Fun ride on local HBO drama Serangoon Road

Fun ride on local HBO drama Serangoon Road
Foreign and home-grown cast: Serangoon Road features China-born Joan Chen (left), Australian Don Hany (right) and local actors Chin Han, Xiang Yun and Tan Kheng Hua.

A sex scene between a private detective and a neglected wife opens HBO Asia's first original drama series, Serangoon Road.

For those hoping for another serving of the abundant sex and nude scenes featured in many HBO series, including Sex And The City (1998-2004), True Blood (2008-present) and Game Of Thrones (2011-present), there is good news and bad news. It is clear that the raunchy quotient has been toned down for this HBO Asia production. On the other hand, the sultry Singapore climate means that the hunky male lead - Australian actor Don Hany - is often shirtless when he is at home.

The sex factor aside, HBO is also the marquee name for quality, ground-breaking dramas. So naturally, expectations are high for HBO Asia's first foray into an original series. And it is one set in Singapore, no less.

Early signs are good.

The 10-parter is set in 1960s Singapore and follows the investigations of a private detective agency owned by Patricia Cheng (Joan Chen), who is searching for answers to her husband's murder.

She ropes in as investigator former Australian soldier Sam Callaghan (Hany), who is having an affair with a lonely expatriate wife, Mrs Claire Simpson (Maeve Dermody).

The multiracial cast also includes home-grown actors, from Los Angeles-based Chin Han as Kay Song, an ambitious secret society figure, to Alaric Tay as Callaghan's sidekick to Pamelyn Chee as a forward-thinking young woman who works at the agency.

Among the things a pilot episode has to do is give viewers an idea of who's who, what's where and, at the same time, tell a gripping, self-contained story that will make viewers want to follow the series.

In trying to juggle too many balls, Serangoon Road's opening salvo comes up a little short. It manages to introduce a good number of characters and also establishes a sense of time and place, but the initial story itself is not very strong.

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