Hailed as a big production and the annual Mediacorp’s anniversary drama, “Little Nonya” was heavily publicized and had garnered rather much attention from people even before it started showing. However, the first episode was practically drowned by criticisms and is still drawing criticisms episode after episode. There were people commenting that the lead actress, Jeanette Aw’s acting was poor and that the storyline was lousy.
I thought the criticism on Jeanette Aw’s acting was a rather unfair comment to her and many of them did not even elaborate on why her acting was poor. To clarify first, I am not a Jeanette’s fan, but I thought her acting was acceptable and she actually improved a lot. I find her role as Juxiang a rather good interpretation of a deaf and mule girl.
The only part that I thought she was unnatural was that she gestured too much. It is like there are gestures/expressions for every sentence of thoughts. However, this is a very common flaw in local TV drama. I attended a short film course sometime ago. The lecturer pointed out local TV drama will act “extra” in order to make it easier for people to understand. For example, when an actor is exiting the scene through a door, he/she would say I am leaving, and then open the door and leaves. However, you will not see these “extra acts” in film (excluding Jack Neo’s flim) or real life. The actor/you and I would just open door and leaves. (I might not be able to explain in his exact words, but this is roughly what he meant.)
Then the complaint about her voice is really far-fetch and cruel. I do not remember her natural voice to be that low-keyed in her earlier drama. She obviously put in a lot of effort to suppress that kid-ish tone and had improved a lot on her intonation, but those people who criticize it did not manage to hear that and still criticize her like for the sake of criticising despite the effort. That, I find is personal attack already and it is very mean to put people down like that.
Anyway, Jeanette’s acting skills should be the least of concern now. Recently, I find it harder to follow up with the storyline as it is getting more and more confusing on the facts. Some parts were so absurd that it is beginning to spoil the big production. The problem should lie with either the Scriptwriter or the Director.
Poor Execution and Missing Punch
Yamamoto brought Juxiang out to the field to take photos. Halfway through the bicycle ride, Yamamoto stopped and asked Juxiang to wait for him. He disappeared for a while and Juxiang began to panic and went to look for him. He re-appeared into the scene with some wild flowers on hand for her.
I believe this scene set the tone for later on why Juxiang is so insistent and convinced that Yamamoto will return from the Japan, but the execution on the scene is poor. It barely leaves an impression and the hint of setting the tone is too subtle.
Yueniang’s Mama (Xiang Yun) just came back from hospital. They were having dinner in the living quarters when Pan Ling Ling walked in. She wanted to move Xiang Yun upstairs where they had prepared a room for her. Xiang Yun rejected and replied that she is more comfortable in the servant quarters. Pan Ling Ling went on to make some snide remarks on how their food belonged to Huang and she would have approved it if she had asked for permission first.
I think the punch line was not delievered. It makes me questioned if she had come in to point Xiang Yun that she was to stay at the servant quarters or she had come in to check on what they will be eating. In either case, she was not snide enough and the motive were confusing and unclear...
Loopholes: Explanation needed
- Yamamoto was killed in the forest. Why would the Japanese soldiers bother to carry Yamamoto’s body back to the headquarters?
- How did Yueniang manage to travel from Singapore to Malacca alone and during war-time? Not forgetting that she is only a kid...
- Her mama had trained her for some years to be a proper Nonya, but yesterday plot, Lin Mei Jiao revealed that she had only stayed in UK for 2 years…… So how come all the children grow up so fast? They were still kids when they boarded the steamship to UK… Suddenly, they all come back as adult and look old...
Besides the above examples, there are many more which I did not list down. So, what happened? Didn't they double-check the storyline before it was pushed out? It is not the first time that poor execution and loopholes in storyline had spoilt a drama.
A very good example would be "Golden Road" where the sloppy ending practically wiped off all the good review for the show. Story did not explain how Li Nan Xiang was able to claim Rou Gu Mei's body out of the mortuary (loophole) and Producer explained how the ending scene for Tay Peng Hui did not turn out as it should be. Tay was supposed to be killed by a robber when he refused to give up his wallet as there is photo of Felicia Chin inside. That scene was to show that some humanity in him and his love for Felicia Chin’s character. However, we only saw Tay robbed and killed by robber...
It is not easy to gain back some trust from viewers, but the company managed to do so. Before viewers really give up totally on local productions, maybe the company would like pull up their socks and showed us that they can still produced good show. A truly good show which we have nothing to fussy about. Something like they used to do in the past, good quality show which all of us would rush back home at specific time, just so that we can catch the next episode.
Would we experience that again?
Read my additional comments on Little Nonya at More on the drama "Little Nonya" and "Little Nonya 3 Minutes Extra Footage - The Final Nail..."