Warning: Spoilers ahead.
The poor touching up of the promo pic aside, Forensic Heroes II is definitely a series to watch. After the initial horror that was the picture above, I was very tempted to give this one a miss, as with most TVB dramas. If anyone has seen these actors onscreen, you would know that they look nothing like they do on the picture. Too flawless, and you can tell it’s not from good makeup too. However, due to the time factor and my thing for crime series, FHII was given a chance.
First thing I must comment on is the setting. From the nice big explosions and car crashes shown in the opening credits, FHII is obviously one of TVB’s big-budget dramas. The lab scenes in the drama are filmed in an actual lab, and it does seem quite real because you can see the actual apparatus in certain scenes, and the DNA lab seems rather cluttered. Lol. Ooh, and they trump CSI in the centrifuging technique, because they did it the right way. Dr Morris would be proud. No doubt they had a lot of professional help from actual forensic scientists while filming, or else who would know how to actually use the centrifuging machine?
So the lab scenes pass my scrutinising test, but the crime scenes are poorly planned. Firstly, it’s illogical that they don’t seal the crime scenes properly. Like for one break-in case, the police allowed the house owner to enter the house, prance around and see what was stolen, and in the process contaminate possible evidence. Then her non-husband comes in and does the same, all under the eyes of the cops and CSIs. That was just painful to watch. Also, the crime scenes are usually very packed with not only CSIs there but also police officers marching about. I can forgive them for not making the CSIs were those fluffy shoe protectors (to prevent contamination from the shoes), but having 10 odd people in a crime scene is unforgivable. In one scene, one of the CSIs almost stepped on an important trace, if Bobby didn’t warn her beforehand.
Something interesting about the series is that the forensic team is spearheaded by men, whereas the police squad is led by ladies. Whether there is gender bias (or the lack of it), it does mean that the ladies get the bigger share of the action scenes, which is rather refreshing. Also a little unreal in the sense that Charmaine can outrun a guy one head taller than her. Yoyo Mung Bean’s scene where she was attacked was rather well done though, with good acting and choreography. It’s a bit odd that I’d compliment YYMB, but that scene was far more believable than all of Charmaine’s pursuits and fights put together.
Like in DIF IV where all the cases were somehow related to the main characters (like mother’s friend, ex-classmate etc etc), FHII also fell into the same situation, except for one or two cases, like the one with the security guard. Even that related to Bobby a little, because he had some kind of bond/understanding with the young kid. The last case they worked on, where the actresses were getting killed, was really stupid. Stupid in an unbearable way. The actress who played the killer was acted out so horribly that I felt like shutting my eyes when she came on. Her emotions were over-the-top, and she portrayed anger and hatred by yelling at the top of her voice. I did not buy her whole vengeance/hysteria act at all. Even YYMB could do better than that. The other criminals also left a very bad impression on me. I don’t know if it’s because they were given too little to develop or if they’re just plain terrible. (I suspect it’s the latter). The crazy killers come off very wrong indeed, like YYMB’s attacker.
Okay, time to comment on some acting. I would suppose the main reason for any un-fanatic person (like me) to watch the show would be Bobby Au Yeung. Even though he’s getting old and balder, that man is born with 206 funny bones in him. His Tim Sir might be a no-nonsense, intelligent man, but at times his comic timing comes through and scores a few laughs, which is precious in this kind of series. It is sometimes hard to believe why he knows the things he knows, but he could definitely give Grissom and Taylor a run for their money. No need to compare to Horation la, no one else can do the hands-on-hip action as shamelessly. Bobby made this show slightly above bearable for me. He has good chemistry with YYMB too, despite not having lots of scenes together. (This is after all, a crime procedural.) His character is termed the ‘walking encyclopedia’ which I translate as ‘geek’. (Think Chuck.) Even his romantic gestures are geeky; he gives YYMB two plants which he alters the colours of flowers by varying the pH of the soil. *salute* How la can you not like someone like that. Geeky and sweet at the same time. His power of observation is also impeccable, probably only rivaled by Charmaine’s character. I also loved how he immediately saw through Mabel’s character (played by dunno which care-lair-fair), and told her off for trying to manipulate him.
Next is the ME, who is played by Frankie. His name in the show is Sam, and Charmaine’s character is Bell. Sam and Bell reminded me of Triumph in the Skies actually, and their storyline is a little reminiscent of the Triumph storyline. Shall elaborate more later. Anyway, Frankie’s girlfriend Linda Chung only appears for about the first six episodes and then disappears. In the eternal sense. People who watched FHI would probably be devastated by this, so fortunately it didn’t have much effect on me. I’m not really a fan of Linda Chung anyway, because she annoys me with her bubbliness. Frankie is also geeky, but more handsome than Bobby. He seems less interesting than Bobby to me, partly because he always seems like he’s reading his lines off the script. Either way, he’s still eons better than the other actors. *coughKevincough* I would’ve liked it more if he was more quirky and less serious (aren’t there enough non-nonsense people on the show already?), but not everyone can be Sid Hammerback or Doc Robbins. After Linda’s disappearance most of his scenes are either with Kevin or Charmaine, who has a little infatuation on him. Poor Frankie doesn’t even realise it until the obversantly nosy Bobby subtly points it out to him. Frankie then subtly distances himself from her, by doing silly things like editing his novel bladida. It is not clear though, if he had feelings for Charm and couldn’t delve into them because Kevin is his bff, or if he just treated her as a friend. (It would’ve been a major plot developing love triangle in a usual TVB fare, but FHII is a crime procedural. I should just make a footnote about this.)
YYMB is the head of the police squad in the show. The only two things wrong about her are her hair and her smile. Otherwise, she’s every bit the tough lady she portrays. Well, obviously I’ve overlooked her waif figure in relation to her action scenes, because HK actresses are never as tough-looking and buff as they are supposed to be. Jessica Biel or Jennifer Garner can make us believe that they can whoop-ass, but not YYMB or Charm. To give her credit, she doesn’t really fake whoop-ass that much because she injures herself. She is then relegated to a desk job but that doesn’t break her spirit, no no no. She studies some criminal psychology in the UK for a while, then comes back and goes all criminal minds on the final case, which I must say was rather unnecessary as it didn’t lead to them catching the annoyingly loud killer any quicker.
Charmaine takes over from YYMB after she gets injured. At first, her cool, calm non-nonsense exterior made her rather unpopular among her colleagues. Don’t be fooled by the smiley promo pic. Eventually she does get accepted, because her efficiency is great. She knows how to get the right information from suspects, she reads body language well, and she’s as observant as Bobby. She also has the most fight and pursuit scenes compared to everyone else. Whether she pulls it off believably or not is another matter. At least they tried to hide her petite figure by letting her wear those long, cool-looking trenchcoats. Same for YYMB. Increases the coolness factor. She trumps YYMB in the exterior department because she had better hair though. Back to the character. Charm is a new addition to the FH family. Her background story was somewhat silly though. The tragic past was a typical TVB storyline. Her fiance was killed by someone over a very stupid reason. About as stupid as those crazy killers. I’d like to see them try to develop more scary/crazy characters than hysterical/crazy characters. Seriously. Those hysterical killers just leave us scratching our heads. Towards the end Charm’s character get a bit emotional and loses the composure she had in previous episodes. Perhaps it could be due to raging hormones, but I do find it a bit outrageous that one minute she’s torn between Kevin and Frankie, the next minute she’s pregnant with Kevin’s child? That was too fast for me to digest. Anyway, I didn’t really mind Charm because if it was only YYMB as the leading lady I would never watch this series. It’s nice to see her in a more mature role as opposed to her sampat/cutesy roles, which I think she’s outgrowing.
Kevin is also a new addition to the series. He comes in as Frankie’s childhood buddy and bff. He’s a bomb expert who is recruited by Bobby. Somehow Bobby ranks him above his senior staff like Yvonne and always brings him along on every field trip. Anyway Kevin handles himself with utmost professionalism, but he’s a bit like Danny from NY, goofy and sweet. Compared to the other four, he actually seems to have a personality away from his work. Not that they others do not have personality, that is. Perhaps it’s because he has the puppy dog kind of yearning for Charm, so he’s endlessly trying to impress her and make her smile. He has good chemistry with Charm, (more than Frankie with Charm anyway) so in a way I was really rooting for these two. The down side is that some of the Kevin-Charm scenes were way too cheesy for me to stomach, especially towards the end. Thankfully they were not that long since this is a crime procedural. What I really couldn’t understand was how Kevin could have fourth-degree burns but still escape with a perfectly uncharred face?
If I had a rating system like spcnet I’d give FHII 4 out of 5. Strong main cast, realistic settings and techniques. Not as B-grade as I expected. I didn’t expect to write as much as I did either, almost 2000 words here. Guess I got carried away after writing about Bobby. Without Bobby, the show would fall flat on its face.