Binge Watching

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Romance Writer Weekly

I will confess I am not a fan of Summer. It’s hot and smoggy here in La-La Land, with temperatures often in triple digits prior to noon. (Any day I can swim comfortably at 6 AM is a day I consider too hot.) All of this means August finds me inside, air conditioner going, binging movies and series when I’m not working. Ah, the glory of this age when I can flop on my couch and have a large video library at my command. British mysteries? Check. Classic films? Check. Major network programming, which is helpful because the husband and I cancelled our cable a year ago? Check? All 600+ episodes in the CW’s Arrowverse? Check and woo hoo!

The husband and I have are now at about 300 episodes through Arrow, Flash, etc., watching them in the order aired. I have a spreadsheet by season to help us along. Sometimes, however, the angst gets too much and we need to take a break. (It’s a little scary to realize how much of CW’s programming is DC superheroes.) I want to watch the new revival of Leverage.

This year, besides the other media I enjoy consuming, I’ve found myself drawn to Chinese drama series, especially historical and fantasy. Why Chinese drama? Because it is so far from my everyday life, it provides a true break. Also, they have some charming romcoms if you’re in the mood for something light. There’s humor in all but the grimmest shows, some of which I’m pretty certain goes straight over my head because of linguistic/cultural things. 

I also love superheroes and there is an element of that in Wuxia and fantasy dramas. Dramatic moments where the actors defy gravity to swim through the air or fight in the treetops. On Netflix, check out Word of Honor, a story of fall and redemption. Or, if you enjoy gaming and pure silliness, there’s Once Upon a Time on LingJian Mountain, where the Male Lead utters the immortal line, “I’m the male lead! I can’t be killed by a minor character!” In one episode, our heroes also transform into a K-Pop boy band for…reasons, complete with matching outfits, mikes, choreography and on-screen subtitles for the lyrics for the audience to sing along. No, this isn’t contemporary. It’s “historical” fantasy. 

Poster for the Imperial CoronerThere is one the husband and I have now watched through twice, because we know we missed stuff the first time. The English title is The Imperial Coroner, and if you loved Sherlock or Elementary, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this. Set in the Tang Dynasty, a girl named Chu Chu, from a family of official coroners, longs to be one herself to help gain justice for those wrongly murdered. She comes to Chang’an to take the Imperial Exam, encouraged by the teachings of a local “witch doctor” who told her stories of “the Handsome Judge.” Since women could not take the exam, she luckily meets Jing Yi, who is subordinate to Xiao Jin Yu, head of the Three Judicial Offices. He’s impressed when she uncovers a fake injury for money scam in front of him, so ensures she’s put in front of his boss. There is a “meet cute” (she thinks he’s her exam “corpse”), and her ability impresses Jin Yu enough that he takes on for a case he’s working on. When she asks about the Handsome Judge, though, he becomes suspicious as many the details she mentions belong to cases his father handled before his disappearance years ago. Mystery piles upon mystery, as the pair find themselves not only solving the mystery of his father’s disappearance, but foiling a plot which could topple the emperor from his throne.

The main cast is young and delightful, with Leng Yue as a young noblewoman who prefers martial arts to needlework rounding out the quartet. Bonus, she and Chu Chu don’t squabble over Jin Yu. Opposing them is Grand Eunuch Qin Luan, who has plots and plans of his own. (Do not let the term “eunuch” deceive you. This is not a man you want to meet in a dark alley.) There’s more, but that would give too much of this well-written story away. There is also a very gentle romance between Chu Chu and Jin Yu, which grows over the thirty-six episodes. Neither is the most socially adept person, but they fit together beautifully, bringing a smile to my face with how they interacted. In terms of heat, this at the Hallmark movie level. If Hallmark movies had more bodies, plots to overthrow the emperor, and eunuchs. Do not take your eyes off the eunuch.

Click for Link to Brenda Margriet's newsletter sign-up That’s my current way to take my mind off things and refresh my mind. What’s yours? Is it a series, or getting out of the house or physical activity? Let me know in the comments, then hop on over to see what Brenda Margriet is up to. She’s gearing up for the release of her Christmas novella, THE PROMISE OF FROST, so sign up for her newsletter so you don’t miss the cover reveal, secret snippets, and more. 

That’s it for now. If you’d like to try The Imperial Coroner, it is available on YouTube. For a taste of what the series and soundtrack are like, I’ve embedded a trailer below. Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy.