Review: The Ultimate Addiction (TVB, 2014)

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The Ultimate Addiction (點金勝手)
Genre: Modern Drama
Length: 30 episodes
Producer: Chong Wai Kin

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

The Cast

Bosco Wong as Cheuk Yuk aka Damon
Nancy Wu as Anson
Kate Tsui as Gia
Ben Wong as Chow San Yung
Sharon Chan as Ho Seung Yee
Elena Kong as Florence
Gloria Tang as Ginnie

and Toby Leung, MC Jin, Stephen Wong, June Chan, Jazz Lam, Jack Wu, Cheng Tsi Seng, Celine Ma, Raymond Chiu, Pal Sinn, etc.

The Review

Regretfully to say, this by far one of the worst series TVB produced this year. Given a decent to strong standing this year (compared to the last 2-3 years, trust me, it’s good enough), I was both disappointed and little upset that the series turned out to be rather pointless, lacking a real story line, and maybe even pretentious. It had an attractive premise set in the financial industry featuring subplots and ideas of revenge, love, hate, etc. and although it is nothing new of TVB, they tend to be popular among audiences. Also, I’ve been a fan of the main cast at one point in time; Bosco, Nancy, and Kate all of which I still like. So even though the series is below sub-par I was still able to finish it, but even I have to admit it’s pretty much a waste of time. It’s not obvious when we watch every episode during dinner every night, but it easily becomes tedious if we attempted to marathon this.

One of the biggest problem with this is the lack of a flowing storyline, events happen, the characters make a big deal about it and try to fight whatever the issue is at the time, but there aren’t any real consequences. The bad (Bosco’s side) keeps winning in the beginning and good (Sharon and Ben, the cops) although consistently loses, never gives up. After one third of the series has gone by or so, we’ll realize that the writers don’t have intention of shedding light into the character’s past or inner personality other than what we already see. Ultimately, what we see is what we get. For example, at one point in time, I was curious if Bosco really murdered Kate’s father, but there were so many twists and turns, and at the end, it turns out that the whole incident was only a silly accident. It seemed like the writers didn’t know what to do between the time Bosco’s first gave Kate the partial evidence to the time he finally revealed the real reason behind the father’s death. And at the end, when they finally need to turn the main character into a good guy again, he tells the truth. To be honest, the truth came out to be so lame (What’s up with people dying by drowning in here?) that it was almost embarrassing. Although he made up an excuse that was equally as lame as the truth to Kate, Bosco, was it really worth concealing that truth for so many years and risk all the misunderstandings from his friends?

Poor execution of characterization is the next main concern here. I’m not extremely shocked that they turned Bosco back into the good guy he was before the show started, but the events leading up to it and the reason (for a girl, oh please) was hardly convincing. All Bosco cared for was earning money and playing the financial field after establishment of his company, but meeting Kate changed everything? That’s hardly believable, not even for television purposes. To me, it seemed like when Bosco was with his deceased girlfriend/wife, he was a good guy. When he married Nancy, he was deemed the bad guy in the financial sphere. When he started liking Kate, he moved towards being the good guy again. Therefore, his sense of goodness (or badness) has nothing to do with himself, but more to do with whichever girl he’s with at that time. For a while, after his divorce with Nancy, it even seemed like she was the main villain who couldn’t let go. But oh who would’ve guessed that after a turnaround, Sharon was the ultimate villain?!

Although a lacking plot and inconsistent characterization that failed to pour light into the characters seemed to be my biggest issue, other things that made the show pretentious includes the constant use of tablets when Bosco’s team was closely following the company’s stock and such. I usually don’t have an issue with this, especially when the story is good enough, but it’s hard to not notice when it seems so clear that TVB is more concerned about sponsorships than story lines. Secondly, another issue that irked me was the number of character dying from drowning in the series. Let me count and correct me if I forgot to include someone, Geoffrey Wong (Kate’s father), Gloria (Bosco’s sister), Bosco himself (almost), and Kate herself (she surprisingly survived it in her pencil skirt). Kate’s father’s situation, I will let it slip, as silly as it sounds since Bosco probably wanted him dead anyway. But Gloria’s death… does she not know how to swim? Plus given how much Bosco cares for his sister, it couldn’t have taken him that long to get up again and dive in to save her right? But anyway, TVB was probably thinking, “Hey Gloria, sorry you must die (if drowning is what it takes) so our main character can have his moment of epiphany and take his redemption.”

Given all the negatives, the other side of the coin that made the series attractive for myself and went through with watching the thirty episodes was mainly because I’m a fan of Bosco and Kate. Although Kate’s performance was far from perfect and their relationship was nothing but rocky, there is still this undeniable chemistry between the pair. Even though Bosco and Nancy were married to each other at the beginning, it almost seemed like Nancy was the third party. Not many TVB couples’ share such intimate and kissing scenes like Bosco and Nancy (which I liked enough), but although Bosco and Kate didn’t act as intimate, something always felt intimate about those two. I like the fact that they shared many similar hobbies outside of work (regardless of whether it was a tactic to get close to him), which Nancy agreed she didn’t.

The Characters and Performances

Some people say Bosco isn’t ready to carry the lead role of a series yet, but I’m beginning to believe otherwise and given that I like him, I generally like to give him the benefit of the doubt as well. Given that this series is almost unredeemable for being thirty episodes of nothing happening, I give him credit for doing his part and putting emotions into a character that after watching, I still couldn’t fully understand why money was everything to him and then believe otherwise later. It’s not that I don’t like his ending or his turnaround, but the process of his redemption was hardly believable and I’m a skeptical person. I enjoyed his more passionate (and romantic?) side/scenes and even TVB’s top actors like Wayne and Ruco can’t excel in those scenes without being a little awkward. 4/5

Often times, Nancy serves as a reliable supporting anchor for most TVB series. She doesn’t get a lot of lead roles, but she’s good at what she’s given. I find it hard to like Nancy’s character in here. I don’t hate or even care enough to dislike Anson, but I’m more dispassionate about her most of the time. I like her and Damon as financial partners (I guess?) and she always look after her husband’s interests first (what a good wife, right?), but I didn’t really sympathize with her even when Damon left her. It’s not because I’m a fan of Bosco and Kate, but because Anson always seemed tense, serious, and they had enough money to live forever, but still claimed that she didn’t have time for a child at the beginning. It’s odd how she wanted one so badly and even odder that she was only blessed with one after they divorced. I’m glad Nancy let go at the end, but once again, it all sort of just happened. All in all, I didn’t care much for Anson nor Nancy’s acting. She did her part, but it was no breakthrough. 3.5/5

Kate’s performance was almost below average and I feel like she acts more stoic and expressionless in here than in any series she’s been in. She looks clueless most of the time. She was passable at best and cringeworthy at her worst (her hospital crying scene with Damon hugging her from behind after her accident). She’s always been more expressionless than the average TVB actress and her eyes usually say a little more than her mouth, but if it was not for her pairing with Bosco, I would probably have not paid attention to her. 2.5/5

Strangely enough, although Ben was the all-around moral and good character, he was probably my favorite throughout the series (given I don’t really have one). He was someone we can always count on, relatable, reliable, and always there for his girlfriend and friends when he was needed (and when he’s not). Most importantly, his character was always true to himself and his personality was consistent throughout the series’s running. He stood by everyone during their tough times, didn’t sugarcoat the truth, called out to anyone who needed to get out of their dense head, yet he wasn’t too good to be true. The only thing is given his apple chewing scene in the first episode, I expected him to have a little bit more quirkiness to his character. However, that’s okay, since he was the only character that had any sense in him. As with his romantic story lines, Ben and Elena seemed like each other’s soulmate that Sharon appeared to be the third party. 4.5/5

I’ve always seen Sharon has an average actress, sometimes a little above average, but overall her performances aren’t really memorable for me. Here, I feel like Seung Yee talked more than she worked; of course, it’s more the scripts fault than her fault. They call her “Madam Chur” and she suits that name. She hustles her team to work, but it seemed like they never got anything accomplished or evidence against Damon. Sharon’s 360 degree personality change occurred when she was wrongfully accused of crashing into Jazz and losing her child. It’s unfortunate that this happened to her, but again, the scenes leading up to her change was unconvincing and I regret to say that I never sympathized with her. Her acting was fine as the good cop, but her expressions were too deliberate, unmoving, and unfeeling following her prison days. This is unimportant, I but didn’t like those suede ankle boots she paired with her bodycon dresses. She should’ve opted for heels. Even her outfits changed 360, which was too deliberate and too convenient. 3/5

Elena was likable throughout and is undeniably the best actress in here. I believe she was too righteous and it’s hard to always keep a clear mind like she does, so kudos. At least her character made sense. It was adorable when she was cooking with Ben and both their puppies were starring at them. o.O 5/5

It’s my first time seeing Gloria. She looks the part as Bosco’s loving, kindhearted, and simple-minded sister, but her acting was pretty much flat throughout. She tried evoking emotion, but it almost comes out as too whiny for my liking. Still, it was hard to dislike her since she doesn’t have a single evil bone in her. However, I feel sorry for her to have to die drowning like that. Life really sucks when death can come so easy (Sarcasm detected!). I don’t mind seeing her again, but I feel like her image/look is too similar to other newcomers like Eliza Sam, Oceane Zhu, and Christine Kuo. These have more charisma and experience and supporters already. 2/5

Other Reasons to Like the Series

1. Celine and Cheng Chi Seng scenes. It’s reminisce of the A Kindred Spirit days. They were silly and funny together.

2. Bosco’s past. I actually liked and wished they shown a little more of the brotherhood between Bosco, Ben, Geoffrey, and Cheng. If they did, it might shed more light into why the characters are the way they are, especially Bosco. For the most part, they only recounted the events too vaguely.

3. As immature as it might sound, it was entertaining when Stephen decided to use Gloria to get back at Bosco. “Since Bosco ruined my sister, I’m going to ruin his.” It was even more hilarious when Bosco just rescued Gloria and he appeared, “She won’t wake up if you just slap her like that. You have to do CPR.” His plan wasn’t very well thought out though as I don’t think he truly wanted to hurt her. Stephen was really annoying in the beginning, so I’m glad he matured later on. His maturity actually made sense too.

4. The thought Bosco puts into drawing a flip book of their relationship for Kate at the end.

5. Kate’s wardrobe, especially her flannel shirts!

Overall Evaluation

Nearly nonexistent plot. Characters that are hard to root for. Ultimate villain becomes good guy at the end. A righteous and hardworking cop turns out to be the ultimate villain. I really don’t appreciate these kinds of surprises. They don’t always play a couple, but I believe this is Bosco and Kate’s third collaboration. They have good chemistry, but you can just skip to their scenes if you like. Below average acting for most of the cast, except for Bosco, Ben, and Elena.

Final Verdict

Don’t waste your time on this. The theme video and promotions make the series more interesting than it really is.

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