Thousand Years for You (2022) 请君

Summary:  A comedic love story between a three thousand year old general, Lu Yan ft Allen Ren, and Chief of the QingQuan Village, Yu Deng Deng ft Li Qin. Set in the Republic Era of China, Lu Yan was a powerful general in ancient times who worked together with the mystical Yun Xi of the Ling Zu (a mythical clan) to bring peace. He awakes to help recover Yun Xi’s magical essence currently residing in the body of Yu Deng Deng who looks surprisingly like Yun Xi. The story opens with Yu Deng Deng ordering Lu Yan to marry her for his money to save her village which he accepts to uncover more about her connection to Yun Xi.


Total Episode Count: 36

Initial Airing Date: September 15, 2022


Initial Rating: 7.5/10

As a Li Qin fan, I’ve been waiting for this drama for a whole year! It’s finally here! It is a surprisingly unique and refreshing story, one that is NOT based off of a book. Gasp! Those exist?  The first 6 episodes are hilariously intriguing as the handsome Lu Yan is married as the concubine to Yu Deng Deng. Her first husband? A Rooster. Gender roles are reversed to comical effect while Lu Yan tries to understand what connection Yu Deng Deng has to Yun Xi.  So far so good as a fun and easy watch. The biggest question mark has been Allen Ren using his real voice for the drama which I don’t find to be too big of a problem. Li Qin uses her real voice as well and she is much more articulate. 

It’s a unique world the story has built so far with magic infused into the story so we’ll see what surprises are in store!


Final Rating: 6.8/10

It breaks my heart to drop my final rating for this drama but it had to be done. Despite a strong start with interesting characters and a unique world, the plot lost its luster with its meandering storylines and a script that could have been tighter.  Several plot holes or unanswered questions for the drama leaves me wanting more. The main threat in the drama and its villains also seemed too small scale when the focus was saving both humanity and the entire spirit clan.  This drama is saved by the cast, especially the main leads which provide a comforting and trusting relationship to watch (except for Allen Ren’s voice dub… I’m sorry but it had to be said).  The soundtrack is also surprisingly good.  I’m writing a whole novel for this review with my thoughts so buckle in.

Lu Yan 陆炎 Ft Ren Jia Lun 任嘉伦

A 3,000 year old general and former prince of the ancient Shu Kingdom, he was given enormous power by the saintess Yun Xi of the spirit clan to bring peace between humans and the spirit clan. He sealed himself away to try to restore Yun Xi to life after her sacrifice and has now reawakened to uncover Deng Deng’s connection to Yun Xi.

Yu Deng Deng 于登登/ Yun Xi 云羲 Ft Li Qin 李沁

Born with exceptional strength, Yu Deng Deng is the current leader of the Qing Quan village. Though outwardly very tomboyish and aggressive, she is nonetheless highly perceptive and kind hearted. Her primary goal is to ensure the prosperity of her village.

Peng Da Hai 彭大海 Ft Chang Long 昌隆

Deng Deng’s devoted disciple, this comical pupil cares for his teacher deeply but has been inflicted with an interesting ailment after a run in with a spirit clan member – he turns into a woman whenever he drinks.

Lv Er 吕二 Ft Xiao Shen Yang 小沈阳

Deng Deng’s second father. This doting man helped raise Deng Deng after the death of her mother and has always looked out for her.

Gu Bei Xi 顾北西 Ft Chen Xi Jun 陈希郡

Leader of the Nan Feng Village, he nursed a strong affection for Deng Deng from a young age but had difficulty making her see it. He goes to travel with Deng Deng on her search for her father but then discovers that he is better fit as her friend. 

Zhu Rong 诛戎 Ft Lai Yi 赖艺

The spirit clan leader who was defeated by Lu Yan three thousand years ago but has returned to finish his vision of destroying humanity and bringing about an era for the spirit clan.




Plot Recap


Three thousand years ago, the spirit clan (humanoids with green blood, pointed ears and magical powers) invaded the mainland and Lu Yan, the Prince of the Ancient Shu Kingdom stepped in as general to protect his homeland from these invaders. He put up a fierce fight against the spirit clan leader Zhu Rong. The spirit clan saintess or Sheng Nv, Yun Xi, decided the mainland could provide a homeland for both humans and the spirit clan and worked together with Lu Yan to defeat Zhu Rong thereby saving humanity and creating a world where members of the spirit clan could co-exist with humans. However, Yun Xi sacrificed herself to save Lu Yan and shortly after defeating Zhu Rong, Lu Yan also disappeared.


Now, during the republic of China, and in a cave near the Qing Quan village, village leader Yu Deng Deng, who is a spitting image of Yun Xi, happens upon a mural of Lu Yan. As the cave becomes unstable and Deng Deng accidentally cuts herself on the rocks, her blood awakens the thousand year old general Lu Yan. Back at Qing Quan village, Yu Deng Deng’s second father, Lv Er, played by the famous comedian Xiao Shen Yang, suggests that to stave off the bad omens surrounding Deng Deng which primarily involves needing money to support the village, she should marry a man. And thus our story begins. 


Deng Deng heads down to the main town and forcefully proposes to marry the son of a wealthy merchant. She and her motley crew of village members are hoping to use the bride price and gifts from the marriage to fund many of the activities in the village. Except, on the day they go to marry the young man, he disappears en route back to the village. Enraged, Deng Deng and company head back to the village to try to make a fuss with the litter or you could say carriage company. iQiyi translates this as a sedan. Essentially what was used to carry the husband. On route, Deng Deng’s group see a group of bandits being chased by police and causing havoc in the streets. Deng Deng tries to save a boy from gunfire when she herself is saved by the dashing Lu Yan who just happened to be nearby.


And with one look, Deng Deng is smitten. She is absolutely infatuated with Lu Yan’s looks and immediately wants to marry him instead. And thus we have a comical reversal of roles as Deng Deng forces marriage with Lu Yan who only reluctantly agrees because he cannot understand why Deng Deng looks so like the woman he helped care for for 3000 years but is not showing evidence of being her. He allows himself to be taken up to Deng Deng’s village and even become her concubine in order to investigate further. What is hilarious is that Deng Deng is actually already married. Her first husband, some how persuaded by again he second dad, is a freaking rooster called Da Hong or Big Red. He’s a great chill rooster but the entire village treats him as the proper husband of Deng Deng. When Lu Yan arrives, they even call him Lu yi niang or concubine Lu. He only takes this odd disrespect because he recognizes that Deng Deng has the essence of Yun Xi and the only way to retrieve this is to kill Deng Deng. 

The big catalyst in the first part of the drama is the fun albeit rushed wedding between Lu Yan and Yu Deng Deng at Qing Quan village. They invite all of the village leaders from nearby villages in order to take the money to give to the poor and needy in her village. But the evening of the wedding, the village leaders turn into vicious monsters that are losing their vitality. Deng Deng herself is the victim of dark magic by members of the spirit clan. And so, in order to save the lives of these village leaders as well as the life if Deng Deng, she, Lu Yan, Gu Bei Xi, Deng Deng’s childhood friend and village leader of Nan Feng among a few others, head out to seek the truth. 

The group manages to defeat the monster of the spirit clan harming innocent spirit clan members and humans and return to Qing Quan village. While Lu Yan starts seeing the attention to detail and kind hearted nature of Yu Deng Deng, his primary goal is to retrieve Yun Xi’s magical essence from Yu Deng Deng in order to revive her at the cost of Deng Deng’s life. 

However, as he’s trying to kill Deng Deng, he discovers to his utter disbelief that she IS Yun Xi, the woman he spent 3,000 years protecting. The remainder of the drama follows Lu Yan and Deng Deng as they clear the air about how they each came to be at Qing Quan village and why Yun Xi has now reincarnated as Deng Deng. Meanwhile, the search for Deng Deng’s father who has gone missing and the goal to stop a similarly reincarnated Zhu Rong that continues seek spirit clan dominance over the mainland. Deng Deng and Lu Yan’s travels take them to different parts of the mainland, to the spirit clan market place and also back to Lu Yan’s homeland, the ancient kingdom of Shu in a whirlwind story.


Overall Thoughts

The drama broke records for reaching 9000 on the popularity index in the first 24 hours of airing and it stayed in that range for the duration of the drama airing period peaking near 9300 but never broke beyond that. This drama did well but was not at the popularity of the summer dramas. In my view, that’s fair.

This is a drama where I appreciate the effort that went into it but it needed to be polished from a script perspective. 处处不用心但处处用心 There are plenty of areas or parts to the drama where you think either the plot or the setting is not detailed enough but then in other parts of the drama it is. Take for example the costumes for the main characters. At first you’re pushed to think that the main characters don’t have too many different hairstyles and for Deng Deng at least it’s very simple. But then when you look at the detail in the costumes from the embroidery to the design as well as the style, it’s all extremely intricate. The village or clan leader outfits for Deng Deng  are masculine but with a touch of femininity. The suits for Lu Yan are understated but the collars are of very chic design and perfectly tailored. 

Qing Quan village, Gui Shi, the Spirit Clan city, and Gu Shu the ancient kingdom where Lu Yan is from are full of life but then some of the intermediate cities look forgettable and unimaginative. That’s the struggle with filming Republic of China era pieces because there are only so many sets available. I feel like I can see where this drama was trying to go in terms of world building but then it didn’t fully bring me to a fully immersive world. The actors didn’t have too much to work with or I felt like they could have done more. The secondary characters really helped bring this drama to life and I found them all very fun individuals in their own right but again, the problem is really the plot and script.

This is a drama that will have you burst out laughing but then bawling tears of sadness in a roller coaster of emotions which I felt like needed to be balanced out. Though, the soundtrack especially You Shi Wu Qi 有时无期 by Zhang Bi Chen 张碧晨 and Wu 吾 by Ren Jia Lun 任嘉伦 are quite outstanding and I have them on repeat right now in my playlist. And separately, I wish the color palette of this drama was more varied. It was primarily hues or red orange or black. I would have greatly liked more color variation throughout the drama.



What I liked:

The relationship between Deng Deng and Lu Yan. 

If I had to describe their relationship in one word it would be comforting. Lu Yan spent 3000 years helping bring Yun Xi back to life. After confirming that Deng Deng was indeed Yun Xi, he never hesitated to protect her for the entirety of the drama. He was always her rock no matter the consequences.  She, on her part, never looked at any other man after spending time with Lu Yan and also trusted him unconditionally. After clearing up some comical misunderstandings aside, the two of them worked together seamlessly to uncover secrets about who was harming members of the spirit clan and also discovering the more nefarious forces at play in the mystical realm of the ancient Shu Kingdom. It was nice to see them come together as a team and play tricks together against outside adversaries to break spells or gather evidence. I never had to worry that Deng Deng or Lu Yan would betray each other for any reason other than saving the other person’s life and even then, it didn’t involve hurting the other person. None of this let me tell you I hate you so that you stop loving me. I’m hurting you to protect you nonsense. 

For Deng Deng‘s part, she was the subject of another man, Gu Bei Xi’s affections, but Deng Deng was at first too oblivious to his affections or else only considered him as a friend after furthering her feelings for Lu Yan. Sure, Deng Deng and Lu Yan both had to figure out their feelings for a couple of episodes but once they cleared the air it was overall just very sweet.  Deng Deng towards the end of the drama actually put it quite well. The two of them started out not knowing how to love another person even though they were attracted to each other but after all of their travels, have grown immensely together.  Perhaps it’s because Li Qin and  Ren Jia Lun are both in their 30s so while the story is often times funny, it still felt like a more mature and trusting relationship.


Yu Deng Deng as a unique character

 I personally really liked Deng Deng as a character. In a time period where women did not have much positions of power, she was leading an entire village. A large part is because of her insane strength due to the fact that she is the sheng nv or saintess, in order to secure support and respect. But the other part is that while she is on the surface just loud and aggressive, she is actually incredibly detail oriented and observant. Not only that, she’s very kind hearted. The money she gets from forcing Lu Yan to marry her and as gifts from neighboring village heads are given to the poor and needy in her village. She cares deeply about the lives and stability of her village and works tirelessly to ensure its inhabitants are cared for. That’s the other reason why she garners respect. 

Plus, she never let being a woman stop her. One line in particular that was interesting to me is that in this drama, she said Lu Yan would be 于陆氏 which meant that she would be the primary family and Lu Yan would be second. In Meng Hua Lu or A Dream of Splendor, the main male lead Gu Qian Fan was skewed by viewers or comments for saying that Zhao Pan’er would be Gu Zhao Shi because that automatically implied a patriarchy. But in this drama, not only does Yu Deng Deng marry Lu Yan as a concubine, she does so as if she were a man without a second thought. 

Yea, there are plenty of issues with this construct as a whole but I found that to be highly refreshing even if it was ridiculous. 

She is also extremely clear of what she wants and is not afraid to be upfront about it, namely Lu Yan. When she recognized that she likes him, she made it very clear to him that she wants him and cares for him. There is no room for any doubt that she has only eyes for Lu Yan. This contributes to the comforting relationship I mentioned but most women are not as vocal about her feelings or as confident in her feelings as well as Lu Yan’s feelings towards her. 

In my view, Deng Deng’s success in large part is due to the Li Qin. She just wrote a rather long essay on her view of the character of Yu Deng Deng and I agree on most points. It’s clear Li QIn did a lot of research and thought on playing this character. Many people actually do not like her portrayal of the character because they think she over- acted the part. A contributing reason to this is because Li Qin’s very well known for her more tragic or demure roles where she’s cold and distant and so seeing her in a more comical and aggressive role was jarring for most people. But if you look at her reality tv show clips and what not, she’s much more outgoing in front of friends and during competitions so this was not that much of a shift to me. 

Though when she does cry, Li QIn certainly brought me to tears. Of the many criticisms for this drama, at least not being thin enough or beautiful enough was not one of them. 


What I didn’t like:


Allen Ren – his voice.

Man is the guy handsome. You can tell I’m quite enamored because of all the photos I’m putting up of him. He looks fantastic in this role with those tailored suits and his overall demeanor. But…

The BIGGEST controversy for this drama is that Ren Jia Lun did not use a voice dub for this role. And he is largely panned for it. It’s one of those times where viewers are actually urging him to use a voice dub. Why is that? It’s because many of his lines are stated as though he’s reading off a script. At first I didn’t mind it especially in the first 6 episodes or so because he didn’t need to have much emotion but then later one when he’s professing love or showing anger, I just wish there was more! It still felt like he was just reciting lines. What’s so odd to me is that I thought his acting was fine. Especially the moments when he smiled or was chuckling at some of the silliness from Deng Deng. His face absolutely lights up when he smiles and when he cries, you cannot help but be moved by him.  The set photos of him in this drama are also very handsome to say the least. I really do wish though he did more to bring out emotion in his lines for the drama. I’ve seen justification from fans in that Lu Yan is a character with little outward emotion as that was the toll on him for sleeping for 3000 years which yes, as stated in the drama that becoming a much colder person would be a side effect of saving Yun Xi, but still. If fans need to justify it then it doesn’t necessarily stick.


Too many unexplained points in the drama

The problem with this drama’s world building is that it’s clearly not thought out thoroughly. That’s one of the challenges of it being not based off of any book is that some quirks were created for plot purposes or for a laugh but then not fully explained. I can’t go too in depth into some of the unexplained plot points without going into major spoiler territory but some of the questions I had were the full extent of the spirit clan powers and how connected was the spirit clan to humans. We see Lu Yan and the main villain for the drama Zhu Rong fight immense battles and Zhu Rong can shape shift while Lu Yan can appear anywhere but how? What are the rules here? And how can the hairpin allow Deng Deng and Lu Yan to communicate with one another? Once again what are the rules there? There’s a hilarious plot point where Da Hai, Deng Deng’s disciple, starts turning into a woman after drinking. This is after being injured by a member of a spirit clan. While this created plenty of laughs in the drama which I appreciated, I’m not sure how or why this happened. And it’s not explained satisfactorily. Not everything needs to be fully explained in a world but when certain aspects drive crucial points of the story, then it’s important to flesh those parts of the story out. 

Villain(s) were not interesting

The last point I’ll make is that I found the villains to be lackluster. Because the rules of power for the spirit clan were unclear, I couldn’t understand exactly what Zhu Rong was doing half the time. Sure he may not have had as much power as Lu Yan but he controlled so many spirit clan members and could have wreaked way more havoc than what was portrayed. His ultimate motivations just seemed weak and how he went about bringing about the demise of humanity seemed too rushed towards the end. 

Additionally, the final conflict just seemed too small scale. The drama emphasized humanity vs all of the spirit clan but the deaths and decay seemed to only revolve around QIng Quan village. I couldn’t feel the immense impact or weight of the villains compared to what I believe the writers had hoped. In any case, the drama just left me thinking ok…what else? It’s hard to write good leads but even harder to write good villains and I don’t think the drama managed this time around.


That’s it for me! Let me know what you thought and if you agree or disagree!



Checkmate (2022) 民国大侦探

Summary:  Set in Republican Era (民国) China between 1911-1949, we follow the lawyer turned detective Si Tu Yan (ft Hu Yi Tian 胡一天) and his wealthy police best friend Lu Shao Chuan (ft Zhang Yun Long 张云龙) solve mysterious murders and crimes in the northeast city of Harbin 哈尔滨. They, along with an insightful young woman Zhou Mo Wan (ft Zhang Xin Yu 张馨予) and local reporter Jin Qi Ming (ft Xuan Yan 宣言), comprise of a motley crew to solve some of the trickiest murders in the city. Checkmate is billed as the first Chinese adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Hercules Poirot stories


Total Episode Count: 24

Initial Airing Date: Aug 10, 2022

Platform: iQiYi


Initial Rating: 7.5/10

Initial thoughts [12 episodes]: This is a pretty serviceable adaptation of the adventures of Agatha Christie’s Hercules Poirot and Miss Marple. It reunites Hu Yi Tian (胡一天) and Zhang Yun Long (张云龙) back together again after their surprising 2020 hit My Roommate is a Detective (民国奇探). They bring back they easy bromance and partnership back in this drama which makes it easy to draw the viewer in. The show will cover 8 “murders” or mysteries, which is quite brisk for a 24 episode show. That averages to around 3 episodes per mystery. The first mystery is an adaptation of perhaps one of Agatha Christie’s most famous mystery, Murder on the Orient Express. I won’t spoil the rest of the mysteries but it’s fun to guess which of the stories ties to the corresponding Agatha Christie mystery.

The setting of Harbin 哈尔滨 during the Republican Era 民国时期 adds a lot of unique flavor to the drama.  Being in the northeast part of China, Harbin had a mélange of Manchu, Han and European influences. The Russian influences are especially obvious in the city’s architecture.  This backdrop allows for some of the more “Western” mysteries to unfold in this multicultural city. 

Final Rating 7.5/10

I’ll keep my 7.5 rating of the show. It was a fun and short summer watch of a drama.

This drama got rather mixed reviews while it was airing and didn’t get great viewership but both Karen and I thoroughly enjoyed it and also recommended this to our mom. This won’t be as thrilling as some other detective stories or even the latest installments of Poirot by Kenneth Branagh in his films Murder on the Orient Express or Death on the Nile but because the cases are so short, you don’t have too much time to think about big plot holes. That made this a very easy and intriguing watch.

I think Hu Yi Tian does a great job adding warmth to the role as the detective. He’s never overbearing and subtly tries to find the solution to each mystery.  He and Zhang Yun Long have great chemistry since this is their second drama together as leads and so they play off each other seamlessly. Honestly their chemistry was better than their chemistry with their respective romances. The acting overall is good, the stories are gripping (I mean, it’s Agatha Christie so I don’t think they will be too bad), and the fashion is gorgeous. Check it out if you enjoy some murder mysteries!

The writers do a clever job of creating a Big Bad that becomes clearer and clearer towards the end of the drama. But they did have me guessing on who the culprit ultimately was in the final episodes. However, I’m not sure if it really landed with the rest of the viewers. If you want something that is intriguing but isn’t too heavy and want to see a Republican Era show with beautiful people, this is the one for you.



SiTu Yan 司徒颜 ft Hu Yi Tian 胡一天



The Hercule Poirot of the series. He was a lawyer in Beiping but after a failed case in the opening scenes of the series, he travels to the city of 哈尔滨. On the trip to Harbin, he encounters Luo Shao Chuan and his first “murder mystery”. After arriving in Harbin, he quickly establishes proves himself as a brilliant detective when tasked with solving a wide array of mysteries.


Luo Shao Chuan 骆少川 ft Zhang Yun Long 张云龙

A policeman who is also the son of the wealthiest man in Harbin. After meeting Si Tu Yan, they solve their first murder mystery together. The two quickly become friends and become an excellent duo in solving crimes and mysteries. Luo Shao Chuan’s father is mysteriously murdered and Luo Shao Chuan requests Si Tu Yan to help solve the mystery.


Zhou Mo Wan 周墨婉 ft Zhang Xin Yu 张馨予

A mysterious beauty with an outgoing personality, she is introduced as a music teacher for an all-girls school. She first meets Si Tu Yan at a restaurant and they bicker about Si Tu Yan’s penchant for cleanliness. She gets wrapped into supporting Si Tu Yan on some of his murder mysteries while having several mysteries of her own.


Zou Jing Xuan 邹静萱 ft Shen Yu Jie 沈羽洁

Luo Shao Chuan’s fiancée, she grew up as a relatively sheltered socialite. She is related to Luo Shao Chuan and they grew up together. Luo Shao Chuan however, doesn’t want to be tied down with this marriage. When Luo Shao Chuan’s father was mysteriously murdered, she provided crucial evidence to help his case. Over the course of the series, she gradually becomes an independent woman who finally captures the gaze of Luo Shao Chuan.


Jin Qi Ming 金启明 ft Xuan Yan 宣言

A reporter that Si Tu Yan and Luo Shao Chuan encounter on their trip to Harbin. He helps the two solve murder mysteries by providing helpful background information from the newspaper archives. However, just like all the characters in the drama, Jin Qi Ming has several secrets on his own.




Plot Summary


It’s the 1920s in BeiPing (present day Beijing). The young lawyer SiTu Yan loses his job due to a failed murder case that impacts him heavily. He makes his way up to Harbin in hopes of starting afresh and to visit his mentor – Mr. Shen. Before leaving however, he encounters Luo Shao Chuan, a young police officer and they get into a small argument. On the train ride, he becomes a suspect in a mysterious murder that occurs in the first class cabins. He’s surprisingly on the same train as Luo Shao Chuan. To prove his innocence, SiTu Yan agrees to find the real culprit. Using his impeccable skills of deduction and observation and some help with a local journalist on the train Jin Qi Min, SiTu Yan solves the case.

The train arrives in Harbin and SiTu Yan leaves the case to the local authorities for final judgment. In Harbin, SiTu Yan arrives to find that his mentor Mr. Shen has shockingly died of a heart attack, leaving a widow behind. He agrees to stay with her while trying to find employment as she is also an important mentor of sorts to him. Soon after, SiTu Yan, who gained the respect of Luo Shao Chuan, is introduced to Luo Shao Chuan’s family. Luo Shao Chuan’s father is the wealthiest man in Harbin. An aunt and her adoptive daughter Zou Jing Xuan also lives with the Luo Family. Zou Jing Xuan is Luo Shao Chuan’s fiancée but Luo Shao Chuan makes it clear that he views Zou Jing Xuan as a sister.  

On an exploration of the city, Situ Yan encounters the attractive Zhou Mo Wan at a fusion restaurant. The two get into a minor squabble and part ways but leave a lasting impression on each other. Elsewhere, Luo Shao Chuan gets into an intense argument with his father which results in Luo Shao Chuan leaving their house to drown his sorrows in drink. The next day, servants arrive to find Luo Shao Chuan’s father, Mr. Luo dead in his room. All evidence point to Luo Shao Chuan as the culprit. With no one to turn to, Luo Shao Chuan asks SiTu Yan for help to clear his name.

It takes some time but SiTu Yan is ultimately able to help Luao Shao Chuan clear his name. After solving the mystery of the true culprit, Luo Shao Chuan nudges SiTu Yan into opening a detective agency to solve crimes. Seeing that he doesn’t want to be a lawyer anymore and in need of an income, Situ Yan agrees. The next case quickly arrives in the form of a mysterious death at a prestigious all-girl’s school. Zhou Mo Wan just so happens to be a music teacher at this school. Her skills of deduction an logic impress SiTu Yan and he brings her along as they try to solve this case.

Over the course of the show, SiTu Yan, Luo Shao Chuan, Zhou Mo Wan, Zou Jing Xuan, and Jin Qi Ming basically form a small detective force as they solve murder cases. However, as SiTu Yan continues to solve cases, he find subtle hints of a larger force working behind the scenes. Somehow, it seems like all of the cases are related. While solving his murder cases, he must also find the larger organization and mastermind behind these cases. What does he find? How will that impact him? Watch and find out!


For those of you who are Agatha Christie fans, these are the stories that get adapted for this drama.

  1. Murder on the Orient Express
  2. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
  3. Cat Among the Pigeons
  4. One, Two, Buckle My Shoe
  5. Five Little Pigs
  6. The Kidnapped Prime Minister
  7. Three Act Tragedy
  8. Curtain

What I liked

There is great chemistry with the leads. Perhaps it’s because this is the second time around for Hu Yi Tian and Zhang Yun Long, but I was quickly and easily won over by their frenemies turned best friend rapport. The romance aspect of the show between the characters was subtle enough but I thought they also moved appropriately. There’s also a wide supporting cast of characters for the different mysteries. There are some heavy hitters in the cast so it was great for me to see many familiar faces in the show.

Also, the show looks great! In recent years, studios and production companies have built several Republican era sets and the abundance of sets and sound stages really add to the effect of bringing forth a dramatized version of Harbin in that ear. A big plus is that the series was filmed in the winter, so when the actors and actresses wore furs and jackets, it added more realism because Harbin is famous for being called the Ice City in China. I do also quite like that they emphasized being in Harbin and made it an important aspect of the drama because I feel like most shows are set in BeiPing or ShangHai to show off the grandeur of the time, especially Shang Hai, but that doesn’t mean other cities weren’t interesting. Having Harbin be the primary setting for this drama added a differentiating factor to this drama. 

And the best thing going for this show is that it moves at a really brisk pace. It’s only 24 episodes with 8 mysteries so it’s around 2.5-3 episodes per mystery. Perhaps due to the source material, there isn’t much screen time wasted on any superfluous plot. It’s a refreshing and gripping 24 episode watch. This fast pace is I think it’s saving grace. Many of the dramas this year have felt too long or else I lost interest midway through and struggled to finish watching but this drama, because it’s so short, felt much more “doable”.  If you’re familiar with the source material, it’s a serviceable adaptation. If you aren’t, then have some fun trying to guess the murderer! 


What I didn’t like

I just mentioned how the show looks great. But, this is a broad nitpick to all shows set in the Republican area, everything just seems WAY too Western. Now Harbin might get a pass because of its Western and Russian influences but I personally don’t like how all these shows set in the Republican era are just like a glorified backdrop for Chinese dramas as a way to use Western technologies. It’s still very much a fairy type air for these dramas set in this time period.

While we praised the two male leads, the two female leads I do think left me wanting more. Particularly Zhang Xin Yu. She is absolutely stunning in this drama but her beauty almost is at odds with her character. Perhaps it’s because my impression of her is still left in the gorgeous and extravagant outfits from the Tang Dynasty from previous dramas. Her character is complex but I’m not certain she fully sticks the landing. Though, Zhang Xin Yu left a 1000 or so word essay on weibo after the drama aired explaining her interpretation of her character and I felt it was quite thoughtful. But again, I don’t know if it fully sticks for me. 

I also don’t know how well the Big Bad in the drama worked. I had my suspicions during the course of the drama but they did throw several red herrings to throw me off. When the big bad was revealed in like the last 15 minutes, I was like – wait, what’s the resolution!