Review: Forensic Heroes 3 (TVB 2011)
Forensic Heroes 3 <法證先鋒III >
Producer: Mui Siu Ching
Genre: Police Procedural Mystery
Number of episodes: 30
Who’s In It?
Cast in no particular order:
Wayne Lai as “Jack Po” or “Pro Sir”
Maggie Cheung as “Mandy Chung”
Kate Tsui as “Ada Ling”
Ron Ng as “Lee Chin Fung” or “Wind”
Yuen Wah as “Po Shung Hing”
Aimee Chan as “Angel Chiang”
Edwin Siu as “Ken Ho”
Nancy Wu as “Eva Chow”
and some other characters
What’s This About?
People die. Most are murdered. Police arrive on scene. Location is secured. Then come the heroes! They will leave no mystery unsolved, no stone unturned, no cough undiagnosed and no criminal unpunished. They are Hong Kong’s foremost intellectuals applying reason, logic and the scientific method to force culprits into submission. They are Hong Kong’s finest. They are Wayne Lai and Maggie Cheung, and occasionally other people who walk about.
Review Formally Begins Here
What starts off as an fairly erratic and mildly annoying series, gradually settles down and finds its niche area. The most endearing part of the series is that it was not unpretentious. Sure it tried to be funny some times and used odd plot devices to exaggerate the humour, such as adding supernatural elements and cross-dressing, but the pre-modern backdrop and odd banter between the three lead males somehow works. There isn’t anything new on display here of course, but it also didn’t pretend to be something it was not. You can literally pack your brain away for 40 minutes and vegetate. The wide supporting cast also rounds out the series quite well such that you generally won’t mind knowing who the culprit is before the leads do. Nevertheless it was some mindless fun.
What you have just read is a short review of Super Scoops <荃加福祿壽探案>. What?! Isn’t this suppose to be about… Right. So how was Hong Kong’s finest? In keeping with JayneStars.com’s tradition/policy on spoilers I will insert a spoiler warning here for the discerning readers:-
Now usually I would try to inject a bit more objectivity to disguise my lunacy. Often it is a quest to deliberately search for criteria that appeals to readers and then massage into them what truly is my lunacy. This helps add that air of validity and credibility into what is otherwise personal opinion. It’s like using Photoshop on a less than desirable photograph. It helps attract viewer attention and approval (sometimes) by hiding the ugly and accentuating the good (false). So why have I not applied the Photoshop principle? Because you cannot Photoshop a series of 100 kilobyte gif files.
Why 100 kilobytes? In simple computer lingo, megabytes are a measure of the size of a file. The higher the quality of the file, the large its file size (duh). Also, in the Photoshop world, gif files, a format in which photos are stored, are notoriously difficult to Photoshop because they are, shall we say, low quality files. So why this comparison? Essentially what I see when I watched this was a series of rapidly moving 100 kilobyte gif files. I call it a series because there are so many of them- 43 minutes of them by 30 episodes. More importantly, they’re all low quality!
To be Fair the “Review” Probably Starts Here
Two things to note. I usually hate using sweeping generalizations and exaggerations, and “it sucks” seems to be both. Then again I solemnly believe there are exceptions. Similar to when you miss the train, “that sucks.” Moreover there often is not one yardstick or lens to measure everything. You have to be a bit more flexible, a bit more understanding, a bit more sensitive. So for an unpretentious series like Super Scoops <荃加福祿壽探案> that is some dinner-time silliness, you can’t help lower your measuring stick. Conversely, for a series billing itself to be the “Anniversary series” with a “massive all-star cast” dealing with “cases that take you to the edge of your seat” by combining “unprecedented scientific knowledge to fiction,” I think some hard scrutiny is deserved. And as hard as hard scrutiny comes by, nothing can be harder than “it sucks.”
Before I spill my heart as to why I feel the way I do, listen to what the forensics have made me do and you might understand a little of my lunacy. Here’s a roadmap of my viewing experience:
- This has been the first series in memory where I turned off (voluntarily) more than once after 10 minutes into an episode because I wanted to learn about the news (Ouch!).
- This has been the first series in memory where I constantly felt insulted, annoyed and bored- one reason being that I don’t like being told NAMES OF CHEMICALS.
- This has been the first series in memory where I felt the amount of logic destroyed did not equate to equal happiness- the WHOLE forensics team can’t seriously afford to sit around and have long chats with ONE team of police officers right?
- This has been the first series in memory during which I ended up watching (and finishing) another series before returning for another round of beating- Palace <宮> is not bad.
This was also the first series in memory which after watching most of, while clutching my gall bladder and shoving all innards back inside my shell, did not finish; I got to 27 and threw in the towel.
Oops, the “Review” Actually Begins Now
Was it that bad? Maybe not if you watch an episode every now and then. But when you sit there and watch episode by episode, and you are confronted with the same boring faces and lectures, you start to think about the meaning of life too. Wayne Lai and Maggie Cheung turn in the most boring characters. In fact I might say Wayne deserves “Best Actor” because he nailed “boredom” perfectly. Never did a lead make me shriek as much as Wayne. Definitely deserves the name Pro Sir. This begs the question: why does TVB think professionals have no interests outside their work? If Pro Sir had a side-hobby of blogging about TVB series, I would be able to empathize so much more. And if Mandy loved collecting varied cups of instant noodles from across the world, I would like her much more. Why TVB chose to give the two leads zero personality is beyond me.
I’m also forced wondering why the entire police force is not converted into an armed mobile forensics team given forensic analysis is transferable into many fields anyway: forensic accounting, forensic psychology, computer forensics etc. So by TVB-logic, why are we wasting time with mere chefs and actors? Every occupation should have a forensics counterpart. Coffee too bitter? – “It’s the reaction of chemical compound jingolbellzmerri-chrismas mixed with seronin hallelujah produced in your saliva glands,” said the forensic. Air conditioner not cold enough? – “It must be the angle of elevation between your window, your thighs and the height of this room,” cried the forensic. Somehow someone somewhere figured this is entertaining, I found it nauseating. Nauseating because there is no ambiguity. And where there is no ambiguity, there can be no suspense.
Then there’s the cases. I’m nearly positive they wrote these backwards. I mean that’s okay if it’s a complex intricate weaving of secrets and mysteries. But when it’s just one lead to one lead, it’s pretty low-level story telling. It also doesn’t help by constantly concentrating on high-level textbook forensic knowledge and dismissing the psychological side of murder investigations. Cases unfold with little dedication to developing character depth or contextual intrigue. Whilst many “deductions” are simply careful observations, not really earning any awe. Then there’s always some rare fish or unique item in the whole of Hong Kong that narrows down potential culprits or answers to say one. Even worse, criminals still confess to crimes regardless of what the circumstantial evidence is.
At episode 10 when Mandy started talking to the dead body, I nearly thought the series just got better. Time for some eerie twilight investigations. But that was too hopeful. Instead the rest of the series is a repetitious series of the one and the same plot device. This is why I say the quality is like many 100 kilobyte gif files. The images are there and they are readily observable. But behind that flash of color, when you look at its source, you’ll find that it’s comprised of simple blocks of data with little sophistication or vibrancy. TVB could have redeemed itself if it shot the series with a bit more artistry. But no. It prefers to shoot it like every other drama, in that matter-of-fact mundane way.
I have a special mention for Miss Kate Tsui, who turns in the most unbelievable senior inspector I have seen to-date. If you told me she was an undercover in a modeling agency, I’d buy it, but senior inspector? What part of her looks senior? And then what part of her looks inspector? Then there’s her attitude. Kate is still showing her baby-face expressions which frankly wasn’t suitable for a tough-as-nails lawyer in her last series, and is still not suitable as SIP. Even Joyce Tang in Armed Reaction <陀槍師姐> looked more like an inspector than Kate. You may ask why am I so hooked on looks and gestures. Easily explained. Because THIS senior inspector was here only for looks, all the work was done by the real heroes. Cops equal donuts.
The story was boring, the characters were boring, the execution was boring, and I’m sure the music was also boring, but since I cannot remember the music, I’m forced to base this conclusion on my own forensic analysis of the angles and lighting combined with the distances between where characters stand, and the height of meeting rooms versus the spread of tables. Once I printed a black colored page and poured the chemical named erotic-eroxide, the answer was clear. But before I could dob the culprit in, said culprit already confessed to the crime in true TVB fashion. So this might be a little harsh. In a way if you think of it as either reinforcing your already existing dislike or throwing you into complete disagreement because you loved this series, either way your views will further polarize after reading this. Either way, I’m helping you. This is a real psychological effect. More real than any hypnosis Raymond Lam could pull off as a devil. Do thank me (please).
Wrap in foil, place in microwave, heat for 6 minutes and stay away! It’s got less redeeming qualities than its predecessor which at least had Charmaine Sheh’s perfectly poised straightened long hair to marvel at.
Obligatory disclaimer: This article is not meant to be a critique of the actors and actresses appearing in whatever series it is concerned, and where you disagree, feel threatened, or feel otherwise offended by the contents above, you have no one else to blame but yourself for reading it all and possibly Jayne for providing you access to this lunacy, but in either case the author of this article did not intend to infuriate any particular reader (much), nor does the author think it’s fun to say bad things about other people’s efforts (much).
This review was written by SDS, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com.