As TVB's drama, Short End of the Stick has been finishing up, we decided to bring you a small review, or our thoughts and opinions since it has been a while since our last one! We are not gonna break it down into Cee's thoughts and then Jay's thoughts but we're doing plot, acting and so on... Let us know which format you like better :)
Basic overview: Three eunuchs Lee Suk-gung (Wayne Lai), Dan Tin (Power Chan) and Chan Siu-fung/ Sai Gai (Raymond Cho) have been working in the Forbidden City for most of their lives, serving the royal family. At the end of the Qing Dynasty, eunuchs were forced to leave the palace grounds. The story revolves around these three eunuchs trying to survive outside the palace. They soon meet Chiu Jun-sing (Edwin Siu), who claims he is a eunuch, although he is pretending to be one. The four of them become close friends and eventually are forced to stop by at Tianjin, where they meet the rich and influential Kam family who pwn a large rice business. As Kam Heung (Nancy Wu), the head of the Kam family saves Siu-fung's life, she expects repayment from Suk-gung, Dan Tin, and Jun-sing and they become the family's servants. They find out that the Kam family is large and complicated. Soon, they become more and more intertwined with the family becoming lovers with some of women in the family/village. Although, they initially wanted to leave the Kam ka village when they found enough money, they have grown close to the family and wants to stay. Together, they experience a series of many interesting events with the Kam family as they discover a lot more about each other and the secrets in the village. Is it possible for Suk-gung, Dan tin, Sai Gai, and Jun-sing to find a place where they truly belong despite their identities as eunuchs?
This is a picture of the relationships that characters have in the drama, but trust us, it is way more complicated than what this chart depicts! BTW, we really liked the names of the three sisters, they were very funny although a bit out there haha.
Our thoughts and opinions:
First things first... what is with the name? Oh myyy... Short End of the STICK? Is this implying something or are we just misreading this. What stick? From the Kam family? Or from the eunuchs? Horrible name... If they're talking about the meaning of the saying, then that makes NO SENSE. The meaning is that the short end is the bad part/deal of a bargain, meaning you got less out of the bargain. We guess that they mean they mean the eunuchs got some misfortunes and weren't treated fairly or something but still... What bargain happened in this drama and everybody fared well in the end so what???
Getting to it now, we thought this was a really lighthearted and sweet drama - for the most part, that is. At the beginning, it was mostly just some silly jokes to give the audience a good laugh during the Lunar New Year. It's very different from The Confidant, a TVB drama in 2012 also about eunuchs from which this is a spin-off for. We remember The Confidant being very serious and intense and this is really the opposite of that. While SEOTS does base its story off the eunuchs, it kinda just stops there. It's not really about eunuchs for the most part, like the characters are but that's in the past and this is just about the family and MANY crazy happenings.
First off, we really want to take this chance to say that the scenery which this drama took place in, was really beautiful. We understand that many scenes were taken in Kaiping, China at the Zili village. This gave a fresher setting than the usual TVB sets which appear in almost every drama. We also would like to applaud the cast for their efforts in filming the drama as we heard that it was super hot outside and they still had to wear layers of thick and long sleeved clothing. The poor little boy had red cheeks all the time and we were scared he might've had some heat stroke! Good thing he left around half way through the series. Wayne Lai tanned a lot and you could tell, so much professionalism coming from all the actors this time! The Kam village was beautiful and the endless fields of green just make us want to go there for a summer vacation as the grass here is still brown for the both of us. Of course, some scenes were still shot on the usual TVB pre-modern streets but that didn't really affect anything since we're used to it.
We found the plot to be okay and super long, but we thought it was mostly just a Kam family drama about family issues. It should really be called "金香家事" or something like that lol with reference to 東坡家事 (an earlier TVB drama). However, as things progressed, the drama sort of lost its comedic element and was less funny. At the beginning, it was mostly happy in the village, but later it turned kind of dark, especially after the execution of Jun-sing. We thought that the drama might have been even better if it was shorter because this was 35 episodes and it kind of dragged on near the end. Actually Maybe 30 episodes would have been better or for an even tighter storyline, 25 is enough? We are actually kind of surprised that we made it through watching the whole drama this time lol. The plot twists at the end were... absurd to say the least. Why did the family enemy Tsui Dai Fu just randomly become the leader of the Qing Revolution group? Why did Natalie have to be the symbol of the group? It seemed very unnecessary and dumb actually. She was so frail already... why make her the symbol lol. Why did Rachel Kan's character turn SO EVIL to harm her own family even though she wouldn't hurt a fly in the first 10 episodes? We have A LOT of issues with the plot twists but that aside, it was a funny and well-rounded, classic TVB drama.
Our favourite scenes: All the brotherhood scenes between the 4 male leads, in particular, their talks about going to Hainan when they were little servants in the beginning of the drama and how they were plotting to run away after getting a good amount of money. The scenes where we got introduced to the Kam family were also great and we would say the beginning of the drama was the best part. Also the part when they were devising a plan to kill Ram Chiang though it turned out to be a joke. This was before stuff got crazy and the scriptwriters put in anything crazy they could think of.
This drama had some pretty great actors and actresses and pretty much everyone played their part well. We kind of hoped that John Chiang would have a greater part in the drama but his role did not turn out to be too interesting and his character did not have too much depth in it which was a little disappointing. With that said, he did give an amazing performance as the fidgety and ill-confident Kam Cheung. He was a missed veteran actor when he left for HKTV and this role was vastly different that his last role we saw him in (Wong Fei-Hung in Grace Under Fire). Not too much to say about Wayne Lai and his acting, guess he was alright. Lives up to his TV King status. He did well, better in this than The Confidant. Actually, in our opinion, Wayne Lai did not deserve to win Best Actor that year, that was not his best performance but compared to the other contenders... he was the better one? Whatever, it's over now.
Raymond Cho and Rosina Lam's acting was pretty outstanding and they made convincing characters as the girlish eunuch for Raymond and the tom boy for Rosina. People are saying that Raymond deserves BSA this year with this performance and that is rightly stated in our opinion. Rosina has come a long way since her debut at TVB and she deserves to be promoted more! As for Nancy, the newly crowned BA, she fared well. Nothing spectacular. She just delivered her role well. We're also glad that Edwin got a larger part because at the beginning, he didn't seem to be doing too much stuff and we felt that he was just kind of there. But after seeing him as a warlord and everything, his character got more interesting. There are TOO many people in the cast to name, but all of them delivered an amazing performance. Nobody dragged the series down and acting was not an issue this time around!
Our favourites were: Raymond Cho, Rosina Lam, and Harriet Yeung as they were all convincing in unconventional roles breaking away from the normal gender roles. Also a shout out to Yoyo Chen and the young boy for playing the other side of the family. Yoyo was great as the rowdy wife and the kid was lots of fun!
Would we rewatch this? Probably not... we don't have time to go through another 35 eps of this. Not to mention that TVB's scriptwriting has just been super sloppy lately... We would rather watch old stuff.
Would we recommend this? Again... only if you've got time to spare and would like to see family issues turned DISASTROUS. The plus is good acting and nice scenery, but that's about it.
With that said, we are really hoping for TVB to amp up their game for scriptwriting! Lately, it's just been absolutely unreasonable. We know this is only for entertainment but still, BASIC COMMON SENSE seems not to apply to these writers. Captain of Destiny was really bad script wise. Angel in the Making, OMG, WHAT HAPPENED IN THE LAST 3-5 EPS! Same with this one. Speed of Life was just boring and would've been a 5/10 without Ben Yuen and Natalie Tong who give it a 6.5/10. K9 cop was still again... kinda lacklustre besides Bosco Wong and 6 Wing (I know you're surprised at 6 Wing's acting chops). This sounds like a year in review so far LOL. POINT IS, scripts need to be improved!
This time, our rating is 7.5/10. We are a bit more harsh on this one compared to Angel in the Making because we expected more from it. Thumbs up for the set and acting again, and thumbs down for storyline.
That's all for this round! Let us know what you thought of this drama :)