Serangoon Road up for Australian awards

Serangoon Road up for Australian awards
Period detective series Serangoon Road, set in 1960s Singapore, stars China-born Joan Chen (above) and Singapore actor Chin Han (left).

SINGAPORE - Serangoon Road has run its course on television but there are more original offerings to come from HBO Asia.

The period detective series, which was co-produced with Australian Broadcasting Corporation, was the outfit's first foray into original scripted drama.

Viewers here have mixed feelings towards it but the show, starring China-born Joan Chen and Singapore actor Chin Han, has been nominated for Best Drama Series at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, which will be announced next month.

The international cast included Australians Don Hany and Maeve Dermody as well as Singaporeans Pamelyn Chee and Alaric Tay. The series ended its run on Nov 24 and is currently on repeat on HBO until tomorrow. It returns for another run on HBO Signature from Jan 2.

HBO Asia is a cable TV broadcaster that airs major Hollywood movies as well as original programmes produced by American cable TV network HBO, known for its cutting-edge, award-winning content such as Game Of Thrones (2011-present) and Sex And The City (1998-2004).

The 10-part Serangoon Road is set in 1960s Singapore and follows the investigations of a private detective agency owned by a widow searching for answers to her husband's murder.

HBO Asia chief executive officer Jonathan Spink, 53, says response to the series has been broadly positive. He says: "Our cable partners are very pleased we are getting into the whole area of production and putting a local spin on things. And we've been very, very pleased with the viewership numbers."

He adds that ratings were "incredibly good" in markets such as Malaysia and Taiwan, although the company declined to give specific viewership numbers.

While fans of the show have praised the acting and authenticity, there were also viewers who took potshots at it.

Media planner Penelope Siraj, 37, decided to give the show a try because of the marquee HBO name. She gave up after two episodes, calling it "terrible" and adds: "It had terrible acting, played into the whole little Asian woman stereotype and it looked like it was going to continue in that direction."

Civil servant Alvin Wong, 43, says he could not even get past the trailer: "This seemed like a made for the West mini-series and the location of Singapore seemed like a romanticised after-thought."

He caught bits of the show when channel-surfing and adds that "even Mata Mata was more entertaining". Mata Mata was a Channel 5 period cop drama that was also shot on the same set as Serangoon Road in Batam.

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