Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Mysteries of Love Rates Well, But Japan Cries Foul

TVB appears to have a new hit on its hands with the police drama The Mysteries of Love (谈情说案, pinyin: Tán qíng shuō àn). In its first week on air it had an average rating of 31 and peaked at 33. The last time a TVB series averaged 30 or above was A Watchdog's Tale which debuted in the last week of December 2009. The new series, however, has not been without controversy, with the Japanese claiming The Mysteries of Love plagiarises their country[s 2008 TV series, Galileo.

Like Galileo, which in turn was based on a well-known Japanese mystery novel, The Mysteries of Love pairs a coldly rational physics professor with an emotional policewoman who's a bit of a romantic at heart, to form an unlikely crime-fighting duo. And, as in the Japanese series, romance inevitably develops between the two. It wouldn't be the first time of course that a TVB series has been accused of copying other shows. Barely a new show is released these days without critics and netizens identifying similarities with other shows. In fact, another series currently airing on TVB, Sisters of Pearl, has also been sprung for its strong resemblance to a Japanese series - Matriarchial Family.

In the role of the physics professor, Raymond Lam (林峯, pinyin: Lín Fēng) returns to the small screen after more than a year's break. It's his first role since his award-winning 2008 series Moonlight Resonance. He is teamed with one of his Moonlight Resonance co-stars, Tavia Yeung (杨怡, pinyin: Yáng Yí), who seems to have the Midas touch when it comes to hit TV series. She has appeared in the most-watched programs from each of the past three years: last year's Beyond the Realm of Conscience, Moonlight Resonance in 2008 and its 2007 prequel Heart of Greed.

Perhaps to differentiate The Mysteries of Love from its Japanese version, the show's producers have added a subplot in which they give the policewoman's superintendent a love interest. Kenneth Ma (马国明, pinyin: Mǎ Guómíng) plays the superintendent, who also happens to be the best friend of Lam's professor character. Canadian-born actress-singer-model Bernice Liu (廖碧, pinyin: Liào Bì'ér) plays a journalist who captures the womanising superintendent's heart.

Liu got her entertainment career off to a start when she won Miss China International in 2001, leading to a TVB contract. In recent years she has been one of TVB's highest-earning stars. Ma was just recently seen in another successful TVB series, A Fistful of Stances, in which he earned praise from critics for his performance.

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