To Get Unstuck In Time
Time travel has always been a popular topic among fiction, and recently it has been successful in creating hits. The storyline has heavy influences from the American movie Frequency, perhaps some Butterfly Effect, and reminds me of the countless movies using this idea such as the Korean hits, Ditto and Il Mare. Here it freshens it up an overused concept by combining crime/detective stories with time travel. Despite the lack of style seen in other works of this genre, To Get Unstuck in Time has an amazing script carried out by a chemistry-packed cast. Even if you can’t make sense of some parts of the story, this series is a must see.
Ho Tin-kwong or Morning Sir (Roger Kwok) is a capable policeman, but takes everything too seriously and is hot-tempered. Although already in his 30s, he has never dated and spends whatever free time he has with his mother, who raised him up in a single parent household. Morning Sir’s father, also a policeman, died in infamy 20 years ago, of drug overdose and in the bed of a prostitute. This has left this to be a sensitive spot in both their lives. When his father was still living, they were a close-knit family and this shameful death came as a shock to both mother and son. Neither could comprehend exactly what kind of person was this man they loved–faithful husband and loving father–or scumbag.
Through a freak of nature, Morning Sir discovers that he can transcend time with his father’s old cell phone (first generation, water bottle-style) from the present year 2004 to talk to his father in the year 1984! Despite his father’s wrongs, Morning Sir is overjoyed at being able to communicate with someone so close he’d lost and the two hit it off. His father becomes Morning Sir’s “secret informant” and helps him with cases. His father is also able to “send” him things, such as clues and evidence by burying them under a designated spot, which Morning Sir is able to unearth in the present. At first Morning Sir distances from his father, only identifying himself as “future person,” but as they get to make up for lost time through talking and solving cases, Morning Sir gets to know him and discovers the mystery behind his father’s death.
Ko Shan (Flora Chan) is an eyewitness in the opening case and clashes with Morning Sir because of different personalities, creating a bad start. A car accident when Ko Shan was 7 years old left the bottom half of her body paralyzed, but she has lived a carefree and happy life. It was this accident which strengthened her parents’ rocky relationship during a crisis that would have separated her parents. Ko Shan is a crime/detective novelist. She strongly believes in her intuition and often uses this to make assumptions, which Morning Sir thinks is irrational. Although physically handicapped, her brilliance is equal to that of Morning Sir. Through coincidental involvement in more cases, Ko Shan and Morning Sir prove to be a compatible pair in working together to solve cases and become good friends.
He is changed by her optimism, kindness, and perseverance in life; and she also has fond feelings for him. But shortly after they become a couple–Ko Shan suffers under a sense of inadequacy. She is unable to go on normal dates with him, with many places being inaccessible to the handicapped. She faces mocking from others for being a cripple trying to dating a normal person. Although Ko Shan tries to overcome all of this, she feels that she has never felt so helpless until she started going out with him, and it’s nobody’s fault, but painfully decides she would feel more comfortable being just friends.
Morning Sir decides he would change destiny by telling his father to stop the vehicle which hit Ko Shan in 1984, thus prevent the accident from happening and make everything perfect in the future. As they spend their last date together as a couple watching the rainbow, Ko Shan falls asleep on his shoulder, and he smiles thinking that when she wakes up, their problem would be solved–she would be able to walk, and they would be able to be together. But when he wakes up again, Ko Shan is gone.
What has he done?! Morning Sir never imagined that changing one incident would cause a chain reaction to happen, i.e. different outcome for everything it impacted. The world as he knew it before changes altogether. Because Ko Shan never got hit while running away from home, her parents divorce, Ko Shan was kidnapped and never found. It turns out that she was brought up by triads, and now works within them. Ko Shan no longer seems to be the same person, going by Nicole. As Morning Sir and Nicole stand on opposing sides, they know that only one side can win.
For a series that’s in the crime/detective genre, Time, is surprising versatile. The cases are gripping and thoughtful. The strong father & son relationship is beautiful and touching. The interaction between the cast members is endearing and funny. Time leaves you unable not to have connected with the entire team and their different facts. The series play with the idea of the cause-and-effect, family, love, friendship and issues such as forgiveness, letting go & moving on in such a powerful way that it’s therapeutic. To indicate time warp, a cheap-looking insertion scene came on every time that got tiresome after a while, but other than that, this was an excellent series.
Ever since winning My Favorite Male Lead in TVB’s Anniversary Awards for Square Pegs, it seems as if Roger Kwok has been shadowed by his character in it, a retard. In Time, he surfaces and shows off his acting ability in an emotionally-charged character. Although Roger didn’t win me with Square Pegs, he sure did in Time along with Flora Chan. Ironically, Flora has won me over with her last TVB series. Even if they were technically the same person, Ko Shan basically played 2 different personalities, Ko Shan and Nicole. She was so excellent you could read her without her saying anything. But what surprised me was she finally took on a semi-villainous role and performed it well. I also have nothing but praise for the supporting cast minus Cherie Kong who played Lee Sze Ching. However she is new and I see potential.
The way the series end suggest the idea of leaving things to fate. You can’t put a finger on it, but probably the most satisfactory kind of ending I’ve seen in a very long time. The ideas are somewhat philosophical and I personally found pacifying, perhaps rooted in Buddhism, which makes me wonder whether there is a neo-Buddhist movement going on with it surfacing in other recent Hong Kong works.