The Hippocratic Crush<On Call 36小時>
Hong Kong TVB Drama 2012
Producer: Poon Ka Tak
Genre: Medical Drama
Number of episodes: 25
Kenneth Ma as Cheung Yat Kin
Tavia Yueng as Fan Chi Yu
Wilson Tsui as Fan Chi Ngok
Him Law as Yueng Pui Chong (“Onion”)
Mandy Wong as Hung Mei Suet
Benjamin Yuen as Benjamin Lau
Ben Wong as John Chong
Raymond Cho as Chin Ho Tat
Gigi Wong as Wong Siu Lin
Derek Kwok as Lui Siu Yat
Nathan Ngai as Chueng Yat Hong
Candy Chang as Kan Ching Ching
Note from the Reviewer
So why am I resurrecting my reviewing habit after four silent years for yet another review of The Hippocratic Crush? Because it’s a worthy series. I watched this series hungrily, eager to find something that would allow me to say, “It’s really just hype, people.” Unfortunately, I was wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed every single scene I watched. Now, I join the chorus of lauding voices for this refreshing series.
A group of interns and trainees grow together as they work at Mercy Hospital. Each individual goes through personal pruning by overcoming fear, laziness, pride, competitiveness, personal illness, death of loved ones, broken romances, threat of disease, or divergent interests in order to become a successful doctor.
In all fairness, the characters in this series are well-rounded and consistent. Not everyone is likable in the drama, but not everyone is likable in real life either. The best thing about the entire series is probably the down-to-earth quality of its characters.
Neither romanticized nor glorified, the characters could sometimes feel a bit too real to be admirable (e.g. Mei Suet’s deceitfulness, Nurse To’s brash tongue). Yet, the characters are at least tangible and their struggles can be easily identified with as opposed to the struggles of legendary “master doctors.” These doctors are everyday people trying hard to save lives.
Kenneth Ma did a generally good, but periodically bad job as senior trainee Cheung Yat Kin. For the most part, he was consistent and persistent about his acting. But he faltered in some of the more serious scenes of the series. I can easily imagine his brother’s death scene and both of his proposal scenes being portrayed much better by more talented actors. Kenneth doesn’t shine in this role, but at least he doesn’t irritate me with his acting the way he used to a few years back. Overall, he is adequate.
Tavia Yueng matches her co-lead in acting. She fulfills her role well. She laughs, cries, and looks awkward every time she has to. But unfortunately, she doesn’t bring much depth to her character. I liked Tavia best in Beyond the Realm of Conscience. But she hasn’t impressed me too much since.
Wilson Tsui was excellent in his portrayal of the renowned Dr. Fan. Even though the role seemed rather old for the actor, he delivered excellently. I looked forward to every scene with him in it. He made Dr. Fan somewhat quirkily admirable.
I really started noticing Mandy Wong ever since her policewoman role in Lives of Omission. Here in The Hippocratic Crush, she did not disappoint. I appreciate how Mandy does not shy away from portraying a less-than-admirable character. Her firm expressions made her very well-suited as the introverted, determined Mei Suet. Applause for Mandy Wong.
I dislike the excessive hype and media attention over Him Law; but in all fairness, I admire his acting. He is truly talented. Even though his role of “Onion” seemed overly childish and loud for first impressions, the consistency of the performance made Onion real and dear to viewers. Him’s exaggerated swagger and sheepish grin actually help put flesh and bone on Onion’s otherwise cliché success story character.
Nathan Ngai deserves praise for his portrayal of Chueng Yat Hong, Kenneth Ma’s little brother. Even though he was stuck in a wheelchair for 99% of the series, he manages to truly transcend this “handicap” and portray his role very well. He was not too deliberate about his wheelchair so as to remind everyone, “I’m acting hard!” Nor was he too sunshine-happy to make his handicapped condition unconvincing. With this kind of acting and this kind of face, this kid is worth looking out for in the coming years.
Another actor that won my approval in this series was Benjamin Yuen in his role of, well, Benjamin. His face is not handsome, but it is comfortable to view. His acting progressively shines in the series. By the end of the series, his struggle with HIV risk and his growing feelings for Mei Suet seal a nomination for his performance. If he is not nominated, TVB would lose half of my respect.
The rest of the cast are either in the “consistently reliable” or “experimentally horrible” categories. Gigi Wong as the Chueng brothers’ mom, Derek Kwok as the tender hearted male nurse, Ben Wong as Yat Kin’s superior, Raymond Cho as Yu’s superior, and Mary Hon as the dance instructor mom all deliver straightforward, reliable performances that are wonderful but not newsworthy. Other actors, such as Candy Chang as Ching Ching, the interns, and the rest of the bickering nurses, rather detracted than added to the series’ charm.
1. Yes, the English title is splendid. There is still some talent in TVB, after all.
2. The pacing of the series is nearly impeccable. After multiple years of rushed or even absurd (e.g. Bottled Passion) endings, the clinching 25th episode brought a sigh of relief. The last few episodes neither dragged nor sped. And in spite of all the couples at various stages of their relationships by the end of the show, the ending thankfully did not feel like a mass wedding. Thank you, Mr. Editor, whoever you are.
3. The “journal” entries that Yu wrote in letter form. The thoughts gave the series a philosophical edge without sounding too preachy.
4. The generally successful fresh cast. It’s nice to stop seeing a Kate Tsui, Kevin Cheng, or Michael Tse in every other scene. Yes, there’s Tavia, but I guess the marketing side of this series needs a few people with real names.
5. As pathetic as it is to spell out, I applaud this series for not giving everyone the same sickness. Not everyone in the world needs to get cancer just because the main character is a cancer doctor.
6. The romance between Benjamin and Mei Suet was among my favorite parts of the series. Their relationship developed along the lines of other events in the series, but their chemistry in the last few episodes got me addicted to my rewind button.
7. I appreciate the depth of Yat Kin and Yu’s love in that they don’t need to have a drawn-out, lovey-dovey romantic stage before they get to marital love. Just like Yat Kin said in his famous proposal scene, true love is not based on one’s youthful characteristics. Instead, it is a commitment to go through thick and thin with the other person. Their relationship exemplified exactly what he said.
1. The acting failures. Andy the intern and the dude who ended up with Kei Kei. Enough said.
2. The theme song, though done by the respected Joey Yung, was too long and soothing.
3. Due to the hospital setting, the color of the series was generally too bland. Only a few memorable scenes had some green, blue, or red.
4. The number of premarital babies frustrated me. I don’t see the point of encouraging premarital pregnancies when they aren’t really needed to advance the plot.
5. ‘Tis sad but true that Hong Kong English will never be the way it used to be. While the English subtitles of the series deserve adulation, the English pronunciation of the cast deserves a professional mourner or two.
As much as I hate to commend what is being hyped up, I need to give The Hippocratic Crush the praise it deserves. I highly recommend this series. I just have my fingers crossed that the sequel won’t ruin it beyond repair. But while the sequel’s still not out, go watch the original in its purity.
This review is written by Iris, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com.