Monday, March 18, 2013

Reality Check Review

Producer: Lee Yim Fong
Genre: Modern, family
Cast: Louise Lee, Ruco Chan, Priscilla Wong, Evergreen Mak, Rebecca Chan, Stanley Cheung

Plot: A filial foster son takes care of his gambling-addict foster mother. (Full overview)

The take-home messages of Reality Check are: (1) don’t gamble; and (2) communicate with others to avoid misunderstandings. There, I just saved you the trouble of watching 15 episodes. You’re welcome.

Which 5 episodes should you watch? That would be the first 5 episodes, which were filmed in a rural village. It was fun to watch how a spoiled HK youth (Hero Yuen) adjusts to village life. Seeing the simple rural lifestyle makes urban dwellers appreciate all the luxuries of city life. It also gives perspective on the differences in values between urban and rural people, such as on family and education. This segment was as refreshing as a breath of fresh air in those open fields.

Once the characters returned to the familiar city setting, TVB also returned to its familiar family genre. The rest of the series is a slew of family problems… and more family problems. It is irritating to watch simple problems being complicated, and much of it is due to lack of communication. The characters witnessed how Hero learned to communicate with his father, yet none of them picked up that skill for themselves. The rural village segment is almost irrelevant to the rest of the story because no one, with the exception of Hero, changed their attitude because of it.

The “novel” aspect of this series was Louise Lee as a gambling addict. It was an interesting angle to work from, but suffered from lacklustre presentation. For the most part, the audience is told that she has a gambling problem, rather than being shown. The only gambling scenes are the shots of her playing mahjong. They could have shown her first trip to Macau – the mesmerizing lights and sounds of the casino, the excitement from winning, etc. – to emphasize how gambling helps her forget about her troubles, which is why she fell victim to addiction. By conveying these things through dialogue only, it is harder to understand her plight and sympathize with her.

The ending makes complete sense in TVB world. Of course Louise can get rid of her gambling addiction. Of course her children realize their mistakes and are forgiven. Of course everyone’s wishes come true. Every single problem is easily resolved in the last episode for a perfect happy ending. So much for being a Reality Check.

The Chinese title “Heart Road GPS” seems to encourage people to follow their inner GPS. But actually, all the problems were caused because the characters acted on emotions from their heart. Louise let her emotional well-being overwhelm her rationality (she felt better when gambling). Ruco rejected his biological mother because he was hurt by his childhood experience. Evergreen’s instinctive assumptions made him unreceptive to his wife’s words. Obviously, their navigation systems need a little tweaking.

There’s no need to elaborate on the excellent acting skills of Louise, Ruco and Rebecca, especially on the emotional scenes. It was a nice change to see Louise deviate from her usual perfect mother roles. Evergreen Mak gave a pretty standard performance. Priscilla Wong was natural and genuine in a role that seems well-suited for her. No comment on Stanley Cheung. Hero Yuen was quite believable acting as a spoiled youngster. There were complaints about Jenny Lau (the girlfriend of Louise’s son), but I guess annoying and bitchy was she was aiming for. Overall, great acting wasted on a forgettable drama.

Rating: An easy skip. 2/5

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