Sometimes we are watching a show and get to meet a really special person -- in this case, watching A Thousand Goodnights and meeting Nicholas Teo. Teo is a Malaysian Chinese actor and singer who works in Taiwan. He stars in the 2019 Taiwan series, and sang on the soundtrack. The show, despite its many strengths, is confused and confusing. Teo stands at its center, holding it together with his spirit. The character he is playing is able to take in advice on his own unhappy family situation, at the same time as he is able to ferret out the problems in other's lives and help them move on. His gentle persistence in supporting others is heartening. It is in his very special smile and careful gestures that he communicates his faith in relationship. He holds up values of love and independence. He is constantly fending off his mother's desires for his life. At one point, he says very firmly, "Will you stop using emotional blackmail?" He chips away at her impossible position, which liberates them both. In addition to the warmth of his acting, I love the song he sings, Holy Tree.
One critic said that the confusion of the show could best be understood by acknowledging that the show is really a Valentine to Taiwan. It uses the wonderful aerial photography of Chi Po-lin, whose 2013 film, Beyond Beauty: Taiwan from Above, won many awards. It addressed the environmental crisis of the world, as well as the beauty of Taiwan. The shots are so breathtaking and charming that I could not help but wish to visit Taiwan. At a fraught time in the history of the island, it is good to get to know the people and the place in contention.