Review: Never Dance Alone (TVB, 2014)

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Never Dance Alone (女人俱樂部)
Genre: Modern Drama
Length: 32 episodes
Producer: Joe Chan, Eric Tsang

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The Cast

Carmen Lee as Mo Siu-Size
Rachel Lee as Julie
Gloria Yip as “Fei Choi”
Angie Cheung as Jenny
Flora Chan as Diana aka “Dan Dan”
Fennie Yuen as Lo Yuen-Chau
Elvina Kong as Cyndi
Lawrence Ng as Alan aka “Ah Lun” aka Prince Charming
Eliza Sam as Carrie Tong
Koo Ming Wah as Fei Choi’s husband and later ex

and Rosanna Lui, Lawrence Cheng, Steven Cheung, Joe Cheng, Pal Sinn, etc.

Foreword and the Story

Initially, I had no intentions of watching this because the cast is from the 90’s, which I’m only partially familiar with. I loved Angie Cheung since her A Kindred Spirit days, but unfortunately, she was never promoted to lead in series. Still, she always does her part well and I look forward to seeing her anytime. I saw Fennie onscreen once. I’m familiar with Lawrence’s villain roles and Healing Hands series. I saw Flora a couple of times, but was never a really a fan of hers. Also, I was reluctant to start this due, in part, to the fact that TVB’s comeback series for earlier generation stars were never a success and sometimes I’m even annoyed that the selling point for their dramas is because “blah blah blah is coming back to film!” But unlike the others, this one actually lived up to the expectations (fine, I didn’t have any), not only because the main cast all delivered well (although some haven’t been acting in over ten years), but because the main storyline of a group of close friends disbanding and going about their separate ways after high school and everyone leading a busy life for various reasons is relatable to many people.

I admit that I expected the seven female leads to have similar to equal amount of screen time, but instead Carmen and Rachel pretty much lead the series and the others came out one by one after. The series begins with a seemingly happily married Carmen who is actually repressed by the orders of her demanding mother-in-law. As she ponders over her high school days, she finds herself back at the old dance studio that her friend owned. There, she reunited with Elvina, who throughout all these years has still been stubbornly holding onto her dream of being a dancer. She passed onto Carmen that she has recently ran into Rachel, who will be getting married to a wealthy man who later turns out to be gay. After the wedding is called off, she reluctantly joins Carmen in re-opening the dance studio and the other girls, who are living a life of troubles of their own, soon find renewed energy and happiness in dancing and being back together with their friends.

Characterization and Performances

In her 40’s and still looking as classy as ever, Carmen’s beauty is truly timeless. For an actress who hasn’t been onscreen for more than a decade, Carmen really lead the series well. Her character was subdued by her mother-in-law at first, but she still evoked humor. Meek, but still determined and passionate, her character had the elements for a good leading character. 4.5/5

Although the series doesn’t have a villain, Julie was arguably the most character with the most layers. Maybe besides Flora’s character, but I didn’t quite sympathize with her until the end. She really demonstrates that people evolve adapt through experiences and life situations. Compared to her teenage counterpart, the middle-aged Julie had the greatest change. From someone who is mellow and willing to make friends upon arriving in Hong Kong, in her later years, she becomes someone who is seemingly materialistic and selfish. Julie contrasts Siu-Sze well because it’s difficult to see them as best buds in their hey days. It is unlikely to see someone in real life who can put up with personalities and a different set of values than ours. Rachel delivered well and was especially funny in her obnoxious scenes. Her Wikipedia page says she is 48 already?!! Anyway, she also looks good for her age even though she seems to have the most makeup on among the bunch. Does anyone else think there is a resemblance between her and the new actress, Rebecca Zhu? Haha, maybe she should have played the role as her daughter instead. 😉 4/5

I don’t know who Gloria was before this, but I think she was funny. Her teenage counterpart was also naturally cute when needed. Although she wasn’t as prominent of a character as Carmen and Rachel, my favorite scene of hers is when she finally decided to leave her husband who constantly judged her. The best part was when Koo Ming Wah called her for help and she immediately rushed over, but as soon as they came home, she told him that she is happier without him (that is, after he told her he couldn’t live without her) and that on the way to his rescue, she actually stopped by a store that was having a 50% off sale (LMAO at the last part)! On the hand, I didn’t really expect her to end up with the Caucasian guy, but they were a quirky couple, so yay! 4/5

Although I like Angie, I wasn’t very convinced nor did I sympathize with her situation with her ailing mother. Yes, she had a stroke, but her condition doesn’t seem severe enough that she should quit her job to take care of her. Rosanne was able to scream and order her around; she could even runway with her cane, so if she wasn’t so depressed about losing her ex, she was only partially handicapped. Plus if Angie isn’t working, where does the family income come from? Okay, I’m overthinking this and it’s probably just bad writing. Angie’s love story with a guy a decade younger with him was unexpected, but cute and humorous. I like how she described him as “he’s a whole round of zodiac signs younger than me.” There was even a reference of Angie back as “Choi-yu” in her A Kindred Spirit days, hehe. 4/5

I’ve only seen Fennie onscreen once and given her seemingly quiet character and sickly look, she was my least favorite girl of the main cast. I can’t say her affair with LY was interesting either and couldn’t wait until she left that bastard who used her the whole time. It is also ironic how she was known as the most talkative of the bunch, but had the least to say in present day. My favorite part of her was probably when she decided to leave for London and go to school together with her sons. 3/5

I admit I didn’t quite like Flora’s performance in the earlier episode because she just came out as obnoxious and snobby for her age. She became more humorous throughout the show when we hear her repeatedly saying “oh please” behind every sentence she utters. I began taking her less seriously which was apparently the way to liking her a bit more. I’m a little bummed that she was never really part of M Club, not even at the end. They never mentioned how many years of friendship she had with the girls before she was ousted. However, one thing that never changed my mind about Flora throughout the whole series is her heavy and unfitting eye makeup. The winged liner and heavy smokey eye really didn’t do her any favors, as did the pack of voluminous hair. It made her look more like an animal. 4/5

Kudos to Elvina who didn’t wear any makeup for most of the series! She looked scary at times, especially with her nutty character. It’s just funny that the script decided to make her ill for the majority of her screen time. She was always clumsy, either tripping over cords, dancing on rooftops, or being admitted to a mental institution. And even weirder, is that all this began happening when she met up with M Club again. She is passionate about her dream as a dancer and stubborn when anything gets in her way. I don’t think I’m a big fan of her acting, but she’s not terrible either. 3.5/5

I wonder if Lawrence is coming back to acting for this one particular series and The Hippocratic Crush II (of course) or returning for good. I still believe my favorite times watching him is during his villainous days. He acts clumsy (if you know what I mean) when he plays the good guy. That said, it’s not bad, but I won’t particularly seek out his drama to watch either. I’m glad he didn’t end up with Carmen at the end as it’ll be too soon for her to move on after her husband died. I’m also not sure about him giving Flora a second chance because I believe it ended for a reason (even though Flora is changing for the good), but that’s still better for him to end up with Carmen. Seeing how Lawrence finds women annoying, I find it hard that so many girls fell for him in his teenage days. Haha, he has evolved a great deal as well. 4/5

I’m sure everyone believes this, but yes, Eliza is once again in a cutesy character. It’s not really her fault that she always gets to play “the type” because she gives an acceptable performance most of the time. Her emotional and crying scenes only becomes more natural. She seems like the Linda Chung-type, but with more charisma. 4/5

The Ending

The show had a happy ending, but that was only expected. Now they can all keep in touch while on-the-go thanks to everyone having smartphones today.

Final Verdict

Of course, I would recommend this. Being one of the most well-written dramas this year, I would say it’s one of the top three dramas aired this year next to Gilded Chopsticks and Storm in a Cocoon. It’s consistently good, has a well thought out plot, has a fair share of touching moments, is humorous at times, and reminds us of our young and carefree days. I heard there’s a movie version in the talks. Hope it’s true!