2004 was the year where TV series such as Police & Thief, Singapore Idol and Man at Forty dominated local TV. It was also the year in which the first episode of Incredible Tales was broadcast. The TV series, hosted by former MTV VJ Utt and featuring re-enactments of mostly local tales of the supernatural, proved to be massively popular.
How popular? Well, it ran from 2004 to 2017, spanning 8 seasons and 104 episodes!
Now that Incredible Tales is on Netflix, you no longer need to stay up to catch an episode. If you’re wondering how this iconic Singaporean TV show holds up today, join us as we watch a few episodes of Incredible Tales each week and do a rundown.
This familiar tale opens up with national servicemen doing a 24km march in the rain. Everyone’s cold, miserable and wearing dark green ponchos. One recruit laments, “I wish I could have a hot cup of Milo right now.”
Little does he know that things are about to get a lot weirder that night.
See, one of his fellow recruits has only just joined the platoon, unbeknownst to the corporal leading them. The unfortunate latecomer is named Lim and he wasn’t able to get a medical exemption to skip the march despite being ill.
He gets progressively weaker as they march and eventually gets left behind. When the men finally tell the corporal that they have a missing man, it’s already too late. They won’t find him until the next day and by then he would be dead. With the contents of his pack and his stomach laid neatly beside him.
Regardless of whether they have served national service, many Singaporeans will have heard of this one. It’s ostensibly the story behind the third door in a bunk on Pulau Tekong, where recruits are sent to serve their Basic Military Training.
Incredible Tales notes that they were not able to get any eyewitness accounts.
Although, in my opinion, there’s no need for any verification since the ghostly aspects of the story is just dressing. The story of the Third Door warns us what could happen if we speak up too late, or if we happen to be the victim of unfortunate circumstances and uncaring or overzealous superiors.
Winning the lottery is a dream of many Singaporeans, including taxi driver Mr. Tan, who is rushing home for the Chinese New Year reunion dinner. Also on his mind is the 4D number he just bought, which are 4 digits of his license plate number.
So when a would-be passenger, a lady dressed in red beckons for him to stop, he carries on.
Mr. Tan is understandably spooked when the same lady in red reappears at the next bend and the one after that. Suddenly, there is a crash as she materializes right in front of his vehicle.
He flees the scene.
That night, the dinner is a bust because the details of the crash keep replaying in his mind. After the world’s most unconvincing scene depicting sleep of any kind, Mr. Tan gets up and calls the police.
The next scene shows the police and Mr. Tan at the scene of the “crime”.
A police officer explains to a confused Mr. Tan that the body of the woman they found died of multiple stab wounds. There are also no signs of damage to his taxi car. And the kicker is this; the lady died three days prior!
Adding to the chaos is the knowledge that the Tan family is now $100,000 dollars richer. He has just won the lottery! And it’s all thanks to his taxi license plate, which is now inextricably linked to the lady in red, owing to the “accident” of which there is no official record.
The next part of the episode I won’t spoil for you. All I will say is that it’s about a tussle between luck, temptation and guilt.
It’s funny how getting some luck out of an unlucky incident is still such a big part of Singaporean culture. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever seen anybody slow down at the scene of an accident to jot down the vehicle’s license plate number.
Although this episode was first broadcast in 2004, today in 2021 we’re still having the same arguments about whether this is acceptable behaviour.
This episode is loosely linked to the former because it also involves a taxi driver and the lottery.
A taxi driver who is somewhat down on his luck and living paycheck-to-paycheck to support his family picks up a familiar passenger. This guy seems to know a lot about his life and even asks if his wife still plays the guzheng. This startles the taxi driver so much he flees his own cab in a comic fashion, complete with dramatic glances back at the abandoned cab and wild, bulging eyes. All the scene is missing is the Benny Hill theme song.
His passenger soon comes to confront him and it’s revealed that it’s the spirit of his old friend, the same friend who financed his wedding ceremony, saw him get married. The same one who died two decades ago.
“Where were you when I died?” He confronts him. “I didn’t even have a proper funeral!”
Our taxi driver friend apologises and pleads with him for forgiveness. The response? A request for a priest so he can rest in peace, a magic 4D number and then poof! He’s gone.
The rest of the episode is par for the cause. The taxi driver listens to the lottery report from a portable transistor radio while drinking teh with his buddy at a kopitiam.
He wins, of course, thanks to his friend’s magic number. He hires a priest so his old friend can move on and drives away in a brand new blue Mercedes.
The episode works because we’re all afraid of being forgotten, which is exactly what happened to the taxi driver’s friend who died alone overseas. We’re afraid that our friends will not or are unable to be there when the going gets rough.
We also want to believe that loyalty will have its rewards.
You can watch Best Of Incredible Tales on Netflix. Each episode hovers around 20 minutes and there are 26 in total.
Don’t have Netflix? You also watch Incredible Tales on MeWatch online, although the video quality is not quite as crisp.
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