Episode 2 of The Hush clearly perpetuates the perception that MediaCorp and mediocre are synonymous.
But first, “The Good” parts in the episode.
Unfortunately, there were only flashes of the good and these came from the talents – Tay Ping Hui (playing Thomas Teo) and Carmen Soo (as Valerie Teo, Thomas’ wife).
As Lee Thean-Jeen (executive producer/scriptwriter/director) mentioned in a recent Facebook post, this was a difficult part pulled off well by Carmen Soo.
Tay Ping Hui (Thomas) shone in all the scenes he appeared. About 16 minutes in, Thomas confronts a debtor, Eddie Toh. The scenes showed the human side of Thomas Teo – a nice twist to his “quick temper”. This is what a drama is about – catching the audience unaware while keeping the storyline consistent and character portrayal relevant.
Next, the “Could be Better”
The sequence of scenes is all over the place.
- Insp Koh questions Sharifah and family – followed by…
- Big argument among the condo residents – serves no real purpose other than, I suppose, to introduce Irene Ang’s character (Mdm Gan) – what time was this? Take note as this is important. Second, Mdm Gan asks, “You’re telling me the police cannot identify the body after three days? Huh?” Good question. The Singapore Police is yet to embrace finger print and DNA technology. To simply ignore police procedures so that one can stretch a telemovie into a 13-part TV series shows lack of story telling skills and more.
- Jeremy Kumar (Jitenram Kiran Bala) and his wife, Yen Leng (Esther Low) walk out. They discuss about moving out to Yen Leng’s mother’s place. “Expats love this area.” Okay, does that mean the expats will move in the same day or the next? But that’s exactly what happens later.
- Next, a scene with Valerie Teo and Thomas Teo – monologue by Valerie – noted in The Good above. Though the acting is great, the backstory for Valerie is quite thin – but as we have more serious issues, I’ll leave this be.
- There is one scene involving the police – where Insp Koh is rude to Sharifah’s son – “You, boy! Anything you want to tell us?” Yeah, right! For a man who does not suffer fools, he is adept at suffering himself. Moreover, I would have thought that Sharifah, the “prominent civil servant” would not have tolerated this nonsense – but again, this episode has more serious issues. This is followed by Sharifah and husband, Daud (played by Tony Eusoff) interviewed by people from a magazine. Incidentally, we had to endure some ridiculous dialogue. If you wish to portray rumours and gossip, chose a better vehicle rather than taking the easy way out and making the journalist look unprofessional. It would be in character for Mdm Gan to spew this gossip.
- The scene that follows – Insp Koh questions Thomas Teo, who is rushing off to work. Same morning – or perhaps afternoon. It does not matter – I’ll concede that it’s the same day. BTW, the smart guy, Insp Koh again puts his foot in his mouth when he questions Thomas Teo. “You ever beat anyone up when recovering a debt?” Wow! What answer was he expecting? Or, was it to gauge Thomas Teo’s reaction. When Thomas Teo responds, “You ever beat anyone up when you question them?” Insp Don’t Suffer Fools had no response other than to square off like some cheap street hoodlum. Having painted the character of Insp Koh into a one-dimensional straitjacket, he has no choice but to stick to character – and realism spirals down. Considering that the entire series hangs on the backdrop of an investigation into an “unnatural death”, the police characters are crucial and could have played a major role in holding the show together. It could be better with a rewrite of the Insp Koh character and his dialogue. But all the above pale in comparison to what is to follow below.
- Next, Jeremy tells his father, Nelson (Remesh Panicker) that he is moving out. This follows item 3 above. All these happen on the same day – don’t ask me what time of the day. Just consider the timelines here.
- Later, Thomas Teo drives to a HDB flat and confronts Eddie Toh, the debtor. Eddie Toh’s mother brushes off and damages Thomas’ hand phone. BTW, I thought this was the best scene in Episode 2.
- The journal – not newspaper – that carries the Sharifah interview (item 5) is published! Voila! Was this the next day or the following week(s)? All so confusing. Journal publications usually take weeks after an interview. Even the Strait Times articles I wrote, took about a week before publication.
- These scenes are followed by Adam Farid, the security guard (played by Awad Salim), lamenting to Hafiz how Insp Koh’s questions had been relentless. So, was this the next day or weeks later? It looks very much as if they jumped from one story thread to another with scant regard for timelines.
- It has to be a few weeks later, because the scenes that follow indicate so. Enter the local vamp, Selena, strategic consultant (played by Sarah Lian – see image below). It would have taken weeks if not months to secure a tenant – especially for The Hush which now has a “reputation.”
- Next, Thomas Teo comes home that evening – same evening, no less (as in item 8). See what I mean by timelines? BTW, considering he is a businessman and his cell phone was damaged – why wait until item 14 (below) to bring it to the shop? Oh yes, he was working late and the shops close at 10.30 pm. He was working very late.
- After this, we see the scene where Nelson informs his domestic help Luisa Reyes (played by Cassandra Jean Spykerman) that Jeremy and Yen Leng would not be coming for dinner because they have moved out! Say what? “Oh, so sorry, Luisa, I forgot to tell you. Jeremy and Yen Leng have moved out.” Right! When did that happen? You mean siren Selena moved in the same day? When Jeremy informed you about moving out (item 7 above) – Selena was already waiting at the gates?
- Finally, Thomas Teo turns up at the cell phone outlet to repair his hand phone – the same phone that Eddie Toh’s mother broke. Okay, even if we concede that Thomas went to the shop the next day because the night before, he was working very late…I believe there is something in the cell phone that might leak out but hey, get your acts together – or rather, your scenes lined up!
How and when did Jeremy and Yen Leng move out so fast – same day?
How and when did Selena manage to move in so fast – same day?
How was the journal published and distributed to the GP’s office so fast – same day or by the next day, latest?
It looks like not one person but several people – in fact, everyone who viewed the final cut – missed the utter lack of continuity and hence, messed up big time! Were there no checks by anyone – including the final approving authority in MediaCorp?
I’m so flabbergasted and even now wondering – is it me or the episode? Please tell me that it’s me – I must have got it all wrong.
This is a time warp drama! Yes, that’s what it must be.
Or, I must have missed the plot in its entirety. Otherwise, for years to come, Episode 2 will make for good discussion in all the film and TV schools – ala Masters of the Sea.
************ Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2016 ************