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26 May 2003 | 04:04 pm
Chemistry flunks the test

26 May 2003

The results are in: Channel 5’s new series – Chemistry – doesn’t so much sizzle as fizzle. Will someone light a bunsen burner under it, please?

Channel 5
Thursdays, 8.30 pm

IF THERE is one thing more exciting than watching the debut episode of Channel 5’s new series, Chemistry, it is memorising the Periodic Table.
Judging by the episode last Thursday, the 13-parter is the television equivalent of helium, the most inert element in the table. Half an hour of it is enough to leave viewers bereft of life.
Chemistry is produced by Rushes Network, the production house of Hype Records to which the series’ leads, Lu Rui En and Howard Cheung, are signed on to.
The storyline revolves around a girl and a guy with clashing personalities who finally overcome their animosity and fall in love. Only the words in a Hallmark card can beat this for originality.
In the first episode, the male and female leads, played by newcomers Cheung and Rui En respectively, swopped souls and took over each others’ bodies.
It was very much like Prelude To A Kiss. But, presumably, the scriptwriter has not watched that film before. Or All Of Me. Or Freaky Friday. Or The Hot Chick.
Maybe because the debut episode was expository, setting the scene for what is to unfold in future episodes, there wasn’t much excitement going on.
Thursday’s show moved like a one-legged man with gout, though only to explode in its own face like a bad experiment that went horribly wrong.
The casting of singer and part-time model Rui En as Rachel, a headstrong radio DJ, is a huge mistake.
She is pretty, but no actress. Her acting lacks subtlety and has as much depth as a petri dish in a laboratory.
She carries a wide range of expressions. All, unfortunately, involve her playing cute and putting on a series of exasperated looks. We could be looking at the next Fiona Xie here.
Rui En is actually fine in small doses. In fact, her ‘acting’ is passable in Jay Chou’s Secret Signal MTV clip and in the SingTel HiCard advertisement in which she appears.
And, she’s a much better singer than actress, as those who have heard her self-titled debut Mandarin album would attest to.
Who knows, Chemistry, the musical might have worked better for her?
Thankfully, there are redeeming factors to the show. Each episode is only 30 minutes long. And the colours look rich and deep, like Money, one of MediaCorp’s better series, a few years back.
In fact, the colours are so brilliant that in the first episode, Rui En’s multi-coloured eye-shadow – though no fault of hers, poor girl – made her look like a talking parrot.
The best thing about the show is Hong Kong-based model Cheung. He doesn’t over act, and in an industry known for over-the-top acting, he bucks the trend.
He is also eye candy, which is a requirement in a series that is – like others before and many to follow – essentially a case of style over substance.
And if Cheung goes topless ever so often as Vincent Ng does in Heartlanders, he might well be guaranteed longevity in Singapore’s TV scene.
Chemistry is a wake up call that there should be a Geneva Convention for television, that gratuitous showing of pretty faces without acting talent should be banned.
Admittedly, Chemistry could do a U-turn and show an impressive next 12 episodes. Right now, it positively makes Light Years, the teen series on Channel 5, watchable.
But only after one has exhausted memorising the Periodic Table.

Source: The Straits Times

Categorised in Chemistry, The Straits Times.