With everything that is happening in Hong Kong right now, HKTV finally launching is definitely great news. As a bit of background, the free-to-air TV market in Hong Kong is pretty much a monopoly (TVB). In recent years, the other channel (ATV) which had some decent programming in the past (like the 90s) doesn’t even bother trying anymore. They’ve had ratings of zero before. Yep, like seriously.
Both ATV and TVB are known to be pro-Beijing. I think that’s how ATV manages to survive despite its dismal ratings. Similarly, TVB is known as CCTVB these days. State censorship may not be official yet, but ‘self censorship’ is happening right now.
When Ricky Wong – an entrepreneur launched HKTV (aka Hong Kong Television Network) trying to offer the people an alternative, things weren’t so easy. HKTV’s application for a free-to-air license was rejected in October 2013 which sparked protests.
I must admit Ricky Wong did rub people the wrong way. He lured a lot of TVB employees (actors and crew) to HKTV with higher wages and better working conditions. HKTV started filming a number of dramas even though the license application had not been approved yet. It did come off as arrogance. However, since the government rejected the license application he is now seen as the ‘underdog’ – somewhat representative of the shrinking freedom of speech prevalent in Hong Kong right now. In a way, HKTV’s fight for a place to broadcast free-to-air has also become a fight for a different voice to be heard. The people of Hong Kong want a choice.
That fight to broadcast free-to-air is still ongoing. But in the meantime, HKTV has finally decided to launch via other mediums on November 19! The date is rather significant as it is the same day as TVB’s anniversary. Well, Ricky Wong is not afraid to challenge the status quo.
Unfortunately, HKTV is not available overseas at the moment (except Malaysia!) but judging from the responses on their Facebook page, they’re working on it. If you are in Hong Kong however, HKTV programming will be available on their website, set top box, Smart TV app, App Store (Apple) and Google play. For those in Malaysia, Astro has secured the rights to broadcast and distribute HKTV dramas.
To prepare for the launch, HKTV is asking viewers to vote on the first series they want to see on November 19. Oddly enough, I voted a couple of days ago but I checked again today and it’s saying only those from Hong Kong can vote now? Or maybe I missed the error message the first time. Anyway, I suppose it makes sense since they’re catering to a local audience right now.
miriamfanz from Casual TVB has already compiled the list of 16 dramas HKTV is planning to release along with a short summary and trailer so head over there for all the details.
My top 3 – The Election (選戰), The Borderline (警界線), The Menu (導火新聞線)
I really can’t imagine HKTV not launching with The Election (選戰). With over 80,000 votes right now and leading the pack, it is extremely topical right now as the story revolves around Angelica Lee’s character entering the race to become Hong Kong’s Chief Executive. Just looking at the one minute teaser it touches on the topics Hong Kong is fighting for right now. Plus Liu Kai Chi plays her rival in the election race and Gregory Wong also has a role! Super exciting.
*Gregory Wong 王宗堯 is not really a famous actor (he usually films movies) but I remember him as Jack in the last ATV series I saw – Who’s the hero (勝者為王) which also starred Chilam Cheung, Ada Choi and Chapman To. Decent series and Gregory was kinda hot in it. Just saying…
One Minute Trailer
Ever since HKTV released the first episode of The Borderline aka Police Boundaries (警界線) on YouTube in June last year, I have been itching to see the rest! The first episode had excellent cinematography. It looks so good it’s like you’re watching a movie. The lead actor Lawrence Chou though… I have reservations about, but the rest of the cast includes Liu Kai Chi (hope I won’t get sick of him lol, but he is such a good actor) and Leila Tong (oh I do miss her!) so it’s still very watchable. Plus, the first episode ended in a huge cliffhanger. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!
One Minute Trailer
HKTV removed the first episode from their official YT channel, but of course someone else would’ve reuploaded it.
The third one on the list, The Menu (導火新聞線) is probably the one I know the least about but the subject matter – again very topical sparked my interest. Well, even though I fangirl rather regularly I can’t watch fluffy idol dramas all the time. The Menu focuses on three female reporters with different ideals (played by Noel Leung!!!! Catherine Chau and Kate Yeung) who work for a free newspaper. Everyday, they’re struggling with pressures from their editor – should they write exaggerated reports and ignore their ethical responsibility, or speak up for the minority and expose the injustice in society?
As I mentioned, the shrinking freedom of the press has been widely debated in Hong Kong so this is another series which will tackle a subject matter close to HKers right now. I can’t believe Noel Leung is back on TV after all these years. She was quite famous in the 90s especially for her elegance and beauty in ancient dramas. Catherine Chau is one of those actors who never ‘made it’ to lead status at TVB but always dependable as a supporting actor. I didn’t actually know her name before but definitely remember her face.
So that would the top 3 series I would love to see from HKTV but the other 13 series covers a wide range of topics. Maybe they’re not necessarily to my taste but viewers should definitely be able to find one they are interested in.
Other Upcoming HKTV series
Love in Time aka Still have time to love you (還來得及再愛你) – Danson Tang, Michelle Wai
Danson plays a vampire. It’s got Twilight written all over it.
Once Upon a Song (童話戀曲201314) – William So, Bernice Liu, Kelvin Kwan, Jason Chan
Technically it’s a musical. But the storyline revolves around young people trying to chase their dream in the music industry. (or something like that)
Doom + 5 (末日+5) – Sunny Chan, Phillip Keung, Gregory Wong
Five separate stories surrounding a government secret – the world is ending and everyone has 15 hours left to live.
Karma (驚異世紀) – Dominic Lam, Leila Tong, Lawrence Chou, Noel Leung
Eight separate stories which are apparently, very scary. I’m a scaredy cat so…
Paranormal Mind (開腦儆探) – Felix Wong, Sam Lee, Dominic Lam
Felix’s character develops the ability to read other people’s minds after his son’s death. Everyone else thinks he’s has psychological issues.
Beyond the Rainbow (歲月樓情) – Felix Wong, Ha Yu, Nina Paw, Leila Tong
A story which spans almost 30 years with a housing estate as the backdrop. Focusing on the struggles and determination of everyday people.
Hidden Faces (三面形醫) – Frankie Lam, John Chiang, Ai Wai, Kate Yeung
Examines current social values around beauty, through Frankie Lam’s character as a cosmetic surgeon. Apparently real surgical procedures will be shown. Hrm, there’re reality TV shows for that!
Night Shift (夜班) – Frankie Lam, Dominic Lam, Kathy Tong
Not really sure what genre this series is but it was filmed entirely at night with the story revolving around police officers working the night shift.
To be or not to be (來生不做香港人) – Maggie Cheung, Prudence Liew
Two sisters reuniting after many years, examines the relationship between Mainland China and Hong Kong in the last 30 years.
Incredible Mama (我阿媽係黑玫瑰) – Kara Hui, John Chiang, Sam Chan
‘Back rose’ is a classic character – a masked fighter for justice who has now retired to raise her family. If you remember the classic films then this one might interest you.
Sexpedia (大眾情性) – Jason Chan, Joman Chiang
A romantic comedy examining the complicated issue of sex based on real life cases. Since this topic has never really been done in HK, definitely a bold move.
The Wicked League (惡毒老人同盟) – John Chiang, Samuel Kwok, Yuan Wah
Billed as a black comedy, a group of old people joins together to seek revenge on those who discriminated against them and don’t respect the elderly.
Second Life (第二人生) – Wilfred Lau, Terence Yin, Joey Tang, Bondy Chiu
Middle aged men given a second chance in life. If they can change history, will their lives turn out for the better?
Not sure where this falls under
Class 4B (四年B班) – Sam Chan, Joman Chiang plus kids
See the world through the eyes of children?