First Impressions: The Last Healer In the Forbidden City (TVB, 2016)

The Last Healer in Forbidden City (末代御医)

Genre: Costume Drama/Historical Fiction
Length: 20 episodes
Producer: Nelson Cheung

Cast: Roger Kwok, Tavia Yeung, Law Lan, JJ Jia, Rebecca Zhu, Pierre Ngo, Jazz Lam

What TVB planned on initially warehousing didn’t turn out as bad as they predicted. In fact, I found Love as a Predatory Affair and The Speed of Life to be much more unbearable. I finished up to five episodes and I’d admit that there’s nothing original about it, especially when you see a historical fiction series that spans only 20 episodes.

The title is quite self-explanatory and it takes place in the Forbidden City during Empress Cixi’s dictatorial rule. I found Law Lan to really command presence for the character as she inspires fear in the role. Pierre plays the role of the ill Emperor Guangxu, who has been secretly and incrementally poisoned and the mystery is being revealed with the help of Roger, who plays a famous and well-versed imperial physician.

With the pleading of Tavia who plays seemingly nosy, but kindhearted and capable bone-setter, Roger helps her enter the palace. Tavia serves as a spy for a secret agency (Geez, that storyline sounds so familiar, didn’t we just have a group like that in Short End of the Stick? Hint hint), but appears to be only after money and a stable lifestyle. Tavia also befriends JJ Jia, who plays Roger’s handicapped, but hopeful and mellow wife.  Jazz is Tavia’s friend and loyal sidekick and probably one of the more amusing characters to watch. Rebecca rounds out the main cast as Pierre’s beloved concubine who Law Lan banished from serving Pierre.

Amy Fan who use to be a first or second supporting actress was somehow slipped in here as one of Pierre’s concubines? That must be a joke unless she plays a bigger role later on. I know she looks great for her age, but I’m sure she’s older than him. Pierre’s harem of concubines are also the oldest and weakest group of ke-le-fe’s I’ve seen.

Rebecca who plays Pierre’s favorite concubine is the only one who makes sense age wise, but is also the only one who is slowing down the show with her dull and uninspiring acting. She went unnoticed in Triumph in the Skies II, but you’ll realize that when she plays more tragic and emotional roles, she acts as confused as I am, trying to decipher between her indecisive emoting moments. In her earlier days, she is known as Fala Chen’s celebrity twin and while both carries an accent, her’s isn’t cute. It’s scratchy. Anyway, my point is TVB should warehouse her like they originally planned with this series.

I like how the storyline kicks off fast and wastes no time in revealing who everyone really is, but even the CEO of TVB planned on warehousing this. My reasons for this is that the premise and synopsis simply isn’t compelling enough for it to be an series on its own because Emperor Guangxu isn’t famous nor brilliant enough that anyone would care. For me, the driving force behind this would be Empress Cixi and there is no doubt that Law Lan is doing a good job, but there’s nothing about her tyrannical rule that hasn’t been explored before. Roger and Tavia also have better chemistry than I imagined; Tavia’s antics around Roger are quite funny. Tavia also tried to pull off the role as a comedy one in some aspects.

It’s a neutral series and I see a coherent and logical storyline coming up with some mystery aspects. Unlike Over Run Over, I like how the plot is straightforward and to the point, but nothing engaging, unique, or novel here. I can’t help but notice that TVB only films Qing Dynasty dramas these days and I wonder if this trend is cursed by War and Beauty days. There are other dynasties in Chinese history that has many captivating figures and generals, ya know?

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  • danny

    Oh wow, I didn’t know this drama was intended to end in the warehouse, the quality was good. I actually like it very much! I didn’t care much about the historical background, but I know it has an awesome plot, great chemistry and interaction, not best looking casts but they got real good acting going on, 5/5.

  • Fiona

    Next show is what show i am hurry.