Humps and bumps on Serangoon Road

Humps and bumps on Serangoon Road
OLD SCHOOL: A scene from HBO drama Serangoon Road, starring Don Hany as private detective Sam Callaghan.

HBO meets pre-republic Singapore?

The mind races. Are we going to get the sex and violence of Game Of Thrones wrapped in singlets and cheongsams?

Nope. Serangoon Road - the first original drama series from HBO Asia - is pretty PG (despite being Rated 16). Well, there is one expletive in the first episode, thanks to Alaric Tay.

But after watching his acting, I was spitting profanities too.

Serangoon Road centres on a private detective, Sam Callaghan - great semi- Marlowe name there - played by Don Hany.

He's ex-military, the son of an Australian officer but has lived in Singapore his entire life. He even spent time in Changi prison.

He's got his demons (including a thing for opium). These manifest by giving him a perma-scowl. His expression is a mix of disgust and disappointment.

Very similar to a man who's just discovered that the cat used his shoes as a toilet.

But he's the classic gumshoe. Friends in low places, knows everyone's dirty secrets and keeps a few himself. Not least that he's sleeping with the wife of an Australian executive.

He also has - it has to be said - anachronistic hair. It's a very shaggy do for 1964.

But rather impressively, it's one of the few things out of place in this period drama.

Okay, one jeep's roll cage looks too modern. And was the term "lap dance" around back then? But okay, it's not like there's a hawker with an iPod.

They're not as jarring as some of the acting.

Joan Chen plays Callaghan's boss Patricia Cheng who, going off Chen's portrayal, is trying out a variety of accents.

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