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First episode 87 - 步步惊心


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A part of the Grand First Episode Project -- See this thread for more info.

Language Difficulty: Advanced

In the best traditions of forum favourite 魔幻手机, here is another time travel show. It was only released on Chinese TV in September, but not only is it already on youtube, there is a version on youtube with English subs.

In 2011 our heroine has a fight with her boyfriend and gets hit by a car, but wakes up in the Qing dynasty and everyone takes her for 马尔泰。若曦 the younger sister in law of a prince.

This sort of thing has been done before of course (这儿是CBD吗?你说的是什么地?), but this time there is an interesting twist. The emperor is Kangxi, and there is a very messy succession struggle between his 20+ sons coming up. Things are all very brotherly at the moment, but 若曦 paid attention in history in school and knows that, for instance, her brother in law will be forced to change his name to "Pig" after the politics fall out the wrong way for him. The first two episodes are very lighthearted comedy but I assume that the tone is going to turn a lot darker once the knives come out.

I started watching this show by accident after looking for a real history series (I couldn't find 雍正王朝 with subtitles), but it looks like there may be some real history and suspense in this show to go along with the time travel caper stuff. I'm hoping it is going to be an interesting mix, and am planning to watch at least a couple more episodes. The language seems almost completely modern.

The closing credits advertise a computer game 鹿鼎记之步步惊喜, a cross between this story and the JIn Yong novel set during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor. I am not sure if that is just the game, the Douban write up of 步步惊喜 says nothing about 鹿鼎记. Does anyone know if there is a connection between the TV series and 鹿鼎记 (I would prefer there wasn't since I haven't read 鹿鼎记 but plan to one day)?

Youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIzsP1lK2Jc

English subs:

Wikipedia entry for Kangxi: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kangxi (scroll down to the list of his sons to keep track of who is who)

Edited by renzhe
Added preamble
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I didn't like this one at all, but I'm not the target audience, I guess. It seems to be aimed at teenage girls (whereas 魔幻手机 was aimed at teenage boys). At the same time, some of my girlfriend's friends cried at the end, so what do I know?

The positive side to the show is that it is based on real people so, although many events are obviously not accurate, the family tree and much of the environment are, so it can make a good way to learn about that part of Qing history, which is obviously important.

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My mom adores this show! But I totally can't stand it. Way too talky, in the sense that I feel the characters should be doing something rather than just standing around talking about it. But yes, this show seems to have pretty ardent fans, so it did something right.

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Yes, the second episode feels very, for want of a better word, teenage girly most of the way through. But then right at the end, as the brothers are joking together, 若曦 has vivid premonitions of them all being tortured in the dark (or doing the torturing). This show promises something dark lurking behind the surface of all that inconsequential talking, which I like, so if it manages to stay happy and bubbly all the way through, I'm going to be disappointed.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Actually, I really like the idea of this show, a history based show with lots of different princes struggling to take over and a main character who knows what is going to happen because she studied it in history in school. She wants to change history though, and there is suspense about whether or not she will be able to. So far the show seems historically accurate in terms of which princes are allied with each other. There's some pretty funny bits, eg near the beginning the Kangxi Emperor asks the girl from the future what she thinks of him, and the first thing that comes to her mind is what Kangxi said about himself near his deathbed many years later. She rejects this as inappropriate and in the end replies with a poem that Mao Zedong wrote about emperors.

However, even though for a guy I have a high tolerance for romcoms, I have to admit that after watching a few episodes in a row the unremitting teenage girliness is wearing me down. I wish the director had just been a little bit subtle about shooting the romantic scenes in a fantasy romantic setting. The main characters are supposed to be wordlessly communicating their emotions but the camera keeps panning away to shots of flowers and dappled sunlight. I suppose that as long as the guy is a prince, the flowers are in blossom, the lighting is mood appropriate and there are abundant hints of tragic drama queen melodrama to come you have everything you need.

I tend to finish things once I have started (I am not sure whether it is a blessing or a curse) and there are some things I like a lot about this series. But I have just seen the top ranked Youtube comment (40 likes) for the next episode is "其实他真是爱若曦的啊!!那个神情假不了". I don't think I can do this ...

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