Why VR Man will outlive us all

SINGAPORE - He is one of Singapore's most respected writers.

Some of award-winning playwright Tan Tarn How's work was recently compiled in the book Six Plays, published last year. His latest play, Fear Of Writing, was staged last September.

The former Fulbright scholar is now a senior research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies.

Oh, by the way, he was also head writer of VR Man.

I point this out not to embarrass the guy, whom I count as a friend since we were colleagues at MediaCorp, where he also worked on the more fondly remembered Growing Up.

Not that Tarn How tries to keep his VR Man past a secret.

Nestled discreetly among his writing credits on his WordPress blog, VR Man is listed between 1998's The First Emperor's Last Days staged by TheatreWorks for the Singapore Arts Festival and the 1996 feature screenplay Miss Lily.

Chances are that you've never heard of The First Emperor's Last Days or Miss Lily, but that you wish you had never heard of VR Man.

Proof of the TV show's entrenchment in our national psyche can be found in the article in The Straits Times a week ago about Channel 5 losing viewers due to the lack of "good" content.

Criticising the local drama Point Of Entry (the second season ended two weeks ago), someone was quoted as saying: "It's so bad that it's funny, like VR Man."

Just like no discussion about Singlish can overlook Phua Chu Kang, it seems that no article about the badness of local shows on Channel 5 can be complete without naming VR Man.

I mean the show is 14 years old!

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