Review: Forensic Heroes III (TVB, 2011)

Forensic Heroes III (法證先鋒III)
Genre: Modern Forensic/Cop
Length: 30 episodes
Producer: Mui Siu Ching
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Cast

Wayne Lai as Po Kwok-Dong aka Pro Sir
Maggie Cheung as Mandy aka Dr. Chung
Ron Ng as Wind Lee Chin-Fung
Kate Tsui as Ada aka Madam Ling
Edwin Siu as Ken Ho
Aimee Chan as Angel Chiang
Ruco Chan as Jim Fong
Nancy Wu as Eva Chow aka “长胜长官”
Yuen Wah as Po Shun-Hing aka “阿伯
Moon Chan as “Man Man”
Geoffrey Wong as “Ko Sir” aka The Poser

Synopsis in Brief

This is hardly the continuation aka sequel to the famous Forensic Heroes I/II installments. With completely novel characters leading the show, we have here Pro Sir (the Senior Chemist) and Dr. Chung (the Senior Forensic Pathologist) to unravel a series of murder cases, ranging from easy to medium in terms of its difficulty, depending on how much time and thought Producer Mui’s team of scriptwriters decided to put in. In fact, these two are truly the “stars” of the show as their professional duties extends as far as to the work of the Hong Kong Police Department, leading us to doubt Madam Ling and Sergeant Wind’s qualifications as the heads of the the West Kowloon District Serious Crime Unit. Do they get paid overtime for doing more work? Or is solving criminal mysteries consist of the entirety of their interests and hobbies?

Somewhere in between, Ken and Angel of the forensic team are a bickering-fun pair turned preachy “love birds.” An extremely mature, handsome, and career-minded clinical psychologist, Jim, randomly appears as one of Dr. Chung’s pursuers although we all know she and Pro Sir are a match made by the heavens. Then rounds up the cast with whom I consider to be the real “star” in the first third of the series: the semi-villain, Eva. Anyway, I will excessively praise more about her performance later on in the review.

It’s Really ‘Wayne and Maggie’s Show’

Let’s face it. As much as it didn’t bother me that Wayne and Maggie were intruding in what really should have been the cops’ duties, this duo went all out and back to the crime scene to investigate for further evidence to confirm their suspicions at midnight. From a viewer’s perspective it didn’t bother me because viewers should be immersed into the lives of these main characters. However, from a reviewer’s perspective, I cannot overlook this aspect as I do believe forensic experts do not intrude into the cops’ commitments that much in real life. Having  interest in the subject is one thing, but having a life outside of work is another. Of course, Pro Sir and Dr. Chung appear to be the exception. Hopefully, their encroachment on Madam Ling and Sergeant Wind’s duties did not create the image of Kate and Ron as lazy slackers at work.

What’s the Point of Them?

There is still Kate, Ron, Edwin, and Aimee who makes a presence, but every now and then their characters appears to be only cookie-cutters of every other forensic technician or cop, depending on which team they belong to. To put it frankly, these characters don’t really have what we want to see, “character.” Sometimes they are real professionals. Other times they are silly, but neither one really has a memorable background story or past that differentiates them as a real human being, technically. They just seem to come and go and are very replaceable.

Then there’s Ruco who despite being smart, mature, handsome, and very likable,  seemed to be only an ornament for Maggie Cheung who served as the attractive, flawless, perfect, and desired Christmas tree. True that the scriptwriters cared enough to interweave his lost-brother into one of the murder cases as his background story, but just as I was accepting that his character wasn’t one-dimensional, the scriptwriters kindly wrote him off with a graceful breakup with Maggie. At that moment, I realized I didn’t really care for his character as his impact to the story wasn’t as great as I’ve hoped and he was merely another suitor for Maggie. I was affected by his departure as much as Maggie’s “I’m not hurt at all” attitude was. We all know she will get together with Pro Sir anyway, what was the point of their story? Mature characters are one thing (I like), but boring characters are another.

Semi-Villain is the “Star”

If anything, Eva made the show less pretentious with her ambitious beliefs and realistic career-goals directly challenging that of her husband. Besides the criminals, the lack of a true villain made the leads appear omnipotent. Every now and then, I may even find their intellectual superiority unjustified. The point is, Eva posed an interesting challenge to Pro Sir and his team of moralists forensic technicians, who can become too preachy in their mission to unravel the tangled mysteries and revive moral justice for the dead bodies.

Compliments on her lawyer character aside, Nancy gave me the greatest lasting impression in Forensic III. Anyone else find that the actress herself gave a commanding performance in her court scenes? While interacting with her followers on Weibo, when the actress asked her viewers who saw episode 11, Rebecca Zhu (Miss Hong Kong 2011 winner) replied, “Really like your courtroom scene where you drank water from the empty bottle.” Rebecca ended her reply with an emoticon, which was equivalent to being “smart.”

Favorite Scenes

The entirety of Nancy’s courtroom scenes, particularly those in which she cross-examined with her husband and father-in-law.

Every time “Ko Sir” (Geoffrey) poses for comedic effect.

The intimate and teary scenes between Wayne, Nancy, and Moon (their little daughter).

Kate takes out her jealousy on Ron. She is a cute jealous drunk, hehe.

The Bad Isn’t So Bad

The forensic team and Madam Ling’s team poses before the cameras while trying to tie together the bits and pieces of information to solve a case! Everyone is using tablets! Kate Tsui isn’t suitable for the role of Senior Inspector! Wayne Lai is so boring! Everyone is speaking in forensic jargon and I am too dumb to understand!

Chill. Despite the many critical remarks at the debut episode of the series, it’s amazing how none of these, now proven, invalid criticisms didn’t affect my view of the series. And to prove everyone wrong, I enjoyed every bit of the series. No just kidding. I take that back. I agree that I didn’t enjoy their “forensic” language because like everyone else, I felt alienated every time their automatic professional lever was turned on, but to state this frankly, I didn’t turn on my TV with the expectation of actually acquiring any forensic knowledge. If I really wanted to know anything regarding the DNA matching procedures, I could just head over to my local library or take a biology class to fill in my general education requirements at my university. Apparently, the pretentiousness of watching how they operated their machines, how they bragged about the newest technology (that I even had second thoughts about whether or not existed), and how diligently they worked to solve the crimes was enough to satisfy my superficial thirst, if you wish to call it that way.

Secondly, as for Kate Tsui not suitable for this role, I see where this argument is coming from, but we cannot deny her attractiveness. The notion that Ada’s wavy hair is too perfect for a Senior Inspector or her clothes are too trendy for a Madam is not convincing enough for me because 1) I love pretty things, and 2) who says Madams can’t have a feminine side? At the end, Madams, or you can call them Senior Inspectors for more prestigiousness, are still human beings who need to eat, sleep, and impress men. I hope my argument doesn’t come across as too forceful as did Eva’s infamous court room scene in which she shook the empty bottle. 😉

Final Verdict

I did not intend to ramble on for so long in my overall appraisal of the series, but the overall enjoyability of the series for me was pretty decent. At least, it’s enjoyable enough that right now, I’m having trouble finding a replacement for it as When Heaven Burns isn’t doing its job in terms of entertainment while I dig into my dinner every evening.

From a critical standpoint, the series has many flaws, but the key is to watch without heavy expectations. Do not compare it to its predecessors and you will be a happy girl like myself. 🙂

Disclaimer: There may exist random jokes and sarcasm in this review, therefore, do not get offended my opinions differed from yours as I wanted to make the process of writing more enjoyable for myself.

Jue: Do share what were your favorite and least favorite aspects of the series. Merry Christmas everyone!