Back in the good ol’ days, there used to be a saying that if you wanted to watch a drama with a 30 percent focus on romance and a 70 percent on procedure, watch a Japanese drama. If you wanted to watch a drama with a 70 percent focus on romance and a 30 percent focus on procedure, watch a Korean drama. BUT, if you wanted that perfect balance between a romance and procedure related drama, watch a TVB drama.
For many of us OG drama watchers (VHS rental stores anyone?), TVB dramas from Hong Kong were our first introduction into the black hole that is Asian dramas and the very beginning of our drama addictions. They were truly fantastic shows with simple but wonderfully executed plots and most refreshing of all, seriously strong female characters. Sadly, I’d argue, the golden era of Hong Kong television has passed, but the memories of those wonderful dramas remain. Let’s walk down nostalgia lane and reminisce about 5 of the greatest dramas produced by TVB, among many from the 90s and early 2000s.
Burning Flame I is a fine series about the lives and loves of the firefighting heroes among us. The story follows Lok Tin Yau (portrayed by Wong Hei) as he goes after his lifelong dream of becoming a firefighter after being saved by one as a child. With his mom’s reluctant approval, he and his two bosom buddies (portrayed by Chin Ka Lok and Joe Tay) join the Pat Heung Academy and learn what it truly takes to jump into a literal burning abyss to save lives. Along the way, they experience great success and once in a lifetime friendships but also heartbreaking tragedy (*sobs*). It might be an oldie but it’s definitely a goodie.
And just to bring out the feels even more. Here’s this. *cries in corner*
A procedural drama about the lives of pilots, Triumph in the Skies, or as I affectionately call it, TITS, was a pioneer of epic locations shoots, with filming in Hong Kong, Australia, Italy, and Japan. If you didn’t want to become a pilot after watching this show, WHAT WAS WRONG WITH YOU? To be fair, you might have been too fixated on the new TVB heartthrobs in the forms of Ron Ng, Bosco Wong, and Sammul Chan. Hubba hubba.
And who’d forget this memorable theme song?
A fun drama about a time honored trope. Set during the Yuan Dynasty, Mang Lai-kwan (played by Michelle Yip) is the daughter of a physician from the previous court. She goes about her days cross-dressing as a boy to avoid the constraints of being a woman in her time period. Of course this is to her parents dismay but luckily she has a doting older brother who helps her get away with her shenanigans. When her dad decides to marry her off (ugh) to the sweet but dense Wongpo Siu-wah (played by Raymond Lam), Lai Kwan uses her alter-identity to run away. Along the way, she encounters countless adventures and even has to save her father (sounds a bit like Mulan, huh?) and eventually falls in love with the man she vowed she’d never love. Side-splittingly funny, this drama is also littered with all the (then) up-and-comers and launched the Raymond Lam-Michelle Yip ship (is anyone else aboard this ship?).
For the Lai Kwan and Siu Wah shippers out there:
A true classic, this series is the first of four seasons. It’s smart, intriguing, and fun. Just how a good detective drama should be. The cases are well thought out and unpredictable. An addicting drama with a strong cast and awesome characters, this drama and all the other parts in the series (except for maybe part 3) is a must watch.
A light rom-com about two childhood classmates who re-connect after realizing they both work in the same shopping mall. Cute, sweet and perfect for a summer binge. Or you know, watch it for the always handsome, Kevin Cheng.
Agree or disagree with this list? What are your favorite TVB dramas? Let us know in the comments below!
autumn93 is a lifelong asiandramaholic; she actually can’t remember a time when she hasn’t been drunk off of dramas. It’s a real and serious problem. Doctors are still struggling to find a cure. Besides dramas, she also happens to enjoy food and Twitter.