Flash Review: Moonshine And Valentine [The Love Knot: His Excellency’s First Love] [China]

Remember about 2 months ago when I wrote about my misadventures with Chinese drama Across The Ocean To See You? I sat through all 44 episodes of that show, against my better judgment, and lived to regret it.

This.. is kinda another one of those times, my friends. Sigh. I watched all of Moonshine And Valentine, and now with 20/20 hindsight, I’m sorry to say that I don’t think it was a good decision after all. I mostly didn’t have a good time with this one either, unfortunately.

On the upside, this one was 25 episodes instead of 44..? 😛


Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to it while you read the review.


Helan Jingting (Johnny Huang), who is an alien fox prince who’s lived for hundreds of years, is searching for his reincarnated human first love, whom he believes to be rookie entertainment reporter Guan Pipi (Victoria Song). Helan has his work cut out for him though: not only does Helan need to win over a skeptical Pipi, he’s also racing against time to reverse a curse on his beloved. Will Helan be able to win the heart of his beloved, and save her?


As you’ve probably guessed by now, there were quite a few things that I didn’t love, in this show. In the interest of not being too much of a downer, let me attempt to be relatively concise in listing it all out for you guys.

1. The acting’s not great

This one was one of the biggest issues for me, with this show. I didn’t think anyone on the cast was a particularly strong actor, our leads included, and this was problematic, to me. Victoria Song did better between the two leads, with Johnny Huang showing very little range or depth of emotion. I tried to rationalize Helan’s lack of expressiveness (he’s hundreds of years old, he’s an alien, he feels things differently), but that didn’t really help. No matter which way I sliced it, Helan just was not showing a range or depth of emotion that was suited to his situation, and that made him pretty unconvincing, to my eyes.

[VAGUE SPOILER] For example, in the earlier episodes, when Helan was doing all kinds of things to win over Pipi, I couldn’t feel like Helan actually liked Pipi. It felt more like he was almost robotically going about re-establishing his relationship with her. This, despite Show telling us that this is the first time that she hasn’t liked him at first sight, which means that this is the first time that he’s had to work much at all, to re-establish their relationship. Just for that alone, I would expect to see more emotion on his face and in his gaze. But, mostly nothing. His expressions are quite flat. Beyond that, if he’s supposed to have loved her for hundreds of years, and is now faced with the prospect of her possibly not loving him anymore, his expression ought to be a lot more complicated than what we see. [END SPOILER]

I was willing to give Johnny Huang the benefit of the doubt, like, maybe his expression would deepen as things got more involved and more complex, but y’know, I watched the whole of this show, and that also added up to mostly nothing.

To compound the problem, this made the OTP interactions far from engaging, to me. The writing around the growing of the OTP connection is at fault too, but the lack of chemistry between our leads, and the less-than-desirable acting prowess, particularly on the part of Johnny Huang, made it hard to buy into the OTP’s love for each other. To be brutally honest, I mostly felt like I was watching two people play-acting on my screen, instead of actually being in love, on my screen.

As a silver lining, the male actors in this show are mostly good-looking and rather buff, and Show isn’t afraid to capitalize on its strengths. This shirtless workout scene was helpfully served up in episode 2:

2. The writing’s not great

I read that there was a last minute switch in the lead actress for this show, which resulted in the production scrambling to re-film scenes on a very tight schedule, and which also resulted in some massive re-writes to increase the screen time of the secondary characters and therefore alleviate the pressure on the need to film so many scenes involving Pipi’s character. Which already tells you that the writing in this show isn’t going to be great.

We get fillers galore on a regular basis, and often that filler would feel obviously shoved in there for no other reason except to take up screen time. As a silver lining, some of the filler was halfway endearing, like the little love triangle between Xiaoju (Liu Yongxi) and Helan’s two fox boys, Kuanyong (Leo Li) and Xiuxian (Li Shen). I say halfway endearing, because while I liked the concept of this little love triangle, I didn’t feel like Show fleshed it out in a way that was believable.

At other times, the filler leaned way more annoying. [SPOILER] Like every time the focus shifted to Pipi’s (ex-?)boyfriend Jialin (a very, very wooden Xu Kai Cheng), and his attraction to / relationship with Pipi’s so-called best friend Tianxin (Xu Fang Yi), I wanted to throttle the writer. [END SPOILER]

3. The funny isn’t all that funny

There were occasions when I found Show rather amusing, but to be honest, most of Show’s Intended Funny didn’t work for me. So for every instance that Show managed to tickle my funny bone, there were easily several instances of Intended Funny that fell flat, for me.


Something that amused me was the whole concept in episode 12 where the high priest had to mate before everyone else could mate. I found the idea of everyone having virtual access to Helan’s sexytimes status quite funny, and I legit giggled at my screen.

On the downside, here are a couple of instances where Show’s brand of funny just didn’t land well for me:

E5. The whole dinner conversation between Pipi and Helan is played for comedy, with him giving her wild-sounding answers to her questions, while wearing a deadpan expression. The scene is backed by sound effects that indicate that I ought to find this scene funny. I didn’t find it funny at all, unfortunately.

E7. The arc where Helan gets a makeover from Xiuxian is obviously filler, and unfortunately, while the tone is meant to be comedic, I didn’t find this very funny either.

E13. I found all the 4S stuff.. kind of meh. And quite childish, to be honest.


4. Logic lapses and other inconsistencies

Sometimes Show isn’t super strong on the logic and consistencies fronts, which didn’t really help. Here are a quick handful of examples, just for the record.



E13. If Helan is so powerful that he can wave his hand and people fly into the air, like we see in earlier episodes, why can’t he blast open the door when he’s worried about Pipi coz she’s passed out?

E18. At one point, Helan says to Qianhua that the person he is saving is Pipi, not Huiyan. Which is confusing, and also, inconsistent, because on the one hand, Show is saying Huiyan is Pipi and Pipi is Huiyan, and on the other hand, Show is also saying that Pipi isn’t Huiyan. What gives?

E22. The continuity in this show is problematic. When Jialin is healed by Helan, Xiuxian and Kuanyong clearly say they’ll take him home because all he needs is more rest, and he’ll be fine. And yet, he’s actually taken to hospital.

Logic problems

E21. Helan’s transition from shivering-like-he’s-on-the-brink-of-death, to kissing Pipi, is completely unbelievable, and also, very awkward. How am I supposed to believe that he’s so exhausted that he’s barely holding it together, and yet suddenly – and quite magically – he has the strength for sexytimes?

E21. The script is problematic. The turnaround from stubborn noble idiocy to open communication between Pipi and Helan is sudden and very unconvincing.


5. Show’s internal mythology is kept mysterious for too long

Given Show’s fantasy premise, from the beginning, we get many scenes involving the fox clan, and fragments of information regarding the truth behind Pipi’s curse. While that is all fine and good, I feel like Show took too long to allow these fragments to come together in a cohesive way. It was only at episode 15, out of Show’s 25 episodes, that I finally had a grasp of how everything tied together, and how Qianhua’s mission fit in the overall scheme of things. That’s a pretty long time to keep your audience guessing about something so central to the logic of the narrative, I feel, and I would have liked to have had a little more information, earlier.

BONUS: The time Show made me mad [BIGGISH SPOILER]

In episode 17, Zhao Song (Jiang Qi Lin), who’s nursed a crush on Qianhua (Zhang Bai Jia) for literal centuries, rapes her in a fit of rage. Show makes it very clear that Qianhua is crushed by the event. The fact that Qianhua gets raped is bad enough, but Show makes little effort to acknowledge the violation, except for a scene of a tearful and disheveled Qianhua, post-assault.

What makes it all worse is that Qianhua seeks no redress for the violation, and save for treating Zhao Song coldly and stiffly as she says goodbye to him, we don’t see a great deal else. The worst thing of all, is that Zhao Song never admits that he did anything wrong, and even proceeds to do all kinds of terrible things to subsequently harm her and Helan. There’s even a scene where he remarks flippantly that he’s no longer attracted to her.

ALL of this made me SO flippin’ mad, seriously. I mean, yes, MUCH later, we see that Zhao Song still has feelings for Qianhua, but this whole thing was SO NOT COOL. Urgh.


By now, you must be wondering why I watched this show to the very end, given how problematic I found it, right? I asked myself the same question, ha. Here’s what kept me hanging on, in spite of myself.

1. The premise itself

Even though I found myself not all that interested in the development of the OTP, I found that the mysterious bits of the drama worked quite well, to keep me watching. All the fragments of information about the fox clan intrigued me, and I wondered how everything fit together.

2. The flashbacks to our young leads

Show opens most of its episodes with flashbacks, and many of those flashbacks are of the past timeline of when Helan and Pipi first met, when Helan was a youth and Pipi was Huiyan. I found myself very drawn to the scenes from this timeline. Both of the young actors who play young Helan and young Huiyan (Victor Liu and He Haha) are very good, and I found them consistently expressive, engaging and believable. They made the young love in that timeline feel wistful and pure, and I always found myself wanting to see more, from this timeline.

3. Some moments shone brighter than others

Despite Show’s downsides and missteps, there were definitely some moments that worked better than others. These better moments were like little highlights, for me.


Here are a few of those highlights:

E7. That scene where Xiaoju, Kuanyong and Xiuxian stepped up and put the user boy and his girlfriend in their places was very satisfying.

E8. The little bromantic arc between Xiuxian and Kuanyong is sweet. I mean, to lie about being vegetarian, just to protect your friend, and then keep it up for the next several hundred years, is so quietly loving and loyal.

E8. I rather like the voiceovers that we get regularly from Pipi. It lends a thoughtful touch to the show, and also ties the episode together in a thematic way. This episode, it’s about how we start to avoid people without realizing it, when we think that we’re about to get hurt, or are about to hurt others.


4. I was sick and wanted some mindless fluff

While I was in the earlier stretch of my watch, I fell sick, and found that this show was easy to consume in large servings. Despite its multitude of flaws, this was easy to slurp up, and that’s how I found myself suddenly in Show’s later episodes.

5. I just wanted to know what happened

By the time I reached Show’s later episodes, it was a lot less fun to watch, and I found that I no longer had the stomach for more than one episode a day. But, because I was curious to see how Show would resolve everything at the end, I kept on going, even when the going got a lot less fun.


Essentially, Show’s second half was messy and it felt all over the place. Our leads got less and less screen time, and we got more and more filler with secondary characters. The episodes started to feel distinctly draggy, and I found myself quickly becoming bored and disengaged.

Additionally, episode 24 felt strangely shoved in, even though the backstory was rather endearing. Basically, we spend all of episode 24 in a sudden deep flashback, where we see how Helan had gone to great lengths to prepare for Pipi’s birth.

Even though I rather like the idea of this backstory deepening our understanding of the current-day relationships, the placing of the episode in the overall scheme of things, does feel like Show is stalling for time. Like, here, watch this, while we figure out what to do with the finale. It just felt weird.


The central conflict that Show sets up is a conundrum that is very hard to solve. I feel like this is what dramas often end up doing; they draw in audiences by creating central conflicts that are compellingly hard to solve, but which audiences desperately want solved, and that’s how they get audiences to stay with the show until the end. And that’s when they throw an underwhelming ending at you, almost like they’re shrugging and saying, “What? You think I could’ve solved THAT?!?”

Given that I knew going in, that this ending was something that the writer came out and apologized for, I’d say that this was not a great ending, but it was also not as terrible as I feared. Bear in mind, though, that I had very, very low expectations of this ending.

In principle, I rather liked the idea of flipping the equation. We start the show with Helan loving Pipi, even though she had no memory of him from her previous lives, and therefore, ending the show with Pipi loving Helan, even though he has no memory of her, feels rather apt. Plus, the curse on Pipi is finally lifted, and that’s something that Helan had been working towards for centuries. There is a bittersweet quality to this ending, but at the same time, Show paints a picture of hope for the future – and for a possible sequel.

In execution, though, I did feel like the ending could’ve been better handled. It sometimes felt like Show was cycling in place to use up screen time, like when Pipi went off on her apple analogy during her interview. That analogy was really stretching it. Also, all four interviewers seemed not at all shocked, when she started talking about meeting her prince, who just happened to be an alien whose heart beat only 3 times a minute. That was kinda bizarre.

At other times, it felt like secondary characters got additional screen time, in order to create filler, also for the purpose of using up screen time. The entire arc around Kuanyong and Xiuxian preparing to save Helan by transferring their powers to him felt strangely relaxed, given that they said Helan was running out of time and would die if they didn’t save him in time. And yet, they had time to pick up Xiaoju, and take a bus ride out into the countryside, and have some time for chit chat, hugs and assurances, before finally setting off to save Helan. I mean, it’s not that I begrudge the boys some final conversation time with Xiaoju, but the relaxed and meandering pace of this arc just didn’t jive with the situation at hand, I thought. The boys thereafter hanging out at the cafe in fox form is a cute thought, but it did seem problematic to me that a cafe that serves food would be allowed to keep foxes on its premises.

And then there’s the thing with Qianhua and Zhao Song. This bit bugged me the most. First of all, how did Qianhua know to use the mirror to light the fire on the sacred wood? I don’t recall that there was ever any mention of it, and suddenly, both she and Zhao Song seemed to know exactly how to set that piece of sacred wood on fire. Second of all, I am so angry that even after Zhao Song raped her, and did all kinds of terrible things, and hurt Helan to the point of almost-death, Qianhua is tearfully declaring her love for him. WHUT. I seriously hate that Qianhua’s rape basically goes unacknowledged this whole show. And then, to have her destroy herself, while tearfully gazing at her rapist with love in her eyes, that just bugged me no end. I mean, sure, Zhao Song was destroyed too, and he did have a moment of regret, but I say that was too little, too late. I wanted him to disintegrate into smithereens; I just didn’t think Qianhua needed to go down with him. ALSO. He never apologized for raping her either. HOW IS THAT OK?!? Grr.

Do I regret hanging on to the end, with this show? Unfortunately, I’m gonna hafta say, mostly yes. Apologies to this show’s fans, but this was.. not great.

Let’s do better next time, boys?


Better in concept than execution, in just about every way.



60 thoughts on “Flash Review: Moonshine And Valentine [The Love Knot: His Excellency’s First Love] [China]

  1. Pingback: Review: Find Yourself [China] | The Fangirl Verdict

  2. Lilli

    Love your review, and I agree with you for the most part. I definitely think that it was unfortunate that the show encountered so many cast and production issues. The show started out alright but then got really convoluted with side plots and drawn-out plot development.

    One thing I’d like to defend the show on is the inconsistency you mentioned about how the show says that Huiyan is Pipi but Helan says he’s trying to save Pipi, not Huiyan. Here’s my take on it if you’re willing to listen:

    Yes, Pipi and Huiyan are essentially the same person in the fact that they look the same because Pipi is the reincarnation of Huiyan. At the same time, Pipi is not Huiyan because she has her own personality, grew up in a different environment, and has been shaped by those around her. Thus, Pipi is her own unique person. You could call Pipi a different “version” of Huiyan, and Helan wants to save this “version” of Huiyan, but Pipi is not exactly Huiyan. Each reincarnation of Huiyan is different, and I feel like Helan falls in love with each version of Huiyan despite their differences from the original. If you’ve ever seen The Vampire Diaries (TVD), the Huiyan and Pipi issue is somewhat similar to the doppelganger issue present in TVD.

    Well, that’s what I think at least. Thanks for writing this review! I enjoyed it.

    1. kfangurl

      Hi there Lilli, thanks for enjoying the review. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your take on the reincarnation issue. That perspective does help to make more sense of some of the story points. 🙂 It’s too bad that Show suffered from so many other issues that even with that perspective on board, I still wouldn’t recommend this show to others. 😅

  3. Ashlee

    Just wanted to say I agree whole heartedly with your review. I was pretty disappointed towards the second half of the show but liked the premise enough to finish the drama. I’ve also read about the production and cast issues they had so I’m somewhat sympathetic. Mainly sorry and unsatisfied that the potential wasn’t fulfilled.. there was much to build on! I’ve also heard its quite different from the book.

    That aside, I was wondering.. what dramas would you recommend to someone that really enjoyed (the premise at least) this drama? (Fantasy, romance, comedy, interesting premise.. Preferably modern era but not necessarily so.) This is my first C drama in 10 years, watched it by chance and I can’t really seem to find another one with an intriguing premise like this!

    1. kfangurl

      Hi there Ashlee, hi5 that we feel similarly about this show! This one really had a more interesting premise than most. It intrigues me that there are folks who love this one a lot, because like you, I felt this could’ve been much better.

      In terms of other fantasy C-dramas that you might want to check out, I must confess that I haven’t seen all that many C-dramas. If you don’t mind a xianxia, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms was really quite wonderful, I thought. There are others that sound like they might fit what you’re looking for, but I can only tell you that these were recommended to me, but I haven’t seen them myself as yet. Let’s Shake It! is supposed to ridiculous and funny, featuring an alien warrior. Mystic Nine is supposed to be very good, but I chickened out at the weird zombie stuff that Show started serving up. Qin Medical Examiner is also supposed to be quite entertaining. Ah, lots of folks loved Guardian even though it’s objectively got terrible production values. If the chemistry between the two male leads works for you, you might like that too. I hope that helps! 🙂

      1. Ashlee

        Thanks for replying! I will definitely check out the dramas you mentioned 🙂 Excited!

  4. Pingback: Year In Review: 2018 | The Fangirl Verdict

  5. lilyalana

    i suffered watching all those 25 episodes, it was a harrowin experience. i was going to quit after that fucking rape scene(WHOA WTF NO NO) but i stuck till the end cuz i was already more than halfway through the story. but i was painful, painful.

    my only silver lining and the reason i keep on watching was just so that i don’t miss any flashback of young Helan and Huiyan. my babies were the reason i decided to watch this drama, their wedding night scene got me hooked they were so cute together urrrghhh
    too bad there so little scenes with them
    i hope someone can upload a cut scene of just them on YT

    1. kfangurl

      Gah, I feel your pain, lilyalana! I suffered through this one too, against my better judgment 😛 But yes, young Helan and Huiyan were just precious, and I loved every little glimpse we got of them. I’d have loved it if the whole story was just about them, tbh. <3

  6. MyCreativeContext

    My biggest Problem was that I liked the Flashback Scenes so much the Present felt incredibly lacking from the get go. I really liked Johnny Huang in Addicted where he is a bit stiff but managed to really get to me in the more intense scenes which was initially why I checked this Drama out. I have no Idea why Victoria got the leading Role.. I have not seen a Single drama with her in it where she has any Chemistry with, well, anyone. This dissapoined me so much is stopped watching around Episode 5.

    1. kfangurl

      You were smart to drop this one early, Tali! Also, I know what you mean about the flashback scenes being so good that the present day scenes felt like they weren’t up to par, somehow. I also felt much more drawn to the flashback scenes. In fact, I think the promise of more flashback scenes was kept me going for a good long while! As for Victoria, I read that she actually was a last minute addition to the show. The previous female lead dropped out suddenly, and Victoria agreed to step in, and basically saved the day. So I am more forgiving of her scenes, plus, I actually feel she was more expressive than Johnny Huang. He was the weak link for me, between the two. Oh well. Either way, it wasn’t a great watch, so I guess there’s only so much to be said! 😝

  7. Pingback: [DROPPED] Moonshine and Valentine 结爱·千岁大人的初恋 (2018) – The Moonlit Verdict

  8. Trupti Suvarna

    Well crafted review
    Saw the full series for the story
    The story itself is good however the acting by the leads and the logic in the story is missing.

    1. kfangurl

      Thanks for enjoying the review, Trupti 🙂 Yes, the lack of logic was a downer, and the acting by the leads was not strong enough to save this one either. Too bad, since the premise was rather intriguing :/

  9. Blenny

    I also thought the premise was interesting. Unfortunately, that was about the extent of it. I couldn’t get past the first few episodes for all the reasons you mentioned.

    Serious question here: I have started several Chinese dramas and have never been able to finish any of them. Is it a cultural thing? I mean, I don’t have trouble relating to/watching/liking/loving SOME Kdramas, fewer Jdramas, but the Chinese dramas just don’t do it for me AT ALL. (Although I can happily watch Chinese films) Possible reasons include:

    #1. The opening credits go on so long…they practically tell the whole story before they actually start the story, if you see what I mean.

    #2, 44 or 50 episodes? No. Just no. There’s already too much boring filler. And such a time-suck. I can’t manage the guilt.

    #3. Flat acting, overacting, bad acting. Or they always seems like they are ACTING.

    #4. Writing is stilted & awkward. Characterization is pretty much non-existent.

    #5. And when they try to bring the funny? OMG, make it stop.

    So I wonder if it is a cultural thing? Is there a reason Kdramas are more accessible to Americans/Westerners? I live in one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world, so it’s not like we haven’t been exposed to lots of other Asian cultures.

    I seriously find this puzzling. Please advise, wise Fangurl!

    1. kfangurl

      Aw shucks, you are so sweet to call me wise, Blenny! 😘 Now, let me see if I am able to live up to that wisdom! 😛

      About the opening credits, I usually skip them. I watch them once, when I’m first starting the show, and then I skip the ending credits every episode, until I reach the end. That helps, because I don’t always feel like I’m wasting time watching the opening credits. I’ve gotten pretty good at scrolling to exactly where the episode really starts, heh. And the closing credits usually contain way too many spoilers, which is why I avoid them until I’m done with the show.

      C-dramas tend to be long, unfortunately. Also unfortunately, a lot of what you said is true, about the writing, overacting, and the funny. However, there are several very good ones that I can in good conscience recommend. Those would be Nirvana In Fire (just a masterpiece, all around), Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms (epic romance) and The First Half Of My Life (less filler by a mile, and overall very elegantly written and executed). For something shorter, I do love A Love So Beautiful, which has an X-factor charm that many other shows try for, but don’t manage to achieve.

      In terms of the cultural thing, I personally think that kdramas know how to shine the spotlight on emotions and relationships, and spend time unpacking the most thrilling bits of a courtship, and that is the vicarious excitement that appeals to many of us. This is something that I find less well-developed in dramas coming out of China (well, from the sampling that I’ve seen, anyway).

      For example, almost every kdrama will give a burgeoning loveline its time in the spotlight, whether it’s a loveline between the OTP or between secondary characters. But I’ve seen OTP characters jump from awkward first date to consummation of the relationship in a single scene – with the scene efficiently cut between said first kiss to the morning-after, of course. That was Love Me If You Dare, and I found myself completely befuddled at Show’s treatment of the loveline. Like, how did that happen, and in what world would that happen? 🤔 Of course, not all C-dramas are like that, but that’s definitely one of the things that I noticed that is different.

  10. Timescout

    Yup, this wasn’t a good drama by any means but I did watch most of it too. I never expected much of it, especially after the first fiew episodes, but I kept watching (with the help of the trusty ff-button) as I did like some aspects of it and I sorta needed some mindless fluff at the time. 🙂 The best parts were definitely the flashbacks, especially those of young Huiyan and Helan. I did like the Fox Bros and Pipi’s friend Xiaoju too. Writing was… well, just bad. The premise was fun so it was a pity they weren’t able to actually do it justice. Maybe in the hands of a more competent writer and without the behind the scenes drama…

    1. kfangurl

      Ooh, I’m quite surprised that you watch this one, Timescout! 😀 I mean, it’s not your usual type of show. But yes, this one does fulfill the quotient for mindless fluff rather well – at least for most of the earlier episodes. The later ones were too angsty to count as fluff, I found! 😝

      The flashbacks were absolutely the best part of the show! The younger set of actors playing the leads were so much more engaging, I thought. I personally found the Fox bros’ arc with Xiaoju too fillery, but they were unoffensive, for the most part. I think the biggest offender was the writing, followed by the acting. I think to make this one work, they’d need to give this one a better writer, better actors, AND take away the behind-the-scenes drama! 😆

      1. Timescout

        Heh, I’m not very partial to fluff, even if well made, but I do sometimes feel the need for it. The first half of this year was incredibly busy at work and at the end of the day I had no brainpower or energy left. So watching anything demanding, whether in the brain or emotional department just felt like another chore, especially as the months went by. I didn’t have much free time either. I’m on my summer vacation right now and I think I slept through most of my first week off, LOL!

        So, I’ve finally started to catch up on all those dramas I’ve “saved for later”. I might even be up to a post or two at some point. 🙂

        1. kfangurl

          Aw, yay that you’re on summer vacation and have more time now!! 😀 Now you can finally check out shows that you’ve put aside, like My Ahjussi. I’ve been watching that one, and am nearing the end. And, even though I skirted around it for a long time because it looked dark, I must say, it’s lovely. I feel sucked in, and am sorry that I now only have 2 eps left. Sob.

          And yes, I totally feel you on needing some mindless fluff sometimes. That’s basically how I got through most of this show. I was sick and out of it, and needed something fluffy to occupy me. And then suddenly I was better, and Show was no longer fluffy, and my completist streak stubbornly insisted that I see for myself just how bad this ending turned out to be, that the writer felt the need to come out and apologize for it. And now I know. Ha. 😑

          1. Timescout

            ‘My Ahjussi’ is actually the next drama I’m going to start. The way I was feeling then, it was a bit too dark for me at the time it was airing, but I was sure I’d get to it sooner or laiter. Looks like that time is now. 🙂

            1. kfangurl

              I found My Ahjussi surprisingly easy to get into, given its darkish reputation. I do think you’ll enjoy it, Timescout! 😀 I’ll probably finish watching that soonish, so the review will probably go up sometime next week, if nothing gets in the way! 🙂

  11. bev

    I started this and then fell behind. I kept thinking I’d catch up, for some mindless fluff, but could never press play. Then saw people talking about the ending. I then decided it is not worth it. It wasn’t even enjoyable in a bad way, lol
    I have too many dramas I want to finish and/or start. Just started Cheese in the Trap, inhaled first few eps, though I know I will probably be disappointed…..due to spoilers. But this first half is good.
    Then want to try Circle, Behind Your Smile (first T drama) and Dear Sister, a rec when I wanted to try a J Drama.

    1. kfangurl

      Your procrastination worked out super well on this one, bev! 😂 Imagine if you’d been more proactive about watching this one – you might’ve frittered away as many drama hours as I did 😛 I say it’s time to pat yourself on the back, for falling behind on this one 😉

      Cheese in the Trap’s ending is not terrible, but I think you need to keep a VERY open mind to writer-nim’s narrative choices. That might help! 🙂

  12. shenmeizhuang

    To be fair, there are parts of the show, like the foxes devolving and the whole liver conundrum, rooted in Tang Dynasty mythology and not BS the writer made up. But I ended up dropping this at Ep 12. Which ended at that dramatic cliffhanger where Pipi was unconscious after they kissed, and I realized I just didn’t care. The show just never particularly interested me very much, even at the “better” earlier episodes.

    1. kfangurl

      Oh yes, thanks for pointing that out, Meizhuang! I’ve come across the fox mythology and liver-eating enough to know it’s a culturally rooted mythology rather than stuff that the writers made up. I didn’t know it was from the Tang Dynasty though, so thank you for sharing that! 😀

      You were smart to drop out early with this one.. My stubborn completist streak just happened to rear its head, and my morbid curiosity about how bad this got, got me through to the finish line. But that’s not a drama decision I’m particularly proud of, heh. 😅

    2. Dame Holly Has A Hat (@Lee_Tennant)

      The thing about the devolving is that they spend so much time trying to establish that these were aliens who had evolved to look like us. They even had the prologue outlining their history, migration and evolution and a character deliver the line, “we’re very scientific”. And then suddenly the female lead is married to a small canid and the male lead is being toted around in a doggy carrier. Mythology or not, it’s just so utterly ridiculous, Watching Victoria Song deliver sobbing monologues about it had me in literal stitches. I’ve never laughed so hard at such a serious finale before – at least until a rape victim sacrificed her life while crying about how much she loved her attacker.

      1. shenmeizhuang

        They included the aliens bit because of SARFT (basically China’s censorship board) regulations. Characters from after the formation of the People’s Republic of China aren’t allowed to engage in backwards superstitious activities, believe in that sort of thing, etc. So whenever China does a supernatural drama now set after 1949, the writers just slap on the fact that those otherworldly beings are scientific aliens. Everything else about this show follows the fox spirit mythology very closely, and us cdrama watchers learn to ignore the aliens bit. Hope that helps!

  13. seankfletcher

    After reading your review around a bonfire last night, I put my thinking cap on. This was a show that I really enjoyed to start with – Sci-Fi elements happening with Fantasy thrown in along with a mystery that spanned the ages. Then, as others have said, by episodes 10-12, I had my fingers crossed and checked out a few things such as the author (just the most amazing person) of the original books. So, three books so far and this series was based on book one and the ending was different.

    To me the highlight was the flashbacks and they were done right. I quite enjoyed the “threesome”. In fact I was quite happy to see their storylines regularly. In terms of the ugly elements – extremely disappointing and unnecessary. Oddly enough, I enjoyed episode 24 re Pipi’s parents, but many did not. However, that’s where I stopped with this show because I made the mistake of reading what others said about the ending and went – not for me. So reading all the comments here, I can see why the show became such a mess.

    What did I do to make up for such a disappointment? I watched The Crown Princess (Thai lakorn that was very good for a change. I say that because Thai actors in the larger productions are very good, but the stories 90% of the time just go all out crazy. So there are three in total that I have never dropped).

    However, on the Kdrama front there is I’m a Mother Too. Now this show is so bad and most of the characters are so ugly, I have to keep watching. It has a great cast, and it’s probably only a matter of time before I drop it, but for now, I have been sucked into the vortex of a type of show that I would never, ever watch (a bit like the majority of Australian soaps). Then there are those I’m sitting on the the fence with: The Undateables and Are You Human Too? Lawless Lawyer had an out of body experience for three episodes, but is now back in full swing and What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim did go off the boil for one episode (but many people liked it, so my sense of humour is probably skewed at the moment – but then I watched an old Jet Li movie the other night which was a real hoot, so maybe not). Today I’m happy. Secretary Kim is back to doing what it should and in the JDrama Universe and Miss Sherlock has been a good all round watch. Now onto season two of Westworld…

    1. kfangurl

      Hi there Sean! I remembered you were liking this one quite well, especially in the earlier stretch! It’s too bad that this one went off the rails the way it did. I loved the teenage flashbacks the most. I also rather liked E24 about the parents – after I wrapped my head around the fact that this flashback was going to last the entire episode. I would’ve liked that either earlier in the show, or as the final, special episode. Shoving it in between the cliffhanger of E23, and the eventual wrap-up in E25, felt really weird, and made me think that Show was stalling for time, when it might not have been. I’d heard the ending was bad enough to be apologized for, but I went ahead and watched it anyway. I just wanted to see how bad it was, ha. 😛

      I’ve just started on Lawless Lawyer, and 3 eps in, I’m liking it very well – more than I’d expected it to. So I’m happy to hear that you’re still enjoying it, even though it went off the rails for 3 eps. I’m only 1 ep into Secretary Kim, and am suitably amused, though not yet hooked. Not too bad, overall 😉

        1. kfangurl

          Ahn Oh Joo IS fabulous! I mean, Choi Min Soo is always a scene-stealer, so when he showed up on my screen, I kinda knew he was going to be mesmerizing, whether I liked it or not! 😆 Oh, did you ever watch Warrior Baek Dong Soo? A lot of non-logic flowing through that show, but Choi Min Soo KILLS IT, as the swaggering Sky Lord, who looks like he took a leaf out of Captain Jack Sparrow’s style book! 😀 Cha Moon Sook intrigues me, she’s so twisted!

            1. kfangurl

              I do kinda think it’s the sort of show you could get into, Sean! Also, watch it in HD if you can. I didn’t, and I think it would’ve looked a lot more beautiful in HD. You can check out my quickish review here! Can’t wait to hear your take on WBDS 😀

              1. seankfletcher

                Thank you for the link to your review – I made sure I didn’t read about the ending. So, I have finished the first episode. Fabulous. The filming is superb. Also a bit of a who’s who re the different roles. It has a very Robin Hood feel to it, which I really like. It’s about the mythology, not the facts or whether it makes sense. It’s larger than life and for me, full on entertainment. As for Sky Lord, yes he does have a real presence right from the start. Marvellous 😃

                1. kfangurl

                  Woot! I’m glad you’re liking it so far, Sean! It’s not for everyone, especially since it’s quite flawed overall. But it got under my skin in a visceral way, and I feel like this is just the kind of show that you might be able to appreciate. Sky Lord steals the show, no question about it! 😀

                    1. kfangurl

                      Wow, you’re blowing through it pretty fast! (That knack for bending time and space is coming in handy, I see! 😉) That’s great that you feel compelled to keep watching, after each episode. That suck-me-in, gimme-more feeling is a precious thing – and even more wondrous, when it’s caused by a show as fantastical and flawed as WBDS! I’m sure you’ll soon be telling me that you’re all done. 😀

  14. Lady G.

    Another half-baked Chinese drama I can avoid, thanks KFG!! Seriously, I need to make a list of the Chinese dramas worth watching, like Nirvana in fire – I swear I started it, got 3 episodes in – and it’s very interesting, but then life caved in on me and I didn’t have time to watch anything so I put it aside a few months ago.

    Now that I got my drama groove back, I need to get back to it. Currently, Everyone seems obsessed with 10 miles of peach blossoms, I think the sequel?

    I have to be honest, just like I don’t turn to Sageuks that often in Kdrama, I’m also not too interested in Wuxia or historicals. It depends though. They’re just not the first genre I turn to these days. I’d grown fond of Palace dramas, with the in-fighting and scheming amongst the concubines and wealthy families, but a lot of those dramas were from Hong Kong.

    Now this is mostly a modern drama, but I can’t stand flat acting and all the filler. I immediately tune out. I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you again.



    1. kfangurl

      Yeah, this one didn’t work out for me in the end either.. so I do think you can avoid this one without missing anything much at all! I just looked up the sequel to Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, and found that they’re making an offshoot for the secondary couple. I wasn’t all that interested in their loveline in the first season, so I’m not sure if I’ll be watching the sequel, if it’s about that couple. But you know me.. if everyone starts raving about it, I won’t be able to resist dipping my toes in, just to see! 😉

      Nirvana in Fire is FANTASTIC, but it IS the kind of show that you need brainspace for.. like, if life is hectic and you can’t watch whole episodes, or can’t focus, then it’s not a good time to watch it. So it’s perfectly understandable that you shelved it for later. Now that you’ve got back into your drama groove, I hope you’ll enjoy it! It’s superbly written, so in that sense, I feel it will appeal to the writer in you extra. 😉

  15. Kat

    I feel for any show that deals with a lot of behind the scenes drama so I get it, but the criticism you mention that resonates with me most was about shows coming up with a great idea and then apparently not putting any thought into how to resolve things in a satisfactory manner. I was, like you, fine with the leads being in opposite situations with her knowing him and him not knowing her, but the road to getting there was a mess. So, yeah, basically what you said and I was enjoying the first half. I started skipping with the ex in America. Pure unnecessary filler. And the rape. I don’t know what the heck that was but c’mon.

    Yet, I was hopeful in first half because I’m a sucker for supernatural and I liked the # of episodes. I think I’m about done with Asian supernatural dramas. Goblin, Black, Bride of the Water God, Black Knight….they all have things I liked and Black almost brought it home to be ruined in the last episode. I am still thankful that I knew about it going in but it was even worse than I imagined. I am okay with the time travel dramas but that isn’t really world building but rather a fish out of water story. Anyway, Arang and the Magistrate still tops my list and I would quit the genre if I could but I tend to like it when done well. I started About Time about the gal being able to see when people would die; yep, halfway through it’s totally gone sideways. I should just accept my fate.

    1. kfangurl

      Right?! I feel like a lot of shows do that these days.. write themselves into a corner, and then just sort of shrug and give up at the end. That is just SO frustrating for us as viewers, because we stay with the show FOR the resolution. Arang really is one of the best supernatural dramas I’ve seen as well.. that world was well thought-out and robust in its mythology. Another one I liked a lot was Chinese drama Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms.. Fantasy genre with its own world-building. Some of the details didn’t add up so well (like how celestial years translated into human years), and the ending was a touch convenient, but it was cracky goodness, and very prettily filmed too. If you haven’t seen it, you might want to consider giving it a go? 🙂

      Thanks for the warning about About Time. I dipped my toe into E1, and couldn’t even make it through the episode. There’s just something about the leads that doesn’t jive for me. I found him unlikable and uninteresting, and I found her a little flat and candy-ish as well. I had plans to go back and try again, but now maybe I won’t 😛

      1. Kat

        I loved 10 Mile Peach Blossom and am excited that Pillow Book is being made with the same cast. Crossing fingers it’s just as good. I watched Arang early on in my k-drama viewing and gave it a second viewing last year and think I appreciated it more. Still one of the best endings ever. Regarding About Time: It had potential but it was a mess in the second half and the end really didn’t make sense. It did portray a lovely relationship between the lead gal and an older lady that ended up being a highlight for me. It was lovely but not worth slogging through 16 hours.

        1. kfangurl

          I wasn’t a huge fan of the loveline between Feng Jiu and Dong Hua in Ten Miles, but I’ll probably keep an eye out for Pillow Book, just to see whether I’ll like it. Thanks for confirming that About Time isn’t worth the time, heh. 🤣 I will absolutely not go back to it now!

  16. A3kings

    Hello kfangurl,

    I love your review. I agree with everything you wrote about his show. Johnny just killed me from the beginning. He’s soo hot but has no talent whatsoever. Victoria did better that he did but they had no chemistry and the secondary characters were better. Qi Lin was actually the best actor in this drama. He did such a great job portraying his characters feelings of hurt, betrayal, unrequited love, and frustration. I was so mad at the show for the raped scene. When I watched I was in shock because it seemed to come out of nowhere and it was so unnecessary. And then they just kept making it worse and worse. Just like you and other commentators I hated their ending, she did not deserve that.

    1. kfangurl

      Hi A3kings! Thanks for enjoying the review! 😀 I totally agree, Johnny is hot, but unfortunately, does not seem to possess a lot of talent or skill in the acting department. :/ And OMG yes that rape scene really felt like it came out of nowhere. SO UNNECESSARY, and SO BADLY HANDLED. Ugh. I’m curious to know what the writer was thinking, shoving that in there. 😑

  17. Julianne

    Not making any excuses for the show’s flaws (since I dropped @ ep 16 or something), but I heard there were some big issues. Like they originally had a different main lead actress who dropped out after they started filming. Supposedly Victoria Song was a godsend savior who agreed to help out and act the role last minute. They spent too long filming in the beginning or something and didn’t have time to redo all the scenes with Pipi so they had to cut a LOT of the scenes (especially towards the end) with the main female character, which just ended up with a lot of filler scenes from the secondary characters. I happened to also watch a different reality show that Victoria was in during the same period, so I saw in the other show that she was already doing that show before signing on to the Pipi roles so I can see why with conflicting schedules and stuff they didn’t have time to reshoot Pipi’s scenes (she was on Hot Blood Dance Crew of something like that and there was an ep where she basically filmed during the day and spent all her time off the set rehearsing a dance choreo with someone from the dance competition show).

    So basically, the ending was bad cuz it WAS haphazardly put together last minute.

    Also same! I literally lived to watch the beginning clips of teen Huiyan and Helan…they were so adorable and believable!

    1. kfangurl

      Julianne! 😀 Always great to see you! <3 Thanks for sharing more about the change in lead actress. I had read about the change and how that caused a mad scramble with re-writes and re-filming, but I had no idea she was participating in a variety show! 😳😳I can only imagine how exhausting and stressful that must have been for her! She definitely was this show's savior, in more ways than one. Her acting was more convincing than Johnny Huang's, imo, so she was pulling a lot of weight to make the OTP work as much as possible. But yeah. Very haphazard-feeling watch – and now we know just how haphazard it was, behind-the-scenes! 😛

      I would've watched an entire drama with just the teen characters, to be honest. They were so cute, and they acted so well! So expressive and believable, whatever immersion I had in the OTP connection can be credited to those two young cuties, I swear. I wish we'd seen more of them! 😍😍

  18. talesofathirdworldnurse

    I liked how the plot was not so complicated during the first episodes then halfway through the series, it felt like everything was rushed. Let alone the last episode! There were a lot of loopholes and some of the scenes were not properly established by the previous eps.

    1. kfangurl

      Yes, the initial episodes were definitely better than the later ones. It was weird; everything did sorta feel rushed, but at the same time, Show felt like it was cycling in place a lot. That’s.. weird. All in all, a disjointed, messy watch which I now wish I’d been less persistent about! 😛

  19. sarahlantz

    You are BUSY, woman!!! Wow! Three reviews in almost as many days! I’m getting through my Taiwanese crack “Office Girl’s” and loving it, then will go to Suits. Looks great!!!

    When you have a breather and can take the serious and mysterious… I’m telling you, Chicago Typewriter. (Although I have a spat with you over Fated to Love You. Before she met Daniel, female lead made me cringe internally and externally. Like, I fell into a depression because that’s how I used to be and it’s in the DSM as a psychiatric illness. Someone like daniel could help treat it, but bombastic Jang Hyuk would have been terrible for her until he told the truth.)

    Anyway. That’s my jam. I got through it bc I trusted your judgment and I don’t regret it, sans depression:). But that’s my fault. I do recommend Chicago Typewriter!!!

    1. kfangurl

      Heh. Naw, I didn’t actually write 3 posts in 3 days – you are too kind! Or, you might be living in a very different time zone? 😂

      Glad you’re enjoying Office Girls.. I haven’t checked it out, dya think it’s something I’ll like? I’ve got Chicago Typewriter bumped up the list, just so you know. I’m just drowning in recommendations of shows that I absolutely must watch. Right now I’m working my way through My Mister and Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food. So I’m not flaffing around, I promise! 😉

      I’m sorry FTLY had that effect on you.. I don’t know anything much about psychiatric illnesses and basically adjusted my lens for weird, wacky and somewhat illogical, in order to enjoy the show. Sorry there was that gap which allowed the DSM to fall through. :/

      1. sarahlantz

        Hey, it’s okay – not many would know. I only know from extensive experience with the DSM. As for Office Girls, it’s cracktastic!! Roy Lieu (I think that’s his last name but I can’t open another window) is such a brilliant actor, and I love the lead actress. She has integrity. Her best friend is super annoying, and the second female lead is devious as ever.

        But the side characters are totally worth the show, it’s 40 episodes and I’m blowing through it. I love Roy’s character, so endearing, as is the female lead, Xien Ren (I think?). I’m awful.

        I’d skip miss Rose – I was missing Bromance, and Megan was in it, where I was introduced to Roy. Her character was Soooooo weak. office girls lead is way stronger, has a goal, and will reach it with or without a man. Love her. I suggest it if you want something light:)

        1. kfangurl

          Thanks for the quick introduction to Office Girls, Sarah 🙂 I’ll keep it mind for when I’m next in the mood for a Taiwanese drama. <3

  20. Dame Holly Has A Hat (@Lee_Tennant)

    About 10 episodes into this show, I realised it was basically China’s answer to Goblin and about as silly (albeit less epic). Once I decided it was terrible, I stuck around to enjoy just how bad it was. And so when it took a detour to awful, I poured myself a drink and enjoyed myself a lot. I’ve never laughed so hard at something that was supposed to be so very TRAGIC and ROMANTIC.

    I still can’t believe they spent a full 2 minutes each episode establishing how super scientific the whole thing was only to have them be very unscientific for the whole thing. I mean, the whole weird “devolving” thing? So terrible. So hilarious.

    But the very worst, not funny things…

    Just ignoring for a moment that they never established any mythology but instead kept throwing random bits of information at us in ways that made it seem they were just making it up as they went along, the rape was the worst thing they did. Asian dramas are notorious for not dealing with rape properly and this was the most egregious example I’ve seen recently. Plus, that ending? Lord.

    Yeah, this was awful. But hilariously awful.

    1. kfangurl

      I never did manage to finish Goblin, but I do think you’re right, Dame Holly! There ARE at least some big-picture similarities between this and Goblin! Really old supernatural creature, searching for his human bride, and the whole impossibility of it all. I giggled at how you found a way to laugh at the awful! 😆

      And OMG yes, the way they handled the rape was quite possibly the worst (or at least one of the worst) I’ve seen in an Asian drama. Ugh. That made my blood boil so bad. 😡😡


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