2016 local drama guide

What’s showing on Channel 8 and U in 2016

Clockwise from left: The Queen, If Only I Could..., The Truth Seekers, The Dream Job
Clockwise from left: The Queen, If Only I Could..., The Truth Seekers, The Dream Job
30 Dec 2015

Clockwise from left: The Queen, If Only I Could..., The Truth Seekers, The Dream Job

If we could sum up the slate of local dramas that aired in 2015 in one line, we’d say it all boiled down to the ultimate juggernaut called ‘The Dream Makers 2’ (ZZSF2), a highly-anticipated sequel that most TV fans and viewers were looking forward to. With the Channels fielding mostly family-orientated stories in 2015, only a few shows stood out for their refreshing concepts and themes, but that’s another story for another time.

Before the first drama of 2016 descends on us in two weeks’ time, after ZZSF2 ends its run, here’s an introductory guide to the lineup of dramas in the new year. Will it be another humdrum year for drama land? Read on to find out.

Photos: Channel 8, Toggle and Priscelia Chan via Instagram

House of Fortune debuts January 19, 9pm on Channel 8
House of Fortune debuts January 19, 9pm on Channel 8
30 Dec 2015

House of Fortune debuts January 19, 9pm on Channel 8

In a nutshell: Two squabbling siblings facing financial trouble try means and ways to cheat a distant ailing uncle of his riches to resolve their debts, but their scheming plans are foiled when said uncle wills his fortune to a charity. They say siblings are the enemies we can’t live without, so how will this brother-sister pair help each other tide through their personal crises?

Our resident drama critic says: Since Christmas and New Year are well over, that can only mean one thing: Lunar New Year is upon us – together with the usual Jackie Chan and Stephen Chow slapstick movies and Ch8’s de-facto feel-good New Year drama -- House of Fortune. We foresee a boisterous drama with plenty of bickering and petty family feuds and only hope that it will be as funny as that awful bombastic perm spotted on Bingyu’s character.

Cast: Thomas Ong, Tong Bingyu, Kym Ng, Yao Wenlong, Zhu Houren, Ya Hui, Shane Pow and Bonnie Loo

Episode count: 20

More information on the drama here, here, here and here.

Happy Goh Family debuts February 16, 8pm on Channel 8
Happy Goh Family debuts February 16, 8pm on Channel 8
30 Dec 2015

Happy Goh Family debuts February 16, 8pm on Channel 8

In a nutshell: A magazine deputy editor in his mid-40s finds his life back at square one when he gets a new—much younger and capable – superior at work and his aged parents move in to live with him and his wife after years of living in separate households. Apart from learning how to cope with the rising tensions in the office and at home, he also embarks on a self-improvement journey to enrich his life.

Our resident drama critic says: This is definitely set-up to be a feel-good and motivational story – especially for folks in their 40s and above who might be facing the same situation in their lives.

Cast: Chew Chor Meng, Eelyn Kok, Zhang Wei, Li Yinzhu, Chen Tianwen, Carrie Wong, You Yi and Alfred Sim

Episode count:

More information on the drama here and here.

The Queen debuts February 18, 10pm on Channel 8
The Queen debuts February 18, 10pm on Channel 8
30 Dec 2015

The Queen debuts February 18, 10pm on Channel 8

In a nutshell: Members from an exclusive invite-only ‘Revenge Queen’ club are regular white and blue collar workers by day, but by night, they put on black masquerade masks and fight crime – we mean avenge fellow womenfolk in trouble and help them stand up on their feet again.

Our resident drama critic says: This one’s for all the women out there - a drama about sisterhood and finding oneself after going through heartbreak and loss. Considering it is produced by WaWa Pictures, which has a good track record for producing short series with an espionage flair, we’re expecting an uplifting story with tons of kick-ass sequences (fingers crossed -- we’re hoping it’d be like The Heroic Trio starring Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung and Anita Mui). This is definitely on our to-watch list.

Cast: Jesseca Liu, Priscelia Chan, Vivian Lai, Jayley Woo, Apple Hong, Darren Lim and Xu Bin

Episode count: 20

More information on the drama here and here.

Photo: Xu Bin via Instagram

My First School is slated for broadcast in early 2016
My First School is slated for broadcast in early 2016
31 Dec 2015

My First School is slated for broadcast in early 2016

In a nutshell: The trials and tribulations of an early childhood graduate who decides to join the profession and become a preschool teacher after a chance encounter with a young child.

Our resident drama critic says: A story that may appeal to younger viewers who are at the crossroads of life when choosing between (dreams vs reality) higher education courses. We’re expecting lots of cute interactions between the young tots and teachers at school – especially from the bright, spirited female lead.

Cast: Julie Tan, Chen Liping, You Yi, Xiang Yun, Chew Chor Meng, Aloysius Pang, Zhang Yaodong, Bukoh Mary, Damien Teo, Sun Yi En and Zheng Kai Ze

Episode count: 8

Beyond Words debuts March 17, 9pm on Channel 8
Beyond Words debuts March 17, 9pm on Channel 8
30 Dec 2015

Beyond Words debuts March 17, 9pm on Channel 8

In a nutshell: A white collar worker’s plan to retire in his early 50s gets thwarted when a series of family problems crop up: his daughter-in-law gets in trouble with the law, he uses his savings to bail her out of trouble and his younger sister sacrifices her personal savings to tide the family through its financial woes. He has no choice but to return to the workforce and lands a job in the hotel business where he enjoys a career reboot. But things go awry when he ends up falling for his public relations officer colleague…

Our resident drama critic says: ‘Kinship’ is the theme of this Malaysia co-production series and for most stories that fall under this genre, there will be plenty of misunderstandings and obstacles before the leads get their happy ending. We’re just hoping the dynamics between the characters outshine its dramatics, seeing how the cast really bonded well together off-cameras in Malaysia, where they filmed.

Cast: Terence Cao, Pierre Png, Tong Bingyu, Paige Chua, Zhang Yaodong, Jayley Woo and Shane Pow

Episode count: 30 

Photos: Channel 8

Peace & Prosperity debuts April 4, 7.30pm on Channel 8
Peace & Prosperity debuts April 4, 7.30pm on Channel 8
30 Dec 2015

Peace & Prosperity debuts April 4, 7.30pm on Channel 8

In a nutshell: This long-form drama (like 118 and Life – Fear Not) is centered around the lives of the ‘Huang’ family who have been running a TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) clinic for three generations. The family-run business is on the search for its next successor as the young generation of Huangs are not interested in TCM and have yet to prove themselves capable of running the business.

Our resident drama critic says: For a family as massive as the Huangs - made up of one dad, two sons, two daughter-in-laws and seven grandchildren (six females and one only male – you can already imagine where this leads to), kinship is the primary focus of this drama with the theme of TCM as its supporting arm. Seeing how dramas under such ‘medical’ genre are not often attempted on local TV (the last was The Oath in 2011), Peace & Prosperity has the potential to appeal to savvy health-conscious viewers today – like us, if it lives up to its promise to deliver a healthy mix of everything (family stories, medical stories and health tips) without coming across as too preachy.

Cast: Zhang Wei, Xiang Yun, Desmond Tan, Belinda Lee, Tong Bingyu, Dawn Yeoh, Tracy Lee, Julie Tan, Michelle Wong, Marcus Chin, Lin Meijiao, Shane Pow, Terence Cao, Ben Yeo, Romeo Tan, Jeffrey Xu, Seraph Sun, Priscelia Chan, Jayley Woo, Ling Xiao, Yao Wenlong, Zhu Houren

Episode count: 170

More information on the drama here.

The Truth Seekers debuts April 28, 9pm on Channel 8
The Truth Seekers debuts April 28, 9pm on Channel 8
30 Dec 2015

The Truth Seekers debuts April 28, 9pm on Channel 8

In a nutshell: A bunch of ‘cold case’ private investigators look into unsolved cases from years ago and break new ground with the help of scientific and technological advancements. Over the course of their investigations, members of the crime-busting team fall in – and out – of love as they learn other hidden truths about themselves and their comrades.

Our resident drama critic says: We’re told that certain cases featured in this drama are real-life stories and we are expecting it to be like Unriddle – but without the dark emotional intensity and attachment to the police unit which, in our opinion, is a good thing because there’d be more story-telling freedom to get down, dirty and gritty with. This drama also marks Becks and Desmond’s first collaboration on screen as lovers after becoming BFFs-no more and we’re sure kaypoh (inquisitive) viewers will be watching to see how their chemistry pans out on TV.

Cast: Chen Hanwei, Rebecca Lim, Desmond Tan, Yuusuke Fukuchi, Lynn Poh and Hong Ling

Episode count: 23

More information on the drama here, here, here and here.

Photo: Channel 8

If Only I Could… debuts May 31, 9pm on Channel 8
If Only I Could… debuts May 31, 9pm on Channel 8
30 Dec 2015

If Only I Could… debuts May 31, 9pm on Channel 8

In a nutshell: Two 30-something women who suffer from equally unfortunate marital and familial lives decide to rewrite their fates by going back in time. In their new-old selves, they avoid making the same mistakes as they did previously, but unbeknownst to them, their attempts to change their lives kicked off a butterfly effect, unintentionally altering the fates and lives of their loved ones too.

Our resident drama critic says: While packaged like another run-o’-the-mill family story, the theme of this drama runs deep and brings to mind a proverbial question – if you could go back in time, what would you change? Thanks to its time-travelling element, If Only feels a little darker than usual which will be a much-needed – refreshing – change if done right – kind of like 2014’s Three Wishes, if you get what we mean.

Cast: Rui En, Andie Chen, Elvin Ng, Paige Chua, Hong Huifang and Hayley Woo

Episode count: 20

More information on the drama here, here, here and here.

Photos: Channel 8

The Dream Job debuts June 27, 9pm on Channel 8
The Dream Job debuts June 27, 9pm on Channel 8
30 Dec 2015

The Dream Job debuts June 27, 9pm on Channel 8

In a nutshell: A vast fortune and inheritance is at stake when a mysterious man offers three young candidates, who are eventually discovered to be his illegitimate children from the many affairs he had during his younger days, a dream job at his horticulture estate. Revenge and family politics are at play initially but the “siblings” overcome differences and band together when one of them gets falsely accused of committing murder.

Our resident drama critic says: It looks like our characters need more than just a green thumb to survive in this household of backstabbing liars and schemers. While we’re not big fans of makjang (think: birth secrets, revenge-driven plots) stories, we’re excited for the onscreen pairing of Shaun and Becks again – they both picked up acting awards at the Star Awards 2015 and wowed us with their likability in ZZSF1. PS: Someone please do us (and all the other viewers) a favour by putting together a relationship chart. This show sure needs one for its complicated and confusing parentage.

Cast: Wu Dai Rong, Shaun Chen, Jeanette Aw, Rebecca Lim, Zhang Zhen Huan, Ian Fang, Romeo Tan, Bonnie Loo, Pan Lingling, Aileen Tan, Sheila Sim, Hong Ling, Brandon Wong, Lawrence Wong, Bonnie Loo, Chen Tianwen

Episode count: 30

More information on the drama here, here and here.

Mercurial Men debuts August 9, 9pm on Channel 8
Mercurial Men debuts August 9, 9pm on Channel 8
30 Dec 2015

Mercurial Men debuts August 9, 9pm on Channel 8

In a nutshell: Three brothers with characteristics that trumpet the belief that men are from Mars are forced to understand the work discrimination that womenfolk face in their everyday jobs when they take on occupations that are perceived to be more feminine in nature i.e, a confinement manny, ballet teacher and lingerie designer.

Our resident drama critic says: Roles reversal! How exciting! We can already imagine all the shenanigans that can possibly happen to the lead characters in this drama. While such gender stereotype-focused content aren’t frequently done in the local TV scene, we’ve seen a fair bit of similarly-styled content to know what’s in store. We’re hoping it’d pack a punch with sharp and witty writing and avoid clichés that have already been overdone to death. Fingers crossed y’all.

Cast: Chen Hanwei, Pierre Png, Aloysius Pang, Cynthia Koh, Paige Chua, Julie Tan, You Yi and Jin Yin Ji

Episode count: 20

Update Feb 3: There is change in cast members from Xu Bin to Aloysius.

C.L.I.F. 4 is slated for a broadcast in the second half of 2016
C.L.I.F. 4 is slated for a broadcast in the second half of 2016
30 Dec 2015

C.L.I.F. 4 is slated for a broadcast in the second half of 2016

Although nothing’s really confirmed at this point in time, we heard through the grapevine that everyone’s favourite police drama series is making a return in end 2016. No one knows what the story plot revolves around or if a similar set of actors will be used for it, so we’ll take the chance to prophesise and share what we hope to see in this returning sequel. Story planners and writers, you may want to start taking notes.

What we hope to see: The drama has enjoyed a good run the past three seasons but we think it’s high time to call for a change – not in actors, but in its setting and storyline. Think along the lines of what was done with TVB serials like Heart of Greed (HoG) and Moonlight Resonance whereby the original actors of HoG returned to do a “spiritual sequel” with an entirely different story premise altogether. The recurring casting hit a sweet spot naturally, but its same-same-but-different approach in its story plot that made it an even bigger hit with viewers.

The same can be done for C.L.I.F. 4 too. Focus it on a different uniform group instead and have it set in the air force, a police training academy or an army boot camp instead – what we’re saying is there are endless possibilities here. This also gives the producer enough reason to resurrect fan favourite characters who at one point or another died in the three-part series. How’s that?

Photos: Channel 8

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