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Series / Serangoon Road

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"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. Despite good reviews and ratings, HBO Asia representatives have mentioned in press statements that the show will not have another season.

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:

  • 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 Mamas: 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.
  • 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.
  • Shirtless Scene: Sam's well-muscled naked torso is a recurring sight.
  • The '60s: 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...
  • Taking Up the Mantle: 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.
  • 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.
  • Tropical Island Adventure: The series is set in Singapore during the 1960s.
  • Where's the Kaboom?: Happens to Kang as he and Sam try to force open a safe with dynamite.