I normally don’t watch Mainland Chinese dramas because the ones I see around are based in time periods that are so out of touch with me (be it the 60’s, WWII era, or 1910-ish) and also I have heard that some of them are blatantly forms of propaganda. However, I came across ‘Dr. Qin’ on YouTube, and I was like – wow, forensics? Chinese? This is different. So, I gave it a try, and here’s my
‘Medical Examiner Dr. Qin’ Review
|Medical Examiner Dr. Qin|
|Based on||The Eleventh Finger by Qin Ming|
|No. of Episodes||20|
|Original Release||October 13 – December 15, 2016|
|Ending theme||Wont Perish (不灭) by Zhang Ruoyun|
|Country of origin||China|
Medical Examiner Dr. Qin is a 2016 Chinese web series adapted from the novel The Eleventh Finger by Qin Ming. It follows an investigative team consisting of medical examiner Qin Ming, his assistant Li Dabao and police officer Lin Tao as they solve mysterious criminal cases. The series is one of the most successful network drama on Sohu TV, with 1.5 billion views.Considered as a pioneer of its genre, the series helped shed light on the profession of a forensic doctor by delving into their hardships and professional working attitudes. It has been praised for its bold plots, tense storyline and good-looking performers.The series was also ranked as one of the top 10 web dramas at the 2016 ENAwards.
I honestly did not know what to expect when I hit play on that first episodes and was faced with such graphic images from the get-go. I don’t have much experience with Mainland Chinese dramas, but in the back of my head, I knew from my class on Chinese Communism that I took in college made it pretty clear that censorship was pretty much everywhere — I guess that didn’t include gore(?!).
Sorry for the spoiler, but episode1/case#1 was about a case where the murderer killed a married couple. Boring? Here’s the “juicy” (*shudders*) part: the entire apartment was covered in blood splatters. The kitchen was home to flies that relished in the scent of rotting human flesh on the cutting board, in the pot of human meat stew and soup. The skulls were tucked safely away in the fridge. Not good enough for you yet? Go to the bedroom, and you will find that the culprit skinned the two victims and hung that skin in their wardrobe like they were mink coats. Yep. Where’s the censorship? The police team were led to this crime scene when they found fried human hands in food remains at a local food market. Yep. Let’s just say my curiosity was the only thing that kept a lid on my gag reflux throughout the 20 episodes.
I was pleasantly (?) surprised that a forensics drama would be so explicit – especially a Chinese one. While the plot fit the stereotype of revolving around a genius, aloof, and idiosyncratic medical examiner who also – surprise, surprise – has a troubled past, the cases were very intriguing and pretty unpredictable. The female lead, Li Da Bao (Jiao Junyuan) also doesn’t quite have a romantic storyline with out lead, Dr. Qin (Zhang Ruoyun), which was also very different for my drama-viewing experience.
In addition, unlike Kdramas (and probably Taiwanese dramas for that matter), crossdressing was not involved, but Da Bao’s tomboy fashion and tomboy persona was portrayed in a very convincing way. In other words, there was no forcing a feminine actress into a short ‘fro and trying to be tomboyish but failing epically because the feminine aegyo would leak out.
Maybe because it was that Communist China class, but whenever the police team had meetings, I always found myself smirking because the Chief was always available to participate so actively 24/7 and always had positive words of encouragement for his subordinates. Even when he had to suspend his officers, he would be firm, but exude an aura of understanding. Classic.
Anyways, this drama is successful for a reason. I wouldn’t be able to read the novel it was based on, but the plot was very well crafted. From pacing to content, every progression in the story was shocking enough and adequately acceptable/convincing. The gore wasn’t all that appetizing, but other than that, the cases and the process of solving them were easy to digest.
Like I said, I normally do not watch Chinese dramas, but after too many Kdramas, TVB garbage, and need to avoid cringey Taiwanese dramas, ‘Dr. Qin’ was a pleasant surprise with its length and great plot! 4.2/5