[Episodic Thoughts] “All That is Bitter is Sweet” Episode 3

All That is Bitter is Sweet <大藥坊>
TVB Series 2014

Cast: Linda Chung, Ruco Chan, Raymond Wong, Natalie Tong, Shirley Yeung, Sammy Sum, Pierre Ngo, Jazz Lam, Elliot Ngok

Disclaimer: This is a watch as I write episodic thoughts and some information may not be accurate since this is memory based. Certain dialogue is reproduced with some creative license adopted. I apologize if there is any mistake. All opinion remains my own.


“There is something infuriating with the way how people respond to emergencies in this series. They stand there a lot, talk a lot and respond very very slowly”

To my utter dismay I just checked the cast list when a commenter told me a very big plot thing about Raymond’s Kai Cho character. Raymond is playing I suppose twins and so the mysterious other brother is also Raymond which means Kai Cho will die after marrying Linda and younger brother will also fall for Linda which explains why Linda will later develop feelings for Ruco. Boring isn’t it? Cliche isn’t it? Why? WHYYYYY? Of all the plot thing, why the bloody twins thing again? Can’t Raymond be the extra special guest star and just get another actor as the baby brother? Or hopefully he doesn’t fall for Linda and is reserved for Natalie which paves the way for Ruco and Linda’s big happy ending except she is the widow and again another huge plot thing, Ruco will have heart illness (found out from his interview) which means in the end either super TCM Dr Linda actually cures Ruco or … *drum roll* … Ruco …. (whispering) dies… NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

But let’s pretend we are not there yet. So now begins the not so long recap of a rather watchable episode.

So much better

Kai Cho aka Raymond aka soon to die so that baby brother may appear to take his place in the plot wakes up with red spots on his face! OMG, so soon? Really? Can’t wait for this poor man to marry first? Natalie was first to notice and everyone panicked and took him to where else…

At the TCM clinic, Linda explains to the family with the super sick boy he needs to take 14 days of bitter medicine and she gave them many many packets free of charge. Mother is happy and says gratefully “You’re so kind miss. You will marry well, you will be happy, you will have a good life! Bless you! Bless you!!!”. They left but before they could, the clinic was flooded with many many patients with same symptoms which was diagnosed as errr… cold sores? Cold pox? Cold rash? Is it called cold rash? Anyway something not transmittable by air or whatever but one dude panicked and blamed it all on foreigners, aka poor kid. They harassed the poor kid when Raymond and family entered and wanted to see the old master. Linda was informed, taking her time to rush out …


There is something infuriating with the way how people respond to emergencies in this series. They stand there a lot, talk a lot and respond very very slowly. That was how Linda responded. Like “What happened? > Really? > You sure? > But why? > Ok > So … > Let’s see > I suppose > Fine > Show me >” and then she walks towards the emergency when she should have been “What happened? > Oh no!” and runnnnnnn.


She saw Raymond looking very weak and sick and never had the impression she was very eager to make sure he is well as much as she is eager someone else is well, unlike Natalie whose attention is 100% on Raymond with equal measure of dislike for Linda. You can see it all on her face. Linda tried to answer the questions but everyone questioned her ability and demanded to see old master who slowly (see, slow respond again) walked out, slowly looked around, slowly responded and in the end diagnosed Raymond and explained (where this series is very fond of giving loooooooooooooong medical explanations) about cold sore? cold rash? cold disease? Whatever it is called and to say it is nothing, he will be fine in 5 days. However Susan was worried as it went like this …

Susan – “5 days? That long? But they’re getting married in 3 days …”
Raymond – “Mother, we can postpone the wedding”
Linda – “I don’t mind postponing”
Natalie (with glee) – “Yes it should be postponed because cousin is sick”
Susan – “But the invitations, the banquet, the general will be here to officiate the wedding”
Raymond – “Mother it can’t be helped, I am sure everyone will understand, we still have time to postpone the ceremony”
Linda – “I agree”
Natalie (with more glee) – “Father will understand the situation”
Susan – “I am reluctant to postpone, I will need to discuss with your father. Isn’t there a way to speed up the healing time?”
Old master – “I … errrr… I….”
Raymond – “Mother, please don’t put him in a difficult position”
Susan – “But postponing … that can’t be done…”
Linda – “I really don’t mind, Kai Cho isn’t well”
At which time I was like “Oh come on! Stop with the banter already!! The solution? Simple! He isn’t so sick that he can’t walk or talk, and even masters with TB could marry in the olden days so why can’t him??!?!?!?!?”

Old master finally replied – “You know what? I can do it! I will find a cure and I will cure him in THREE DAYS!”
Everyone looked surprised, except Natalie who looked disappointed and Susan who looked very pleased.

Outside, old master explained what Linda already said and in the end declared “I will create a new pill which you can all collect tomorrow! That pill will cure you in 3 days!!”

Everyone left, happy.

Old master was thinking and then he went into writing a long list of herbs and the doctors looked at the list and said “But some herbs are heat, some are cold, these are against one another and we don’t usually prescribe such a yinyang sort of medicine!” but old master said this was some old recipe and was best for this situation and all sort of technical terms. Point is they must produce 500 boxes in 1 night which Pierre reluctantly rushed to do it. Next day pills were all completed and old master went to see Raymond’s father, Poon and discussed about the cost.

“The pills took $1500 to make, making each box $3 in production cost”
Poor Poon’s face was shocked at the cost and said …

“But that is so expensive. How can the people pay?” and old master said “The local government will help me issue an announcement” and poor Poon paled as he said “Announcement? But the cost .. the people” and old master said “The people shall only require an announcement” and I was like “OI! Stop with the roundabout dialogue man!!!!” and Poon said “Announcement only?” and old master said “Yes, all you need to do is to announce the pills will be distributed courtesy of my shop for free as a gift to the people” and Poon was happy to hear as old man explained “I was cracking my head trying to think of the best wedding gift, you do have everything, and now is the perfect opportunity. The pills will be my gift to your son, see it as an investment in his future. It will help him gain the people’s support with him as the future mayor of this town, don’t you agree?”
… and Poon smiled happily and understood the meaning of the old man’s action.

Rather ingenious even if roundabout way of saying it.

Pill were distributed but alas!!! All gone and still so many more lining up! At first I thought Pierre stole a few boxes but nope, really finished. People almost sorta rioted in a way and Linda shouted “I swear to you, tomorrow there will be pills for everyone” which took Pierre by surprise. Pierre said to his older brother “How can there be more pills? All pills are gone! It is so expensive to make, we can’t keep doing bad business!” but old man took a while to think and finally he said “Make 500 boxes more” and so they did.

By the way the pills were meant to be taken once a day for 3 days. So I suppose each box has 3 pills. Apparently children and adult take the same dosage. Now that is weird. Since the herbs were described as extreme between cold and hot, heat and chill, shouldn’t the kids have lower dosage? Won’t the pills be too strong and will kill someone?

Next day Raymond was not well but recovering and went to see the distribution and Linda was busy with worrying and waiting for the arrival of the pills that she didn’t quite notice Raymond shouldn’t be walking around and Natalie came and advised Raymond and looked angrily at Linda and Linda finally looked at Raymond and told him to go home and rest, she can handle it and finally he followed Natalie home. Pills arrived, everyone was happy to get a box when the police overseeing the operation saw an old lady and said “You don’t look sick! No pills for you!” and old lady cried and begged and Linda checked her and saw red spots and “hear” her heartbeat and declared that she was indeed sick and she got a box.

Not long later Linda was happily walking the street when she saw the old lady again with a bunch of people eagerly and excitedly running somewhere with the pills, she followed and saw each of them selling each box for $5 (huge sum) to Jazz and gang. She overheard someone telling someone else that these pills will worth a fortune in another town with such an illness and the going rate was $8 per box and some will even pay $10 per box and they thanked the TCM shop for helping them do business. Linda was fuming when the old lady timidly asked “Is it true you will buy my box of pill for $5?” and they said yes but then Ruco appeared and stopped the sale and said “Wait! You’re sick! Why are you selling something you need?” and old lady cried “I need the money more than I need the pills! My family needs the money! Please, please buy it from me!” and Linda was far away and could only see Ruco giving the old woman some money and she rushed forward and angrily said “How could you be so heartless? Buying the pills which were meant for the people, fine! But you can see this old lady is sick, she needs the pills and yet you buy it from her?” and Ruco offended said “Hey, look, I did not buy it from her. Ask the old lady. Old lady, did I buy the pills from you?” and old lady happily smiled “Miss, this is a good man! He gave me $5 and told me to keep the pills! You have misunderstood him” and she happily left and Linda feeling awkward but justifiably angry said “Fine, I misunderstood that. But you bought the pills meant for the sick, no wonder the pills weren’t enough. You bought them all for profit!” and Ruco smiled slyly and said “Look lady, I may be a businessman but I am a businessman with ethics. I won’t buy the pills from the truly sick. Moreover some people may need the money more than they need the pills. Look at the old woman for example. What’s the point if she is cured of her illness if her family will starve to death anyway? For them money can buy them things they need and so in the end I am doing them a favour. Moreover, yes you all made the pills but your intentions weren’t noble anyway”

Linda was aghast at his logic and she asked “What do you mean?” and Ruco said “Surely you know the pills were meant to boost the career of your fiance? They were made in conjunction with your wedding?” and Linda was like “I won’t argue with your logic!” and Ruco went “Come one, everyone is as self serving as the other. The difference with me is I make a profit out of being kind. I will sell these pills to other towns that need the pills as much if not much more. In a way I am helping your company gain more merit than you could!”

Linda exasperated said “That’s… that’s unreasonable logic! Give the pills back to me! Give them back!!” but Ruco stopped her and smiled as he said “Hey, I paid fair sum for these pills, these are mine now!” and he carted them away and he left her feeling rather dumb and angry.

And through the long argument, Ruco didn’t look angry at all, he was in fact rather polite in addressing her. I mean yeah he has a point but I am on Linda’s side. What he did was unethical even if he could reason his way out of anything. However I do enjoy this bit of banter.

Next episode? Hopefully Kai Cho lives to see another episode. But could these pills cause the downfall of our TCM company? We shall see!!

Story wise, finally picked up a lot but wayyyy too long bantering and super slow action. It took forever for any of them to react and do something.

Performance wise, all good, no comment. Ok maybe two.

Linda is fine. As long as she doesn’t scream “I WANNA PUKE!!!” or something like that. I am however not liking her costume, she dressed like a widow. Oops.. I see a premonition coming … “Kai Cho .. will…dieeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”

Ruco is fine as well. However I don’t like his hat. He doesn’t look good with hat. I am however enjoying his bantering with his buddies, one of whom is the King of Sidekicks, Jazz Lam.

Natalie is fine as well. I like how she looked like she had to put up with Linda. Very expressive in that sense. She is good as long as she doesn’t go back to “Everyone’s problem is MY problem” OTT acting mode. However I don’t like her hair or cumbersome costume.

Pierre Ngo is fine.

Raymond Wong is fine.

The veterans are fine, especially Poon Chi Man who suits his role well. This series have 3 major characters for old male veterans and whilst I do not think Du Yan Ge is fine as the old master, Poon Chi Man for me is on point. And Elliot Yue will be fine as the feared general which to me is the reason why he wasn’t cast as the old master when he should’ve been. He will suit the general role more.

All in all, 3rd episode is good enough to watch even if the last scene is not a good cliffhanger.

As for the themesongs, end song is sung by Linda. Not very good. Themesong by a veteran whose name I have yet to catch and the song is old style. In fact very very old fashioned but bearable.

I will keep going with episode 4 but I don’t relish the cliches that are coming very very soon.


This Episodic Thoughts is written by Funn Lim, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com, and was originally posted at http://bigapothecary.blogspot.com/.


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      1. Thanks for the fun article. btw, did you remember Bottled passion? she is the same singer. I remember many people in this forum hated that song! but i like it 🙂 Back to this song, the composer is the king of all kings of traditional TVB drama songs – Mr Koo Ka fai

      2. I loved Bottled Passion’s theme song! It was a good series too. One of the best for me that year. Too bad, it was so underrated.

      3. The theme song is old-fashioned, but it reflects the Republican era period. The melodies are good, the lyrics are super and the singer is fantastic.

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