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Series: Serangoon Road

Never take a case that involves the secret societies. (Cheng Detective Agency's informal motto)

Serangoon Road is a 10-episode TV series coproduced by HBO Asia and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It stars Don Hany and Joan Chen.

Set in Singapore in the mid-1960s, the show focuses on Sam Callaghan, an Australian expatriate with a shadowy past who joins a local detective agency. His investigations take place on a backdrop of political upheaval and racial tensions, as the island is on the verge of becoming an independent city-state.


Contains examples of:

  • California Doubling: Set in Singapore, filmed in Indonesia. This is because nowhere in Singapore looks like what it would have 50 years ago.
  • Determined Widow: Patricia, who decides to take over her late husband's detective agency and continue his work. She also sees this as a way of finding out who murdered him.
  • Doorstop Baby: Left on the doorstep of the Cheng Detective Agency.
    Su Ling: Who abandons a male baby? Mr. Callaghan, where were you nine months ago?
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Amahs: When instructed by his grandfather to execute his former amah, Kay Song instead arranges to have her sent out of harm's way.
  • Fake American: Australian actor Michael Dornan playing American Conrad.
  • Fortune Teller: Auntie.
  • The Gambling Addict: Kang.
  • Holiday in Cambodia: At the time, Singapore was not the squeaky-clean place it later morphed into, and the series depicts it as a more (stereo)typical Cold War-era Southeast Asian city, full of intrigue and wracked by political violence.
  • Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow: Conrad Harrison, a young CIA agent, gets romantically involved with Su Ling, a local ethnic Chinese.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed
  • Opium Den: Sam's favorite bar has a back room for smoking opium.
  • Qipao: Worn as a matter of course by several characters, including a male transvestite.
  • Shirtless Scene: Sam's well-muscled naked torso is a recurring sight.
  • The Sixties: The opening credits throw in explicit references to the international politics of the era, with footage of President Johnson and a young Queen Elizabeth. The Vietnam War is repeatedly brought up, as it is in the process of escalating, along with the American involvement in the region. And then there's Sam's VW Microbus...
  • The Triads and the Tongs: Kay Song is the grandson of the head of the Red Dragons, and he has definite ambitions about taking the family business in new directions.
  • Where's the Kaboom?: Happens to Kang as he and Sam try to force open a safe with dynamite.
  • World War II: Part of Sam's backstory- he spent part of his childhood in Changi prison during the Japanese occupation.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Clare and Sam are involved in a love affair behind her husband's back.
    • Patricia later discovers her husband had slept with another woman and fathered a child with her before he was murdered.
Pan AmThe SixtiesJulia Stiles
Sea PrincessesAustralian Television ShowsShaun Micallefs Mad As Hell

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