From zero to hero
It takes one freak accident to change the life of copywriter Bob in horror-comedy series Crossings.
BOB Boroi sees dead people. But that’s nothing new in TV-land, really. A runof-the-mill copywriter in an advertising agency, Bob (played by Zakizamani Osman aka Zaki) meets with a freak accident and nearly dies.
In a horror-story cliché, he awakes distraught and bug-eyed frantic when he sees the soul of a dead man in his reflection.
Premised on the all-too-familiar zeroturns-hero protagonist, Ntv7’s Crossings is a little like Reaper meets Ghost Whisperer with a teeny dash of Ugly Betty office bitchery.
The 13-episode dark comedy chronicles the life of Bob as he learns to deal with his newfound ability, helping lost souls he encounters to find peace.
He later befriends tomboyish Katie (Dira Abu Zahar), a quasi-filmmaker who joins his agency. In an attempt to get rid of Bob’s “ghostly friend”, the duo stumbles upon Danny (Hansen Lee), a boyish geek who invents contraptions to detect the supernatural.
In their quest to help the spirits that Bob sees, the threesome gets into numerous comic situations.
While Zaki exudes some genuine charisma onscreen, the first-time actor really just looks perpetually blur with pie-sized eyes and a bewildered expression. Perhaps a blank, bimbo-inspired look is what he is aiming for in his role as the “lovable loser”.
Zaki’s character is rather likable but he could really use an acting lesson or two ... it takes more than just being pudgy and a few cleverly scripted fat jokes to be funny.
Dira and Lee as the formulaic Ron-andHermione type sidekicks to bumbling Bob don’t do much for the story either. Most glaringly, there is hardly any chemistry between the two.
Dira’s struggle with the English language, which she revealed at a recent press event, is also reflected in her acting – she appears to be lost for words half the time and when she does find them, her speech sounds choppy.
Plus, with her silky-hair and perfectly made-up face, she looks more like a wannabe rock-chick than the tomboy she supposedly plays. Still, Dira like her co-star Lee, is pretty to look at.
But with all due respect, Lee is simply too hunky to play a geeky social misfit! Who is he kidding with those bulging biceps and that honed physique? Someone that good looking would be a hit in any social scene or the cast of Gossip Girl. That being said, he can pass off as quite a charming goof-off in Crossings.
But it is Xavier Fong’s portrayal of Bob’s effeminate but nasty colleague Anthony that steals the show. Anthony takes pleasure in bullying Bob at work, and in his daily let’shurl-insults-at-Bob routine delivers some of the show’s funniest and wittiest lines with excellent comic timing.
Sporting an array of colourful outfits, homo-questionable Anthony spices up the series with the sexy Ruzana Ibrahim as his manipulative co-worker/BFF Brenda. They are somewhat the localised version of Ugly Betty’s dramatic duo Marc and Amanda.
They tend to overact at times, but they are definitely entertaining to watch. Ruzana is especially convincing as the bitchy office beauty who takes advantage of Bob because he has a crush on her. Though with a face and a body like that, any guy would have a crush on her too ... except for Anthony with the occasional pseudo-American accent when he answers phone calls lah, of course.
Nina Sharil Khan also makes a lean, mean screechy-machine as Bob’s hot-headed boss, Miss Merlin. Also watch out for the late Yalal Chin as Lee’s bogus bomoh father who talks with a funny Phua Chu Kang-ish twang.
Crossings fiddles with universal themes such as friendship, love and family, and boasts a set of different characters each week ranging from super-bad drug lords, transvestite stereotypes, and even the disabled.
It has a decent plotline and some truly fine comic moments but something seems lacking in its execution.
Its numerous attempts to get visceral with issues like the crumbling family unit and marginalised societies also fall flat in a case of too many frivolous jokes and frilly antics but no real substance to any of the episodes. Then again, it is a horror-comedy so maybe substance is not a prerequisite.
That aside, given the sad state of the local TV/film industry, Crossings is a commendable effort. n Crossings airs on Ntv7 every Friday at 8.30pm.
I see dead people: Zaki (right) plays Bob Boroi, seen here with colleagues Anthony and Brenda (Xavier Fong and Ruzana Ibrahim).