"Strange Tales of Tang Dynasty" is a detective cdrama with the mystery and thriller theme, which was co-produced by Changxin Media and iQIYI, starring Yang Xuwen and Yang Zhigang, and co-starring Zhang Zijian, Wang Jinsong, and Luo Jialiang.
The drama is adapted from the original work of the same name by writer Wei Fenghua. It tells a series of anecdotes that happened in the prosperous Tang Dynasty. Chang’an royalty guard general Lu Lingfeng (卢凌风) join hands with Di Renjie’s disciple Su Wuming (苏无名) to solve the mystery, protect the people life, and take on the mission of saving the country in danger. The drama was broadcast exclusively on iQIYI on September 27, 2022.
First of all, although "Strange Tales of Tang Dynasty" takes detectives as the main line, but the story is connected to the court and all corners of the country. There are not only the street prosperous of capitals, but also the gloomy and strange "ghost market", as well as the uninhabited wilderness and the remote small town of reverie, presenting a rich three-dimensional and layered Tang Dynasty.
Secondly, the atmosphere is well created, and the visual style highlights the "weird" and "strange" without losing the texture of life, which provides a richer entrance to the story.
Finally, the linkage between the unit stories is informative and historical, which is the most amazing thing about it besides the cases, and also in line with the original idea: many events that were rejected by the official history for various reasons are left behind in the labyrinth of the country's weird tales. And at other times, at certain junctions of the labyrinth, magic and secret history are intertwined.
Elemental overlay, with focus on detective work
"In this world, there are neither gods nor ghosts, only people who pretend to be ghosts." Su Wuming's lines (played by Yang Zhigang) set the tone of the drama.
In fact, although the original work of "Strange Tales of Tang Dynasty" takes strange notes such as the Tang Dynasty novel collection "Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang (酉阳杂俎)" as a clue to explore the dark and strange story on the back of the bright era. However, in the process of adapting, the screenwriter expanded and integrated the story, especially adding causes and consequences, and scientifically explaining various unscientific phenomena.
Before the broadcast, "Strange Tales of Tang Dynasty" asked experts to check it. Experts gave a positive evaluation that "the whole drama conveys a firm belief of breaking superstitions". To be precise, "Strange Tales of Tang Dynasty" transforms those imaginative fantasy elements into strange visual wonders.
In Chang'an City, brides are disappearing one after another, and the bizarre black tea, which is rumored to enable people to ascend to the immortal world, is highly sought after.
There are rumors of evil immortals rising in the night, and the ghost market where the lower class lives has become a place for ultra−expensive black tea secret trading. These two rumors seemingly unrelated, but as if someone is planning it all.
Lu Lingfeng (played by Yang Xuwen) was ordered to investigate the case and met Su Wuming, Di Renjie's last disciple, they worked together to solve the strange case.
Generally speaking, in ancient costume detective cdrama, since it is determined to use fantasy elements, then it will involve in the narrative and have a thriller effect. However, "Strange Tales of Tang Dynasty" is relatively restrained in elemental superposition, and has never deviated from the narrative focus of the detective, and the cases firmly attracted the attention of the audience.
There is an impressive detail at the beginning. Su Wuming went to the ghost market to explore the secret of Chang'an black tea. On the way, he accidentally collided with a sloppy old man and was about to communicate with the old man. Unexpectedly, after smelling at Wuming for a long time, the old man shouted "dead man" and then fled.
This old man is Fei Jishi (played by Chen Chuang), important acter in the drama. Su Wuming was certainly not really dead, he just carried a piece of clothes from the murdered bride with him and was found by Fei Jishi.
The ability of the main creator can be seen in a simple scene. Carrying important evidence highlights Su Wuming's cautious and meticulous case handling style. At a casual smell, distinguishing the smell exposes Fei Jishi's unique skills. Such information density and the smoothness of the drama have not been seen for a long time.
Stories about minor characters?
The title of "Strange Tales of Tang Dynasty" is very grand. It is named after dynasties and records strange things, but it was written by a group of unknown minor characters. Their faces are so vivid that the audience now does not seem to have a sense of distance.
In this group, there is Lu Lingfeng, who is eager to make contributions but repeatedly bumps into obstacles. Su Wuming, a detective prodigy who recognized the truth of society early but his original intention remained unchanged. Pei Xijun, a professional portraitist who was difficult to hold herself when fell in love. Fei Jishi, a mysterious man who always enjoys while he can, and Xue Huan, a simple-minded and loyal follower.
Lu Lingfeng was a descendant of the nobles, but he became an abandoned one of the prince after solving the strange case. What's more strange is that there was no one to help him after he was deported, and his lot might be odd.
Su Wuming is a real person in history. In the drama, he is designed as Di Renjie's personal disciple. On the one hand, it provides a rational basis for his repeated strange cases, and on the other hand, it also provides great convenience for him to handle cases. For example, as a county lieutenant in Chang'an, he is respected everywhere, even if he is demoted, no one dares to neglect him. Without Di Renjie's name, it’s afraid that many cases can’t be investigated by him.
Pei Xijun, who comes from an official family but has a tossed heart, it is obvious that her relationship with Lu Lingfeng will be more complicated than we can imagine. As for Xue Huan, retainer of Pei Xijun's family, suspected to be the descendant of Xue Rengui. His growth line is also a highlight of the drama.
Basically, it can be said that the origin of the five main characteris not simple, but they have fallen into bad luck one after another in a strange combination of circumstances. If Su Wuming and Fei Jishi have rich life experiences and have long seen through the rules of the world, then the other three people have just embarked on a journey of cultivation.
The truth of the case is in the corner of history
Although ancient costume dramas have fictional space, they cannot completely draw a clear line with history.
The most commendable point in "Strange Tales of Tang Dynasty" is that the historical plots it integrates into fictional stories and the historical mirror images expressed are very meaningful, which well grasps the balance between imagination and sense of history, and strengthens the sense of historical depth.
The concept of family status in the Tang Dynasty is very strong, pays attention to family background and particular the country's reputation, especially the "five surnames and seven reputations": Boling Cui (博陵崔氏), Qinghe Cui (清河崔氏), Fanyang Lu (范阳卢氏), Longxi Li (陇西李氏), Zhaojun Li (赵郡李氏), Xingyang Zheng (荥阳郑氏) and Taiyuan Wang(太原王氏) are honorable. Even if the court uses the imperial examination system to select talents to weaken the influence of the valve, but it's also hard to change that perception in a short time.
In the drama "Strange Tales of Tang Dynasty", when officials who don't know each other meet, they would be told their surnames before being told official positions. Even if the official grades of noble surnames are low, they are also superior. It is a vivid portrayal of this social atmosphere.
In the "Chang'an Black Tea" case, it is said that black tea is the favorite of the magnates, which gradually became popular among residents. This portrayal of the upward and downward movement of luxury goods is also full of historical authenticity.
The ingredients of Chang'an black tea are suspected to contain contraband Western Regions fantasy grass, which can make people enter the fantasy realm and gradually make people dependent. It is hard to imagine how much wealth and power the people behind this product have looted and controlled. Lu Lingfeng and Su Wuming jointly solved the case and got rid of big trouble for the court. However, they were not rewarded but arrested and imprisoned.
The princess specially recruited Su Wuming to her. With a cup of black tea that is completely different from that on the market, she disassociated herself. Her words are full of solicitation for Su Wuming, but Su Wuming was unmoved, so he was miserably deported. The truth behind it is fascinating.
The "Strange Tales of Tang Dynasty" is composed of eight units, including "Chang'an Black Tea (长安红茶)", "Shiqiao Tu (石桥图)", "Zhongshengtang (众生堂)", "Huangmei Sha (黄梅杀)", "Gantangyi (甘棠驿)", "Tuo Shen (鼍神)", "Human Face Flower (人面花)" and "Shentian Lou(参天楼)". Each unit is a case, but there are inextricable links between the case and the case.
The end of each case means the opening of a new unit, but for the audience, the unsolved mystery left by the old case is always lingering. Is it a crafty sycophant haunting or a fight in the court? Lu Lingfeng and Su Wuming, the two historical guides, will step by step and lead us to the hidden corner of history.