The Imperial Doctress challenges Yu Zheng on the pretty

Well… isn’t this a compromising position…

The Imperial Doctress, starring Liu ShishiWallace Huo, Huang Xuan, Li Chengyuan, and Yuan Wenkang, has decided to challenge Yu Zheng on the pretty and costume accuracy and release stills of their own.  The Imperial Doctress 女医·明妃传 will follow the story of historical figure Tan Yunxian, a female physician, as she builds her knowledge among the common people and elevates her position to an imperial physician.  Expect plenty of imperial infighting as brothers Emperor Zhengtong/Tianshun (Wallace Huo), and Emperor Jingtai (Huang Xuan) vie for the right to rule and for Tan Yunxian’s affections.

Anyhoo, more stills below the cut.

… and the Hong-Shi shippers collectively cough blood…

It’s nice to see that they don’t immediately turn the heads of every female imperial household member into a balancing game of bling!!

I never cease to be amazed at how people in the past were protected from deadly disease by a thin veil in front of their face, whereas face masks don’t even seem like enough today.


In this case, ethnic Mongolian costume is necessary since Wallace Huo, Emperor Zhengtong, gets captured by the Mongols, starting the Tumu Crisis.

This puts Emperor Jingtai on the throne…

…and he decides to put Wallace Huo under house arrest after the Mongols release him from imprisonment after they find out that Emperor Jingtai has been installed…

… but Emperor Jingtai’s son, the new crown prince, dies (possibly by poisoning) and that throws the emperor into grief and illness, opening an opportunity for Wallace Huo to throw a coup and regain the throne…

… and he demotes Emperor Jingtai into the Prince of Cheng only for him to die a month later (possibly murdered by eunuchs at the order of his brother)… and the old ladies shake their heads…

Why does this kind of sound like Startling with Each Step, if Liu Shishi had chosen 8th prince?


51 thoughts on “The Imperial Doctress challenges Yu Zheng on the pretty

    • That would fulfill the wish of so many Huo-Shi shippers and possibly damage the prospects of rebooting Yi ZhiMei… ;)

      • :) but I doubt both of them will take part again in Yi Zhimei sequel .. esp Wallace started his own production company.. what you think ?

        • Well, it doesn’t make sense for Tangren to film it if LSS isn’t in it. Since the YZM deal was announced during the filming of this show, it seems logical that it was a result of talks with Wallace Huo. Artists’ workshops tend to vary greatly in how much they produce. For example, Tang Yan hasn’t produced anything, while Mingdao’s been producing more dramas than he’s been acting.

          • That’s true. Each artist workshop tends to be different so… hard to say. It seems like some artists later discover they are more into acting and others later find a love for business and production. I guess we’ll have to see.

            • That is true!! And that is one of the most exciting things about being a Chinese history fan is that stuff is always being dug up and some things have already been found but are purposefully left unopened for preservation’s sake but we know with some certainty that it doesn’t look like they have been robbed yet… oh if only I had x-ray vision…

              • I agree with you. Chinese history is very exciting. Sounds like Hengdian is like mini”Hollywood” of China. Where lots of period filming is done.
                The mysteries behind Qin Shi Huang’s tomb is very intriguing. I respect the Chinese’s decision not to unearth it. Is there another City in the tomb? So many unanswered questions. It is very sad, so many people died building the tomb…

              • your purpose to Hengdian is to visit your idol & not sightseeing right ? :) please take more photos and share with us if u happen to visit Hengdian in near future ya haha :D

                • I am shocked that you would think that I would stoop to such a level. ;) Probably not possible in the near future but if it ever happens… the period pretty will by mine!!! ಥ⌣ಥ

    • Nuoooooooooooo that 没有,我一直都把你当好朋友, 好虐阿阿阿阿!!!!
      I like both main male leads, both are so 霸道 the kind of male I like XD. From the trailer all three mains seems 敢爱敢恨 and not 矫情 good to know it.
      I’m now soo excited!!!!

      • Glad you liked it… :)

        Though one concern I have after seeing the trailer is that both male leads kinda look like carbon copies of each other so there really isn’t much of a choice to be made… :/ I mean those kinds of characters are always good for dramas since they can drive things to extremes and get things rolling but there needs to be a way to tell a difference between the two other than their looks… DX Either that or it’s my Chinese proficiency and the conditions we are made to watch this in getting to me… DX

        • Nah I would not worry about that. From the trailer you can clearly see the two males are not so similar. One is more composed and romantic, the other is more mischievous lol. Both are pretty BaDao and FuHei. They are 360° all round characters. Even LSS’s character is pretty interesting, At first I thought her character would be similar to LuoXi, but I’m glad is not.

          • That’s good… One of my main concerns when watching a drama with characters that are very similar is that they might get more and more similar as we move on and by the end, we have a hard time telling one from the other. It’s just the writers have to remember to keep them BaDao and FuHei or whatever quality that is similar in their own way.

  1. I don’t think Tangren has tried to sell themselves as historically accurate at all. They’re making more serious work than they used to, but everything is still marketed as idol dramas. They also haven’t given up on the fantasy and video game genre. I’m not too upset about historical inaccuracy because Chinese literature (and other Chinese film/drama productions as well) have always deviated from history pretty dramatically. They don’t claim that this stuff is historical fact.

    In terms of costumes, I definitely wouldn’t say that this is the best Tangren has ever done. Have any of you seen Clothing the World? Xuan Yuan Jian? Or basically most Tangren productions from the recent years? The costumes in Imperial Doctress might be “prettier” and to look at on a 240p video player, and maybe even more accurate, but it doesn’t really measure up from a design and craftsmanship perspective. I’m not expert on ancient Chinese costume, but I have followed and studied modern fashion for a very long time. Most Tangren productions tend to have much better tailoring, cleaner silhouettes, and finer fabrics. It’s the difference between atelier-made and mass-produced. These costumes aren’t that bad, and most audiences probably won’t even notice the difference, but other Tangren productions definitely have their merits in terms of costuming.

    • Much of the advertisement for Imperial Doctress is trying to claim the outfits + medicine depicted are historically accurate. They’ve been trying to appeal to fans on Weibo by claiming such outfits are “true Chinese outfits” rather than Hanboks. If not Tangren, certainly its fans are using the fact the show uses the aoqun style around the Internet to promote it. Some think the choice of selling historical accuracy (which Tangren has never cared about except for during BBJX) was in an effort to lighten its name after the Desert Melody since hanfu fans are usually the ones who are vehemently against Desert Melody.

      Throughout the production of BBJX, Karen Tsai repeatedly posted things about how accurate their accessories, fabrics, embroideries, history, etc. are. Tonghua, who wrote BBJX and Desert Melody, is also claiming that those books are historically accurate.

      I remember liking the costumes for Clothing the World, but I think this one is much more historically accurate. I don’t know if it’s really possible to have nice modern silhouettes for Ming-dynasty dramas given the style of clothing most popular in that period.

      LSS and TY both had a number of good looks for CP3, but my overall impression was that they looked good, but the clothes themselves did not. Also, all of Hu Ge’s outfits were very unflattering (the braids did not help).

      I’m not an expert on modern fashion, but my main issue with Tangren costumes (outside of BBJX) is that even before they tried to going the history route, they tend to have too much going on on.
      For example, this style of outfit in Strange Hero YiZhiMei is also seen in CP1, CP3, Fairy in Wonderland, and RoCH.
      And in the more recent Desert Melody (which in general doesn’t have good costume design. I only like one of LSS’s outfits there ) :

      And then Yu Zheng started doing it,too, and now even Zhang Jizhong’s latest drama has it…

  2. I am super excited about this drama. I hope this drama will do better than Yu Zheng’s coming dramas. Since in this drama Tan Yunxian is suppose to Emperor Tianshun Zhengtong falls in love with Tan Yunxian, I guess this is just faction to make the drama more interesting to watch. The real Tan Yunxian did exist but she was not in a relationship with Emperor Tianshun Zhengtong.

    • I feel like it’s totally okay to make non-existent relationships or even aliens as long as it works within the frame of history. For example, Forrest Gump. On the other hand, this is one of those stories that are plain impossible. Some people are calling it 女医恋婴传, making fun of the fact that the male lead would have to have fallen in love with a baby for this relationship to work…

  3. Tangren really up’ed their game in the costumes for this. They’re more historically accurate than most Ming dramas (the other decent one being Allure Snow QingChengXue), and the quality of the fabric/colors/design are a huge improvement from recent Tangren dramas. I would say this is the best designed Tangren drama in terms of costumes so far. The make-up and lighting are also right on, so the characters look lively rather than pasty (cough, BBJX).

    On the other hand, it would be nice if they had paired Tan Yunxian with someone her own age (or, gasp, her real husband!). Tan Yunxian was only three when Emperor Tianshun Zhengtong had died at the age of 37. Emperor Jingtai had died seven years earlier.

    • I think Tangren really took the message to heart after a couple recent dramas have made it very clear that having not only quality and pretty costumes but also some historical accuracy mixed in can get you very far…

      … and I know!! It’s SOO hard to find Ming dynasty dramas with quality costumes that are historically accurate… some of the costumes are just… no…

      …I think it would have been totally practical to do a drama set in Emperor Chenghua’s reign, which probably would have fit the life of Tan Yunxian more… I mean there’s plenty of in-fighting with Consort Wan and everything and seems like watchable drama material… but Emperor’s Harem with Ady An already did a drama set in that reign so they were probably trying not to compete and end up in the situation where netizens are comparing the two dramas… XP

      • I think it’s a PR thing. Tangren and Yu Zheng are both trying to sell their dramas as more well-produced than the other, so they’ve been taking turns trying to “serious.” It was the same thing with BBJQ and Gong, and then with YunZhongGe and DaMoYao, and then QingChengXue and this … Competition may be bad for them, but it’s great for us!
        Other than the three leads, Andy An’s drama had zero redeeming features, so I don’t think competition would be hard. I think Tangren’s just trying to replicate the success of BBJX by having a similar set-up.

        • True… but one of my lingering period drama pet peeves that I wish could be buried away is that the number of costumes that tie off their loose ends with a bow is too damn high!! I mean, it’s definitely getting better and less frequent but there are still some that do… I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t remember seeing many Chinese paintings and artifacts where the clothes are tied off with a shoe-lace bow… DX

            • omg… that was the exact same painting I was just looking at!! but most of the bows seem to be in the single-loop style… :/ I know there’s that double-loop (“shoe-lace”) bow near the center of the painting but it seems to be less common than depicted in dramas… oh wells… it is what it is and I can’t be too picky I guess… *shrugs* There’s always something to improve on.

                • I think you’re getting me wrong… I’m not questioning it’s existence. It’s just that sometimes costuming doesn’t reflect the wide variety out there.

                  • The only options are single loop, double loop, the twisty thing with no loop, and no knot in the front. The twisty thing, although most common historically, is difficult because even hanfu fans haven’t exactly figured out exactly how it should be tied so as to hold the skirt part up. Single loop is weird. No knot or double loops are both pretty common in dramas. Then there’s the outside options of being creative, like having a big Chinese knot instead (cough, Yu Zheng)…

                    • I think single-loop is not that bad… it’s just you have to get it to stand at the right angle for it to be appealing which is tricky so that explains why it’s seldom used… and it also easily comes undone so that’s annoying during filming but yeah… sometimes Yu Zheng gets a bit too creative… :/

        • Well in economy, competition is a factor that actually increase the quality of the products. And is exactly what is happening in chinese drama industry. Now every years China produces a lot of drama, and among these just part of it get broadcasted. In a market where competition is so intense and hard, just the few ones that know how to increase the quality of their products can survive.
          It’s not just Tangren and YuZheng but in general chinese dramas have improved a lot in terms of quality in these years and it’s going better year by year.

          But YuZheng always lose: Gong can’t compete with BBJX in production quality as a whole, QingChengXue lose just looking at NvYi’s costumes lol.

          • I would hope this trend continues. There are so many other time periods in Chinese history that need justice done to them.

            I think Yu Zheng’s main problem is that he is too focused on creating eye-catching displays to create profit as opposed to really sitting down and understanding what he is working with and building from there. Therefore, unfortunately, when he does do something right, it sometimes goes overlooked because either he didn’t spend enough time on it and half-@$$-ed it so it didn’t come out completely right or he’s built up such a negative reputation that it just goes overlooked.

            Also, I have a couple bones to pick with his pacing since he tries to make so much happen in each episode to keep it interesting. He doesn’t stop and spend time when he needs to and things start seeming unnatural and rushed or just weird since we start to loose track of time and at what point in time we are supposed to be at.

          • I’m pretty sure Yu Zheng has made more money off the Gong franchise than BBJX ever will, especially now that the mess of BBJQ effectively cut off any chance of a trilogy.

            And BBJX’s production qualities weren’t that much better. Even though the story is less blatantly outrageous, the two are in essence equally 狗血 and every Mary Sue’s fantasy. Despite what Tangren claims about the quality of the costumes, it doesn’t change the fact that their costumes looked terrible because of the color palette. Ironically, not once did BBJX use a 正色 for its leads, which is ironic since such colors are highly valued in ancient China. Even if her outfit in YiZhiMei is not historically accurate at all, Liu Shishi looked so much better in YiZhiMei,and I would rather TangRen dressed her like that all the time than have her wear the BBJX outfits.

            In general, higher-end Yu Zheng and Tangren are about equal in production values, which is not surprising since they frequently steal each others’ production team members.

            • Well I obviously didn’t mean in terms of money and success of the franchise when I said YuZheng lose against Tangren.

              As for the story, I personally don’t find BBJX gouxue. Every character is psichologically well written, coerent with their historical figure. At least in BBJX we don’t have the perfect, unrealistic couple 圣女圣男(while everyone else are evil) and their platonic love that YZ always shows in his dramas, Gong included.
              But the merit goes to TongHua and not Tangren. Tangren has been clever enough not to detach too much from the original novel, like every other dramas unfortunately goes under nowadays (Cough**HuaXuYin**Cough)
              I personally don’t categorize automatically every gouxue and Mary Sue’s stories uninteresting and bad. It’s depent how is executed. Most of chinese stories is either Mary Sue or Gary Sue (for example JinYong’s wuxia: Wuji, YanGuo are all pretty Gary Sue but I don’t find people criticize them).

              As a whole, OST, costumes fabric, artistic direction, BBJX was way better than Gong. But both lose compared to ZHZ. That being said I don’t consider BBJX a perfect product without defects…all those crappy CGied backgrounds…

              The huge popularity of Gong is because of its release before BBJX. I bet if it was released later none would have given even a look.

              And to conclude exchanging members of production team doesn’t mean same production value. The same costume designer with different budget makes difference.

              • I agree that gouxue/Mary Sue is based on execution, which is why I actually don’t mind Yu Zheng’s gouxue that much because it’s blatant and purposeful (although I do mind that these segments are results of plagiarism). I don’t have an issue with praising Yu Zheng because I think he’s already given up in trying to pretend he’s historically accurate and now mostly advertises what he sells – pretty casts,decent production values, fast-paced plots, and a quick laugh.

                I can praise Tangren for their productions and leads any time, but Tangren still haven’t gotten over trying to sell itself as serious and cares about history when they come out with stuff like BBJQ, Desert Melody, and The Imperial Doctress that are just as incoherent and inaccurate as any of Yu Zheng’s stuff.

                Also, I feel like BBJX isn’t Tangren’s best work at all. I feel like intrigue isn’t Tangren’s thing, and their older stuff with more cuteness and humor were much better. Warriors of the Yang Clan, Fairy from Wonderland, and YiZhiMei are all dramas I’ve rewatched over time and still like (although I usually stop half way once things get crazy), but I’ve never felt the impulse to rewatch BBJX or even finish the second half…

                P.S. I have actually always thought HSDS would be perfect for Yu Zheng and Tangren. I don’t know why they didn’t remake those two respectively instead. Incidentally, I find Zhang Wuji super annoying.

                • Both companies come out with… well… trash sometimes but I tend to prefer Tangren’s works, personally, because the story tends to be more coherent… well… for me at least… and I feel they have a bit more experience and an eye for where to spend time and slow the pacing on dramas and when to kick it off… though they do have mis-calculations…

                  Yu Zheng’s dramas tend to be too fast-paced for me. Gong was… well… okay and a little less chaotic and I guess I give it a grudging acceptable but some of his dramas are so fast that I feel like everything that can possibly happen under the sun and then some more is happening and it kinda breaks out of the realm of realism for me and I have a very hard time connecting to any of the characters or the story as it drags on… which is a shame since he does have talent in production values and borderline-acceptable CG for me…

                  I think Tangren’s going through a time of trying to re-define its image since a lot has happened to it in terms of people coming and going and competition (aka. the emergence of other more idol-oriented production companies like Yu Zheng’s) lately. They’re currently in that in-between zone and are trying to bill themselves as “more accurate than Yu Zheng” which is okay I guess if you can use the competition to pull up your production values and learn something and improve yourself but I don’t think it’s a very good strategy for the long run. They are going to eventually need to find a niche or something to settle on that they can bring to the table to sell and be known for. Unfortunately, I have a suspicion that they may start gearing themselves towards the online game turned drama sector which tends to be what they are known for and have more experience in but which is sad because I don’t usually enjoy watching stuff like that. :(

              • I agree that BBJX’s lasting impact on the minds of the viewers will probably be greater than that of Gong’s… I think this was because BBJX’s script was more successful at exploring darker (or grayer) avenues and better able to balance light and dark elements while Gong tended to be too light and fluffy and speed through the darkness… well at least for me. On the other hand, some of Yu Zheng’s dramas have gotten so focused on darkness and done it in such a way that I expect comets to come down and strike the actors at any minute…

    • Cough cough I want to remember that this drama is a collaboration between Tangren and XinLi and it seems the costume’s designer is from XinLi. So give credit also to them…XD

      I just hope this drama will success so other producers will start to get more attention torwards the accuracy of hanfu.
      I heard the director of ZHZ and SunLi will collaborate again for a drama setted during the Qin dynasty. I hope they will remark the accuracy in term of costumes and court etiquettes (another thing I really want to see in a chinese drama) like how ZHZ have done with the Qing.

      As for the history, well I heard the script writer is the same of LuZhenQuanQi so what do you pretend? LOL.

      • That’s true. Tangren has dramas backed up now so they don’t exactly have the cash available to do all this independently… sorry about that. XP

        Super excited about the Zheng Xiaolong and Sun Li re-collaboration though… although since it is set so long ago, the farther back we go the less we concretely know about them… also, it becomes harder to portray things since the Chinese we speak now is different from the Chinese spoken back then since languages evolve and sounds and things change with time. I remember reading that Old Chinese may have been atonal and it wasn’t really until the Northern and Southern Dynasties or when Middle Chinese started to emerge that tones started to be introduced into the language. XD

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