A Koala Bravely Finishes Channel X and Lives to Tell the Tale

I had the oddest drama viewing line-up this past weekend – on one hand I marathoned 8 episodes of President and finished that baby up (without a doubt the best drama so far in 2011), on the other hand I watched the final episode of the TW-drama Channel X (國民英雄) which aired this weekend, and with it ending 5 months of self-inflicted hell (without a doubt the worst drama so far in 2011).

I lay the blame for Channel X’s woes solely on the scriptwriter and PD, the former writing an elementary thriller script without any sense of tension and subtlety, and the latter filming said script with neon signs lighting the way of every plot development. The only reason I kept watching Channel X every week was because (1) that is how much I adore lead actor Joe Cheng, and (2) the drama was so unbelievably godawful, every week I would actually be curious how much worse it could get. I guess I can give props to the drama for taking risks, even if it ended in a giant face plant.

Channel X was so poorly executed and consequently so poorly received from the very beginning, the production actually shuttered filming for two whole weeks around episode 6 so that it could massively rewrite the entire second half of the drama. That move probably salvaged the sinking ship, because the latter half actually had a tiny beating heart of sanity. The pseudo-noirish elements were tossed and a reasonably palatable emotional story was ushed in. But ultimately all the damage was done and this drama was merely limping to shore, hoping to make it to the end before it collapse onto itself.

With that said, the beginning of the Channel X (the first 10 minutes or so) were wonderfully taut and dense with tension and mood, and hooked me before the rest of the first episode made me stare in disbelief at how dreadful it all turned out to be. I guess its fitting that the ending of the final episode left me happy again (the final 10 minutes or so), content that at least the drama managed to scrounge up an ending that slightly validated the 19 hours I spent with this sucker.

I was like a rider stuck on a runaway roller coaster, screaming that this thing was going to fly off the rails with my life flashing before my eyes, when in the end the ride pulls into the station and I stumble off saying my Hail Marys. The concept really wasn’t bad at all, but the scriptwriter couldn’t properly flesh out and present the story, and the PD’s heavy-handed directing made everything overwrought and ridiculous as opposed to anxious and suspenseful.

Joe plays An Zai Yong, a hot shot news anchor with a pretty starchy reputation for truth. He’s engaged to a loving enviromental activist fiancee, who ends up dead by the second episode. Initially he’s fingered for the murder, but with the unwilling assistance of Hong Xiao Lu, a paparazzi played by Amber Kuo, he manages to clear his name. But his investigation into her murder uncovers a greater conspiracy involving enviromental pollution, high stakes land development, and later, illegal weapons sales. All of that sounds like it could be exciting, except what was produced was about as exciting as trudging through mud on a rainy day.

The picture above and some below are from the wrap party last week (Channel X was a live-filmed drama), where it’s clear that the cast and crew appeared to have really bonded over the experience of working on this drama. The happiness in the wrap party pictures likely stem from a joy that the drama is over, and bittersweet feelings that everyone survived and emerged unscathed from this debacle. Joe and Amber have confirmed to news outlets that they really did become good friends after making this drama, and I totally squeed because they did have a lovely and understated chemistry together in this drama.

While Channel X may not be the worst drama I have ever watched, it certainly was dreadful enough that I’m sad it exists as a blemish on the resumes of Joe and Amber, both of whom are better than this, but whose performances sadly also stunk up the joint in this train wreck. Half the time Joe acted like he stumbled onto the set and didn’t know his cues, and Amber was alternatively underacting or overacting. In the end, I still adore both actors and can hardly blame them for a drama that was a big ole mess from the start. It was also my choice to keep watching, but now at least I know my fortitude when it comes to watching bad dramas for actors I love, which is pretty high indeed.

Channel X was a thriller that ended up having zero thrills, a melodrama that had more behind-the-scenes melo and drama than anything that occurred on screen, a love story that felt like it was tacked on via Elmer’s glue, and an execution that a teenager using a Super 8 could shoot better.

The only 100% successful part of the entire production was the theme song sung by Anthony Neely, a punk-rock esque ditty called “Happy Armageddon” (末日快乐) that promised Channel X would be as energetic and cacophonous as the tune, but sadly the drama never lived up to that expectation. Click here to watch the opening credits and listen to the song – both of which really are the best thing about this drama.

Okay, I kinda have to amend that – Channel X was the best I have ever seen Joe look in any production. He was so smokingly goodlooking sometimes I could overlook the ridiculousness happening onscreen if I just focused on his face. I did that a lot.

Until next time, Joe and Amber, you two stay cute and adorable for me, okay? And as a major spoiler so that no one needs to watch this thing just to get to the end – the opening scene which shockingly showed the death of Amber’s character was a feint, she was injured only and her supposed death was used to catch the mastermind behind all the conspiracies in this drama. She and Joe end up happily ever after, frolicking on the beach. So there you have it. With that, I put Channel X in my vault and throw away the keys. Anyone looking for a great thriller drama, I suggest watching Black & White instead.

[Credit: all pictures from SETTV]


A Koala Bravely Finishes Channel X and Lives to Tell the Tale — 17 Comments

    I adore Joe Cheng and Amber Guo individually and after hearing about the cast i was somewhat hopeful about it. Until i read the synopsis. Thank you for letting me know i was right for not even touching it.

    T-dramas have just been a hell of a disappointment lately. I enjoyed reading about Sunshine Happiness here than actually watching it, which i tried.
    I think the last T-drama i found somewhat compelling was Autumn’s Concerto.
    The Fierce Wife is honestly over-rated.

  2. Okay, I think we just had what I would call a “penguin connection.” Because earlier today, I randomly–I swear to God it was random–wondered about whether or not you finished Channel-X and if you had finished it, whether you would be publishing a post about it sometime soon. I found my answer less than two seconds upon entering your site. 🙂 Penguin connections are pretty awesome.

    Dang, your love for Joe really must know no bounds because I couldn’t sit past episode 1, in which I vaguely remember that I began to laugh within less than 5 minutes into it. I mean, I did try to watch bits and pieces of various episodes, but just couldn’t stick with it in the end. I felt pretty bad for Joe and Amber for choosing such a crummy show since I really like them too.

    You’re a total trooper for sticking to this series to the end and for writing this review up. And yayyyy for finishing Prez! If, and this is just a total if, you choose to write an overall review to follow up the first impressions post you wrote at Thundie’s, I know that I will most likely be the first to get my hands on that review. Definitely. After all, this is my ILU and his perfect wife we’re talking about in one of the best onscreen performances of the year.

  3. I tried twice watching Channel X, and I just couldn’t finish half of ep 1. So the second half is better…I prob won’t ever try. Rainie is coming up next week….YES!

  4. Congrats for finishing it. I have no idea how you did that, but hey, that just tells us how ginormous your crush on Joe actually is. *G* Thank you for sharing the ending because even though I was sure I’d never watch it, I was curious to know how it ended. Yay for happy endings (I’m a sucker for those).

    See, the thing is, I loved the premise of this drama. It sounded amazing and refreshing on paper, but your reaction to ep one was enough to make up my mind and skip it. It always catches me off guard when I see a drama and realize that though it had great actors, great characters, a good premise, it all can go downhill if the writing and directing are less than brilliant

  5. Did not the final scenes of Prez, where he’s watching the tape just rip you up as you and he mentally review just what lengths everyone went to, make you snorfly and tear up?????

    Still my best of the year so far. 😎

  6. Babe, thanks for taking one for the team.

    I may have the grumpies, not sure if this is the best haircut for Joe to my eyes… All I can say is he needs to be in sth decent SOON, I need my Joe dose and my love is wearing off sitting thro SummerxSummer, Love or Bread, the likes and this one I dare not touch unless u tell me it’s B&W excellent…and it’s not. *sad*

  7. After Summer x Summer, I realized no matter how I adore Joe Cheng, I will never ever commit to watching a drama blindly just because he’s in it, so I stayed away from CX until reviews were in. Glad I did, then, it sounds awful. I am impressed you slugged all the way through.

  8. oh wow! thank you for watching this till the end and lived to tell the tale!! gee. initially i wanted to watch this due to joe but read comments that the show’s a hot mess so decided to skip it. poor, poor joe! why does he keep picking flops of late? *shudders at another mess of a drama, Love or Bread*
    why, joe? WHY?!?!??! even though i adore you, but bad drama… no. *thinks back to good, old days of zhishu-xiangqin*

  9. I don`t understand what you guys see in Joe 🙁
    He was good as zhishu, but that`s about it. Even as that character, he appeared decent because he wasn`t having much screen time or lines for that matter. His other dramas are all flops, in ratings as in quality production, and his acting is painful to watch: often overacting or looking constipated. Not to mention that he`s disturbingly girlish sometimes.
    Sorry for his fans, but give me anytime Mark, Ethan or Vic.

    I wanted to see Channel X, the first trailers looked good. I just couldn`t get pass through the first episode like most of you, being bombarded with cheesy, OTT atmosphere, weak acting of the whole cast and most painfully slow pacing. The only things I loved were the opening theme and Amber`s cool character, but they weren`t enough incentives to stick it through this mess.

  10. Oh. I can’t agree with the negative review.
    I thought this was a very good drama, and I’m sorry you got no thrills out of it. I just found it totally involving from start to finish. I thought there was a nice chemistry between the two leads. I loved the way she looked at him when he would hold her hand. You could almost almost imagine her rolling over on all fours, so that he could tickle her tummy.The president was a terrific character. I thought when Dad is deciding whether to choose his daughter that it was going to cop out, but it didn’t.
    The hidden camera thing that reveals all,
    is a ciche now, and it wasn’t really needed because of the red book.
    Anyway, don’t worry about the prez. A guy as charming and mamilupitive as him will do okay in prison, and will get out before his time.

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