Magical Space-Time

June 19, 2016

Original Title: 奇妙的时光之旅

Country: China

Format: TV Drama

Episodes: 24

Broadcast Year: 2016

Production Company: Hunan Broadcasting System

Starring: Jia Nia Liang, Ruby Lin, Xu Lu, Kim Sung-Joo, Wang Yu, Li Qiang

My Rating:

As most Chinese drama fans would probably know, China’s State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) has banned time travel dramas (along with many other types of dramas). But apparently, as long as the time travel element doesn’t mess with Chinese history, then it’s okay! So that’s how the time travel drama, Magical Space-Time, got past the censors. When I saw that Ruby Lin was starring in it, I knew I had to watch it. But it seems that she’s not the producer for this one. It started to show as the series progressed — the production quality was obviously lacking as compared to her dramas produced under Ruby Lin Studio.

Synopsis

Peng Zhen Dong and actress Xie Jia Xin are happily married after meeting in Osaka. But their marriage was shortlived as Zhen Dong was caught in a yacht explosion along with his mother, the CEO of Heng Yuan Food Corps — both presumed dead. But Zhen Dong managed to survive and had to undergo a facial transplant. Ten years later, he takes up the identity of the person who donated his face, Han Ruo Fei. After learning that his wife, Jia Xin, has died in a mysterious car accident that is somehow connected to his mother’s death, he teams up with his friend, Wu Yao, to investigate. He happened upon a honeymoon gift, an old Polaroid camera, left to him by Jia Xin and discovered it had time travelling powers. He decided to use it to save his wife and mother.

The Good

  • Interesting (and promising) premise
  • Good actors
  • Lovely soundtrack

The Bad

  • Nonsensical plot points
  • Unnecessary comic relief
  • Lack of time travelling
  • Horrible post-production quality

Review

Magical Space-Time started off very promising. There was an interesting premise with many different elements at play: the main character realized that the yacht explosion was not an accident — mystery; he discovered a time machine and attempted to save everyone — fantasy. Doesn’t that sound interesting? It was for about the first half of the series. I really enjoyed the progression of the story until every single important scene got undermined by unnecessary comic relief. I know that Ruo Fei has a silly sidekick but can he please not ruin all the build-up with stupid dialogue and actions right before every exciting moment? For me, it became a bit annoying to watch.

Zhen Dong and Jia Xin (played by Kim Sung-Joo and Ruby Lin). Photo © HBS

Zhen Dong and Jia Xin (played by Kim Sung-Joo and Ruby Lin). Photo © HBS

After the halfway mark, the series started to drag. I was expecting them to do a lot with the time travel element since they made it the focus of the story so far but unfortunately they kept that plot line super simple. Save the wife, save the mother; once that was done, the rest of the story was really more focused on the relationship between Ruo Fei and Jia Xin. It felt like there was actually a lack of time travelling as I waited and waited for something more to happen. I guess I’m biased after watching the great Korean drama, Nine: Nine Time Travels, in which they did a lot of twists and turns with the story. There is a lot of potential when it comes to time travel stories and I feel it was wasted in Magical Space-Time.

Ruo Fei (played by Jia Nai Liang), Jia Xin (played by Ruby Lin), and Du Kai (played by Wang Yu). Photo © HBS

Ruo Fei (played by Jia Nai Liang), Jia Xin (played by Ruby Lin), and Du Kai (played by Wang Yu). Photo © HBS

There were also many stupid and nonsensical scenes like: supersonic hearing — a character overheard an important conversation, except her location should’ve been too far away to hear anything; crime in public — the antagonist’s lackey somehow got past a crowd of reporters, security, and employees at a company that he doesn’t belong to and successfully tampered with a laptop with nobody noticing; the perfect evidence — someone was murdered but surprisingly there was a camera filming the whole thing in full frontal view at a place where there normally shouldn’t be any cameras; dumb characters — a character discovered evidence of murder and goes directly to the murderer’s house to threaten him with it — and of course it backfired. It felt so ridiculous, even for a drama, that I had to list them all out.

Did I mention all the product placements? Normally I wouldn’t consider this a bad thing because every drama needs sponsors but the placement in this drama was also borderline repetitive. Pretty much every house or office scene has a beverage (I think I saw coconut water and yogurt drinks) on a table with a character saying “here, drink this.” I commend them for delivering those lines so naturally but it all felt a bit over kill. One scene that was out of place though had the characters at a fancy lounge or office. The mood would suggest some wine on the counter but instead it had coconut water/yogurt drink.

Ruo Fei and Qiao Qiao (played by Jia Nai Liang and Xu Lu). Photo © HBS

Ruo Fei and Qiao Qiao (played by Jia Nai Liang and Xu Lu). Photo © HBS

And last but not least, the drama had horrible post-production quality. I’m not sure if it was due to censorship or audio problems but there were many scenes in which lines were dubbed over. Normally that shouldn’t be much of a problem except the sound clip they used to dub over was of such bad quality that you could really tell the difference. Some voices were even muffled, as if the actor had to deliver the line last minute over the phone. Editing was also a bit odd as I noticed a scene that was reused except with different dialogue. I’m not sure if that was because they had to add to the plot at the last minute. Plus, over half of episode 23 and 24 were flashbacks in order to drag out the ending. And they weren’t just small flashbacks, it was entire scenes strewn together for most of the episode.

With that out of the way, let’s go on to the few good bits of this drama. I really like the main characters, Ruo Fei and Jia Xin. You could tell that they really loved each other and were desperate to find each other. They had really good characterization but it was dragged on for a bit too long in the middle of the series. With the whole facial implant part of the story, it felt a bit disconnected because Zhen Dong and Ruo Fei are played by two different actors and the chemistry felt a bit different even though technically, it’s the same character. It’s hard to explain but I felt something was off. I’m not really sure if they needed that plot line in the story. Overall, Jia Nai Liang who plays Han Ruo Fei and Ruby Lin who plays Jia Xin did really well portraying their characters. They also had great chemistry together. The other actors also did a great job in portraying their characters.

All in all, Magical Space-Time seemed really promising and exciting at first but gradually the momentum fizzled out. While the story had lots of potential, I felt that it was handled very poorly, resulting in a mediocre drama.

More Information: DramaWiki

This is my drama review and is entirely opinionated. Your opinions may differ. Any offense caused by my rants and ramblings is unintentional. Thank you for understanding.
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