And I'm not talking about another horrid boo-boo like the best-forgotten medical series Ampang Medikal. More in the lines of the excellent though short-lived newsroom drama Frontpage.
And this time it's in Mandarin. With a healthy smattering of Cantonese, Hokkien, Tamil, Malay, Hakka and most every dialect you'd hear walking down the market streets of our cities. Even the Queen's English. About time we celebrated the colourful hodge-podge rojak patois that's spoken in everyday life.
你好吗! If you recall a much beloved staple of television three decades back with the natty Mr Brown and the rest of his multinational students in Mind Your Language, you'd appreciate the recently revamped version showing on NTV7 titled Mr Siao's Mandarin Class. Following a local company's aspirations of breaking into the burgeoning Chinese market, a teacher is hired to offer classes in Mandarin.
Mr Siao, an enthusiastic degree holder in Chinese Literature, takes to his new calling with aplomb only to find his motley crew of students far from enthusiastic. In fact the class is already split into two warring factions - based on group affiliation in the multi-level marketing company.
Don't worry about the language. My lamentable mandarin's quite as bad as the rest of his lackadaisical students unfortunately but I still managed to struggle through some of his conversations. Hilarious seriously. Keep imagining my erstwhile mother-in-law gabbing in Hakka like the eponymous Hakka speaker in the show - an angry ex-hawker turned marketing magnet. :)
As much as I loved it though, I felt a bit irked that the hyperfeminized Brit-accented fellow with his queenish gestures was played for cheap laughs though. Isn't homophobia so very 1990s? Surprised the resident crew didn't give them flak for that. Perhaps distracted by the shocking technicolour clothes ( honestly who's the wardrobe fella! ).
Bet you'd be thinking that I'd go ga-ga for the resident Hokkien-speaking hottie played by actor/model Steve Yap but you do know my predilection for fellas with ties and glasses?
So what the hell, if I had a Mandarin teacher who looked as good as Mr Siao - played by a deliciously hunky Auguste Kwan - I might have ben a more diligent pupil, paid more attention and learnt it better. Pity I never had him for my seriously dull POL ( People's Own Language ) classes in the past. I'd have been a model student for sure.
Mr Siao : 文章可以写得再好一些，保罗。( Could have done better on your essay, Paul. )
Paul : I'll do better, sir. Maybe I need private lessons.
Mr Siao : 额外补习? ( Private lessons? )
Paul : Did I say too much? Just spank me if I'm naughty. Or even better use that hard, hard cane on me.
Hell I'd have loved polishing his apple every morning :)
Don't take my word for it. Go watch it.
Just for avid listeners to pick up a lesson or two, the producers have also added a bonus bit at the end with a quick language tutorial. Love that!