First Look: C-Drama ‘General and I 孤芳不自赏’

We have a new Chinese drama to watch!!! The live adaptation of Chinese novel A Lonesome Fragrance Waiting to be Appreciated 孤芳不自赏 by Chinese author Feng Nong 風弄.

I’m super excited because I’ve read the first novel (it is part of a three novel set) and thoroughly enjoyed, I also read the first 12 chapters of the manhua adaptation….. I absolutely love reading mangas/manhua/manhwa so that was right up my ally until the the author went on indefinite hiatus for the manhua which upset me a lot!  It was because of the manhua that I seek out the novel version and I admit as my Chinese is not great it took me a while to finish the first novel, but then I found that someone had actually translated all three novels into English!!! But while that is tempting I think I may just finish the novels in Chinese, finish what I started right?

I first heard about the adaptation being a couple of months ago, which if you think about it is pretty late in the game. There isn’t as high of a demand for Chinese entertainment to be in English as there is for Korean or Japanese entertainment so I personally find it hard to seek entertainment new unless it was in Chinese and quite frankly my Chinese is pretty poor. I’m what you call a BBC,British Born Chinese and I guess that’s my excuse for my poor Chinese. I use the term Chinese but to be more specific my family is of Cantonese decent so we speak Cantonese and I can speak it pretty well I guess. I’ve personally made an effort to learn Mandarin and I guess it’s at conversational level (maybe just below it)? I also listen to a lot of Mandarin music (specifically from Taiwan) and watching dramas/variety shows mainly from Taiwan. I just find Mainland China dramas hard to get into because they re-dub (voice over) everything due to the vast range of accents and dialects there are and most of the voice overs are poorly done. However I find the dramas from bigger productions tend to be dubbed decently which means its watchable but that doesn’t mean I watch everything, I tend to check out the dramas that netizens have been buzzing about or the ones that are being promoted like crazy before release. I’ll watch the first few episodes and then drop the series if it doesn’t tickle my fancy.

I’m going a bit off topic now…. lets get back to General and I which is the English title for the drama. The drama stars an actor I quite like as the male lead in the form of Wallace Chung 鍾漢良 and a leading lady in the form of Angelababy 楊穎 who I find decent at best in terms of acting but she is pretty to look at right? (sexist comment I know).

I would never have thought of having Angelababy (gosh I hate that stage name…. how can anyone take you seriously as an actor?) play the role of smart and witty maid Bai Ping Ting 白娉婷 reason being is that Bai Ping Ting is not really suppose to be a girl who is classified as beautiful or pretty by normal standards, I would say she is attractive by her charm. And Angelababy is definitely your standard/usual beauty and I don’t mean it in an offensive way….. when you look at her there is no way in hell you would say she is not attractive right? Wallace will tackling the role of Chu Bei Jie 楚北捷, I have no worries that Wallace will be able to portray the role well as he is an actor I like and do not doubt his skill. But he wouldn’t have been the first name I would have put next to CBJ if I am being completely honest. I’m not saying Wallace isn’t good looking, he definitely is but he doesn’t have that manly look, that handsome face or those striking angles which is what I see in CBJ.

As much as it took me a while to read the first novel, I did find it easy to read and very much enjoyed it. So I was looking forward to this drama and was optimistic that it would be somewhat decent if it did follow the flow of the novel….. After the first four episodes I felt I was let down and disappointed. There is a distinct deviation from the novel and its mainly the parts I really enjoyed.

One of the things I loved the most was how BPT and CBJ met, it was a coincident and just seemed like it was fated. how she had fallen for the enemy without knowing he was the enemy. How he had sparked an interest for a mute maid when he was guarding his phoenix. I loved their witty conversation exchanges, their interaction behind a blind and unfortunately all this was left out of the television drama and that was a big blow to me. But it was what they went through in the first novel that made you feel for this couple, so in love but so many misunderstandings and so many unfortunate events.

In the drama their first meeting was deliberate, it was planned and all leading to a bigger  plan. So what was essentially missed out was how BPT fell head over heels for CBJ…. the drama did give a backdrop to why and how CBJ fell for BPT, the ever so cliche “met when they were children and was never able to forget her”.  But even still…. it’s not engaging, as the audience you don’t connect with their romance which means you invested in the OTP and essentially do not believe their love.
Maybe it’s just me but I’m a sucker for anything romantic and I just don’t see it. It’s got nothing to do with the actor’s acting it’s how the script is written. The character development is just not there, the development of their relationship and even the character itself. I just don’t believe their ‘feelings for each other’ and I don’t get how BPT even falls for CBJ. It feels like they’ve dumbed down BPT’s female character, she should be this smart, witty, strong willed female and not just a female a female military adviser in her own right but her own success. But it seems in the drama they’ve made it like she is in possession of the best military combat book…. which kind of makes her lose credit as a a strong military adviser and that all her success was down to her having this book.

I’m not saying that the novel is the best thing ever and of course it does have it’s own problems such as I really hoped they had showed more of BPT and her Master’s relationship. Her master being He Xia 何俠 (played by Sean Sun Yizhou 孫藝洲 in the drama), he of course loved her but I wished that it was shown more in detail and I also believe the decisions he’s made were more difficult than the novel portrayed. But as for the basic story, the script writers really should have stuck closer to the novel as it’s definitely more entertaining than what they have managed to produce….

In good old China’s way of doing things, General and I is aired seven days a week with about one to two episodes aired per day (I think its two episodes on a weekday and one episode on a weekend) so it means when I first started started this post (it does take me a while to write a post as I’ll be writing multiple posts at the same time… clearly I have a distraction and concentration issue) I was on episode four, then got to episode six half way through the post but in a blink of an eye 17 of the 62 episodes are out. I’ll continue to watch the drama at my pace but hopefully I won’t fall too far behind. I’ll come back to give a end of drama review… when I eventually finish watching it.



This now makes me wonder about the other novel adaptation Chinese drama I am looking forward to… Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossom 三生三世十里桃花…… but that will be in an upcoming post.



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5 thoughts on “First Look: C-Drama ‘General and I 孤芳不自赏’

  1. I dropped the drama after a few episodes. Something seems off in this drama. Angelababy’s acting sadly isn’t very good, so the director seems to really focus on her beauty with the many close up shot of her face. Wallace is of course great, but the plot development seems so sudden on some plotline, as well as the drama doesn’t portray why BPT likes CBJ. I also find it weird that for how smart BPT is, how she couldn’t understand He Sha, her master. Her master’s family was killed and she tells him to not wallow in revenge.

  2. This drama was on my list of must watch for 2017, (I’m a c-drama wuxia junkie)…. i’ve binged watched up to 40 something episodes and was absolutely disappointed! the character development is nill. the bright PingTing turns into a bi-polar, neurotic, self sabotaging helpless female! I was so disgusted that I stopped watching.

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