Since Missing You幸福摩天輪 and Friendly Fire 法網狙擊started airing on the same date, it is inevitable that they would be pitted against each other for comparison despite the two dramas being on opposite ends of the spectrum. I usually avoid comparing apples to oranges but this time, I’ve decided to embrace it and do a mash-up impression post on both dramas (mostly to save myself some time from writing two separate impression posts).
By all means this isn’t a direct “x-is-better-than-y” post (more a 2-in-1 impression post with a few key comparisons), but I can say from the episodes I’ve watched so far (all 9, I am caught up!) that Missing You is appealing me more at the moment (more on this later).
Missing You focuses on the tracing service department of nonprofit organization, Yan Ming Se. The agency helps people seek lost family members separated due to poverty and other dire circumstances. Hong Yu Fung (Linda Chung) is the masters-degree-graduate who is newly hired at the organization. She initially struggles and stumbles her way through the new job but thanks to the generous guidance of senior social worker, Sze Yik Him (Jason Chan) she quickly finds her footing. The two connect and bond as they are equally passionate of helping others.
The topic is rather fresh because social work is a profession rarely touched upon by TVB (the last drama I recall with a similar topic is 2003’s Seed of Hope). To focus on the tracing service agency is a smart direction to take because the investigation elements as Yu Fung and Yik Him scrape for information to unfold each case keeps the drama interesting. However, I must note that to enjoy this drama you gotta exercise a certain degree of suspension of belief since the plots fall together a little too perfectly that you have to roll your eyes. I mean, it’s always she SO HAPPENS to notice this, then he SO COINCIDENTALLY finds that and together they fill the blanks. Besides that, I do like the format of the story-telling. The story progression is threaded by a series of anecdotes and flashbacks of the ones seeking for help. This way, the viewers are more invested into the individuals and each arc. It’s then icing on cake that every anecdote features cameos from familiar faces like Raymond Wong, Elaine Yiu, Lo Lan and so on.
Another notable gripe I have with Missing You is Sze Yik Him (which is not to say I dislike or hate him). Personally, I have a soft spot for Jason Chan so it’s nothing with him, it’s the character. So far, Yik Him has shown to be optimistic, passionate, generous, and just so darn good. This is fine and all –because who would like an evil protagonist?–but Yik Him is so perfect (he’s even earth-loving!) that he is rather…boring. Much as I admire his compassion, his character hardly feels realistic and relatable. Maybe this is just due to the fact that we are still relatively early on in the drama, hopefully they will dig deeper into Yik Him and flesh him out. Yu Fung, in contrast, has bit more flaws (maybe she can donate a few to Yik Him?). Perhaps it’s because Yu Fung is our POV character (as in, we feel everything from her point of view) or because I also went through her whole job-hunting-interviews-and-new-to-job experience recently that I was immediately emotionally drawn in by Yu Fung. Her arrogance, ignorance, and insecurity are human, as if she could be any of us or someone we actually know.
Also, I reckon this drama is in danger of being redundant. The cases always follow the same pattern of Search, Found, Misunderstanding, Resolution, and Reunite. They need to shake things up a little and provide more varieties of conflicts in regard to the cases.
The other currently airing profession drama is none other than Friendly Fire. You absolutely, positively cannot tell from the title (and I don’t blame you), but this drama is about lawyers, specifically, prosecutors. J.J./Kam Jo Jan (Michael Tse) and Chris/ Fong Tin Lam (Tavia Yeung) are two prosecutors very much in love and cohabiting but are in the process of jumping a few relationship hurdles. To round up the cast is Sammy Leung (as Kam Bor Dei and adopted brother of J.J.) and Sharon Chan (as Ai Mei Sun) of the CID team who works and is closely linked to our resident prosecutors.
With such a familiar premise, Friendly Fire is promised to garner a decent viewership. In fact, I can’t remember a lawyer drama in recent years that actually tanked. However, the handicap to depict yet another lawyer drama is that, well, there’s nothing innovative you can do. And that is exactly the case with this drama. The story tries to differentiate itself as THE prosecutor drama, but in the end, the story is nothing groundbreaking.
I enjoy the earlier portrayal of the romance between J.J. and Chris. I love that their relationship is so mature and sensible, their interaction so natural…that is until the recent episodes, which took the elements I love most about their relationship and screwed them over with The Misunderstandings. Oh, how I dread this plot trope, it’s like the easy and manufactured conflict to separate our couple.
Speaking of The Misunderstandings, I am irritated by Chris’s lack of communication as a grown adult in a relationship. Can you blame your boyfriend for taking things the wrong way when you are hiding things left and right? Also, you decided to start a relationship with him because you thought he is the type to let go easily once and if you want to break up? Have you try letting him know that this is that type of relationship? And yes, it takes two to tango and J.J. has his issue too with his refusal to hear her out. Man, these two need to learn to talk and listen, it’s not that hard. And they are lawyers, aren’t these traits sorta prominent in their jobs?
Acting wise, I am quite pleased with Michael Tse who has shed the famed Laughing Gor image. I find him charming (that’s a first) and well-fitted for the role. I was worried that he has been typecast and trapped when I kept seeing shades of Laughing Gor in his previous drama, Sergeant Tabloid. Tavia Yeung, on the other hand, has yet to impress. But then again, she has been given very little to work with and her character has not been getting on my good side. Together, they are playing well off of each other. Their last drama together, The Rippling Blossom, had me SO frustrated by their characters that I thought it has marred me from liking this pairing forever. Fortunately, they have remedied that by really working their chemistry here (and what is Yeung doing smooching Tse up and down when she refused to have ONE kiss scene with Kenneth Ma? Heh).
What this drama does better than Missing You is the humor. Friendly Fire is definitely the funnier drama of the two. And I wouldn’t expect less with well-known comedy stables Louis Yuen (as Chris’s BFF, Lok Ku Tin), Sammy Lee, and Benz Hui (as father of the Kam Bros, Kam Bo Cheung) completing the cast. Even Michael Tse is spot on with the comic timing. The interaction between the Kam’s is by far my favorite thing about this drama. They are so adorable together with bantering!
So, as a being who feeds on comedies and actually LOVE law dramas, why do I still prefer Missing You more? I find that I really don’t care much about the story arcs and cases in Friendly Fire. They are fleeting and rarely leave an impression. And this leaves me detached from the drama. On the contrarily, I am much more invested in Missing You and how the familes reunite.