I really wasn’t planning to write a review for this show, you guys.
I’d randomly picked this one up in the thick of my drama rut, and really got into it for a while. But then, this show stopped working for me in a whole lotta ways, and I then suffered quite a bit of viewer’s regret for dragging myself to the finish line, in (futile, futile) hopes that this one would pick back up.
Remorseful, I was going to file this one away in a corner of my brain, in the “bad decisions I’d rather not think about” pile, but then today, I realized that I really ought to at least warn you guys about this one, since we’re friends and all. Right?
STUFF I LIKED
Going in, I already knew that this show’s production values were on the low-rent side of things, so the (sometimes laughably) basic sets and repeated costumes didn’t bother me much at all. In fact, I found that there was quite a lot to enjoy in this show, and was happily marathoning it with a vengeance – at least for a while.
Here’re my favorite things about this show, while it worked for me:
1. Mo Lian Cheng (Xing Zhao Lin)
You guys know that when I find a male lead swoony, it can do a lot to lift my viewing experience, right? Well, in this case, I hafta say that while Xing Zhao Lin as Mo Lian Cheng took a while to grow on me, I was quite suitably smitten, once he did.
Not only was Mo Lian Cheng full of smarts and fighting skillz, he was also charismatic, regal, and pretty sexy to boot. I enjoyed his heady mix of mischievous smirk and broody intensity, particularly when he was honing in on his leading lady. Ahem.
2. Qu Tan Er / Xiao Tan (Liang Jie)
Liang Jie plays the dual roles of the quiet and submissive Qu Tan Er and the outspoken, impulsive Xiao Tan. While I feel that Liang Jie’s features lean a little too modern to properly blend into a period setting, and that took away somewhat, from the believability of her Tan Er character, I do feel that she did a solid job playing the dual roles overall.
At first, I found our modern heroine Xiao Tan a little too rough and brusque in manner and behavior for my taste, but I did appreciate her never-say-die, can’t-get-me-down disposition, and she grew on me after a while.
3. OTP movement & development
One of the crackiest things about the early stretch of this drama, is the interest that Mo Lian Cheng takes in his new wife. In a surprising turn for someone who finds himself saddled with a wife whom he didn’t choose, Mo Lian Cheng seems genuinely fascinated by Xiao Tan. As a result, we get lots of up-close-and-personal, OMG-I-can’t-breathe moments between our OTP, as he regularly swoops in without warning, to join her in her personal space.
So much heady, cracky goodness, y’all.
4. Jing Xin (Sun Yi Zhu)
Another bright spot for me, was Xiao Tan’s maid Jing Xin. Sun Yi Zhu is effortlessly expressive as Jing Xin. One minute, Jing Xin is bright and cheery, and the next, she’s chagrined and concerned, and Sun Yi Zhu manages the entire range of expression with aplomb. On top of that, she’s got pretty great comic timing too. I liked having her on my screen, a lot.
5. General pacing
Even though Show doesn’t really explain the workings of its fantasy setup, and I therefore couldn’t understand a whole bunch of stuff (including: how did Xiao Tan time travel to this place? How is this world related to her modern world? Why are there 2 weird hooded figures running around who seem to be from a completely different fantasy world?) the story seemed to trundle along at a pretty brisk pace.
I didn’t have time to get bored, and felt content to soak in the mounting OTP chemistry while I trusted that Show would reveal everything in good time.
WHEN THIS SHOW STOPPED WORKING FOR ME [SOME VAGUE SPOILERS]
At my peak, I was watching up to 4 episodes of this show a day – which was a Big Deal, considering that I was still in the midst of my drama rut.
The thing is, at about the halfway point of this show, I began to realize that I was still watching several episodes a day, but it just.. wasn’t as enjoyable anymore. I wasn’t clicking on the next episode because I was hungry for more cracky goodness; I was clicking on the next episode partly out of habit, and partly out of hope. I was hoping that Show would somehow regain its initial cracky flavor. Sadly, it never did.
Essentially, too much politicking and too much fantasy magicking got in the way. I mean, seriously, you guys. There was just So. Much. Going. On.
On the politicking front, we’ve got people scheming for the throne, with a good amount of tears, poison, stabbing, fighting and dying going on. Not to mention a very bitter Queen Mother with the crustiest lipstick in the history of Dongyue, pulling puppet strings to muck things up even more.
As if that isn’t bad enough, Show goes full-on fantasy on us, with a whole other-worldly dimension opening up. Baddies, bigger baddies, ugly black smoke, second lives, third eyes, tribes and silver wigs: that about sums up my impressions of that facet of things.
The characters that I cared about basically never stood a chance; they essentially drowned in the big narrative mess that Show created by trying to do too much at the same time.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
On the upside, our lead couple doesn’t die, and appears to be given a happy ending. On the not-so-upside, uh, very little stuff actually makes sense.
I’ll admit that I kinda zoned out at all the protracted “dramatic” fighting between the good guys and the Big Bad Guy Trapped In The Secret Place. But I did register that the good guys barely won the battle, and both Xiao Tan and the Revived Essence Of Mo Lian Cheng Who Now Remembers Her were injured in the process. And just when I thought everything was over, Xiao Tan is picked up by some kind of Reverse Gravitational Force and is sucked away into..
…the modern world, where she wakes up in that ancient bed that supposedly time-traveled her to Dongyue in the first place. And then, Modern Mo Lian Cheng, looking way less cool without his mane of glory, appears before her and they run into the light, holding hands.
Yes, it is as utterly ridiculous and as bemusing as it sounds. Sigh.
Which is why I felt I just had to come out and warn you guys about this one. Or, y’know, commiserate with you, if you’ve already had the misfortune of finishing this one yourself. (At least you’re not alone?)
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Cracky fun at first. Key words being, “at first.”
FINAL GRADE: C
I couldn’t find a proper teaser for this show, but the opening song does a pretty good job of giving a bit of a flavor for the show – for when it was good.