Raves and regrets of If Only I Could

If Only We Could…

Channel 8 drama If Only I Could
Channel 8 drama If Only I Could
27 Jun 2016

Channel 8 drama If Only I Could

Photos: Channel 8

If Only I Could is more than just a regular drama series about family and kinship: it is a time-travelling story, loosely based on three characters going back to the past to change their unfortunate lives. It is thought-provoking, inspiring and belongs under a story genre that is lesser seen and explored in the local TV landscape.

Apart from engaging viewers with its complex characters and intriguing plot, it leaves everyone with an important after-thought: what would you do differently if given a second chance to rewind time and live life all over again? Would you commit the same mistakes and make the same decisions as you did once before, like the three leads in this drama series who wind up getting stuck in the vicious cycle of doom and are destined to fail - even when they are given a second shot at life?

The drama—admittedly—delivered a less than satisfying ending with its hasty conclusion, especially after making viewers endure the slow setup, before and after they time-travelled between 2016 and 2006 (more on that in the later slides). But we’ll give credit where is due: yes, it is refreshingly different in a good way, and that’s not the only thing we like about the drama. Read on for more.


If only we could have more dramas with such story-telling calibre
If only we could have more dramas with such story-telling calibre
27 Jun 2016

If only we could have more dramas with such story-telling calibre

If Only I Could is a drama series that imparts important ‘life lessons’ through the circumstances of its lead characters and encourages its viewers to think. Its approach is what sets it apart from the rest of the other time-travelling dramas that we’ve seen in recent years, especially with time-travelling becoming a trendy concept that is oft-repeated and used on TV lately.

Instead of having the characters grapple with their new lives in a different era (or in the future), the drama opts to back-pedal to the past—10 years ago— as a way of rewinding its characters’ lives. It also loosely explores the chaos theory’s butterfly effect and touches on the theme of free will versus determinism. Except in the case of If Only I Could, our characters’ lives don’t end on a happy note because they are, unfortunately, lacking in willpower and resolve when it comes to changing their destinies which ultimately results in a life that is far more dismal than their original fates. (Yes, we’re talking about Huo Xiwen making the same mistake of falling for Huang Degang’s ploys, time after time again.)

Lesson learned: Live in the moment (not the past or the future) and remember there are no quick fixes to life. And to sound a little “thought catalogue-ish”, determination is the key to success. Half-ass it and you’re back to square one - like our leads.

If only we could give Rui En an award for her convincing transformation as an aunty
If only we could give Rui En an award for her convincing transformation as an aunty
27 Jun 2016

If only we could give Rui En an award for her convincing transformation as an aunty

All the sacrifices and body-shaming taunts that Rui En had to endure for piling on six kilos—and debuting a chubbier figure—for this character finally paid off. Thankfully, the actress’ efforts did not go to waste as her chor lor (unrefined) mannerisms and frumpy unmaintained appearance added a layer of dimension and lifelikeness to her role as an aunty (a cute and relatable Singaporean aunty, in fact) in the drama. It’s a pity she only appears as an aunty in three out of 20 episodes of the drama, which belies the sacrifices she made for the role.

Weight sacrifices aside, Rui En injected life into Chen Zhenhao -- you could feel her desperation, frustrations, helplessness, and love for the people around her through the actress’ palpable (but not “over”) acting, which is the other reason why we think she is more than deserving of an acting nomination. We love how she carried forward (or is it backward?) certain aunty traits to the younger 2006 version of herself too. After all, she’s a 40-year-old trapped in the body of a 30-year-old. You can make her young again but you can’t take the aunty out of her.

If only we could give Hong Hui Fang a meatier role in the drama
If only we could give Hong Hui Fang a meatier role in the drama
27 Jun 2016

If only we could give Hong Hui Fang a meatier role in the drama

He Daxian’s mother (played by Hong Hui Fang) had a shorter run in this series than expected. Her absence, after her death in episode 12, could be sorely felt as she carries the responsibility of creating tension and being the other ‘villain’ in our protagonists’ lives which in short means making things difficult for Zhenhao and Daxian, opposing to their marriage and getting the family saddled with debts after she borrows money from the loan sharks to feed her gambling habits.

Alas, she had to die from a freak fall and made an early exit from the show, leaving Hayley Woo, who plays her daughter He Xiaoqi, to bear the brunt of playing family antagonist, which was a little painful to watch…

If only we could give the theme song an award
If only we could give the theme song an award
27 Jun 2016

If only we could give the theme song an award

Written by local composer Jim Lim and performed by Project SuperStar winner Alfred Sim, this soulful rendition of ‘Zui Mei Hao De Shi Guang’ helped set the mood and tone of the drama series. Its melancholic lyrics are absolutely befitting of the storyline as well, despite it being a simple song. Considering it has been almost 10 years since we last saw a non-blockbuster series theme song pick up an award at the Star Awards ceremony (in case you’re wondering, that drama is 2007’s Honour & Passion), we think this little gem deserves its moment in the spotlight too.

If only we could pair up Rui En and Andie Chen in another drama – again
If only we could pair up Rui En and Andie Chen in another drama – again
27 Jun 2016

If only we could pair up Rui En and Andie Chen in another drama – again

The last time Andie Chen and Rui En worked together, they played siblings and starred opposite Elvin Ng and Paige Chua in Code of Honour. Ironically, Rui En and Elvin played lovers then and Paige’s character carried a torch for Andie but the tables turned in If Only I Could, and boy are we glad the producers took a chance with this unlikely pairing.

While we were a tad skeptical as to how RuiAn’s chemistry would pan out, it turned out to be the least of our worries. It feels as if the two actors played off their chummy relationship in real life and hit it off as an ordinary middle-aged couple in the beginning. Their natural and likeable performances carried on in ‘2006’ and the onscreen couple gave viewers and fans plenty of cute couple moments, especially when Zhenhao was hot on the heels of Daxian, trying to convince him that they are meant to be together.

If only the Favourite Onscreen Couple award was still around, this pairing gets our vote.

If only we could reduce the number of intimate scenes Paige and Elvin in the drama
If only we could reduce the number of intimate scenes Paige and Elvin in the drama
27 Jun 2016

If only we could reduce the number of intimate scenes Paige and Elvin in the drama

Well, there are two camps for the bed scenes: one camp really enjoyed seeing Elvin (Degang) in the buff and getting it on with his co-star(s) on TV; and another camp (the one we belong to) thought that the intimate scenes are more awkward than anything else. It’s nice to have but not really necessary, especially since they didn’t set the bed on fire (read: no sparks). But that’s not to say the two actors didn’t have any chemistry between them entirely -- they did, but bed scenes aren’t their forte, perhaps. In fact we think Elvin had more chemistry with Tracy Lee (Liu Kaiqin) for the above-mentioned scenes. Just saying.

Props to Channel 8 for attempting more lovey-dovey scenes on TV, but maybe next time we can try it with another pairing with more sizzling chemistry?

If only we could get a better payoff from Xi Wen and De Gang’s outcome
If only we could get a better payoff from Xi Wen and De Gang’s outcome
27 Jun 2016

If only we could get a better payoff from Xi Wen and De Gang’s outcome

In case you missed it: we spent 20 episodes watching Xiwen and Degang plot and conspire against each other only to have the latter bleed to death after he hits a flowerpot during a tiff with his wife. That is definitely not the way we envisioned the show’s biggest villain to die, considering how he indirectly caused the death of Xiwen’s mother, usurped her family property and cheated on her in both their present and past lives.

Our heart goes out to the victimised Xiwen for losing her unborn child, failing to change her fate (and that of her parents), and falling for her cheating husband (then-boyfriend) Degang’s advances, again, despite knowing better. What’s worse is she actually stoops to his level and resorts to trickery to seek revenge. What happened to ‘stay classy’? 

If only we could tweak the abrupt non-ending
If only we could tweak the abrupt non-ending
27 Jun 2016

If only we could tweak the abrupt non-ending

If you are just like us and thought there’d be another scene or two to wrap up the ending of the time-travelling trio after the end credits roll, we know how underwhelmed and cheated you must be feeling right now. (Yes, we read your feedback on Facebook and we feel your pain and frustrations.) 

Despite its promising and thought-provoking story premise, the rushed and inconclusive ending, in which the writers tried to emphasise that there are no rewind buttons in life, ruined the drama for us. 

If only we could shake off this bad ending and pretend it never happened, too.

Watch past episodes of If Only I Could on Toggle.

Related:
Accident saga taught Rui En to appreciate loved ones more
Paige Chua: Don’t call me “goddess”
Rui En gets dolled down for ‘If Only I Could’
Tracy Lee to study early childhood education


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