Food For Life (Yummy Yummy)


Reviewed by: Bridget

August 10, 2006

Rating: two

No. of episodes: 30
Theme Song: Sung by Raymond Lam and Kevin Cheng

Cast:
Kevin Cheng Ka Wing as Chan Ka Lok (Gai Jai - 'chicken boy')
Raymond Lam Fung as Yau Hok Lai (Ngor Siu - 'master duck')
Charmaine Sheh Si Man as Chow Hei Man (Mandy)
Tavia Yeung Yee as Yan
Ben Yeo as Terry
Supporting Cast:
Michelle Chia as Yuko
Natalie Tong Si Wing as Chan Ka Bo (sister to Lok)
Kiki Sheung as Lok's mother
Hui Chiu Hung as Lok's father
Eileen Yeow Ying Ying as Lai's oldest sister
Shaun Chen as Ban Jeung

Basic Plot
Five young people with distinct personalities meet while competing in Yummy Yummy, a contest whose grand prize is ownership of a store. By working as a team in the contest and by ultimately sharing ownership of the store, the five become good friends. They face many challenges, but eventually learn that friendship can help them overcome them if they stick together.

Review

The biggest problem with this series lies with the writing. The actors are good, the premise of friendship-above-all is good, but there is no overarching storyline. Meaning there is no climax, no 'major problem', the plot basically consists of little problems that are resolved in 2-3 episodes, underdeveloped romantic pairings and even smaller subplots. I have no problem with subplots - they can sometimes be intriguing, even more so than the main storyline. But this series overuses them, so much that the 'story' basically becomes an incoherent grab bag of subplots with bad pacing. Here's a list.

1. Yummy Yummy - the contest itself takes up a whole third of the series. It could have been reduced to 3 or 4 episodes instead of the 10 while equally establishing the friendship. And how lame is it that the series ends with next year's competition?

2. Terry dealing with his overprotective, strict mom - boring scenes throughout the entire series. "Ok fine, I lost the contest, I'll go to university in Singapore now", then "No wait, I have to find Jane!", then "Ok fine, I can't find Jane and can't find a good job, I'll go to university now", then "No wait, they won a store and I can have a share!", then "Ok fine, my friends are all arguing, so I'll go to university in Singapore now", then "No wait, we all made up so it's back to Hong Kong I go!" I felt like there was an invisible line separating Singapore and Hong Kong and Terry was always jumping back and forth.

3. Gai Jai's birth mother re-appearing after abandoning him for 20+ years. Resolved in 3 episodes.

4. Gai Jai and Mandy's romance. Abruptly begun and resolved. Gai Jai suddenly likes Mandy after she helps him put eyedrops in his eye. The two kiss, get together, and have a yay-happy relationship for a good one episode until Mandy discovers that Yan likes him too. Oops! Break up for one episode, then they realize they actually love each other and get together in the next episode. This all happens in the last 4-5 episodes by the way.

5. Ngor Siu and Yuko's romance. Even more abruptly begun and resolved (they don't get together until episode 28!). We begin by watching Yuko idolize Ngor Siu at the very beginning of the series, then she disappears for a good 10 episodes while Ngor Siu begins to become infatuated with Mandy. Then in the third last episode, Ngor Siu watches Yuko cling onto the arms of 5+ guys and realizes he likes her, then they get together. Whoopee.

6. The sister relationship between Mandy and Yan. So unoriginal. They are sisters born from different mothers - their father was married to Mandy's mother but had an affair with Yan's mother, Mandy's mother dies, Mandy is pissed off at Yan and family, but eventually forgives them.

7. Ngor Siu learning to grow up and be independent. Granted, this subplot was one of the better ones because it is actually developed throughout most of the series. But it is also unoriginal, especially with Raymond Lam since he has played this character several times.

8. Gai Jai learning how to make noodles. Booooooooring. I get that the noodles are the foundation of their store, but those scenes were so boring and there were too many of them.

Evaluation of Cast and Characters

Raymond Lam / Ngor Siu
I've followed this guy's career since his debut in A Taste of Love and fell in love with him as an actor since his breakthrough performance in A Step Into the Past. He has played this character (juvenile, impulsive, confident) loads of times and can do it in his sleep. Solid performance. Nothing more to say.

Kevin Cheng / Gai Jai
Again, a similar character to the one he played in Hard Fate. Good guy, values friendship, uneducated but intelligent. Kevin is definitely playing against type here. In Split Second he was given a role that did justice to his good looks and professional, arrogant air but here in Yummy Yummy he plays an uneducated man who works at a chicken market. He gives an adequate performance but this actor is one of those good-looking-but-not-brilliant actors. As in, handsome and charismatic but delivers nothing earth-shattering or particularly compelling in terms of acting... and probably never will.

Charmaine Sheh / Mandy
What's with this series and repeating character types? Mandy is basically a reprise of Charmaine's character Kelly from Life Begins at Forty. Professional, confident, independent female. And like that series, in some scenes she is very pretty, in others she looks like a horse. Decent performance, she makes a nice-looking couple with Kevin Cheng and she has a nice wardrobe in this series as well. But it would have been more interesting if she and Tavia switched roles.

Tavia Yeung / Yan
She is endearing enough as the clumsy, good-hearted, slow-witted Yan but her crying scenes are just so painful to watch. She needs to learn to cry silently and subtly. Enough of this wailing! She does the same thing in The Academy and Golden Faith and it irritates the hell out of me. I make it a point now to fast-forward Tavia's crying scenes. In fact, she makes the Top 3 list of TVB's Ugliest Criers (the other two being Gigi Lai and Flora Chan). Tavia's a better actress than both Gigi and Flora, but crying is definitely something she needs to work on. Blech.

Ben Yeo / Terry
Not the best dramatic actor, some funny expressions and he is likeable enough, but definitely not a 'wow!' performance.

Michelle Chia / Yuko
From some angles she looks a bit like Cathy Tsui, and she acts like her too, meaning bad acting. Zero chemistry with Raymond Lam and she looks really old for some reason. It's not her skin or her hair. Just her features (and her wardrobe in this series) make her look old. She could pass for Raymond's aunt!

Things That Make You Go "Huh?"
- Did Yuko go out with all those guys on purpose to make Ngor Siu jealous? If she did, how did she know that Ngor Siu was going to Singapore and how did she have time to plan all that?
- What is the purpose of the contest? To eat the most food and then run to see who didn't have to barf? That's what it seemed like most of the time. At the beginning I thought it was a cooking competition. How wrong I was.

Through the Grapevine
Offscreen Raymond Lam is good friends with both Kevin Cheng and Tavia Yeung. In fact, he once said that the female co-star he works best with is Tavia Yeung.

To Watch or Not to Watch, That is the Question
I didn't have the heart to give this series a super-low rating because I like the cast in general, but the storyline is written so badly that I have to say that Yummy Yummy is only for die-hard fans of the cast.


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Food For Life (Yummy Yummy)