HK Dramas

HKTV is finally coming on November 19!

With everything that is happening in Hong Kong right now, HKTV finally launching is definitely great news. As a bit of background, the free-to-air TV market in Hong Kong is pretty much a monopoly (TVB). In recent years, the other channel (ATV) which had some decent programming in the past (like the 90s) doesn’t even bother trying anymore. They’ve had ratings of zero before. Yep, like seriously.

 

Both ATV and TVB are known to be pro-Beijing. I think that’s how ATV manages to survive despite its dismal ratings. Similarly, TVB is known as CCTVB these days. State censorship may not be official yet, but ‘self censorship’ is happening right now.

 

When Ricky Wong – an entrepreneur launched HKTV (aka Hong Kong Television Network) trying to offer the people an alternative, things weren’t so easy. HKTV’s application for a free-to-air license was rejected in October 2013 which sparked protests.

 

I must admit Ricky Wong did rub people the wrong way. He lured a lot of TVB employees (actors and crew) to HKTV with higher wages and better working conditions. HKTV started filming a number of dramas even though the license application had not been approved yet. It did come off as arrogance. However, since the government rejected the license application he is now seen as the ‘underdog’ – somewhat representative of the shrinking freedom of speech prevalent in Hong Kong right now. In a way, HKTV’s fight for a place to broadcast free-to-air has also become a fight for a different voice to be heard. The people of Hong Kong want a choice.

 

That fight to broadcast free-to-air is still ongoing. But in the meantime, HKTV has finally decided to launch via other mediums on November 19! The date is rather significant as it is the same day as TVB’s anniversary. Well, Ricky Wong is not afraid to challenge the status quo.

 

Unfortunately, HKTV is not available overseas at the moment (except Malaysia!) but judging from the responses on their Facebook page, they’re working on it. If you are in Hong Kong however, HKTV programming will be available on their website, set top box, Smart TV app, App Store (Apple) and Google play. For those in Malaysia, Astro has secured the rights to broadcast and distribute HKTV dramas.

To prepare for the launch, HKTV is asking viewers to vote on the first series they want to see on November 19. Oddly enough, I voted a couple of days ago but I checked again today and it’s saying only those from Hong Kong can vote now? Or maybe I missed the error message the first time. Anyway, I suppose it makes sense since they’re catering to a local audience right now.

 

miriamfanz from Casual TVB has already compiled the list of 16 dramas HKTV is planning to release along with a short summary and trailer so head over there for all the details.

 

My top 3 – The Election (選戰), The Borderline (警界線), The Menu (導火新聞線)

 

I really can’t imagine HKTV not launching with The Election (選戰). With over 80,000 votes right now and leading the pack, it is extremely topical right now as the story revolves around Angelica Lee’s character entering the race to become Hong Kong’s Chief Executive. Just looking at the one minute teaser it touches on the topics Hong Kong is fighting for right now. Plus Liu Kai Chi plays her rival in the election race and Gregory Wong also has a role! Super exciting.

 

*Gregory Wong 王宗堯 is not really a famous actor (he usually films movies) but I remember him as Jack in the last ATV series I saw – Who’s the hero (勝者為王) which also starred Chilam Cheung, Ada Choi and Chapman To. Decent series and Gregory was kinda hot in it. Just saying…

 

One Minute Trailer

 

 

Ever since HKTV released the first episode of The Borderline aka Police Boundaries (警界線) on YouTube in June last year, I have been itching to see the rest! The first episode had excellent cinematography. It looks so good it’s like you’re watching a movie. The lead actor Lawrence Chou though… I have reservations about, but the rest of the cast includes Liu Kai Chi (hope I won’t get sick of him lol, but he is such a good actor) and Leila Tong (oh I do miss her!) so it’s still very watchable. Plus, the first episode ended in a huge cliffhanger. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

 

One Minute Trailer

 

HKTV removed the first episode from their official YT channel, but of course someone else would’ve reuploaded it.

 

The third one on the list, The Menu (導火新聞線) is probably the one I know the least about but the subject matter – again very topical sparked my interest. Well, even though I fangirl rather regularly I can’t watch fluffy idol dramas all the time. The Menu focuses on three female reporters with different ideals (played by Noel Leung!!!! Catherine Chau and Kate Yeung) who work for a free newspaper. Everyday, they’re struggling with pressures from their editor – should they write exaggerated reports  and ignore their ethical responsibility, or speak up for the minority and expose the injustice in society?

 

As I mentioned, the shrinking freedom of the press has been widely debated in Hong Kong so this is another series which will tackle a subject matter close to HKers right now. I can’t believe Noel Leung is back on TV after all these years. She was quite famous in the 90s especially for her elegance and beauty in ancient dramas. Catherine Chau is one of those actors who never ‘made it’ to lead status at TVB but always dependable as a supporting actor. I didn’t actually know her name before but definitely remember her face.

 

 

So that would the top 3 series I would love to see from HKTV but the other 13 series covers a wide range of topics. Maybe they’re not necessarily to my taste but viewers should definitely be able to find one they are interested in.

 

Other Upcoming HKTV series

 

Idol Dramas

Love in Time aka Still have time to love you (還來得及再愛你) – Danson Tang, Michelle Wai

Danson plays a vampire. It’s got Twilight written all over it.

 

Once Upon a Song (童話戀曲201314) – William So, Bernice Liu, Kelvin Kwan, Jason Chan

Technically it’s a musical. But the storyline revolves around young people trying to chase their dream in the music industry. (or something like that)

 

Paranormal

Doom + 5 (末日+5) – Sunny Chan, Phillip Keung, Gregory Wong

Five separate stories surrounding  a government secret – the world is ending and everyone has 15 hours left to live.

 

Karma (驚異世紀) – Dominic Lam, Leila Tong, Lawrence Chou, Noel Leung

Eight separate stories which are apparently, very scary. I’m a scaredy cat so…

 

Paranormal Mind (開腦儆探) – Felix Wong, Sam Lee, Dominic Lam

Felix’s character develops the ability to read other people’s minds after his son’s death. Everyone else thinks he’s has psychological issues.

 

Social Issues

Beyond the Rainbow (歲月樓情) – Felix Wong, Ha Yu, Nina Paw, Leila Tong

A story which spans almost 30 years with a housing estate as the backdrop. Focusing on the struggles and determination of everyday people.

 

Hidden Faces (三面形醫) – Frankie Lam, John Chiang, Ai Wai, Kate Yeung

Examines current social values around beauty, through Frankie Lam’s character as a cosmetic surgeon. Apparently real surgical procedures will be shown. Hrm, there’re reality TV shows for that!

 

Night Shift (夜班) – Frankie Lam, Dominic Lam, Kathy Tong

Not really sure what genre this series is but it was filmed entirely at night with the story revolving around police officers working the night shift.

 

To be or not to be (來生不做香港人) – Maggie Cheung, Prudence Liew

Two sisters reuniting after many years, examines the relationship between Mainland China and Hong Kong in the last 30 years.

 

Comedy

Incredible Mama (我阿媽係黑玫瑰) – Kara Hui, John Chiang, Sam Chan

‘Back rose’ is a classic character – a masked fighter for justice who has now retired to raise her family. If you remember the classic films then this one might interest you.

 

Sexpedia (大眾情性) – Jason Chan, Joman Chiang

A romantic comedy examining the complicated issue of sex based on real life cases. Since this topic has never really been done in HK, definitely a bold move.

 

The Wicked League (惡毒老人同盟) – John Chiang, Samuel Kwok, Yuan Wah

Billed as a black comedy, a group of old people joins together to seek revenge on those who discriminated against them and don’t respect the elderly.

 

Drama

Second Life (第二人生) – Wilfred Lau, Terence Yin, Joey Tang, Bondy Chiu

Middle aged men given a second chance in life. If they can change history, will their lives turn out for the better?

 

Not sure where this falls under

Class 4B (四年B班) – Sam Chan, Joman Chiang plus kids

See the world through the eyes of children?

 

 

You Might Also Like

14 Comments

  • Reply
    Kappy A
    November 1, 2014 at 3:04 am

    *Nth attempt, hopefully my comment shows up!*

    Ricky did rub people the wrong way in terms of promotional tactics but higher wages (compared to the meager salaries in TVB) and better working conditions are natural and valid demands. TVB is just mean to its employees nowadays.

    I’m looking toward to a lot of dramas from them. 😀

    • Reply
      kat
      November 3, 2014 at 11:48 pm

      Sorrrrryyyyyyy I found your comment!!!! 🙁 🙁 Hopefully Akismet has learnt its lesson now *shakes fist at spam filter*

      Yeah I see what you mean, although the same argument can be said about Mainland dramas – better wages + working conditions, but people don’t react so negatively to c-dramas (I guess some of it is loyalty to TVB as well).

      I hope they find a way to survive without the license, the shopping channel seems like a good idea. 🙂

  • Reply
    timeinthegray
    November 1, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Oh, Love in Time is an HKTV drama? No wonder it hasn’t aired yet! I was wondering what the heck happened to it, lmao.

    • Reply
      kat
      November 3, 2014 at 10:22 am

      Yeah it’s kinda an odd collaboration since Danson will be dubbed!

  • Reply
    kumagi3
    November 4, 2014 at 10:07 am

    OMG I’m so excited HKTV is finally coming too!!! I have to say The Election would be a very sensitive drama to watch, especially during the given situation in HK right now.

    • Reply
      kat
      November 4, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      Yeah! I can definitely imagine the netizens will go all out screencaping the quotes because just looking at the trailer, it expresses a lot of what people are trying to fight for right now.

  • Reply
    cloudandsea
    November 7, 2014 at 5:02 am

    This is so good! I watched the first episode of the drama and was like… wow, hkdrama can be this good. The recent dramas make me feel that tvb has been cutting on its budget and the cutting doesn’t flow as well as it used too. Hope that I can watch it ‘cos I don’t stay in Malaysia D:

    • Reply
      kat
      November 7, 2014 at 12:28 pm

      Yeah! I was skeptical at first but ep1 of The Borderline blew me away!!! HKTV films a lot outdoors (I think it was before they had their own studio?) so it adds a lot to the authenticity.

      Pretty sure people will upload their series but I do hope they will license it properly to streaming sites as well.

  • Reply
    carolies541
    December 4, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Danson in Hkdrama? That’s news and HKTV sounds interesting. While I’m not a big fan of Hk-dramas (no offense to HK people intended but I think I’m just not used to cantonese language), I actually watched quite a bunch of them during my childhood days where TV was my only entertainment as HKdramas are popular in Singapore. I think the cinematography improved greatly (which was always what I hated about HKdramas in the past, even those that aired in about year 2008… I loved 黃子華’s comedy dramas) and HKTV sounds like a good selection. I still remember ATV for their zombie/vampire-themed drama 我跟僵尸有個約會 so I’m really sad to see the downfall of ATV plus o% rating is really, really bad.

    One question though, where did HKTV get their funding from even before they get the license approval? It seems like their dramas are well-produced and put in a lot of budget and they look different from typical TVB productions so I think I’m gonna check out The Election (選戰), definitely seems interesting and I loved Angelica Lee in The Eye.

    • Reply
      carolies541
      December 4, 2014 at 9:41 pm

      I hope HKTV dramas have a selection of chinese-dubbing though because I think I’m used to chinese dubbed hkdramas in Singapore’s TV, haha. I tried watching the original version of some HKdramas but always get distracted by the Cantonese for some reason, habit is really a bad thing.

      • Reply
        kat
        December 5, 2014 at 12:20 am

        Back in the day I don’t remember paying much attention to cinematography, but just think it’s interesting that some people prefer the old TVB wuxia with the fake sets and bad CGI (or none at all) over the big dollars, big CGI Mainland productions. I don’t know if it’s the nostalgia or it’s a closer adaptation or better actors.

        YES ATV’s My Date with a Vampire series is a classic, the special effects and makeup were quite bad but the story was really strong. I don’t know how ATV has killed itself in the space of…10 years?

        HKTV’s owner Ricky Wong made his fortune in the telecommunications industry back in the 90s. His companies pretty much broke the monopoly on fixed line phone calls and he founded HK Broadband Network (which as the name suggests provide internet services). As an entrepreneur he’s very successful so he has the funds to invest in HKTV. I think they’re using quite expensive equipment to film their dramas so they have a ‘movie’ feel.

        I remember reading HKTV sold the rights to their series to a few countries including Singapore, which will broadcast in Chinese dub.

        • Reply
          carolies541
          December 5, 2014 at 1:25 am

          Anyways, I went to watch ep1~3 of The Election just now and I think I finally found a hk-drama to follow after so many years of hkdrama hiatus, the acting is strong and the cinematography is impressive, it really have a movie-like feeling.

          Well, putting aside cinematography, I think TVB’s set really, really looks bad, it looks cheap and the lighting is bad (for so many years in my childhood days I always had such an impression of HK – dark litted rooms, small apartments etc… but I went to HK for holiday few years ago and thought it looks much better in real life than on TV) so I hardly watch hkdramas even though it’s regularly broadcasted in Singapore’s TV. I also can’t stand most of TVB’s frequent actors/actresses but there’s always a few exception like 黃子華 and a few other stars that only shoot TVB dramas once in a few years.

          • carolies541
            December 5, 2014 at 1:30 am

            But anyways, that was the impression that I had on TVB series (the last time I watched a TVB series was in late 2008/2009) so maybe things have improved a lot and I don’t know. I’m just happy that HKTV is offering high quality dramas. They remind me of Korean cable channels like TVN or OCN which produce innovative drama selections with themes that is not only about romance. Maybe the mainstream channels are just too big that the higher-ups become so stubborn and difficult to change (it reminds me of SETTV too…)

          • kat
            December 12, 2014 at 12:30 am

            The dark lighting in The Election is still bugging me though!! Although everything else in that drama overshadows it~

            Yep I agree TVB’s sets look super fake, especially their ancient dramas where they always film on that same street in their studio or at the same park they use for all the palace dramas. The apartments though… your description is also true as well. I stayed in a small, dark (and noisy) apartment for a little while LOL. It wasn’t very pleasant!!! I like 黃子華 too although his last series was disappointing, maybe my expectations were too high.

            TVB is just killing itself with all the internal politics. Someone should write a drama about it and it’s probably a lot more exciting than the dramas they actually produce.

    Leave a Reply

    %d bloggers like this: