3 Possible Reasons Why TVB’s “Stealing Seconds” is Suffering from Low Ratings

Low ratings have been plaguing Stealing Seconds <棟仁的時光> since it first aired in mid-April, and for a while, people wondered why. The TVB drama stars one of Hong Kong’s hottest rising actors Benjamin Yuen (袁偉豪) in the lead, and newly-crowned TV Queen Natalie Tong (唐詩詠) as the lead actress. Stealing Seconds also has a solid story premise—it was meant to focus on a character, played by Benjamin, who possesses a strange supernatural ability where he could stop or steal time from someone else when he kisses them.

The show had a solid start. Viewers were interested in Benjamin’s character and were curious about the story. However, ratings for the show continuously dropped, and it is on track to overtaking Birth of a Hero <翻生武林> as the second lowest-ranking TVB television drama of the year.

What happened to the dramatic drop in ratings? For a show that used to be at the peak of interest polls, why the sudden drop?

There are three possibilities: for one, the story lacked suspense and mystery. For a while, the show teased viewers with the mysterious disappearance of Natalie’s husband (played by Yeung Chiu-hoi 楊潮凱), but the answer was easily revealed within the next few episodes. The show also lacked a decent villain, and viewers found the overall storyline predictable and disconnecting.

Secondly, the drama falls victim to the same usual genre in many TVB dramas — romance. The love triangle between Benjamin, Natalie, and Rebecca Zhu (朱晨麗) would have been more interesting if their relationship was not dragged on to act as filler for the 20-episode requirement. If Stealing Seconds was shortened into a five-episode mini drama, the viewers would have found the content to be much more suspenseful and engaging.

Thirdly, the poor writing. A story that could’ve been told in five minutes was dragged on for forty minutes, leaving only the last five minutes of each episode to be the only kind of content worth to watch.

Source: HK01.com

This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.

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  1. i thought the drama had an interesting plot and thought it’d perform well. well, considering it’s tvb, cliche plot and overuse ideas is not entirely shocking

  2. I’ve not watched this yet but Ben Natalie and Rebecca are imo incapable of leading dramas. This combination sounds boring no wonder so few people are watching.

    1. @passingby It has an interesting plot but quite boring after a few episodes. I am actually ok w/Benjamin finally being able to lead a series. I never like Natalie Tong’s acting and there isn’t really any chemistry between them either.

  3. Of course, no one should be surprised. Even with a good premise, once it gets into TVB’s hands, they are bound to mess it up. Honestly, the way TVB produces its series is still so antiquated — they need to stop making series based on episode count and instead just let the story flow (I would much rather watch a series that is only 5 or 6 episodes but the story is tightly written and nothing is dragged out).

    You know, it’s kind of funny — TVB’s series copied so many things from HKTV’s series the past few years, but they didn’t seem to “copy” one of the most important aspects of HKTV’s series, which was an “open” approach to filming based on script rather than episode count (HKTV’s series ranged from 5 episodes to 25 episodes, with most series being somewhere in between — for example: The Election was 15 episodes, Borderline was 17, The Menu was 24, To Be or Not to Be was 25, Doom+5 was 5 eps, Karma was 9 episodes, etc).

    One of the best series I watched last year (ok, technically the past 3 years in terms of HK series) was ViuTV’s “My Very Short Marriage”, which was only 5 episodes, yet it was so profound and thought-provoking (of course much of this had to do with the fabulous script written by Candace Chong and the excellent directing by award-winning HK film director Steve Chan). It’s a series that I’ve already re-watched several times and still, it makes me think and reflect each time…

    Also, both of Fox Asia’s upcoming highly anticipated HK series (“The Trading Floor” and “Stained) are only 5 episodes and though neither series has aired yet, the 1 minute trailers for both already blow all of TVB’s series out of the water.

    Basically, as illustrated above, there are plenty of examples out there where the producers/directors let the script dictate the flow of the series rather than the episode counts and those turned out really well. This is obviously yet another one of the “antiquated processes” that TVB needs to change….

    1. @llwy12 TVB’s method of production is rubbish – they really just don’t care about quality. But making series based on episode count can work if done properly with high production values. I watch mostly Mainland series that are 50+ episodes and they’re quite enjoyable.

      1. @gregrh Very true about the quality part. Many of TVB’s best series from their Golden Age (late 1970s to early 1990s) were 40+ episodes and most of those are classics that are still revered even today. With that said though, it’s harder to find success with long episode counts nowadays, since audiences have so many options and being able to capture as well as maintain their attention is a challenge — which is why TVB needs to focus on the story and eliminate all the fluff that will turn audiences away faster than they realize.

        Personally, I can’t stand Mainland series — yes, the quality is there in terms of production values, but story-wise, too long and draggy.

  4. The first few episodes are refreshing but halfway through the story became nonsense and the ending is totally rubbish. Very dissapointed with the last few episodes.

  5. Stopped watching this after about 5 episodes but stopped because the pacing was sooooo slow and the characters themselves were pretty boring. This also made me realize that although I do like Natalie Tong, I prefer her in supporting roles.

    1. @kaykay She definitely is cute but at the same time boring to watch. The show was really bad towards the middle/end so it was no surprise that ratings dropped.

  6. I’ve stopped watching after episode 2… I was going to revisit this drama, because I thought the plot was interesting but I guess I don’t have to waste my time because it flopped. I like Natalie Tong in supporting roles. I don’t think she can carry the drama as main lead.

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