Today, I thought I’d share my episode 1-2 & 3-4 notes on New Life Begins [China], because I’m liking it quite a lot more than I’d originally expected to, and I was wondering if you’d like to join me? 🤗
These are my episode 1-2 & 3-4 notes, exactly as they appear on Patreon, ie, without screenshots (I’m saving those for the actual review).
I hope you all enjoy, and I hope you’ll consider joining us over on Patreon, for the rest of the discussions! ❤️
E1-2. Tee hee. This show is shaping up to be a fun ride, right off the bat, just like the fandom around it has promised.
The reason I sat up with such interest over this one, recently, is that there’s been a good amount of positive buzz that Show is fun and enjoyable, yet somehow comforting, in the midst of the silly.
Apparently, Show’s rise in popularity is very impressive, because the positive comments have been greatly forthcoming, and the user ratings have been pretty darn high, even from Show’s early episodes.
Fast-building positive word of mouth? And with such promising descriptors? Yes, please. 😁
And also, it’s Bai Jing Ting in our male lead role, and I do have a soft spot for him after loving Reset and selectively enjoying You Are My Hero.
Right away, as I pressed play on episode 1, I was struck by the high production values in the opening sequence; everything looks so beautiful and artful.
That’s a far cry from my original shortlisted show for this Patreon slot, Curtain Call, which does have a more pedestrian sort of production feel, despite being hyped as heightened melodrama.
I watched an episode of Curtain Call before trying this, and I found the abundance of Pretty very, very pleasing to the eyes, not gonna lie. 🤩
Just two episodes in, I’m already having a good time with this one, and that is pretty rare for me, especially with c-dramas that are intended to be funny.
So often, dramas’ ideas of funny just don’t jive with my ideas of funny, and I don’t end up actually being amused by the Intended Funny.
In this show’s case, however, I do find myself giggling at the silliness, and the misunderstandings, and after 2 episodes, I’m feeling pretty enthusiastic about watching the next set of episodes, and soon. That’s Quite Something, honestly.
So far, I have to confess that I’m not suuper clear on all the characters, because we have a very sprawling cast, in this story world.
But, I’m not fussed about that because I’m sure the various characters will become clear in my head, given a bit more time.
I am quite amused at our set-up, where Xinchuan’s perceived to be the center of the world, and all the other regions need to send brides as tribute, which is how our female lead Li Wei ends up traveling to Xinchuan – but with a bunch of carefully rehearsed lies, so that she will definitely, absolutely, positive fail the bride selection, ha.
Clearly, this show isn’t about actual history, so I’m not at all fussed about whether certain beliefs or practices are real, or whether the costuming, sets and such, are “accurate.”
I don’t get the feeling that this story world is based on the real world, so even though some things are recognizably traditional, eg, the use of red as a wedding color, again, I’m not concerned with whether Show keeps things “accurate.”
It just doesn’t feel relevant, y’know? Particularly given Show’s light, comic tone.
Which, like I said, I’m enjoying surprisingly well.
A fair amount of comedy comes through our female lead, Li Wei, and her ravenous appetite for food, and the lengths she’ll go to to have food to eat, and it’s silly but quite entertaining.
This is my introduction to Tian Xi Wei, who plays Li Wei, and I find her nicely likable. She’s pulling off the silly and the naiveté in a way that still lands as likable, which is a big plus for me.
I thought it was hilarious how she tries to hide all manner of snacks and goodies in her clothes, when she realizes that she’s not allowed to bring outside items into the palace.
The whole sequence of how she steals food from the kitchen, assuming the untouched dishes to be leftovers, then panics when a servant comes to ask for the dishes, which are meant to be served to Sixth Prince Yin Zheng.
The way Li Wei tries to repurpose the ingredients and rearrange the dishes is silly but funny, and Yin Zheng’s increasingly bemused reactions to each dish that gets served, is also quite amusing.
And then, when Yin Zheng goes to the kitchen to investigate, it’s understandable but still entertaining, that Li Wei has no idea who he is, and, assuming him to be some noble dude, pretends that she’s a poison tester who works for Sixth Prince, HA.
That whole sequence, where Yin Zheng falls down and she tries to help him up, only to make everything worse, while not knowing his identity, does give me some echoes of The Red Sleeve, but I found it silly-entertaining anyway.
Also, Show doesn’t drag out the misunderstanding for very long, because before we know it, Li Wei finds herself married to Yin Zheng, heh.
I also find it quite hilarious that Li Wei gets the wrong idea, that Yin Zheng only has 2 weeks left to live, when he really only has 2 weeks left to the Imperial Exam, ha.
Her efforts to be nice to him, because he’s going to die soon anyway, are ridiculous and quite entertaining.
Her efforts to, at the same time, cater to her appetite, are also quite amusing, while being rather out there.
Yin Zheng is really nice, though, to purposely touch every dish that she’d like, with his chopsticks, even though he doesn’t intend to eat them himself, since the rule in the palace, is that wives and concubines may only take from the dishes that their husbands have taken from first.
Aw. That’s pretty considerate of him, isn’t it?
For those not in the know, the joke about Li Wei’s gift of chrysanthemums, is that chrysanthemums are used as mourning flowers during funerals and memorials. That’s why Yin Zheng and his steward are so perplexed that she decorates his entire study in chrysanthemums.
And, the way she displays his portrait, is also just like how it’s done for memorials, which adds to Yin Zheng’s bemusement.
How funny, though, that the maidservant tells Yin Zheng, that yellow chrysanthemum and lily signify stable and long-lasting love, and that even though Li Wei doesn’t say it, she really likes him a lot.
Ooh. The way this sends Yin Zheng’s brain into overdrive is quite cute, and I am anticipating more hijinks to come, based on this misunderstanding. 😁
ALSO. What a cute pup that Li Wei gets Yin Zheng! 😍😍
And, while Li Wei pouts that Baifu is such a uncool name for the dog, it actually means Hundred Blessings, which I thought was very sweet.
I also thought it was sweet that Yin Zheng decides that Baifu should take Li Wei’s surname, since she’s the one who brought him home. Aw.
I like the fact that Li Wei has a friend in Hao Jia, although the more I see of Hao Jia, the more I see that there’s a lot more wile beneath her innocent persona than one might first think.
The way she hooks the Legitimate Eldest Prince, Yin Song, and gets him to take her as his concubine, even though he’s not officially looking for a wife during this selection, is nothing short of smooth.
And then, when Yin Song’s legal wife gives her a hard time, she manages to flip the situation such that Yin Song’s immediately protective and sympathetic of her, without so much as getting a hair out of place.
This makes me think that Hao Jia might be a good friend to have, but might be a scary enemy, particularly if she gains any kind of influence or power.
Still, so far, it’s nice that Hao Jia’s helping Li Wei, and nudging her in the little things, like which book to take out, during lessons.
I have a fondness for Chang Long, particularly after his turn as the reporter bestie to Big Brother in The Bond, so I’m quite pleased to see him as Yin Qi, the blustery Fifth Prince.
Somehow, in his hands, I don’t find the loudmouthed and shallow Yin Qi at all annoying. I just find him quite harmless and low-key amusing, especially when he gets assigned the fiercest of the wife candidates, warrior woman Shangguan Jing.
Just based on their initial interactions alone, I can tell that he’s going to have to toe the line and cooperate with his wife, if he wants to survive. 😁
As we close out this set of episodes, Yin Zheng becomes aware of the fact that Li Wei’s been writing home, while cheerfully informing her parents that her husband is about to die, and that she’ll be able to come home soon. Oops. 😅
I’m curious to see what unfolds next, but for now, I’m just pleased with the way Show’s demonstrating that it doesn’t like to drag out gags or misunderstandings for very long.
This is a very promising start indeed.
E3-4. We spend this set of episodes getting better acquainted with our story world, and I have to say that while this set of episodes didn’t quite thrill me as much as the first set, I’m still having an enjoyable time, and I feel in my gut that this show will work out to be a fun, worthwhile watch.
In the wake of Yin Zheng finding out about Li Wei’s completely incorrect assumption that he’s going to die, I’m actually rather impressed that he doesn’t confront her right away, and chooses to just let her be, while he concentrates on preparing for the Exam.
I mean, in Chinese culture, it’s considered extremely bad luck, for someone to wish death on someone else, and in this case, most people would assume that Li Wei’s wishing death on him.
AND YET. He doesn’t jump up to confront her. All he does is avoid interacting with her as much as possible, as he prepares for the Exam. I’m pretty impressed, honestly.
I’m also impressed to see how smart Yin Zheng is.
He’s got a well-considered answer for every question that’s asked of him in the exam, and I’m starting to wonder why he’s so overlooked by his father. Is it because of his poor health?
On that note, I’m actually quite curious about the careful front that Yin Zheng is putting up to the world.
I mean, clearly he isn’t as weak as he would have people believe, if he’s capable of lifting weights and doing push-ups, as a matter of routine.
And, he’s got some measure of ambition, it seems, with the way he desires to do well in the Exams, and leave a good impression on his father.
But, for some reason, he’s carefully keeping a low profile, even as he works towards being an asset to the court.
I’m sure we’ll get answers to the reason behind his strategy soon enough, but I do like the fact that our male lead is smarter and more capable than most people think.
I also like how he’s not the quick-tempered sort, and how he’s genuinely interested in the truth.
When he asks Li Wei to tell him her impressions of him, he’s pleased with her honest answers, and even tells his steward to arrange for the cook to prepare some dishes from her hometown Jichuan.
Aw. That’s nice of him, isn’t it?
This set of episodes, I’m rather amused by how Li Wei assumes that she will be sentenced to death for inadvertently wishing such bad luck on Yin Zheng.
Her tearful chagrin, that she still has to consummate the marriage with him, even when she’s about to die, is quite hilarious. 😆
And then, it’s also quite funny how, when her maids tell her that she won’t be sentenced to death, she’s happy only for a moment, before fixating on the fact that she still is expected to consummate the marriage with him. 😁
That gives rise to some silliness, like the way Li Wei gloms onto Madam He’s adopted daughter Song Wu, in order to avoid sleeping with Yin Zheng, even though Song Wu’s trying to make life difficult for Li Wei, by trashing her room and throwing a tantrum.
It’s actually quite funny, the way Song Wu keeps getting suuper suspicious of Li Wei, because Li Wei keeps being nice and welcoming to her, despite her bad behavior.
The way Song Wu keeps changing her mind about what she’d like Li Wei to do, in response to Li Wei’s surprisingly welcoming behavior, is quite amusing.
Like the way she first refuses to share the bed with Li Wei, then quickly changes her mind, because she’s too suspicious about the way Li Wei gladly agrees to sleep on the floor, pfft.
I also like how Li Wei’s affinity for food is coming in useful in unexpected ways.
The favor with Madam Xinchuan is one thing, and then there’s also how her recipes help the cook gain favor with Yin Zheng, which then gives rise to a great partnership between Li Wei and the cook, where she gets to choose the dishes that she wants to eat.
Tee hee. I’m quite tickled by the fact that for Li Wei, food is such an important part of her life. 😁
On that note, I do love that Li Wei eats so well, and turns out to be so strong – because she eats so well. I do love me a female lead who knows her priorities. 😋
That said, I also like the fact that Yin Zheng is strong.
I mean, the way he swoops in to catch Li Wei, when she almost pretend-faints from standing in the sun for too long, and then princess-carries her away, is quite swoony, I have to admit. 😁
I wouldn’t mind seeing this side of Yin Zheng a little more, please and thank you. 🤩
And, even though the OTP relationship is far from being minted, I like that we’re getting little glimpses of partnership between them.
I like how Yin Zheng explains the situation to Li Wei, when taking her to see Third Prince Yin An, to persuade him to come back to the palace, instead of keeping her in the dark, which he could have absolutely done as well.
And then, when Yin An actually agrees to come back to the palace, thanks to Li Wei’s indirect influence, I like that Yin Zheng acknowledges this, and praises Li Wei for her efforts.
Just as I was enjoying the little hints of burgeoning connection between Yin Zheng and Li Wei, and the way she relaxes around him when he tells her that he won’t force her to sleep with him, Li Wei makes that request, that when Yin Zheng enters the court eventually, that he divorce her.
Aw. The way Yin Zheng agrees, but can barely hide the look of disappointment that flashes across his face, does make me feel sorry for him.
I think he was just starting to like being married to Li Wei, so I’m bummed that he’s bummed. Boo.
As a side note, I also wanted to say that while I wasn’t into Yin An and his harem of solar term girls, I did like how there’s a sisterhood among the women.
Instead of being jealous of one another and seeing one another as competitors for Yin An’s attention and favor, they actually all dislike him, and readily back one another up, in trying to avoid his attention, HA.
I also really liked seeing Li Wei being so warmly welcomed, and so quickly absorbed into their sisterhood.
On a tangent, I really like that, aside from Yin Song’s main wife, who’s horrible to Hao Jia, the rest of the wives and concubines all seem to get along really well.
I actually really loved the scene of all the concubines coming together and sharing food, and talking and laughing together – until Yan Momo steps in to stop the festivities.
(As a point of interest, the last name “Yan” (严) also means strict, so Yan Momo’s been named in a pretty punny fashion. Just thought you guys might like to know that. 😁)
As we end off this set of episodes, it looks like things are about to come to a head, with the concubines actually protecting one another from Yan Momo.
Uh. This is going to become a problem, isn’t it? 😅
But, given that Show’s been moving from plot point to plot point in a rather efficient manner, I’m fairly confident that Show won’t drag this out for too long either.
All in all, this has been a very solid start, and I’m definitely looking forward to more episodes with these characters.
*This show is being covered on the VVIP Early Access (US$20) Tier on Patreon*
To view episode 1-2 & 3-4 notes in Patreon, along with everyone’s comments, you can go here!
Episodes 9-10 & 11-12 notes will be out on Wednesday, 7 December 2022! I hope you’ll consider joining us!
It’ll be a way to have fun, and support me at the same time? ❤️
PS: For more information on what the Patreon experience is like, you might like to check out my Patreon update post for December, which you can find here!