“Succession War” Ratings Continue to Fall; Struggles to Maintain 20 Points

In TVB’s latest viewership ratings report, dramas had mixed results due to the impact of the World Cup broadcast. Deep in the Realm of Conscience <宮心計 2 深宮計> maintained its strong ratings, while Succession War <天命> continued to fall in ratings, struggling to maintain 20 points.

Starring Steven Ma (馬浚偉) and Nancy Wu (胡定欣), Deep in the Realm of Conscience was aired during the World Cup broadcast but maintained its strength. Boasting a big budget and extensive marketing, the drama was a favorite since it aired. For the broadcast week ending July 9, Deep in the Realm of Conscience averaged 31 points. More viewers tuned into the finale, pushing up viewership to 35.6 points. The entire drama averaged 28 points, which made it the highest-rated drama in 2018 year-to-date.

Another palace drama, Succession War, starring Ruco Chan (陳展鵬) and Shaun Tam (譚俊彦), did not fared as well. Its premiere week received ratings of 22.1 points, but its second week of broadcast had ratings slipping down to only 20 ratings points. The drama is a fictional account about the last 28 days of life of the corrupt Qing Dynasty official, Heshen (Ruco Chan), under the rule of the Qianlong Emperor (Shaun Tam).

Come Home Love: Lo and Behold <愛‧回家之開心速遞> has been bouncing back in ratings from its previous all-time low. The latest ratings report show Come Home Love: Lo and Behold climbing back up to 25.6 points.

Source: HK01

This article is written by Jayne for JayneStars.com.

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  1. I watched till episode 6 and stopped. I love Ruco’s acting, but man…the one acting as Emperor is so over the top in both his acting and facial expression. I can understand he is angry but chill out, lol. Also the story is not as interesting after Qian Long died. I wish he stayed alive until the final day of Heshen.

    1. @vell I know i may be biased, but give it another try. Episodes 12 onward have been much better. More depth is given to Ruco’s character.

      1. @alicesky yup… couldn’t stand his acting lol. Glad I’m not the only one who thinks so

        @potatochip I plan to give the drama another shot soon when I have time. The story is fine but I just don’t like the one acting as Jiaqing.

  2. Am i the only one here who think that Succession War is a decent drama & at times…find it rather catchy than Deep in the Realm of Conscience?

    I understand the complaints about Shaun Tham who acts as the Emperor. His acting is one-dimensional with the same facial expressions in almost every scenes. But the story is not as bad and Ruco delivers good performance…alongside the veterans who also act well in their characters.

    Besides, although the female leads of Succession War are not great actresses like Nancy Wu or Alice Chan, but i’m fine with the decent performances by Selena Li, Elaine Yiu and Natalie Tong. In fact, i find Selena Li’s character is more like an Empress with at least few concubines (although just kelefes) under her to show her superiority as the Imperial Consort. It’s unlike Nancy Wu’s character who only has Chrissie Chau as the emperor’s concubine…but that one and only concubine has already caused the Empress (Nancy) to be so busy and creating havoc in the harem…LOL.

    1. @diana80 I think Succession War is quite interesting and the last few episodes have been exciting. I have been rambling about it in the other post, lol.

      I liked the horse chase in Episode 16. Poor horse, hope none were injured in that scene.

    2. @diana80 Agree that Succession War is decent, and will say I think it’s significantly better than Deep in the Realm of Conscience.

      DITROC was a joke to me… 95% of the plot was delivered through 1 on 1 talking. There was barely any acting except standing in some palace chamber or garden with another person either 1) throwing insults or 2) making endless vows of love. The “schemes” were too deliberate and honestly gave me the vibe that Tai Ping had a daily routine of getting up every morning, stretching, and brainstorming a grand entrance to try and ruin the emperor. And yes, Nancy’s overreaction was very silly… one empress in a harem of one consort… the whole plot was extremely modernized that it made everyone seem very foolish.

      On the contrary, I enjoy the creativity put into Succession War. It’s a bit “boring” because issues are presented so seriously and the dialogue is heavier, but the acting is overall better and the plot is less cheesy. I like the storytelling method with the flashbacks and the 1 episode = 1 day concept.

      1. @melia880 I share the same thoughts about DITROC in regards to the cheesiness factor. I found every aspect of the series to be cringe-worthy and OTT (from the costumes/makeup, to the acting, to the plot). It was borderline satirical. Absolutely zero depth or originality. I really couldn’t connect or sympathize with any of the female characters. (maybe with exception of Lady Cheung)

        That said, I had initially intended on skipping Succession War, but may change my mind now due to your review.

    3. @diana80 I thought Shaun Tam did very well but he tends to raise his voice too much until his voice breaks. Those who says he is one dimensional certainly did not watch the scenes when his father died or the one where he shen walked past him when delivering a bowl of noodle, etc etc. Both actors did subtlety well except Shaun is more raw. But at least I know who is jiaqing about. He shen is ambigous. I had hoped Ruco should just go all out greedy and ego instead of holding back. I hate to see He shen as hero of any kind, which he isn;’t even by this series’ standard.

  3. Not watched Succession War yet but I can’t see any palace drama worse than Deep Beyond the Realms of Conscience. It was terrible and had no plot but tailor made for the Chinese audience with its dialogue and romance. Glad the franchise is coming to an end. The problem with succession war though is that it is based on an uninteresting period in history and we all know the fate of Heshen before watching…..

  4. Pity to those who stopped. For what it is worth, best show thus far. The scenery and costume and effect and background all are top notch. For once tvb really fills up the screen with people. Performances so far has been above decent. For me it is a battle of team he shen and team jia qing. I like that it didn’t start with present and move to silly past scenes and working towards present. This series just goes off in present with one or 2 steps back to explain certain parts which makes it different and unique. Quite a lot of thought for the writing, and all else. production value is high for sure. Although some scenes are insane, some motivations are crazy and seems like it is showing heshen may be darn corrupt and his brother doing the bad deeds, he is not as bad as the emperor who is a jealous petty psycho. Well rumours has it and i would say with ruco as the hero or anti hero, series is working towards that route which I absolutely abhor.

    As for the 2 main actors, Ruco is doing well but I find his he shen confusing. Everyone, even himself seems to acknowledge he is corrupt and did the things he was accused of doing. He is no decent person. And he is supposed to be supremely confident, egoistical and above even the emperor. Like how Caocao is. But there is no grace to his heshen. I find his heshen self absorbed and thinks of himself too highly. He is a problem left by the dead ex emperor who deservedly and in of the best scene thus far, snubbed by his son at his death bed. That scene alone was so well filmed, so atmospheric and I was thinking what would the emperor do? Strangle the ex emperor? Well he did better than that. Or that scene where the emperor screamed at his father for letting he shen go, in away loving he shen more than him. Plenty of infuriating but well filmed moments in this series. Also silly ones, but at least the good ones are pretty great. But I find he shen not very well defined. And I can’t understand why anyone is so loyal to him (not about money) considering what he did or the consequences of his action.

    Shaun Tam is a surprise. For once there is a good looking guy who looks robust, well built, and looks good in a qing costume and he looks kingly. And yes, his acting is raw, he raises his voice too much but he never screams or screech. His raises his voice like how his emperor would because his jiaqing was desperate. He was under the thumb of his dad, and now under the most corrupt man that he hates with a passion and he can’t do anything about it. As the series progresses, he shen realises the emperor isn’t stupid and at times could outsmart him.

    At this point, as I watch this at times smart brilliant series, but at all times very beautiful to look at series, I want he shen dead and I hate jiaqing to be s psycho as heshen says he is.

    Do watch it. first few episodes are some of the most atmospheric scenes and yes as the series progresses it gets infuriating but the acting isn’t one of them. For me Shaun Tam is servicable as Jiaqing and I get his POV in his interpretation of this very very very low self esteem emperor. Actually I like him. I find him very attractive in this role and when he is not shouty, he actually speaks in a deep voice which befits an emperor.

    So far so good. I kinda could see where this is heading but what I like is the different approach this series is taking and it is out of my expectations. Only real criticism, apart from the weak interpretation of the ambigous he shen and the need to villify jiaqing is that it is too long. In its current form, I feel at best 15 episodes will do. Any longer it is just dragging the series and it isn’t good.

    Why ratings is down is because HK viewers don’t enjoy 2 men battling wits, they like 5 women bickering and fighting..

    By the way he shen is doomed, that we know. Question is how the emperor gets him in the end. But I feel this series got it wrong. If He shen is supposed to be the one we cheer for, then this series is failing for me. Never at any time did I feel poor heshen, last 28 days, he is doomed. Never. There was never a sense of dread or pity or what ifs with this he shen because I just don;t like him. If TVB is gonna twist history, might as well go all the way and create a he shen we can all emphatise with and feel for him and make him sink deeper into his own undoing because by the time of his death we should all feel oh what a waste, I feel for him, etc etc. That’s the problem with this format. We have a short flashback on his poor chilldhood, some scenes where he was bullied. Not much to give the viewers to hold on to and feel for him emotionally. maybe this series would have worked better as a longer series with a proper flashback scene in the traditional sense.

    Something like how Bu Bu Jing Xin did for the 8th prince where in the end as he sat in his prison about to drink his poisoned wine, you get a sense of pity for him. Before that was a sense of dread knowing he will die.

    Not with this he shen.

    1. @funnlim I agree with you that Shaun Tam was good in those scenes and I also found him great when Qianlong confronted him about the poisoning. A bit overused, but he has the one manly tear thing down. His upwards glare is also repetitious, and unintentionally comical because he’s probably the tallest main cast member. I have said this elsewhere, but unfortunately the character is always upset so he reminds me of the angry faced emoji with his eyebrows perpetually in a V shape. That expression could be improved and varied. But overall, he caries himself well and is believable as the cunning, paranoid emperor that has the strength to go toe-to-toe with Heshen. In this latest episode (17), I liked the resilience he showed while injured.

      This drama has a dark and somber tone that one must be in the mood to enjoy. It is an emotional, cerebral chess game. The general HK audience may prefer more lighthearted, easily digestible escapism. I am not belittling that preference because we all need that type of entertainment. I find that I have to work myself up to watch heavy dramas and that is why I haven’t watch Handmaid’s Tale 2 despite being memorized by the first one. The momentum of the series was dragged down by the Eighth Prince investigating the death of the Eunuch, but fortunately, since he’s been banished, it has been full-speed engagement.

      On one hand, we can say that Heshen is poorly defined, but on the other, he can be described as fascinatingly complex. He doesn’t fit a type. He’s a dichotomy – intuitive but arrogant, loyal but self-serving, charming but despicable. He has the analytical ability to be reflective but can be overcome with hatred and revenge. He may be ruthless, but he is passionate and warm to those he cares for and I do see why his butler, Elaine and Natalie risk everything for him. I don’t know if I like him or even if I am suppose to like him, but I like that he is interesting. Admittedly, it may be the Ruco effect, and there really should be more flashbacks to his youth, but the brief glimpses with Qianlong and his brother were enough for me to root for him, or at least root for him to win some battles. I actually cheer for Jiaqing too. It’s like watching a great tennis match where you want both competitors to score jaw-dropping, unbelievable points.

      Heshen was holding back when Qianlong died, but now he is full-force scheming with multiple assassinations and psychological manipulations. Defense becomes offense. I enjoyed the gentle guidance he gave to his grandson contrasted with the vindictive assassination. Now that was fun. I am gleefully watching the plotting.

      I am also surprised how impressive Selena has been, especially today. Her past relationship with Heshen is unnecessary. There’s enough hatred between Jiaqing and Heshen, no need for more with this angle. Maybe, her history with him might be useful later, but besides them sweetly reminiscing about the horse stable, there’s no emotional connection left. He did not care if she died with Jiaqing and she has no signs of longing for him at all.

      I really hope the ratings improve because that’s all TVB cares about. It’s a shame.

  5. Hello all,

    Let me just throw in my 2 cents and attempt to analyze why the rating isn’t reflecting the good script, costume and acting in Succession War. Even the name is good.

    For one I like ditroc (I lo analyze first) because it was so stupid it was entertaining, like crazy duhhh stupid and sorry but I like that. As I was saying with my bro, it’s like a comedy that wasn’t meant to be one. Everything was so wrong, the over the top costumes, and hand maiden and people barging in and out not yet announced left right and centre. Oh and how late Edwin Shiu was in one scene to save the emporer’s wife it was funny, I told my bro “must have been on a coffe/smoke break”. He wasn’t punished and even praised when she was stabbed, apparently to a bone, I had a rofl moment. Overall I stuck with this series until the bitter end be well it was so bad it entertained us.

    As for S.W, even with the good plot (somewhat reflective of history), good acting and praise the lord finally a good script I couldn’t stay in tune after ep. 16, I was enjoying France vs. Croatia. This series is so sad. And someone mentioned ambiguous, yup right on! I wasn’t familiar with the history so I googled it, and Heshen is as corrupted as they come. But it showed through flashback why he became this way. My bro had a theory, Heshen could very well be an illegitimate son and Q.long favoured him, so in his mind he was a king or a kings equal and the saying One mountain cannot hold 2 tigers.

    But I wonder if he really was that greedy did anyone wiki? 30banks and 70 pawn shops, holy hell. TBH I find Ruco Chan’s acting cunning, calculative and well human. If you win you are/stay King if you lose you are treacherous. But NO it’s hard to feel anything but hate towards a man who would kill his own father for the throne, yes you’re under his thumb but really? Broke my heart that his father was willing to die knowing he was poisoned. So as someone mentioned I think the director/writer interpretation may have been favouring Heshen as anti Hero so I think it’s fair Ruco’s portrayal is fair and not leaning to one side. You can tell his character is cunning, calculating and greedy but he was not cold, but rather human. And when his brother died in his arms, that was the moment I felt for this person, he can fail the world but he wouldn’t/couldn’t face l his brother. In the end, his end was due to revengence, with his wealth and connection he could have leave. For that I salute that character.

    Lastly, you’re gotta be in the mood for that, too heavy. I will finish it when I am in the mood for a good drama as for DITROC I was always in the mood for comedy/ to be entertained and it did not disappoint, well done, 36point well deserve. I laughed, so they laughed all the way to the bank.

  6. Appreciate seeing so many good observations and analyses! I haven’t watched Succession War yet and to be honest, not really sure if I’m going to, mostly because I don’t have the time or the patience for long, heavy series nowadays (I think I got too used to HKTV, ViuTV, and other stations’ shorter but more substance-filled series). With that said though, it’s good to hear that TVB has a decent series on for once, since most of their series the past few years have bordered on unwatchable. Unfortunately, I did catch some of DITROC when my mom and sister-in-law were watching that series and yes, I agree that the series was ridiculously silly and obviously catered to typical Chinese housewife audiences / Mainland audiences, but hey it got high ratings (both in HK and Mainland) and the series was much talked about all around town and as usual, that’s the only thing that matters in the HK television world.

    By the way, on a separate but related note….expect to see more series like DITROC and Heart of Greed 3 from TVB in the near future – TVB’s CEO Mark Lee did an interview with MP Finance recently where he outlined the direction of the station in the coming years and it will pretty much be Mainland focused. The mandate is for at least ¼ of their series to be Mainland collaborations (with that number to increase once they get used to the Mainland system) and they will focus more on “tried and true” themes that have been successful in the past – for example, “professional career” series such as cops, lawyers, doctors, etc., palace intrigue series, family conflict series, etc. (because supposedly Mainland audiences LOVE these types of series and as long as they don’t incorporate anything that paints Mainland in a bad light or touch any “taboo” topics, it’s easy to get past the censors). Also, not sure how closely people follow regular news but TVB has been a huge topic of discussion in recent weeks due to them laying off 100+ staff from their TVBI division and also dismantling their sports/athletic department (Sports World, one of their flagship variety programs that has been on the air for 30+ years, recently aired its last episode). In that same MP Finance interview, Mark Lee said that they will no longer bid for broadcast rights for any specialty sports programs (such as Olympics and World Cup for instance) and instead will focus their resources on the OTT / internet portion of their business – including launching an online shopping channel next week (is it just me or are they trying to give HKTV Mall a run for their money??). Also, the Mainland investor who calls the shots at TVB now has some big plans coming down the pike for his own company based in China (including collaborations with several movie and TV production companies in Hollywood) and supposedly TVB will have a part in that. I don’t know about you guys but I’m not fond of the direction that TVB is heading in….how everything is actually going to pan out remains to be seen of course but one thing that’s obvious is that HK audiences are going to be less and less of a priority going forward…

  7. Out of SW and Deep, the former is much better of the two. Deep feels like a copy, B-rated series of SW.

    Deep costumes looked like cheap Halloween. It was 99% on fake cheap sets. Scenes were between 2-4 people at a time. Everything, from plot to character development to scheme, was told and not shown. SM scripts mostly consisted of I did that off scene, my army won fights off scene, I got this superbly important message off scene, I figure out Princess TaiPing scheme off scene. As someone mentioned they recycled the being scapegoats for someone they love 3 times! Miscarriage twice.

    SW is faster pace and has loads of stuff happenings. Though the emperor does get annoying but he’s fresh. He’ll have room to improve. If he was a better actor, the development of his character from full of intention righteous king to a super paranoid and mistrust madman would’ve been more impactful. Though don’t understand his die hard hating on Ruco character though. Also even though I don’t care for romantic development, but more insight about how and why the king is so in love with Selena and fully trusts and supports her. If I can recast, I would put Ruco in the king’s role and Wayne Lai in Heshien role. It’s so weird to have to remind myself that Ruco has to be much much older. He’s a grandpa xD Natalie is a HUGE miscast. I find Joel character is most interesting. Bet he’ll hook up with Elaine later. The old gen concubine, I forgot her name, is also a miscast. I can’t see her a scheming old woman. Michelle Yim would’ve been more suited.

    1. @jjwong
      Yep.’Deep’ was the easiest filming experience for anyone. Basically put some makeup up on and made the scenes in the studio.No wonder so many past actresses signed up. There was no impression that anyone had any power. The only scene which tried to dispict that they had an army was the entry to the palace where the army was blurred like in a video game. Such a crap series…

    2. @jjwong Yes, Ruco would have been awesome as Jiaqing too. I would love to see Ruco and Wayne or Roger together in a drama. It’s a shame that he is never in a series with a heavy hitter.

      Unfortunately, Natalie is the weakest link in this series. I understand he is suppose to love her for her survival grit, but she just does not fit the independent, tough fighter. Her kung fu scenes are quite weak. Although petite, I think Grace Wong would have fit this role better.

      It is refreshing to have so many intelligent characters – Heshen, Jiaqing, Qianlong, Joel, Elaine, Angelina Lo (even if she is a miscast), and even the butler are all smart.

      The “good guys” – Selena, the 17th Prince, the 11th Prince, Heshen’s son and his princess wife, are actually not bland and are interesting.

      It’s remarkable that almost every character, major or minor, in this huge cast has been given some background or motivation. They are all puzzle pieces that fit their roles.

      1. @potatochip
        Putting Ruco in a series with Wayne would be a terrible idea. Wayne would make Ruco’s acting look very mediocre. It just wouldn’t be a good strategy to promote Ruco. Remember when TVB stuck Wayne in with Anthony Wong. We were all like ‘Wow, TVB’s best actor isnt even close to the level of this veteran movie actor’…..

      2. @jimmyszeto I think Wayne is great, but he is not perfect. Before Ruco was leading, they were in Forensic Heroes 3 together and it wasn’t like Wayne blew him out of the water.

        Ruco was in a movie with Anthony Wong when he was much younger (Rape Trap). I didn’t get to see it, and although I heard it was terrible, the few reviews I saw complimented how effective Ruco was.

        I think Ruco and Wayne can push each other. I do think he is more interesting when he is with better quality actors (Nina, Krystal, Louis Cheng, Joel, Raymond Wong, etc) and vice versa. Acting should be evolving, in order to improve, one must challenge oneself and learn from others.

      3. @potatochip
        Of course Wayne blew Ruco away in Forensic Heroes. Ruco has pretty much a nothing type of role while Wayne had all the screentime. Don’t tell me Ruco was pulling down trees with that role. It is also irrevelant bringing up an old movie role. Did you even know who he was or follow his career at ATV before he became famous? Putting 2 lead actors together is never a good business strategy. It worked when they put Moses and Wayne together but it is rare if does not complete outshine his colleagues..

      4. @jimmyszeto Of course the 2 roles weren’t comparable. Wayne’s was the lead and Ruco’s was the plot device with little screentime. When I say “blew him out of the water” I mean when they were on screen together no one was was exclaiming, “Wayne is so, so much better, why is Ruco even there?” They played their respective roles appropriately.

        My bringing up an old role is to illustrate that he has been with other “greats” and can hold his own. And he has improved alot from there.

        Hey, I am not saying that Ruco is the bestest actor in the whole wide world. Like other actors, I have cringed at a couple of his moments.

        But I don’t think it is absurd to suggest having a series where he is with another good lead actor. Being with Kevin was the closest that he came, and although a top lead, opinions will vary on whether Kevin is good.

        Since the old days, TVB has many series with different combos of their top actors – From the 5 Tigers together to recent times with Bobby and Moses, etc.

        Now I haven’t followed TVB as closely these last years, but I can’t think of another top lead actor that has not been in at least a couple series together with another top lead actor.

      5. @potatochip
        That’s different. 5 Tigers were at the same stage of their careers. Wayne Lai is heads and shoulders above every actor at TVB though he has lazed about taking any role in recent years after finding financial security…

      6. @jimmyszeto I agree that Wayne is excellent and that acting with him will expose the weaknesses of other actors. However, with this logic, it’s not just Ruco that should not be with Wayne – Vincent Wong, Kenneth Ma, Shaun Tam, or any other upcoming leading actors shouldn’t be with him either, right?

        What about Roger? He is also excellent. Should other leads not be with him either?

        How are actors ever going to improve if TVB is afraid to expose them better actors? How will we ever know if they have improved to that level? It may be a risk to act with a better actor, but I think think the rewards are worth it.

      7. @potatochip
        Ruco can carry leading series on his own with strong support actors and improving at his own speed. It’s just not a idea on a business perspective to expose one of their popular actors by placing him in with a proven top actor. There is nothing to gain. Yes this applies to all the other young established leads too. They can improve by working with support veterans. There no need to place them head to head with the best actor.

      8. @jimmyszeto But we will never know if someone is at Wayne’s level unless they are in the same series as him. They can be good, they can be great, but are they “Wayne-great”?

        Eh, it’s cool, this is a minor point that we are debating. In the end it’s not so much the combination of actors, it’s the script and production. If only TVB can have better written storylines, even if the actor is shown to weaker than Wayne, the audience can still appreciate his efforts and improvements.

  8. After watching the first couple of episodes I feel Ruco has found his mojo back after a poor couple of years…

  9. i really like succession war as a drama. the cast is really good for a tvb drama these days. one of the main things this drama caught my eye is also because of one ep = one day, i think this concept is new and pretty cool. as for the cast, ruco’s acting is definitely amazing and brings out the character well, so i have nothing against him. shaun tam really does not catch my eye, his expression and voice is often the same but i’m gonna give him a chance since it’s his first tvb drama. for the girls, selena and elaine are both good actresses and i think elaine is doing especially well in this drama. even natalie (which i didn’t like after she got the award) exceeded my expectations. for jonathan and joel, their acting is acceptable. all the girls have good acting and look so pretty. and the little boys are so cute <3

    p.s. if you didn't know, originally chris lai was meant to act jonathans role and tony hung for shaun tam. (does anyone think they would've been better or worse, just curious..)

    to be honest, this drama is produced extremely well and has a good cast and story line but the reason why it's ratings are falling is because of the world cup and the consecutive ancient dramas. the only thing i don't like about the drama is the white angel clan (idk what its called in eng), that part is boring and a bit unnecessary.

    ditroc is definitely not my cup of tea, although these two dramas are both headline and largely promoted dramas, succession war is way better in my opinion. just the fake colours in ditroc already hurts my eyes after watching the first half hour so i stopped. i have looked at snippets after that and it just looks like a lot of actresses having drama between themselves and does not have anything historically interesting.

    for succession war i'm actually excited to watch every night. hopefully, this drama's ratings can go up because i had high expectations for it and i genuinely think its a really good drama. since world cup is finished i hope people start watching it and raise the ratings!!

    1. @emiliachan I didn’t know about the original casting info. Chris Lai would have been fine but I think Jonathan is doing pretty well. Tony Hung would have been TERRIBLE. Really, really terrible.

  10. I was afraid to gush prematurely, but this drama is awesome! I will try to be vague to not spoil anything. I am up to Episode 19 and it has everything – tension, mystery, romance, filial love…

    Jia qing finally relaxes and it was sweet to see. The scene between Ruco and Matthew hit so many complex emotional notes. I finally feel for Matthew’s character.

    The scene where they all gathered to list Heshen’s crime was so, so unintentionally funny. The “WTF is happening here?!?” expressions on their faces were priceless.

    My only complaint is that scene should have been filmed in the Grand Hall and that the episode should have ended there.

    The series is so good so far. Keeping my fingers crossed that it continues this way.

  11. I couldn’t stand Deep in the Realm of Conscience after the first episode, and when I come to Succession War without any expectation, it turns out to be great. Probably the best TVB drama in the recent years. Shaun Tam is overacting somehow, but I believe he’ll improve in the next dramas. And, as someone pointed out above, the moment Qianlong confronted him about the poisoning, the moment of him shedding tears, his performance is awesome.

    I hope the following episodes would keep up with the quality. So sad to know its rating this low.

    1. @taimanh024
      Deep in the Realms of Conscience is a breakthrough in terms of fake colours. It’s as if a kid has threw a palette of paint over the tv screen.

      1. @jimmyszeto
        The colorful costumes, colorful palace, the fake background, slow-motion stuffs… It looks exactly like Mainland dramas style.

      2. @taimanh024
        Proves that mainland audiences like watching fake, pretentious, slow paced historical dramas. I guess they have plenty of time on their hands.

      3. @jimmyszeto LOL…I chuckled at your comment, even though you are exactly right, as even TVB’s own execs have said something similar (that Mainland audiences like that type of grand style with lots of CGI and “pleasing to the eye stuff” with little regard for the plot)….and TVB’s mantra right now is whatever Mainland audiences want, they will give them — Mainland audiences are priority over HK audiences now. The fact that Succession War doesn’t have any of that fake pretentious stuff and is actually a good series with a coherent script shows that it’s not one of the Mainland audience-targeted series. Those who prefer series like SW should probably avoid producers Lau Ka Ho and Mui Siu Ching’s series because they’ve already made it clear from the moment they returned to TVB that all of the series they will be filming in the future will be Mainland-oriented grand productions….

      4. @llwy12
        Cgi, cinematography, costumes, catchy punchlines in the dialogue for suspense, idols. The things they ignore which I rank as most important is plot, script and ‘realism’. Viewers outside the mainland cannot accept watching fakeness. The arguments, love sequences and hostility in ‘Deep in the Realms of Conscience’ do not relate to reality. It’s more like a pantomime….

  12. As I am watching ep 20, it really is like a pararrell story with our ex PM’s story as well. Most corrupted and yet still shows up as if nothing has happened, denied all involvement or rather someone else admitted they did it for him, he knew nothing or not full details, cunning wife doing dirty work and attempts to kill mistress (except in real story, the mistress was blown up), etc etc. It took us a general election to be rid of him and still he’s there. For He Shen it takes a very determined emperor.

    I really dislike where this is heading. A person can’t be so corrupt, taking money meant to help the people, bribing everyone, killing everyone, drowning a village for money and attempts to assassinate the king and still be noble and all. That is my singular criticism of ruco’s performance. Everyone is s sure, so obvious where they stand but his he shen is not ambigous in nature but ambigous in interpretation when in entire series he did do what he was accused of doing, either he himself or in his name. I couldn’t believe Dou Kau could ever forgive him. He wasn’t some good official who did one bad deed. His hired gun tried to kill another official and ended up killing everyone. He is stained with blood and yet the series never really say so.And I dislike that. I perfectly understand why the king is paranoid. He has to be considering how many years he was bullied into submission.

    I hope He Shen dies. Oh he will but my guess is the king will be the biggest loser.

  13. @jimmyszeto Deep is indeed a crap series. Another reason why I believe Deep is a B-rated of SW is the lack of people/kelefe. Except for grand entry to the palace, like twice, there was literally no one but the core casts. SW had buttload of kelefe at the grandhall, private royal chanber, and even at white cloak cult. SW definitely had a “bigger” budget sort of speak. There was no story in Deep. Everyone was doodle diddle for 80% of the eps. What a waste of talents.

    @potatochip Natalie char doesn’t strike me as a skillful fighter since every fight scenes she had to be saved by her partner. It makes more sense if she meant to be the savvy business woman who gather, sell and buy information; more like brain scholarly smart than brawn. Even then, she’s miscast. She had no charm nor the look (face wise) to be the intel type. Grace Wong would fit if the char is more of sexy-manipulative type. But I agree that Grace would’ve been better of the two. Better yet, Nancy would’ve been my choice to take Natalie’s. Another recast I would do is Ruco’s younger brother. Ruco was great in those scenes, but Otto (I think that’s his name) was such a let down. I felt no bromance between them at all. It would’ve definitely drive the point home if both brothers have some chemistry. Wayne and Raymond Cho or Roger and Raymond Cho would’ve been perfect. Yea the reminder support chars are pretty interesting thus far too. No Ruco and bromance pairing come to mind atm, lol. I’m on the fence with Ruco’s son, forgot his name, in term of acting. He gave an unimportant vibe but I THINK he’s probably one of the reasons for the fall of He Shien (I haven’t caught up yet). The actor had no screen presence in any scenes, whether with the vets, Ruco alone, or Stephanie his wife. Hope he steps up in future series. He’s a hopeful.

    I think Ruco and Wayne as Emperor and He Shen would’ve drive this drama home in term of acting chop. I agree with @jimmyszeto that Wayne was a tad off a let down in Lord of Shanghai BUT I can’t see anyone else in TVB can do a better job up against Anthony Wong at that time.

    @funnlim I totally agree! It shouldn’t be any redemption point or attempt to make He Shien looks good. He did all the bad things for his own; leave it like that. Make a series about the best of the villains! Instead wishy washy and mis-justify the evil deeds. Yup, this is one rare series that the main dude, Ruco in this case, dies at the end.

    Overall though, still much better than Deep. Shaun Tam is also another hopeful star. I really hope they don’t butcher the ending.

  14. @jjwong I wish there was something special about Natalie’s character. It doesn’t make sense that Heshen would send her with little to no back-up to implement important missions. She’s loyal, and that’s invaluable, but I was hoping for some talent. She puts herself in danger because she is a weak fighter. With the Helin evidence mission, I was thinking that maybe she is clever and can trick the official to get the evidence. Nope. Maybe she is such a good business woman that she can talk a good deal. Nope. At least, maybe she can read people well and predict behaviors. Sadly, another failure as shown by her assessment of the White Lotus spy.

    Nancy would work but people may be fatigued from their last collaboration. Also, she is a bit too mature (Natalie too, technically) for this role.

    The actor that plays Helin was Eddie Pang. I don’t recall him in anything else. I also thought Otto was in this drama, but he’s not. The role has little screen time but is a good guest star role – perhaps Jazz Lam can be brotherly? He and Ruco have worked together before and I think they have good chemistry but physically may not match.

    Matthew Ho as Heshen’s son is a bit weak but he is adequate. I finally felt something for his character in these recent episodes.

    Although I think Angelina Lo is a miscast as the older consort, this is the first time I have been impressed by her dramatic acting. This series is giving interesting opportunities to all the actors.

    @funnlim Of course since Natalie is a main character she can’t leave Heshen. There’s another 8 episodes, ya know. Lol, I’m just teasing. In real life, she SHOULD leave him. But also in real life, there are women like her that stay in unhealthy relationships because of misguided love, history and comfort. It’s ironic that this relationship humanizes him and also demonizes him. Elaine is right, she is going to be his downfall. Which sucks because romance is needed to add flavor to this drama but it shouldn’t be a main motivation.

    It is interesting that Heshen was Jiaqing’s teacher. They have the same personality traits – passionate, calculating, ambitious, and ruthless. Jiaqing is more like Heshen’s son than his own. In the latest episode, Jiaqing even showed the overconfidence that Heshen usually has by underestimating Joel. The only difference, as you noted, is that Jiaqing has no self-esteem and Heshen has an overabundance.

    I don’t see the drama as villainizing Jiaqing and whitewashing Heshen. If the drama were more heavy handed, it could have increased Jiaqing’s body count or not given him those pensive, remorseful moments. It could have never mentioned the thousands that Heshen hurt with his greed. Jiaqing hurts those that he is suppose to love while Heshen is only good to those he does love. That’s not noble either, it’s selfish. Both are just despicable.

    I don’t think it is necessary TeamJiaqing or TeamHeshen, but rather we are watching the destruction of both men. You’re right, when Jiaqing triumphs over Heshen, he will lose himself in the process.

    Forgive me for being long-winded all over this thread, I am procrastinating on life.

    1. @potatochip Natalie char is totally unnecessary. Heshien’s downfall should be from his own overt ambitious and arrogant, being smart or outdo by the “Heaven’s Appointed” King. Or his downfall be his son turning on him.

    2. @potatochip recent eps really showed Mathew’s acting weak af. His luck or typecast role has ran out.

      Meh, Angelina is ineffective in this type of role. I like her as an actress but this is just not her role.

      Side note, Shaun is pretty darn strong. He picked up a couple girls with ease and natural lol. Again, I hope they show more how and why he’s so trusting with Selena.

      I honesty can’t think of anyone that Ruco has great on screen chemistry with anyone, not even Nancy imo. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a capable actor… stand-alone.

      1. @jjwong Matthew really is weak. He had good material to work with these last episodes but he really did not deliver. Angelina is good as a lovable dim mother in other roles, but this is the first time I have seen her tear up.

        I can’t think of amazing romantic chemistry with Ruco either. He and Nancy were more fun than romantic. Tavia was sweet. Linda, Aimee, Selena, Grace Chan, Kelly Fu were all either weaker actresses or weaker storylines (or both). He’s been with Elaine so much, but they haven’t matched either.

        I wonder about Grace Wong because they had a sexy dance number years ago. I like Ruco’s chemistry with his male co-stars better – Raymond Wong, Louis Cheung, Louis Yuen, and Joel.

  15. @funnlim @potatochip Again and and I agree that the biggest grip about SW is how they failed to portrait He Shien. TVB tried, or probably believed they’ve succeeded in creating a more empathic and sympathetic He Shien. When in reality,  they failed miserably IMO. The character seemed lost, not in a good border gray line because circumstance made him this way; lost in a way that he has no direction. Eps 21 with Joel and his man, I don’t feel the evilness fropm HSp eventhough he ordered Joel to do it. You can say it’s missef delivery of the mood scene because of Ruco; but IMO it’s the script that failed to highlight HS is indeed a selfish b*st*rd with possibly semi-relatable human traits. They’ve should go with He Shien is protective of his, his only people and family because they’re his. Any harm to them is like people directly disrespect him. Instead this BS that he cares for them because he’s a good guy at heart. Then again, TVB is TVB so they play it safe. They put someone in He Shien role where he’s already have blind followers so any chars he takes automatically get sympathy.

    On other forums, many comments cursed and scolded at the emperor. They chose to believe Ruco is put in corner by emperor to be bad. I said Ruco because these commenters cannot differentiate between a character and their idol. When really I see the other way around. Because if HS that the emperor got paranoid and felt undermined by him and those with slight hint of betraying him. Darn shame.

    Natalie character is 100% waste of air and screen time. Elaine would’ve been more than enough love interest and bait to show HS “softer romantic” side.

    @emiliachan my gawd! Tony would’ve been gazillion times horrible Jiquang. He has no look, presence or charisma to be paranoid yet commanding leader. Jonathan role is very miniscule at the moment. Side note, I had hope for Jonathan as a breakthrough actor but he has been so bland recently. Chris Lai would’ve fit in Joel’s role.

    Joel could’ve take Mathew Ho role. I believe Joel could’ve done a better justice in eps 22 and 23.

    1. @jjwong Yes, I agree, at this point in the drama, they needed to make Heshen more villainous. TVB is being wish-washy.

      I agree with you about the dynamics between Heshen and Jiaqing. Heshen caused the emperor to have to defend himself first. Heshen should have retreated when he had a chance but stubborn pride is making him fight back. I know his brother’s death is suppose to be a motivating factor, but the too fast pace of this series is not carrying that feeling forward. Plus, this is purposeful, because vengeance is an “ugly” characteristic, so the writers don’t want Heshen to be too soiled.

      Joel would have been good at portraying the characteristics of Matthew’s role, but Joel is actually older than Ruco and playing his son would be out of place. Unfortunately, I can’t think of a youngish actor that would work. TVB has a significant talent deficiency in that generation.

      1. @potatochip They should’ve made HS bad at least starting half way through, eps 10-15. Eps 23 is definitely already too late. Preview of 24 is still making HS as a love sick baby, ugh how disappointing still.

        Oh, no. In my “recast,” Wayne is HS. Ruco is JQ. So Joel as HS son fits perfectly lol. As for Joel’s char, should’ve given Carlos Chan a chance. I think both would nailed their respective emotionally well.

        Speaking of Carlos, I just watched The Trading Floor eps 1. Storyline is meh. Too overtly dramatic. Wish they took The Big Short approach. The whole “revenge” for the loved one is so yawn-able. Acting wise, Francis reminds me of Jacky Cheung professor in Helios. It’s good, and obviously expected Francis to do the char justice. Let’s just hope the plot gets better.

        @jayne No coverage on TTF at all???

      2. @jjwong I have been so tired so I haven’t had a chance to catch up till yesterday.

        I like your recast group a lot. Much more interesting.

        I think the drama is still entertaining, acting good to great, Heshen has a couple more evil acts but I want more, Jiaqing is actually written very sympathetically, and the characters are dropping like flies.

        I have been dreading the promotional pictures of elderly Heshen and Elaine. I am so relieved that this scenario will not occur.

        I had high hopes for Joel’s character, but that seems to be fizzling. The 11th prince storyline came out of left field.

        I think there must be a traitor in Heshen’s camp.

        I do still like most of the characters. I know part of my affinity for Heshen is due to my bias for Ruco. Part due to my generally liking of smart, scheming characters. Also, I like Elaine’s kickbutt character and since she loves Heshen so much, that feeling has transferred a bit to him.

        2 more episodes left. I hope Heshen dies an awesome, dramatic death.

      3. @potatochip Never liked elaine’s character. actress is fine, but character is scary. she’s like a paid assassin. She has no conscience. When she died I applauded She deserved her death. As for traitor, we will never know. I am more confused over dou kou,

    2. @jjwong “On other forums, many comments cursed and scolded at the emperor. They chose to believe Ruco is put in corner by emperor to be bad.”

      Dumb isn’t it? I hope they watched the last last last scene where narrator said as poor jiaqing stood alone overlooking his palace looking like the loneliest man in the most burdensome job that He shen’s wealth was worth 10 years of the kingdom’s treasury. How can anyone THAT corrupt be good? Pushed into a corner? I do like TVB’s ending in the sense it shows he shen is so dumb and yet he himself never realised it, why he lost.

  16. Did i miss something in ep 27? Didn’t …


    Dou Kou died in ep 27 when he shen coldly poisoned her? Wait, he said “You thought I would lose conciousness by now?” but he didnt and he poisoned her and she died, he placed her on raft and pushed her away, realised he made a huge mistake. But in ep 28, she’s alive, killed herself by drowning?! What? TVB couldn’t decide an ending for her, whether coldly killed by her beloved or she romantically drowned herself when he was sentenced to death?!

    And who betrayed him? who told the qing army about where they were? So who was the snitch? No answer.

    Anyway am happy he shen died, as he did in history but I hate how he died thinking he did nothing wrong. very 1 dimensional. And why emperor dramatically kicked the will into the fire? I only assume the real will was behind the empty will but no one told emperor. The old eunuch didn’t. so how he knew?

    Anyway in the end whose fault qing was in decline? Well dead emperor, that’s who. He bred He Shen, allowed his sort to grow and prosper and left his son a failing kingdom rife with corruption. I like the last confrontation between father and son. Jiaqing in TVB version is consistent. Except well he was a psycho right? He did have a habit of killing half brothers so surprise surprise, fook dude didn’t die. When he did the most to hurt the emperor personally.

    I don’t know how I feel about this series I enjoyed it very much. Scenery, people, budget, it looks expensive but towards the end scenery lesser, costume budget lesser, even lesser people. Story wise, it was pretty screwed up for Ruco’s He Shen. Again Ruco was saddled with an imperfect character. I don’t mean character is imperfect, I mean it was written badly. This series does not vilify any. Well they tried with the emperor. In the end the multi layered character was the emperor who knew what he did was wrong, that he will pay or paid or his sins but he had to do what he had to do. I am impressed with Shaun Tam. He looked kingly, he is robust, handsome in ancient costume, well built and strong voice. Problem is acting wise he is lacking when in more emo scene but surprisingly he was perfect in those scenes where he expressed not really just anger but pain, jealousy, hidden rage. He really banged the table, many times. The rage. Woah.

    Everyone else did well too. Some made me see them differently as well. Cast wise this series i strong. Story is usual TVB rubbish but at least this is green rubbish, good to recycle and not bad rubbish.

    It is however the inability to differentiate and give us a real villain which is frustrating. Ok those who loved he shen served hims loyally but never were they shown to serve him blindly. I mean they kill children!! They killed entire family of that loyal .. was it Zhu Gui? Most pitiful. I mean they did not hesitate to kidnap pregnant women and drown villages. Whatever pity I felt for them did not last long. When wife (Elaine) died, i was like comeuppance. It’s her repayment for her sins. She was no good woman. When dou kou supposedly betrayed He shen I thought wow, finally she grew spine. Well she didn’t.

    Our He Shen was also lacking in conscience. I feel this is the weakest link. Am I supposed to feel sorry for his wife, his assistant, his lover, etc? He shen kept saying he wants to help the dead king to right the wrongs of the dynasty but finding a new fitting king when he never really helped the current king? He caused chaos. He was chaos. And yet our he shen never felt a tinge of sorry for what he did. Like he was some sociopath unable to understand what he did was wrong. I don’t think TVB intended it that way. They wanted to create a character people can empathise, like a loyal friend, husband etc but he shen is the wrong character to do so. And Ruco is saddled with such a character. I pity him. Would love that he plays the emperor, Wayne plays he shen as some suggested. But wayne is too old. I like the current cast, i like a new face and I enjoyed Shaun immensely for whatever he lacked, but it is the writing that needs upgrading.One of the best series by TVB this year, if not the best depending on other releases but could have been so much more better.

    1. @funnlim
      I was slightly confused over Dou Kou also.

      The imperial edict was basically that the genuine one should be fire and waterproof. But Qian Long had a fake one on top of which He Shen can write anything he wants. If he had just said something like he will leave the city, Jia qing could have given in to him. But he pushed his luck, so Jia qing recalled that Qian Long told him he will help him “light up a ‘fire’ ”

      I’m personally pleased with the ending. It’s logical in my opinion and i was basically praying that there wouldnt be some silly or comedic ending where he shen manages to escape his eventual demise.

      I agree with you on Shaun, I thought he is very suitable for the role. He does have a very magnetic and powerful voice. Shaun and Selena also had a good pairing in this series, it showed the softer and gentler side of Jia Qing.

      1. @rozzstar I see! So he took the clue and went with it. Luckily he isn’t stupid. That dead emperor is really a jerk to his own son.

        I think the dou kou issue can be filed under oh-ohhh moment. I wouldn’t mind he shen killing her. That man is insane. As much as emperor is psycho.

      2. @funnlim do HK viewers not like this genre of drama series? I thought it was quite unique storytelling wise, it also had an actual plot unike Deep in the realm…
        such an underrated drama.

      3. @rozzstar
        HK viewers have no clue. They prefer idol series or family feuding series. Anything with a bit gloom of series, with hidden messages that requires thinking then viewers dismiss as terrible. Look at when Heavens Burn, Dance of Passion and Master of Play. Those are top series with depth but the low ratings. Jonathan Chik is the best producer/director TVB have ever had and he has been so under appreciated…

  17. Wow, I just finished watching the series. Still digesting it and will comment more when I have more time, lol. For a series with a foregone conclusion, I am impressed with all the surprises.

  18. I live in the US and can’t read Cantonese, so I am limited with my news. Was this series aired in China?

    TVB has trouble with making a complete package. They invested so much in a great, large cast; beautiful scenery, sets, and costumes; and an unpredictable storyline, but then cheap out on promotion. Why no opening theme song? Or a song or instrumental music to enhance key scenes? And no, I don’t want the music overplayed, just once is enough to complete the mood.

    The drama was really great at creating numerous characters with emotional depth but it tried to do too much with Heshen. Perhaps if Heshen wasn’t a historical figure synonymous with immense corruption, then the dichotomous characterization may have worked. Jiaqing was more of a blank slate, so even though he also had evil deeds with conversely sympathetic moments, it worked for him and made sense.

    The writers wanted Heshen to be an anti-hero, but Heshen just can not be anything other than a villain. He could be a likeable villain with redeeming qualities but drama needed to make a stronger pivot to his negative qualities. The man killed thousands with his corruption, kidnapped and executed women and children, and conspired to overthrow a kingdom with disregard for innocents hurt in his quest. You can’t get much more evil than that, but somehow, the writers were able to water that down.

    Despite this, with what he was given, I think Ruco acted the part very well. I didn’t know anything of Heshen except what was on Wikipedia, so it was easy to imagine him as a crass, mustache-twirling, stereotypical bad guy. It would have been tempting for Ruco to go over-the-top with him, but instead it was a mature, controlled performance highlighting the character’s complex moments.

    The key word is “moments”. The characterization was disjointed due to the unfocused writing, and unfortunately, he was not able to really pull it all together. But, if we looked at moment to moment, then the acting was superb. My favorites included the scene where Jiaqing presented Heshen with his tortured brother’s bloody fingernails. Ruco’s eyes were flaming red as he seethed with barely controlled rage. His bewildered, betrayed, and defeated look was perfect in the final showdown with Jiaqing. He was still slap-worthy cocky in their last conversation, but then he let down his guise and was vulnerable. With Selena, he was pensive and remorseful, but unfortunately, the writers focused on Elaine being the motivation and not his gluttony and treason.

    I loved the dazed, insane, F’-my-life smile he had when he returned from sending Natalie off on the flower river bed. We were suppose to believe that he had killed her so when we learned otherwise, it added a resolved, serene feeling to that moment. But I can’t decide on whether she should have died or not. Her character was so blah that it was hard to feel for her death. She was just a tool to either hate Heshen more, sympathize with his tragic loss, or make him nobel for letting her go.

    @funnlim I liked Elaine’s character because I am a sucker for intelligent, take-no-prisoners, devoted women. She was like an assassin, but she got things done. She was consistent.

    Selena impressed. She should be a great contender for Best Actress. This would typically be a boring, good person role but she made me empathize with her.

    Besides Natalie’s character, I enjoyed every character. But I also loved each one’s death (besides the kids). They were all flawed people and their endings were logical.

    I also loved that I was wrong about Jiaqing. TVB did not go the trite route of demonizing him. How did they make someone guilty of patricide and fratricide root-worthy? A very interesting character. Shaun Tam had rough edges, some OTT expressions and acting tics, but was very effective and sympathetic.

    It was really a dark, enjoyable, unpredictable ride.

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