she realised in the end her father was a bully and her mother is perhaps better off without him. However her Carol doesn't seem to have a job does she? She is also one very tall girl isn't she? She manages to make me like Carol even when she was really rude to her mother and is a total spoilt brat. Fans of Sharon won't be disappointed. By the way, fantastic feature in this series that is an elevator in her house! An elevator!! Imagine that! I was watching Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford and Joan is a retired wheelchair bound famous actress with her room on 2nd floor and the series is around the same timeline as this series and yet I don't see an elevator for Joan Crawford. I was just quite amused to see an elevator for this limping girl and then remembered there was none for the paralyzed star. One thing though; Carol's father is rich and an elevator whilst useful does seem like an extravagant thing even by today's standard.
Hong Wah was in top form although her Mrs Wah was creepy. But then she was a woman starved of attention, needed love and she found it in Ling Fung or rather the idea of Ling Fung. It was rather shocking to see her jump to her death. To be more accurate, we see the aftermath of her shocking suicide, not shown the actual jumping itself. But the showing too much is like drawing until the intestines, like the Chinese loves to say so better to leave it at that.
Susanna Kwan is totally not the Susanna Kwan I saw in Heart Of Greed. In Heart of Greed she was manipulative and hard but in the end gave a truly good performance in her realisation she may have made the biggest mistake of her life by suing for half the fortune (although I felt she deserved the money). In here she is in the supporting role, as a supportive friend who is perhaps the most grounded and the one with common sense. She is also serious and angry all the time but other than that I thought she did well, eventhough again, give her a punchline and she wouldn't even know where to begin. Nothing much to say except her tearful scenes when she was singing the song was hearbreaking.
I am not sure what is her name but the actress as Carol's mom is the worst older actress in this series but I enjoyed watching her. Her dilemma of staying in a loveless marriage all for the sake of her daughter was a very good story to watch even if her acting was awful.
Chu Mi Mi was underused. Lui San not used at all. Chun Pui is getting old with his stuttering act whenever he plays a nice guy even if he was effective and funny. Evergreen Mak (if he still calls himself Evergreen but better known as Mak Bau) as Inspector Wah, the favourite surname of Inspectors of that time plays his angry corrupt maniac inspector to the hilt; I thought his performance was one of the highlights in this series and he felt truly dangerous whenver he put a gun to Roger's head. Excellent performance from an actor who can be funny if he wants to be. Halina Tam looks hungry. She is supposed to be the sex symbol here but there is nothing sexy about bony shoulders. She looks so hungry I wanted to feed her. She should be in a series about food; maybe then she will be fed (no typo error here; I don't mean fat, I mean FED). Her performance as the jealous mistress of Sheung Sing was very good though. I mean this woman can act so why is she wasting away here? Anyway her character is also very stupid to find fight with the wife whilst pregnant and thus causing herself to lose her baby and therefore her goldmine since all Sheung Sing cared about was the baby. But she had her own story to tell and I felt her character is redeemed in the flashback scenes when we see her in club in Taiwan as a young innocent singer given false promises by the wily fox Sheung Sing.
Everybody else filled the scenes and characters and generally are nothing more than walk on roles.
And the ending is one big happy ending. No wedding though. Like I said, not even a funeral. Is TVB trying to save budget by cutting out wedding and funeral scenes?
One thing I do appreciate though. The fact that younger actors were used to portray younger Kam Yin, Sheung Sing, etc. I am just glad no one pushed the idea of Liza Wang playing the younger Kam Yin as well.
The music is enjoyable even if badly sung by some, the acting mostly competent and the story terribly predictable. But I enjoyed it for the most part. It is somtimes funny, sometimes touching, sometimes repetetive but overall interesting. Because it was so predictable, this series is really on a one track mind. My issue is the length. 30 episodes is much too long for a series with forgone conclusion. It would have been better as a 20 episodes series, then the momentum will not slow down to a point where I could give this series a miss of a few episodes and still wouldn't miss much. It just seems that because of the length the story had to have several ups and downs and a shocking death just to keep the momentum. Sometimes this series just wouldn't end and when the ending finally came I was taken by surprise since I didn't know it was going to end in 1 episode and so I missed the first half of the last episode where the thick of the action was. So I missed Sheung Sing's death, how Loh Wai redeemed himself and how Ling Fung found out Kam Yin was his mom. I was taken by surprise that it was ending when no indication the series was ever going to end. But ended it did and I thought at last it ended and no more bad luck for Ling Fung. The ending was predictable though and rather long winded. The best of this series was when Ling Fung was at Miu Street and also the transformation of Ah Lan to Fun Lan. The earlier scenes of bickering between Kam Yin and Ling Fung were long winded and tiring to watch. This series could have been better if it had been more shorter but for what it is worth, it is entertaining and enjoyable to watch. Fans of any stars in this series will not be disappointed since you won't be as bothered with what I am bothered with. But watch it for two reasons; one I shall say below this paragraph and the other is Liza Wang. This series belongs to Liza Wang and her egoistical and overbearing but in the end really engaging and not preach Kam Yin.
The Soul of This Series
Music. That's the soul of this series. Why it is 30 episodes is also partly many minutes dedicated to music and the performances on stage. The casting director wisely chose veteran singers for the older roles so as to cushion the fall for the younger non singers. And interestingly everybody sang their own songs, even Sharon Chan except for Roger whose song voice was dubbed. And they all can lip synch although Chris Lai's mouth movements were too wide. Anyway music. Why I singled this factor out in my review as an afterword is simply because without music, this series will be overbearingly longwinded. Fans of the 60s and 70s music will love this series because it introduces some olden goldies. There's a mix of Chinese and English song. Chinese as in Mandarin. You may wonder why no Cantonese songs? Well Cantonese only made an impact in the 70s when Sam Hui bursts into the scene with lyrics unsurpassed even till this day. No one writes as poetic as Sam wrote even if he wasn't a very good singer. The lyrics were honest and an observation of ordinary life. the 60s to the 70s were mostly love songs as you will hear in this series. Ling Fung started out as king of romantic songs, then he revived his career as king of comedic songs, all mandarin. English songs were also very popular, and here Chris Lai represented that group of English songs with his often sung "choo choo train....". Sehseh informed me that everybody sang their own songs, except for Roger. Very smart of him to relinquish that, probably his mandarin is not strong enough. Like I said the veterans were all and still are singers. Lui San sings jazzy songs and mind you that woman can sing. The one who plays Carol's mom also can sing. Liza Wang of course sings too even if she lost her voice already and should stop singing. Even Chun Pui is musically inclined as well as all the second liners who are often piano teachers or gives singing lessons as part time. Those who were from the earlier EYT were all musically gifted as well. Charmaine Sheh was mostly competent even if got worse. One song I suspect was not sung by her, can't remember which one and that was the worst of all. Sharon Chan surprisingly has an honest soft singing voice and Chris Lai, if he did sing his songs, sang better in English than speaking it. Shek Sau didn't sing, thank god for that. Halina Tam could sing too if that is her voice.
Two surprises would certainly surprise you in a good way.
Susanna Kwan is a great singer, but in here she is the best singer. Her heartfelt rendition of the song before she died will have you in tears. My sister always said she was a very good singer but was never promoted by her more famous ex-husband, the piano playing guy whose name I just can't remember right now. Lai something. Can't remember which I guess was why she left him. Next to her Liza Wang seems amateurish.
The other surprise you will not see except for a very short cameo, that is the singing voice of Roger. His name is Wong Cho Lam and I had no idea who he is until I was reminded he was the serious tech guy in Best Selling Secrets. Quite funny too. And he is promoted as the comedien and sings comedic songs. But this guy, small in stature, not even handsome in the traditional way will blow you away with his singing in this series. I was so impressed I had to download the songs in this series. If everybody was inconsistent, this guy was perfectly consistent. And you will hear him always a song per episode. Credit to Roger for lipsynching perfectly to Wong's singing but then Wong's singing voice does suit the image of Roger. If only Roger can sing like that, that would be perfect eh? Anyway he sang like a 60s star, perfect pitch, perfect mandarin, perfect deep voice that is almost like a romantic hero of those taiwanese soap dramas, like how Chin Han should sound like perhaps. The absolute highlight of this series is Wong Cho Lam and you don't even get to see him except for that few seconds!
Of all the songs I heard, my absolute favourite is the duet between Charmaine and Wong, that is Like Mist Like Flower. Next one is of course the one sung by Susanna Kwan. The rest are not forgetabble, but not as memorable. Charmaine also sang her best with that song I mentioned because it didn't take much effort. Her weakness can be heard in Carmen which would be better sung by someone of Lui San or Susanna Kwan's calibre. Joel Chan's has only I think 3 songs in this series, one of which is the twinkle twinkle little star, direct translation. He's ok as a singer, since later on he cries more than he sings so can't hear much.
Overall for me the star of this series is Wong Cho Lam and the highlights are the songs, well sung or badly sung all included. A pity there isn't a released soundtrack. Sometimes you must wonder who is running the music department in TVB? That guy/girl is doing an excellent job for choosing songs that are catchy and memorable even when we have never heard of them. But then again who is running the one who decides whether to release a soundtrack. Because this person has no business sense. This series is crying out for a soundtrack and yet no soundtrack was ever released. Isn't that the stupidest decision ever? If it is the music director then I can only conclude; got music sense but zero business sense.
Anyway my 2 favourite songs as below:-
By the way I didn't realise this until someone pointed it out to me. The song you will hear in the Ipod above by Susanna Kwan is actually an old song that was used as the themesong in Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle! Now I know why it was so familiar! Who sang it originally? Don't know but if you know do tell!
Download the songs
Since there is no official soundtrack, what you will find is the ripped version from the series. Find them here at Sehseh's site. But she did not rip all the songs, such as those by Joel Chan. Overall the download should be about 80MB and they're quality rips, at least it begins when it should begin and ends when it ended in the series.
Alternate download site is from my host. Right click HERE and choose Save Target As.
URL : http://www.point2e.com/downloads/media/glitteringdaysost.rar
Questions Asked And Answered
Some questions you may have so I shall try to ask and answer them myself. Also to highlight some mistakes in this series.
How did Ling Fung became Ling Fung the famous celebrity?
He joined a local singing competition organised by Pearl Of The Orient many years before, won and became famous amongst women. Never had a record though and did managed to release a record only to have them destroyed by an angry record boss when he exposed the fixing of the competition where Ah Lan was in competition.
Why the press calls Kam Yin the master of Ling Fung? Did Ling Fung tutored under her?
No. When Ling Fung entered the singing competition, the form has a space that requires the name of a sponsor or like referral and Law Wai who was filing the form for Ling Fung simply put Kam Yin's name on it, since Kam Yin at that time was famous as the lead singer in the group 3 Golden Flowers. So quite by accident Ling Fung became the famous student of Kam Yin.
Why did Ling Fung pushed Ah Lan to be Kam Yin's student?
He wanted Ah Lan's mind to be occupied by something else other than the idea of him. Also because he wanted to embarass Kam Yin since he didn't actually think Ah Lan can sing due to her lisp. Funny thing is even her father agreed to trick Kam Yin but he thought this was to occupy Ah Lan's time and to give her a sense of purpose, an ambition other than to marry Ling Fung. But curiously I was wondering why would someone as caring as Ling Fung would create such a situation that will potentially embarass a sweet innocent girl like Ah Lan just so to get back at Kam Yin? I mean I expected Lo Wai to be like that but Ling Fung? That was the plot in this series that I find beyond ridiculous. Ling Fung would never do that to Ah Lan. His intention was clearly not sincere at that point.
How did Lo Wai become famous?
Long story short, after he sold out Ling Fung, he became a small time singer and lived with a young model/actress who thought he was rich when he used Mrs Wah's money to buy nice cars to show off. When she found out he wasn't rich, she threw him out. Then she placed a kettle or something and let the gas on and went to sleep but ended up fainted due to inhaling the gas. Then Lo Wai who was calling his ex girlfriends to find a place to stay at the end called her and as you know, the moment the telephone rings, ka-boom. She suffered major and extensive burns and was in deep coma. Lo Wai took this opportunity in front of all press and made a big hoo-haa and cried for his comatose love of his life and people were touched by his love for his comatose and scarred girlfriend. So he became famous as the prince of romance songs and everytime he was on stage singing sad and morose songs, he ended up crying his heart out. Every expert knew he was an awful singer but the girls love his image as someone pining for the love of his life. So he became really really famous. Later on he teamed with Ah Lan as the dream team.
Did Lo Wai fall for Ah Lan?
No. He called her a derogatory terms equivalent to something like "Cow shit girl" which means hillbilly. He never really liked her but used her as a stepping stone in his career, even tried to woo her by buying her a new earring and for that short moment Ah Lan actually believed his sincerity, amazingly. In the end she realised he was just faking it, which was not hard to know since everybody who knows her is telling her he is faking it big time. Only she was so gullible to believe him. Like I said in my review above, I find this plot unbelievable considering how loyal Ah Lan was to Ling Fung in the beginning.
Why did Ling Fung pretended to be a fan of Ah Lan and write to her anonymously?
At first it was to give her some encouragement I suppose. Later on when he was really down and out, it was his way of communicating with her. She never knew until the last moment when her father showed her a letter by this fan to her in Ling Fung's room. It was actually a ploy by Kam Yin to get these 2 together by having written the letter on behalf of Ling Fung pretending to be the fan, without actually knowing that Ling Fung was the fan. Ah Lan thought Ling Fung wasn't the fan so she was angry and ran outside into.... drum roll.. the rain. Interesting no pneumonia back in those days. He ran to her and confessed to her by reciting the words he wrote her, only the fan would know. Ah Lan was convinced Ling Fung was the fan and that he loved her all along and so they embraced, in the rain. No kiss.
How did Susanna Kwan's character died?
Cancer. Which part I am not sure. She was diagnosed and given 6 months to love. 6 months on the dot she died.
Did Carol's mom divorced Sheung Sing?
I assume yes, since Sheung Sing threatened that if she makes a comeback on TV (as in TVB) he will divorce her. Since she did, so I assume he did what he threatened he would do. Carol continued to stay with her father whilst the mother went overseas.
Why would Sheung Sing threaten her?
In a way Sheung Sing is very manipulative, controlling and overall the bastard of this series, other than Lo Wai, only on bigger scale. Also he felt TV was threatening his business. If fans can hear and watch their idols on TV without charge, why would anyone pay high ticket price to go to a nightclub and hear their idols? TV spell the death of nightclubs back in those days. By the way I was very young when I shook Andy Lau's hand (dressed as Yangguo) in a nightclub. Legit nightclub of course, not like the seedy ones now. I remembered his hand was very cold.
How did Ling Fung got separated from Kam Yin?
He was 3 or 4 or 5 and he was living in the village with a nanny I think. Kam Yin had to work in the city but did visit him often, bearing his gifts and toys. She was performing in the club when the Japanese came and WWII began. She went back to the village but it was destroyed and she couldn't find Ling Fung anywhere. Since then she had been looking for him. Ling Fung was actually taken to the village by I think some child kidnappers though not very sure. He was adopted by Law Wai's parents who mistreated him. We never get to see all these, always told in perspective, not much flashback.
How did they reunite?
Kam Yin heard the song she always hummed to him when he was very little, a special song written to her by some musician paid for by her husband. So she suspected and then simply confirmed his identity when she found out more about his past. As for how Ling Fung knew, I missed that but I suppose someone told him.
How did Ling Fung's father died?
Business partner of Sheung Sing and then betrayed by Sheung Sing (exactly how I am not sure since I missed that part), his father was setenced to death and was executed. I was surprised to hear this because I never knew there was any close connection between Kam Yin and Sheung Sing at all.
What happened to Fei Fei in the end?
Missed that also. I suppose she went back to Taiwan? What else can she do? Starve herself to death? Well she's already halfway there.
Did Kam Yin and Chu Dai Kat ever end up together?
Never. Was never a couple to begin with. The old ones stay single, the young ones paired up as expected in the end.
Wedding bells? Any skip to the future scenes?
Nope. Like I said, not even a funeral. A pity.
Maybe you can solve this.
What is Ling Fung's real name? I mean what was his name when he was still Kam Yin's boy? Can't be Chai-Chai! What about his name when he was a Law? Dai Dee is more like an affectionate term right?