Note: Contained spoilers of the ending
The 30 episode, hotly discussed TVB series [When Heaven Burns] finally concluded last Sunday (January 1st) with a two hour airing special. They achieved average rating of 30 points, a great 12 points leap with increase of 760,000 audiences. They finally broke the low rating spell for the last 6 weeks, bringing a good end for the series. The highest peak also increased 34 points, reaching 2.17 million audiences. The highest peak was recorded during the airing of Charmaine Sheh, Bowie Lam, Moses Chan and Kenny Wong's fate in the parallel universe ending.
The average rating for [When Heaven Burns] during its first week only reached 26 points. For A-list cast like Charmaine, Bowie, Moses, Kenny and producer Jonathan Chik, this result is considered very low. There were a lot of clashing opinion early in the series; complaints against the gruesome cannibalism, unable to understand the crossing between time and space, but there's also audience who supported the fresh theme. Reaching its middle period, Dr Dylan (portrayed by Joe Junior) quote in the series "This city is dying, you know?" was highly praised by netizens. The series won acclaims, but lost ratings and there were even rumors of TVB cancelling the series. Approaching its final week, the series was banned in Mainland China for allegedly containing sensitive political issue. It created a huge uproar in news media, but it didn't boost the ratings at all.
TVB Deputy Director of External Affairs, Tsang Sing Ming pointed out that [WHB] was outstanding for being able to achieve such results during the long holiday break. It was a rare occasion where TVB received a total of 120 calls and emails complimenting [WHB] for its production quality, citing it as a miraculous series with a soul. It matches the taste of younger audiences and reflected the inner voice of Hong Kong citizens. The series only received one complaint that the music was scary and the theme was immoral.
[WHB] ending was leaked prematurely online and outside world speculated that TVB intentionally want to lower the ratings for the series. Tsang Sing Ming explained: "The conspiracy theory is totally ridiculous. TVB will not attack its own ratings. Preliminary investigation revealed that there was some problem occurred at the US region dealership. The company will look into this matter seriously as it will more or less affect the ratings."
Regarding the rumors that Paul Wong failed to acquire the copyright to [WHB] themesongs for CD release, Tsang indicate that the copyright belongs to TVB, therefore Paul would have to discuss with Virginia Lok if he wished to release the song in CD.
Additional excerpts from Apple Daily:
[WHB] ending contained a lot of small details which received praises from audience. For example the scene where Hak Zai (Moses) explained to Emma (Maggie Shiu) why he only loved Yan (Charmaine), he indicates that during a typhoon signal no.8 evening where a lot of people were on the streets, he met Yan after following the crowd. In fact, the evening he is talking about is in 1989, where 40,000 people gathered on street in response to Tiananmen Square incident.
In the parallel universe ending, Gina who worked as a nurse experienced SARS incident and even got infected. Ronnie family was affected by economic crisis where they downgraded from living in mansion to cramped apartment, reflecting the experience of many Hong Kong middle class. Hak Zai, a Casanova in the series end up having his marriage proposal rejected by Oceana Chu.
Also, Jonathan Chik was rumoured to invite Paul Wong to cameo as mature Ka Ming in the parallel universe ending, but cancelled in the end due to schedule clashes.
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Sehseh: According to interview, Jonathan Chik did invite Paul to cameo as mature Ka Ming, but due to schedule clashes between Paul and Charmaine's, they have to cancel the plan in the end. It will indeed make the ending even more special if Paul had cameo as Ka Ming.
I hoped TVB and Paul will collaborate to release the official OST for [When Heaven Burns]. Apart from the wonderful themesong and subtheme, the BGM for the series are also top notch - it will be a shame if TVB refused to release the OST in order to avoid offending Mainland China.