Virtues of Harmony
|Virtues of Harmony|
Virtues of Harmony official poster
|Genre||Costume drama sitcom|
|Created by||Tsui Yu-on|
|Written by||Chiu Ching-yung
|Opening theme||"Virtues of Harmony" (皆大歡喜) by Nancy Sit|
|Ending theme||"Sam Sze Yau Sui Chi" (心事有誰知) by Nancy Sit|
|Country of origin||Hong Kong|
|No. of episodes||327|
|Camera setup||Multi camera|
|Running time||22–25 minutes (per episode)
42–45 minutes (DVD)
|Original channel||TVB Jade|
|Picture format||480i (4:3 SDTV)|
|Original run||17 September 2001 – 28 December 2002|
|Followed by||Virtues of Harmony II (2003–2005)|
Virtues of Harmony (Traditional Chinese: 皆大歡喜) is a long-running sitcom from Hong Kong, lasting 322 episodes with two direct seasons. Produced by Tsui Yu On, the sitcom was a TVB production and aired five days a week from September 17, 2001 to December 28, 2002. The series chronicles the comical events and life of the Kam household, a rich family during a prosperous time in the Ming Dynasty of China. The series was inspired by the 2000 TVB comedy drama Colourful Life.
Originally planned to be an 150-episode sitcom, an extra 200 episodes were added due to the sitcom's rating success. After the episode finale, a spin-off sequel, Virtues of Harmony II was released in 2003, as well as a spin-off musical, which starred the same cast.
First story arc
The first story arc begins introducing the comedic ups and downs of life for the Kam household, a rich family living in the town of Chi Lik Kung Town. Yau Nim-chi is the leader of the Kam household and the mother of the 24 year-old Kam triplets. The Kam family owns a restaurant in town, famous for its noodles, which are notoriously cooked by Nim-chi's arrogant younger brother, Yau Nim-fu.
The bubbly Princess Sam-tin, the emperor's favorite and only child, is of age to marry, and the emperor decides to hold a contest for scholars around the capital city to compete for her hand in marriage. Nim-chi's oldest son Kam Nin, a young and intelligent fifth-ranking scholar-official working for the royal court, is forced to join the contest. Nin's future career would have remained stable if it wasn't for his frank tongue; in the contest, he writes a poem denouncing the princess for being too childish and oblivious to hardships of the common people. This angers the princess, and she demotes him to a lowly ninth-ranking official, sending him back to his hometown Chi Lik Kung Town to be the town's magistrate.
The emperor soon arranges Princess Sam-tin to marry the Persian prince after failing to find a suitor for her in the contest. Displeased, she and her eunuch Siu-yuen escapes the palace and ends up in Chi Lik Kung Town. In town, she is happy to see men working for her lily pond, but when she sees a very ugly statue of herself being built, she grows angry and smashes the statue into pieces, leading her to be tried in court, where she confronts Magistrate Nin. Nin, oblivious to the fact that she's the princess, asks her for her name. Hiding her identity, the princess invents the name "Kung Yan-so" on a whim. Upon hearing her name, Nim-chi takes the princess home, mistaking her to be the daughter of the Kam family's savior, who died to save Nin. Seeing that the Kam household is a good place for shelter, she and Siu-yuen decide to stay in the Kam household until it's safe for them to leave, simultaneously completing a chain of community labor in Nin's office as a punishment for destroying government property.
A year later, while shopping in town, a female con artist attempts to steal from Nim-chi. Nim-chi, well crafted in martial arts, stops the girl. Nim-chi sees that the girl bears a jade that belongs to the Kung family, and immediately questions the girl for her name, in which the girl replies Kung Yan-so. Shocked to see two Kung Yan-so's, Nim-chi goes home to test the Kung Yan-so residing in the Kam household, wanting to find out which girl is the real one. Nim-chi soon realizes that the Yan-so at home is a fraud, but tries to hide it from the others. Unfortunately, the household find out and pushes her out of the family, telling her that she is a fake and does not deserve to stay with the Kam's any longer. Princess Sam-tin, not wanting to reveal her true identity as the princess, tells them that her real name is Tin-sam, and promises the family that she will leave the Kam household forever. She thanks them for their hospitality and brings Siu-yuen away with her. Although she is not the true Yan-so, the princess has stayed with Nim-chi long enough to be regarded as family. Soft-hearted, Nim-chi gives the princess some money and food for her journey back home, telling her that although she has lied about her identity, she has never done anything wrong to harm the Kam family. Nim-chi then brings the real Yan-so home, only to find her much worse than the fake one. Soon, Yan-so, under influences of her boyfriend, steals all the Kam's family fortune, turning them homeless. Realizing what she has done, she attempts to retrieve the money back from her boyfriend, but gets fatally stabbed by him. Before she dies in Nim-chi's arm, she tells her that she's very sorry for what she has done. Princess Sam-tin helps the Kams retrieve their fortune, in which the Kams are very thankful of, bringing her back into the family.
A high-ranking eunuch, Eunuch Ling, comes to the Kam family and forcefully takes the princess back to the palace to marry the Persian Prince. Nin, who at that time has already fallen in love with the princess, decides to go to the capital to confront the princess to ask her if she truly loved him. Nim-chi secretly meets with the princess in the capital, hoping to convince her to elope with Nin, but Princess Sa-tin refuses to meet with Nin, lying to Nim-chi that she desires to be the Persian Queen. Devastated at what she said, Nin breaks into the palace, crying that he wants to meet the princess. Furious at Nin's breakthrough, the emperor orders the guards to behead Nin, which is stopped by the princess. Nin tells the emperor that he and the princess are in love, and questions the Persian Prince about the scrolls of Confucius and Mencius, saying that a wise man will not tear two lovers apart. The Persian Prince asks the Princess of the validity of Nin's statement, in which she says yes. The reason why she agreed to the marriage was because she wanted to keep the peace treaty between China and Persia. Nin cries that he would rather die if he cannot marry the Princess. The emperor then orders Nin to drink fatal poisonous wine, in which Nin does. In response, Princess Sam-tin cries that if he is to die, she will die with him, and also drinks the wine. Touched by the two lovers, the Persian Prince tells the emperor to cancel his marriage with the Princess. The emperor then tells Nin and Princess Sam-Tin that the liquid they drank was not poisonous liquid, but a test to see Nin's love for the princess. Overjoyed, Nin marries the Princess and brings his family to the palace to live with them.
Second Story Arc
The second story arc begins with the family adjusting to living in the royal palace, as well as to the social aspects of court life. Each of the male members of the family are given high-ranked jobs within the palace, and Nin and Princess Sam-tin marry. The female members of the family befriend a rough looking woman named Po Ling-kau who lives on the outskirts of the palace; it is later revealed that she was formerly one of the Emperors lowly concubines. After giving her a makeover, she once again catches the Emperor's attention, putting her into conflict with the current favored concubine Man, who schemes to become Empress. Nim-chi also catches the Emperor's attention, as she physically resembles the late and disgraced former Empress, who was executed for giving birth to 'demons'. The Emperor's sister, who is comically crazy, sets her sights on Yuet, disregarding the fact he already has two wives.
Consort Man and her buffoonish brother Man Kwok-kei eventually kidnap a pregnant Po Ling-kau, with the aid of their henchman, the eunuch Bo Lo-to. They make it appear as if Po Ling-kau has run away with a former lover (who is killed by them), and keep her hidden so Man can steal the child when it is born and make herself Empress. It is shown that she replaced the former Empress' newborn baby with a puppy, which was used as proof that the Empress was a demon, and was thus executed. The child was later abandoned in the wilderness, though it is revealed that he was taken in by a child-less couple (who never revealed his adoption): Ko Yee-hong is revealed to be the missing Prince. The former Empress is also still alive, being kept imprisoned by Man, though she is freed by her devoted eunuch Ling Ling-fat. In the end, Man and her brother are charged for their crimes, imprisoned in the same grotesque manner as they did the Empress, who is re-instated and is shown to not only be grateful to the Kam family, but also holds friendly relations with Po Ling-kau. Yat becomes Consort to Ko Yee-hong due to their marriage (becoming pregnant soon after), and the Princess no longer has to worry about succession as her newfound brother will eventually become Emperor, allowing her and Nin to live happily ever after.
- Nancy Sit portrays Yau Nim-chi (游念慈), the owner of Tung Mat Yuen. She is the adopted mother of the Kam triplets, having taken them as her own after witnessing both their parents die soon after they were born. Nim-chi is an extremely skilled martial artist. Before she settled down, she was a heroic outlaw known by the name Choi Fung-wong (賽鳳凰; meaning "the competitive fenghuang") and part of a mountain gang. At times, her unsavory past has come back to confront her.
- Frankie Lam portrays Kam Nin (金年), the eldest son of the triplets. Originally a fifth-rank scholar-official residing in the capital city, Nin is demoted to a ninth-rank official after he accidentally upsets Princess Sam-tin by denouncing her in a poem. Nin returns to his family in Chi Lik Kung Town and becomes the town's magistrate. After marrying the Princess, he becomes a high ranking court magistrate.
- Michael Tse portrays Kam Yuet (金月), the second son of the triplets. He is pampered by his mother, who pays special attention to him, after an incident in his childhood where she lost him. He was not found until a year later, having grown from a chubby boy to weak and sickly. He goes through with an arranged marriage with Lam Yuk-lo, though falls in love with Shek Mei and takes her as his second wife; he is shown to be constantly caught between their bickering, and is often unable to please them both with equal attention. He is a pharmacist, later being employed in the palace.
- Joyce Chen portrays Kam Yat (金日), the youngest and the daughter of the triplets. She is self-centered and bratty, often getting her way. However, she has issues with being neglected not only due to being the youngest, but also because her mother paid more attention to her sickly middle brother, and her academically gifted oldest brother. As such, she has a sometimes difficult relationship with her mother, knowing that she is given her way only because her mother doesn't have time to deal with her. She is controlling and shrill when dealing with her meek husband, though cherishes his devotion to her.
- Bondy Chiu portrays Lam Yuk-lo (林玉露), Yuet's official wife. She is from a proper family of equal standing with the Kams, and is vain and snooty. She is not pleased with her husband's second wife, often using her higher status to mock her. She demands more attention from her husband as she feels she is more important because she married him first, and bickers constantly with Shek Mei. After having children at the same time as her though, they become closer. She is shown to be close to her younger sister, treating her with kindness and acting as a mentor.
- Cutie Mui portrays Shek Mei (石美), Yuet's concubine, and later second wife. She is a kind country girl of humble origins, and is shown to be tomboyish, as well as very stubborn and tough. She adjusts herself to being with the more cultured Kams, but clashes constantly with Lam Yuk-lo. She gives birth to a son at the same time as Lam Yuk-lo.
- Louis Yuen portrays Yau Nim-fu (游念富), Nim-chi's younger brother. The creator of the Kam family noodles, he is shown to be always scheming to make more money, being selfish yet gullible. He is close with his sister though, being privy to her past and all her secrets. He later becomes a chef in the royal palace.
- Yvonne Lam portrays Wan Ying-kei (雲影姬), Nim-fu's wife. She is kind hearted, but is shown to be eccentric and very scatter brained. Her husband is often exasperated at her antics, constantly reprimanding her.
- Johnny Tang portrays Ko Yee-hong (高爾康), Yat's husband. Meek and timid, he won Yat's heart after he spent an entire night washing dishes in a restaurant in her place, as she had forgotten to bring money with her. He is dominated by her, often scrambling to make sure she is pleased. He is a scholar, later being employed in the palace library. He is revealed to be the Emperor's missing son, making him the Prince and heir to the throne.
- Bernice Liu portrays Princess Sam-tin (深田公主), the Emperor's only daughter. She and her eunuch, Siu-yuen, escape the palace to avoid marrying the Persian prince, and ends up in Chi Lik Kung Town, meeting Nin's family. Nim-chi mistakenly identifies her as the daughter of the family's saviour, and the Princess begins taking up the name Kung Yan-so (恭欣素) to cover her identity. She has no interest in politics, and often worries about the role being Empress in the future will bring.
- Hawick Lau portrays Yuen Sau (阮壽), the Princess' personal eunuch and best friend. Born Yuen King-dan (阮鯨單), he entered the palace at a younger age and is referred to Siu-yuen (小阮).
- Johnny Ngan portrays Shek Tai-chuen (石大川), Mei's father. He owns a butcher shop, and enjoys the status his daughter brings him. He and his wife often attempt to get as much as possible from the Kams, to their annoyance.
- Helen Ma portrays Chan Kiu (陳嬌), Tai-chuen's wife and the mother of Mei, Biu, and Tai. She is shown to be rather unattractive, though she acts very haughty. Like her husband, she leeches of the Kams.
- Timmy Hung portrays Shek Biu (石彪), a constable working under Nin, his best friend. He is Mei's younger brother. He is later employed at the palace as a guard, and eventually falls in love with Lam Yuk-lo's younger sister.
- Sherming Yiu portrays Shek Tai (石娣), Shek Mei's younger sister. Though she is more traditionally feminine than her sister, she shows great prowess in martial arts. She does like to seek adventure though, and after aiding him in various missions, she falls in love with the eunuch Yuen Sau.
- Lau Dan as The Emperor. Though he has a wandering eye for women, he adores and spoils his daughter the Princess. He is distressed by the choices she makes, as they affect him politically, though he eventually puts her happiness first. He is shown to be an ultimately benevolent and fair ruler.
- Kingdom Yuen as Princess Sa-sa, (Second story arc), the Emperor's younger sister. Portrayed as being mentally unhinged, most people disparagingly refer to her as 'crazy'. The Emperor often indulges her whims, however odd they may be.
- Stephanie Che as Consort Man (Second story arc), the Emperor's favorite concubine. She schemes to become Empress at all costs, though her inability conceive a child has laid back her plans. She is selfish and cruel, and is shown to be extremely manipulative, often hiding behind a veil of false kindness.
- Lee Kwok Lun as Man Kwok-Kei (Second story arc), Consort Man's older brother. He is a security official, though is shown to be buffoonish and incompetent, being unable to utilize martial arts at all. He is subservient to his sister, and relies on her for power and influence.
- Maggie Shiu as Consort Po Ling-kau (Second story arc), the Emperor's discarded but later favorite concubine. She is a kind but incredibly blunt woman, who at first clashed with the female members of the Kam family. However, when they help her win the attentions of the Emperor, she is shown being a devoted friend, not letting her elevated status interfere with their friendship. She is adventurous and a skilled martial artist, having lived her life before as a circus performer. Her former lover from her old days eventually tries to win her back, though she refuses as she gets pregnant with the Emperor's child.
- Lo Ho Hai as Ling Ling-fat, high-ranking eunuch. He is flamboyantly gay, and serves as Consort Man's attendant and agent, being dispatched to do her dirty work. He is a deadly fighter, and has fought Bo Lo-to and Nim-chi herself numerous times.
- Liu Kai Chi as Bo Lo-to, high-ranking eunuch. The personal attendant of the former Empress, he is shown to be noble and devoted to clearing her name, suspecting the true nature of Consort Man. He is a skilled martial artist, and has often physically clashed with his enemy Ling Ling-fat numerous times.