Note: This is part 2 of a 3-part JayneStars feature detailing the canceled series that TVB had conceived, but never filmed. Written by Addy.
With viewers criticizing the recycled plots of recent TVB dramas, it may be a perfect time for the company to reconsider producing previously canceled projects. Perhaps among the myriad of past proposed series, ideas can be reworked to create new classics.
Following the publication of part 1 of selected canceled TVB projects, below is a list (part 2 of 3) of more dramas announced between 1999 and 2012 that never made it into the final cut. Of the 8 dramas, Ada Choi’s The Beauty of Versatility and Louis Koo’s Possessed received the most attention from fans, critics, and sponsors.
Time for Feng Shui <時來玄到>
According to an issue of TVB Weekly, Time for Feng Shui was a modern drama that TVB planned to film sometime in 2003 or early 2004. It intended to tell the story of a family who practiced feng shui and the Chinese philosophy of Xuanxue, also known as Neo-Taoism. Xuanxue is an altered interpretation of a few Taoism and Confucian-based texts, including the divination book I Ching, the religious scroll Tao Te Ching, and the metaphysical book by Zhuangzi. TVB intended Deric Wan (溫兆倫), Jessica Hsuan (宣萱), Eddie Kwan (關禮傑), and Adia Chan (陳松伶) to star, but Deric left TVB soon after filming The Vigilante In the Mask <怪俠一枝梅> in 2003.
Club Foot <鬼脚七>
Both a legendary hero and a real life martial artist, the character of Wong Fei Hung has spawned nearly 90 biographical films in many shapes and forms over the last few decades. His students, notably Leung Sai Wing and Leung Foon, are just as famous, and their characters also gave rise to many film and television spin-offs.
Wong’s crippled student Club Foot (also known as Ghost Foot Seven) was first portrayed in detail by Yuen Biao (元彪) in the 1993 film Once Upon a Chinese Hero <黃飛鴻之鬼腳七>. However, the best known portrayal of Club Foot of today was by Xiong Xin Xin (熊欣欣) in the Once Upon a Time in China <黃飛鴻之三獅王爭霸> film series.
TVB has done many television drama adaptations of Wong’s students in the past, including ones about Leung Foon and Lam Sai Wing. The station’s next adaptation was planned to be about Club Foot, in which the character would have be based on Xiong Xinxin’s version. Nick Cheung (張家輝), Yuen Wah (元華), and Shirley Yeung (楊思琦) were credited to star in the action comedy. No word on what happened to the production, but Wong Fei hung was later put back into television by TVB in 2005, with Bosco Wong (黃宗澤) starring as the young hero.
Unlucky Magic <撞板法術 >
Introduced at the TVB Sales Presentation 2003 event, the teaser trailer of this quirky period comedy fantasy starred Bobby Au Yeung (歐陽震華) as a failing scholar who had disastrous attempts to pass the imperial exams. He meets a genie, portrayed by Nancy Sit (薛家燕), who promises to help him pass the next string of examinations by feeding him all the words of the textbooks. Although Bobby becomes a successful scholar, eating all of the textbooks made him fat and unattractive.
At the Lantern Festival, Bobby interrupts the poetic musings of scholar Deric Wan (溫兆倫), who is disturbed by Bobby’s protruding belly. Bobby then sees a beautiful girl, portrayed by Niki Chow (周麗淇), and tries to flirt with her, but her attention is redirected to the handsome youth, Raymond Lam (林峯). Jealous and disappointed in himself once again, Bobby tells Nancy that he wants to look like Raymond, and she fulfills his wish. Although Bobby attracts many women after his magical transformation, his ill fortune continues. Raymond turns out to be a wanted rapist by the government and Bobby is mistaken to be him.
Lo Hoi Pang (盧海鵬), Ronald Cheng (鄭中基), Jack Wu (胡諾言), Claire Yiu (姚嘉妮), Sherming Yiu (姚樂怡), also starred in the star-studded teaser.
The production for Unlucky Magic would most likely require a great deal of computer graphics, and television CGI can be a bit cumbersome. However, TVB has done quite a few dramas that involved heavy CGI. Unlucky Magic is not impossible to produce, but this idea was later abandoned by the company for unknown reasons.
Louis Koo (古天樂) and Jessica Hsuan made such a convincing couple onscreen that many fans believed they were together in real life. Needless to say, the real life Louis-Jessice pairing never ended up happening, but their unforgettable chemistry still lives on in the form of television. Their die-hard shippers cherished every single moment they shared down to the second. Although both Louis and Jessica have now left TVB, they remain to be TVB’s most popular golden couple.
Possessed was TVB’s final attempt in milking the power couple. First introduced at the Sales Presentation 2003 event, the foreboding teaser trailer of Possessed featured Louis and Jessica as a lovingly married couple who are torn apart by the supernatural. Their new home is haunted, and Louis is possessed by a vengeful ghost night after night.
At first, Jessica believed that his weird mannerisms had something to do with a murder that occurred in their flat many years ago, but it turns out that Louis was faking his bewitched state so he can leave Jessica to be with his lover. Louis then tries to murder Jessica by drowning her in the bathtub, but Jessica, now seemingly possessed herself, laughs at Louis’ foolishness and tells him that he has already been poisoned.
Possessed was supposed to be produced, at least, according to TVB Magazine. The cast was also changed from Louis and Jessica to Lawrence Ng (吳啟華) and Yoyo Mung (蒙嘉慧), but this production slowly faded to obscurity.
The Light-year Knights <光年騎士>
Allegedly, The Light-year Knights was first mentioned in passing by Kenix Kwok (郭可盈) in an interview in 2003. Like its name, the action-adventure drama would be about a pair of friends who travel back in time to ancient China. Chilam Cheung (張智霖) was also said to star, but this project was later unrealized.
It is impossible to confirm this piece of information today due to the lack of official sources, but we should not be surprised if this turns out to be true. Thanks to 2001’s A Step into the Past <尋秦記>, time traveling became a popular genre in many television dramas. TVB has produced a handful of original time traveling dramas of their own as well.
The Demon Sisters <姊魅驚魂 >
Horror series never fared well for TVB, and this may be a likely reason for why The Demon Sisters failed to attract sponsors, pushing it into abandonment. Introduced at the Sales Presentation 2003 event, the teaser trailer of The Demon Sisters featured Bernice Liu (廖碧兒), Michelle Ye (葉璇), Belinda Hamnett (韓君婷), Mandy Cho (曹敏莉), and Casper Chan (陳思齊) as a group of childhood friends who return to their boarding school and spend the night at their old dormitory. Little did they expect that their friend Maggie – whom they failed to save from drowning in the school swimming pool ten years ago – returns to the school to exact revenge. Maggie’s “spirit” murders the girls one by one – Michelle is the first to go, and is found dead in a bathtub. Bernice and Mandy are next, and their corpses are left floating in the pool. Casper and Belinda attempt to escape but they are pushed into the pool and drowned. In the end, it turns out that murderer was not Maggie’s spirit, but Michelle herself.
Mandate of Heaven <天命所歸>
TVB has produced several television dramas about Tang Dynasty’s great Li Shimin in the past, but none of them ever covered the Xuanwu Gate Incident in detail. The Xuanwu incident was a palace coup set up by Li Shimin to assassinate his elder brother, Crown Prince Li Jiancheng, and younger brother, Prince Li Yuanji.
When Mandate of Heaven was first unveiled at the Sales Presentation 2004 event ten years ago, it was considered to be a unique idea at the time. However, a decade has passed, and Li Shimin’s origin legacy has already been covered several times by mainland Chinese historical dramas. To prevent redundancy, it is unlikely that TVB will ever bring back the Heaven project in its original format. Nevertheless, the intensely attractive cast of Mandate of Heaven, namely Gallen Lo (羅嘉良), Marco Ngai (魏駿傑), Kevin Cheng (鄭嘉穎), Lau Dan (劉丹), and Charmaine Sheh (佘詩曼), makes fans wishful that this drama was produced.
The Beauty of Versatility <玉面玲瓏>
Without a doubt, The Beauty of Versatility – a spin-off of the Chinese literal masterpiece Dream of the Red Chamber <紅樓夢>, was the most highly anticipated production at the 2007 Sales Presentation. Planned for 30 episodes, the series would have been a retelling of the classic novel in the perspective of Wang Xifeng, the clever and capable de factor ruler of the wealthy and prosperous Rongguo household. Ada Choi (蔡少芬) starred as Wang Xifeng in the teaser trailer.
Granted, there were some awkward castings in the teaser. Joyce Koi (蓋鳴暉), as brilliant as she is, is unsuitable to portray the frisky and youthful Jia Baoyu, although Joyce herself is known for portraying male roles. Bernice Liu is versatile, but she does not have the authority that Xue Baochai commands. Although Shirley Yeung physically resembles the weak and sentimental Lin Daiyu, it is difficult to portray Lin Daiyu in a way that makes her likable.
Other stars included Joe Ma (馬德鐘) as the womanizing Jia Lian, Anne Heung (向海嵐) as the proper Li Wan, and Natalie Tong (唐詩詠) as the outspoken Jia Tanchun.
Despite the anticipation behind this epic production, The Beauty of Versatility was eventually axed, and for reasons that were never announced to the public. This is a shame because a Wang Xifeng adaptation may have become one of the most interesting and critically-successful Hong Kong period dramas in recent years.
This original feature article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.