Review: Curse of the Royal Harem (TVB 2011)

Curse of the Royal Harem <萬凰之王>
TVB 2011
Producer: Chong Wai Kin
Genre: Historical Fiction
Number of episodes: 27 in Hong Kong (29 Overseas)


Who’s In It?

Cast in no particular order:
Jessica Hsuan as “Yee Lan”
Myolie Wu as “Yuen Yuen”
Nancy Wu as “Choi Lam”
Sunny Chan as “Emperor Do Kwong”
Joel Chan as “Min Yan”
Gigi Wong as “Empress Dowager”
Cheung Kwok Keung as “Wai Fuk On”
and some other characters

What’s This About?

In the Qing Dynasty, during the rule of Emperor Do Kwong (which according to Wikipedia should be somewhere between 1820 – 1850), a spate of imperial intrigue and palace conflicts ensue as the incumbent Emperor decides to go against the wishes of the Empress Dowager and the Empress Consort (aka Yuen Yueng) to marry Yee Lan. Part of the reason for the marriage was to save Yee Lan, but the other part was because the Emperor actually fancied Yee Lan. However, little did the Emperor know, the woman he saved is not as weak as he believed her to be.

Review Formally Begins Here

Once a while there comes along a series in which you cannot quite put your finger on. It’s similar to those occasions when you have an itch but attempt to convince yourself that from sheer will-power you can withstand not scratching that itch, only to think, seconds later how silly it would be to place your will on the line over an itch, and proceed to scratch. It’s one of those iffy moments where your mind flickers between do or don’t. Normally after 5 to 10 episodes, you form an impression of the series and it builds as the series continues. For this series, any impression you may come to may be premature. Why? Let’s investigate, shall we?

The plot at first glance isn’t new. Stories about in-fighting between imperial consorts have been featured in most TVB series that revolve around the palace in some form. So that’s already minus one point for creativity (although in TVB’s defense, somewhat, this deduction is more a formality since I’d probably deduct it for most TVB series anyway, so peace). Now I would gladly minus another point because I personally don’t think the title of the series is accurate. Whether in English or Chinese, the title seems to suggest a lot of in-fighting between a lot of consorts. Truth? No. The harem is largely confined to a few who seem to claim a stake, and that is only two and a half consorts (minus Empress Dowager cause I don’t really think she’s part of the harem; I hope not). I would have liked to see a bit more variety in what motivates the consorts–maybe because they run some secret sect after the potion of immortality or operate an underground printing business out to overthrow the Qing Dynasty–but as in-fighting goes, this series treads the same old motivations. Minus another point.

Now, I said there were two and a half consorts in on the fighting, but you say three. One is Myolie Wu, whose character is motivated by obtuse motivations. If she wants to do Jessica in because she’s afraid of her power being usurped, she should realize that being Empress Consort already means her power is fairly secured. Besides it’s not as if the Emperor doesn’t hold her in his favour; he just has a case of one too many hearts (aka emperor-sickness). If she’s doing it because she dislikes his favouritism towards Yee Lan, then I could accept this. Funny thing is I doubt this is the case because the intimacy between Myolie and Sunny is so superficial that it would require another dose of “reading into” the story to make this case believable. Myolie’s character comes off childish who just wants her toys. Second there’s Jessica Hsuan, who for most the series was on the receiving end of the court, playing defensive. Which is, as you imagine and as all white roles demand, suitably boring. Her motivations are clear though: to survive (besides that she tries to kill herself 2 episodes in). Later this shifts to protecting the Emperor and her child. By the end of the series, it warps to one of revenge and power consolidation. Finally, there’s Nancy Wu. A major flaw in her character lies in that the reason behind her entry into the “harem” is a bit forced. The Emperor is basically forced to induct her into his harem, which is slightly unbelievable given that no one really wants her to be in the harem anyway. Nancy’s character is the devious one here. She’s not wicked though. Wicked is probably Jessica towards the end of the series (and we really needed more of that wickedness). Nancy’s just devious; whereas Myolie is bossy?

Acting As Usual

While we’re on the three (or two and a half) leads, we might as well discuss their acting. Myolie’s Empress is not convincing. She lacks any air of the regal, coming off as prissy and whiny. Her death stares are exaggerated and inflexible, showing that Myolie hasn’t had enough experience in such roles. Her acting is much more pleasant as time goes on when she eventually changes into a empathetic person. Jessica’s initial persona is also not well suited for her. Jessica has never been the go-to actress for goody-goody-nice roles. She has always been the incisive talker, the one taking initiative and control. Aside from the actress-character mismatch, Jessica fails to convey her softer, more endearing emotions. It may be the script at these places that are weaker, I assume. Jessica does get better as her character becomes vile and assertive–a character Jessica grasps much better. Myolie would likely have done the early Yee Lan role better than Jessica, just as Jessica would have done the early Yeun Yeun better than Myolie; however, things as they are aren’t that bad either.

Then there’s Nancy Wu, who is far more consistent than both Myolie and Jessica. I do confess, acting ability aside, her character is one easily disliked. Apart from her actions, but because Nancy gives the character a face that is easily detestable. This isn’t an insult, it’s more like saying Nancy fills these devious-despicable roles well on both the surface and substantive levels. My only critique is that her character goes from devious to seemingly reformed within little screen time which once again requires audiences to “read into” the story. Gigi Wong deserves a mention too. Her vaguely pleasant and vaguely sly expressions tend to reveal acting maturity. However, as the series goes on, you find she keeps recycling these expressions at the same amounts, as if she’s somehow attached strings to her facial muscles onto a wooden stick: one pull, and identical expressions return. Her  puppeteer mastery is commendable but sadly she fails to show more diversity, especially given her character’s complexity. I confess “complex” is a nice way of describing Empress Dowager. “Muddled” or “senile” is probably more fitting. Why she raises Sunny (despite offing his mother) to be king, only to plot a revolt is quite a mystery. Mystery to her as well since she herself later explains that the palace is a never-ending game of tidal warfare. Given that, I sense she never had a grand scheme at all!

What to Do and Not Do in a TVB Series

In most TVB series nowadays, characters don’t really develop. They follow a course of action and stick with it, and whilst things occur that create practical changes, we rarely see characters change in persona, attitude or philosophy. This is one of the major flaws in TVB series, especially when most series have defined endings unlike USA dramas that go on for seasons; there is ample room for dramatic changes to characters within bounds of the story. Funny enough the characters in this series do change, both in terms of their living and their style of living. Myolie goes from bossy to vengeful to empathetic. Jessica goes from a tragic, to protective, to wicked. The other characters also change except the Emperor. Now I’m not going to bother commenting on Sunny’s performance only for the reason that this Emperor is really a non-Emperor. He is weak in all respects. He has no leadership qualities. He is not intelligent. He is not tactful, and not even particularly benevolent as shown by his readiness to off people before actually investigating matters. Given that his rule was ordained rather than by show of skill, I guess his not to blame, and since he himself feels this way towards the end, we should show a little more pity towards the guy. I mean look at his weird hat! Fashion disaster or Public Relations folly?

Plot-wise, this series is a bit unfocused at the start. Only about halfway in do things pick up and a defined trail of events begin unfolding. Now that’s a rather long narrative orientation; it added little to the thematic context as we all knew the following: Myolie dislikes Jessica who dislikes Nancy who dislikes Myolie and Jessica while Gigi hates them all whereas Sunny likes them all. The problem is weak execution. The story is solid, although I would rather see Sunny deal with the wicked Jessica beyond episode 30. TVB proves it prefers its normal matter-of-fact artistry that kills all elements of surprise and skips delving into more dramatic moments of the story that deserved more than fleeting treatment. One oddity is the fact that TVB keeps playing inappropriate background music. When Nancy is lying, we don’t need that warm fuzzy cello (or it could be a fat man blowing on a leaf of grass (I don’t know my instruments) music. We also don’t need any love themes playing while knowing a particular character is only faking their love. It messes up the scene and detracts from the performance of the actor/actress. It cheapens the whole experience.

Notable Mentions

Notable mention must go to Cheung Kwok Keung’s Fuk On, who is such a loyal eunuch, if ever there was one. As if cutting off one of your fingers is not enough to show one’s loyalty, he goes for gold by plucking an eyeball and places it in a box as a present for the Empress Dowager. Now there’s an employee all employers can hire. Lucky for Empress Dowager that no employee safety laws are in placed back in the Qing days, or worker’s compensation, otherwise, law suit! Joel Chan’s Min Yan is also one of those characters we can sympathize with. He is a righteous man, one of action and emotion, the one who should have been king. However, the fact that he wasn’t king and the fact that he became torn between his own conflicting loyalties to Sunny, Myolie and Gigi, made him quite an interesting character to watch. Joel is still not capable of emoting a rage that is born from conflict, which makes his ending a little less persuasive. However, I’m sure we can all “read into” his story a little so we can accept the series finale.

Overall Appraisal

-1 for plot creativity, -1 for inappropriate title, -1 for character devices, +1 for the acting, +1 for character development and +1 story development. Now that equals 0. This is why I cannot place my finger on this series. However if I were to award points for execution, music and aesthetics I’d probably go 0, 0, 0.5 respectively. Which means places the series comes out on positive 0.5! Okay so -1 for the title is a bit harsh, but I could easily make it fair by deducting points for the lack of salient themes. This brings me back to the starting problem: who can figure this one out?


This is far from War and Beauty <金枝玉葉> but were you really expecting it to be with such a cast? Enjoy it for what it is or let it die where it lies.


Obligatory Disclaimer: The writer of this article did not intentionally write a neutral article  to avoid being overly harsh. In truth, the writer truly (for the first time, possibly) felt for what is written in this article, but in the event that the words herein do not record the writer’s wishes, you readers acknowledge and accept that the writer is under no obligation or  liability to you to provide a truthful account, lest even watch this series at all (joking).

This review was written by SDS, a Contributing Writer at

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  1. their make up is way over done,,, and overall, the series is not that great

  2. wasnt a fan.
    it was boring and over the top. everyone managed to piss me off in this story. i hated jessica in the beginning with her reactions of “oh im so innocent, you must believe in me.” from the beginning i didn’t like the whole concept. it was strange and for me, it felt too modernized to be considered an ancient film. i didn’t like the end and i hate stories or even scenes will killing/murdering a baby so that was heartbreaking to watch.

    the death at the end shocked me but it was such a long death. it was like a 10 minute death scene and in those 10 minutes of myolie and the prince talking to each other, a doctor could have been called to save them.

    overall, i was dissapointed with a lot of dramas this year. i hope next years is better

  3. “The harem is largely confined to a few who seem to claim a stake, and that is only two and a half consorts”,

    Already better than BTROC who only hase one concubine scheming and fighting.

    1. Hmmm true. But I didn’t watch BTROC. I got put off in 2009 by the atrocious Burning Flame 3 (sorry if you liked it but I really liked BF1) and stopped watching TVB for a while.

  4. Haha, reading your reviews definitely makes me laugh. It’s always so entertaining! Also, I’ve been waiting for this for a while and I agree with a lot of it. Goodjob on writing this! 🙂

    1. Thanks. Pleasure to write for JayneStars. Personally I felt the story got better as episodes went on which is quite a reverse to most TVB series that tend to be good at the start and tail off come the finale.

  5. Getting a non-jessica or an antifan of myolie to write this review is truly dissappointing enough. I was expecting something pleasant like compliment the hardwork of these artists and not some complain of storyplot, wrong casting and stupid development of each character.

    All i read about this review is complain, complain and complain. What a waste of time reading this review.

    Jayne, can u get someone who enjoyed the sries to re-write this? I am a big fan of Jessica and Sunny and I dont think the series is too dissappointed to watch.

    1. LMAO. So basically a positive review or no dice? Reviews are only interesting if they are favourable. *brb need to bang my head into a wall*

    2. ‘Complain, complain and complain.’

      That’s what your doing. ^^

    3. SDS isn’t only complaining, she’s praising as well. If only you weren’t so biased.

      1. me biased? look at how SDS wrote of each character and complained about how stupid the story grew. All I see is the whole review has more complain than compliment.

        If SDS wants a superb performance, environment, better storyplot etc of this series, she can invest more money to tvb so they can have better quality of scriptwriter, better place to shoot, better costume, better casts and everything better.

        If you didnt enjoy this series, then don’t write! if i were the scriptwriter or myolie, jessica, sunny or whoever acted in this series read this, I will feel disgusted and unappreciated.

      2. Lenovo,

        You are welcome to write your own review of Curse of the Royal Harem, should your opinion differ dramatically from SDS.

        SDS did give this one 3 stars (which is high according to his standard). He did praise the acting and that Myolie and Jessica fared better after their characters’ personalities evolved. He also praised Nancy Wu’s acting as well. Overall, he complimented the cast for their acting. His review was quite neutral on this one.

        A review should be positive where warranted and critical where necessary. A good review dissects into the various elements of the series such as plot, character development, acting, casting choices, direction, music, editing, and more. Anything is open for critical review.

        In SDS’ absence (he is currently on vacation), I will defend that he will sometimes be critical for sarcastic humor purposes and not complain for the sake of complaining. Obviously, he has been a long time fan of TVB series, otherwise he wouldn’t dedicate such time and care to write such well-written reviews that he obviously put a lot of thought into.

    4. Lenovo11. You can contribute your own positive review of this series to Jaynestar if you so desire. I’m sure Jayne will welcome another review of the series with a different opinion. Jaynestar welcome diverse opinions.

      1. Agree with “Magic”:

        “SDS isn’t only complaining, she’s praising as well.” Personally I think you were the person who is biased.

        SDS is a writing a fair critique with good facts. Those facts are fully agreed by the audience. If the scriptwriter, producer, or artistes (especially Myolie who got the Best Actress Award, Jessica, Sunny and Gigi)cannot take any criticisms, it is just too bad. They have to learn how to improve their acting or scriptwriting in future. It everything in the drama series is perfect to nearly perfect, why do we need a critique? We all like to know what is good and what is not good in a drama series. Only the ones, who cannot judge, will think it was a good drama series.

        The viewership rating of CRH in one of the Chinese newspapers was very low, something like 7.2 only. Are you trying to say that those people didn’t know how to enjoy a good drama series while you could?

    5. @Lenovo11

      I sense that progression, improvement and scrutiny aren’t very high on your hobby list. Very well. I can accept that. But please, next time, do take a little more notice of the positive comments amongst the negative ones, for example:

      Me: “Her [Myolie] acting is much more pleasant as time goes on…”

      Me: “Jessica does get better as…”

      and when summarizing others, do try to be a bit more accurate, for example:

      You: “look at how SDS wrote of each character and complained about how stupid the story grew”

      Me: “The story is solid” & “+1 story development”

      and, doesn’t the first sentence “Once a while there comes along a series in which you cannot quite put your finger on” and the last sentence “This brings me back to the starting problem: who can figure this one out?” kind of state my more neutral impression on the series? If you want to see “complain complain complain” try my Forensic Heroes 3 review- now THAT IS COMPLAINING!

      1. SDS,
        Hey, I thought you were on vacation!

        I also caught all your positive comments for Curse of the Royal Harem. Overall the review was critical where warranted and it came across as a neutral or “recommend” rating. 🙂

      2. Jayne,

        I am, but I’m currently in that period we all despise called ‘waiting’ so why not?

    6. Lenovo11, this is a review. You want a positive one, go to a fan forum. I personally find it too positive. There is no redeeming factor for this stupid series. And SDS did admirably by not trashing it to the point of pulp.

  6. Myolie’s character is stupid stupid plus stupid. She already has all she need and she ruined in by going after Jessica’s character who in the beginning was not even in the Emperor’s harem.

  7. Agree with the critique on a lot of things, especially on acting of the lead artistes, plot, etc.. I particularly agree with the following:

    1) Myolie’s Empress is not convincing. She lacks any air of the regal, coming off as prissy and whiny. Her death stares are exaggerated and inflexible, showing that Myolie hasn’t had enough experience in such roles.

    2) Jessica’s initial persona is also not well suited for her. Jessica has never been the go-to actress for goody-goody-nice roles. She has always been the incisive talker, the one taking initiative and control. Aside from the actress-character mismatch, Jessica fails to convey her softer, more endearing emotions.

    3) Nancy Wu, who is far more consistent than both Myolie and Jessica. I do confess, acting ability aside, her character is one easily disliked. Apart from her actions, but because Nancy gives the character a face that is easily detestable. This isn’t an insult, it’s more like saying Nancy fills these devious-despicable roles well on both the surface and substantive levels.

    4)I’m not going to bother commenting on Sunny’s performance only for the reason that this Emperor is really a non-Emperor. He is weak in all respects. He has no leadership qualities. He is not intelligent. He is not tactful, and not even particularly benevolent as shown by his readiness to off people before actually investigating matters.

    Here are my personal comments:

    1)I don’t know if the above really reflected the true characteristics of the emperor in history, or the character of the emperor written in this series, or just the acting of Sunny Chan.

    2) I also didn’t like the acting of Gigi Wong as Empress Dowager. Her bland acting did not impress me at all.

    3) I think that the artistes with the BEST acting in CRH are Nancy Wu and Joel Chan. Both of them did pretty well i this series.

    4) On the whole, CRH is a boring drama series, just with in-fighting between imperial consorts (four female lead artistes). There should be more plot developments and historical facts to make the series more interesting and entertaining.

  8. From long ago, TVB series becomes lack of actresses, even for minor roles. So its gong is always small with 3 or 4 main ladies, plus 2-3 supporting ladies, plus 3-4 maids. That’s all. If lucky and “grand series”, we will see some more princesses or one or 2 more “feis”. The total ppl dun reach to 15, don’t say of 20. So I wonder, where all the women go?

    To find the answer for this, I give out some questions:

    (1) Because they have to film too many series at the same time? Yeah, TVB has 3 or 4 studios (I dun rmb well) to film series and the studios work together at the same time. Their producers are on series after series. Their actresses have series after series. They air 3 series one day. But still have a lot of series left and to release oversea or wait years to air. So the suggestion is: If they really wanna do a grand series, please make it really grand and invest some more on it.

    (2) Don’t they have the budget? I know TVB is stingy, but they sometimes invested in some “grand” series and allow to film in oversea. Then another question arise: Why they don’t stop doing some “grand but actually small” gong series and put all the budget in one? They will have more ppl and more money to do a big series. So the suggestion is: If wanna do grand series, please really do it as a grand series.

    (3) Do they have enough quality young lead actresses? So we come to this point. TVB don’t have enough neither quality nor young lead actresses. They only have a bunch of actresses who is going to 30 or already passed 30. The disadvantage for these actresses is wat? Not all of them can act young. Some tried to act young but too hard as their faces are too mature. Some is able to act 20++ but 18++, unconvincing. And TVB’s filming light + makeup just in order to make their actresses look uglier. No offense for this. Compare to China’s filming light and makeup, in the recent years, TVB lost. China is able to hide all the time’s signs on the face of the actresses, while TVB only makes it clearer. Us COTRH as an example. The thick makeup doesn’t go to anywhere. Myolie in normal makeup looks a lot younger than in COTRH. So wat we can suggest here? Learn the techniques from other countries and try to refresh yourself, TVB.

    TVB is falling. Core reason: They are still keeping the old ways of working. They don’t change and sleep in their peaks too long.

    What we can do? Hope for the future.

    1. Agree that the makeup, especially on the lips of those lead female artistes, in CRH was terrible. It is like a Japanese drama series on geisha. It made the artistes look a lot older and uglier.

    2. I can’t comment much for historical accuracy since one I know little and two I always doubted that the words ‘artistic integrity’ and ‘TVB’ belong in the same line. For one thing, even I have picked up on words and phrases that should not appear in the 1800s.

      As for the makeup, a friend told me its all wrong, but I kind of like the colorful and over the top feel, feels like a water color MTV clip on ecstasy 🙂

      1. I don’t know if that was the right kind of makeup in Ching Dynasty, but most people don’t like it. It is very much unlike the normal makeup in ancient drama series.

        Another thing that I agree with other posts is that there should be more maids or servants (in palace) when the emperor, queen, or empress goes out or walks around the palace. Many times the emperor walks around by himself. This should never happen to an emperor or empress.

    3. I agree with you on the makeup. TVB must be the only production that make their artistes look uglier onscreen. While mainland China of K-idol dramas often manage to hide any imperfections and make every artistes look great!

      Just compare Myolie’s makeup in Beauty Schemes and in COTRH. She look much younger and prettier in Beauty Schemes, and their costumes are much better too.

  9. haha so true sandcherry,

    My mom also notice that for eg. when Myolie was walking around heavily pregnant, there are no one to accompany her or even carry her and Myo has to rely to her only maid. What if tragic thing happen?

    And yes i agree with you that Sunny often walks alone w/o any bodyguards.

    1. reason for that was to save costs i.e. get rid of the klfs where possible, hehe

      it’s even worst when they shoot a battle scene in war and there are only about 20 soldiers excluding the general, LOL

      1. War scene is a little better. Will have about 30 soldiers. Still better than K ancient drama with only 5, haha.

      2. ok i see not that familiar with K series.

        The funny thing is that one highly skilled fighter should be able to wipe out the entire troop of 20-30 soldiers.

        Another funny thing with TVB series is that they use the same artist regardless their age only difference is the makeup level, LOL

      3. Actually this series has a lot of people already. About 10 behind each side. Normally, perhaps 5. War scene got more people or maybe same kelefe ran outside camera, u-turn and run into the camera again and again and again.

      4. @ Funn Lin: Ha ha ha, your comment reminded me of “Old Time Buddy”. Gallen being a kelefe, running into the scene, getting killed, getting out and then running back in again. Oh boy, the good old days.

  10. 3 stars? How generous. If it were me, half a star purely for the fact film were used. Don’t even mention who walks alone, etc. No one ever greets anyone ever.

      1. I would not expect any less from a stellar actor like Ben Wong but the story has no redeeming factor. Fine. Quarter star to Ben not because he was terrible but because if I say 1 star for this series many may assume it has 1 star redeeming factor when it was messy, messy, messy. Put this in a modern context maybe it will work but in this context when Joel Chan screamed bloody murder over his dead child, I was thinking MAN! MAN!! Your child shouldn’t have been born in the first place! Even Qiong Yau would not have gone into that sort of mess and her stories had always had different degrees of mess. And did someone mention BBJX in the same breath as this series? Please don’t. This series does not even deserve a hiccup next to BBJX. And did someone mention BTROC? Yes that is a mess but in retrospect that is a mild controlled mess and I think I am beginning to appreciate BTROC for a few good reasons; for one, it was not a complete and utter mess.

      2. @Funn I really don’t agree with you. QY’s mess got progressively worse over the years. NHZGG is MUCH MUCH MUCH worse than CORTH. Highlights (if you didn’t watch it) –
        1. A white man running all over the palace without any repercussions.
        2. new-fangled phrases such as “xiao case” all over.
        3. CHEERLEADING (“QI ER LI DING”) – which wasn’t even INVENTED in history until 1900s AND it was invented in the US not whatever country that white man came from. And they performed cheerleading in Qing Dynasty.
        4. BOYS (PRINCES+EUNUCH) VS GIRLS (PRINCESS+MAID) FOOTBALL GAME. Considering how much contact there is, will it even be allowed?
        There are lots much. I just have to stop ranting or i’ll keep bashing it.
        QY’s mess is so MESSY i’ll just dump the whole thing into the landfill.

        I think COTRH is more realistic than BTROC. Someone as perfect as Sam ho? HAHAHAHHAHAAHAHA at least everyone in COTRH is more realistic.

      3. Nicole,

        I can’t answer for all but I can say why the white guy can run around everywhere is because the emperor allows him to run everywhere, he is a guest and during such times there were missionaries and painters and such given such status so I am not surprised. The rest I can’t disagree.

        You feel BTROC is less realistic than cursed series is due to the extreme goodness of Sam Ho, but it is acceptable if you believe Sam Ho as a nice person exist and I chose to, moreover she isn’t that nice. If she is she would have stayed in the palace with the Emperor for the ultimate sacrifice. Cursed series is worst that BTROC for a very simple fact; it was stupid mess. Why call it palace/emperor sort of series when NO ONE observes that fact? Never in the history of China imperial struggles have there ever been an adulterer who could shout so darn loud at the emperor at the death of the bastard child which should never have been born. Never ever have there been an empress who killed the child of the emperor and still get to be empress. No one says hi to anyone, no one observes ettiquette. How can anyone respect such an Emperor who lets his 2 women run all over him? It is not only messy, it is inconsistent. At least in NHZGG the emperor allows them to do whatever they want, however stupid but in cursed series the emperor couldn’t even protest if he wanted to.

      4. I agree with Nicole that COTRH is more realistic than BTROC, not only because of the perfect characteristic of Sam Ho but also the concept and scheme. The way Myolie’s chac wanna keep her husband away from Jessica’s chac is reasonable than in BTROC.

      5. @Funn
        Have you ever read any books written by emissaries during the Qian Long’s reign? From what I’ve read, I can guarantee you that NONE of that non-celibate painters/missionaries are given the privilege to run around the harem without any guard or so. You will need to consider Qian Long’s wariness of outsiders above all. We will need to remember QL’s crackdown on missionaries during that time.

        “Never ever have there been an empress who killed the child of the emperor and still get to be empress.”
        – I don’t remember Yee Lan or Yuen Yuen killing any babies in the series. In fact, they actually saved each other’s child when they were caught in the fire. Or you mean Yee Lan killing the concubine Nancy? In history, there are tons of cases of empress poisoning concubines or babies to keep their places so I find that pretty realistic.

        ” How can anyone respect such an Emperor who lets his 2 women run all over him?”
        – Daoguang was pretty useless in history. There have been emperors in history who let their wives or concubines or eunuchs or officials run ram-shod over them. No one is calling him a wise emperor yea?

        – In HZGG we have a mythical unicorn that can sing and dance and attract butterflies while she dance, and those butterflies can save people when they fall off the cliff, you are saying that’s logical? Ok. Then I can adjust the plot of COTRH to include the army of the moths, which Yuen Yuen summoned to strangle Yee Lan in her sleep, but Yee Lan has the blessing of the butterflies that rescued her after a blooded battle at the doors of Hades. Logical? Now I love HZGG, but if we are talking about logicality… no way.

        – In modern terms, we will call Sam Ho a preach, or a goody-two-shoes, so for the series to DEPICT her as Buddha Incarnate? Can you imagine someone going around saying SAY GOOD! SEE GOOD! DO GOOD! I really do not agree that it’s realistic. The characters in BTROC are basically caricatures, they are blindingly white or black, whereas in COTRH they all have agendas that influenced their actions.

        Maybe it’s because I have watched so many worse China series this year, so I will say COTRH is better and more realistic compared to most of them (Besides BBJX)

        Harem – Story of Zhen Huan – I think this is good, but since you think baby killing without punishment is unrealistic. well it has tons of baby/concubine killing with no punishment. and the mutation of Yongzheng.

        Royal Harem with Tavia – has tons of “baby killing”, and Tavia has got no punishment too.

        Gong – gawd, ancient Meteor garden, and tons of maid screaming bloody murder at princes, maids not greeting people. This show is an absolute joke.

        Phoenix Totem – Ditto, tons of maid screaming bloody murder, males running around, a rabid emperor, maids and guards not greeting people. It’s even worse than Gong.

        That palace series with Ming Dao and Zhang Ting is so unrealistic and illogical you will just give it up.

        If I have to rank the series, I will rank COTRH in the middle. It’s not that great but it’s definitely not as bad as you are making it out to be.
        BBJX > Harem – Story of Zhen Huan >>> QSHF > COTRH > Harem >>> MD series > Gong > Phoenix Totem

    1. lol maybe your espectation is too high since you watched BBJX. Of course the quality of TVB series will be tad lower than BBJX quality.

      1. Please. BBJX is outstanding because it’s an exception and not the rule. No one expects BBJX level from TVB –sometimes sucky is just sucky.

      2. @advo: but I do believe that those who’ve been exposed to a great series such as BBJX will unconsciously find TVB series especially palace series suckier in comparison. BBJX is greatly made in all aspects: script, plot, characters, acting, music, background scenes, studio set, lighting, makeup, costumes, music

      3. Back in the days, TVB did make some really nice classic series but I guess times are different now…..

      4. lol, I didn’t find it that way. I need only compare TVB to TVB and I could say this cursed series is the worst. BBJX is different storyline. For once BBJX and cursed series is about totally different things. If you want a more truer comparison maybe Gong in a wider sense.

      5. @ lol

        Not really. TVB has made excellent palace shows before – War & Beauty is very comparable in quality. It is not necessary to compare to BBJX to find CORH lacking. The show is bad entirely on its own merit.

  11. I would go for 1 to 1-1/2 stars ……. more than 1/2 star, but less than 3 stars for sure.

    On the whole, the drama series was poorly written and poorly acted. I think SDS was very generous in giving it a 3-star rating. How could it be aired as a grand production by TVB?

    1. The storyline and acting of COTRH still better than BTROC. That one in 2009 was a joke.

  12. Myolie wins best actress for this sereis shows that TVB only produces this show to help myolie win tv queen. This sereis was not even nomminated for anything except for best actress at the award ceremonies. Curse never made it to the top 5 for astro or tvb anniversary. THe only selling point for this sereis is Myolie since she never played an empress before and for her to get Best actress. Well, the plan succeed, but her performacne is far from sheren’s ms.nine, 4th wife, and Michelle’s hong yi in MR.

    1. It’s you again. Then tell me who instead of Myolie within the current crop of fadan is capable enough of winning the title this year?

      Sheren won for her year and Michelle won for her year, fair enough?

      1. Maggie cheung? Jessica hsuan? Dont think that myolie wu is the only person who deserves the award this year.

      2. acutally its not fair becasue myolie win for a year thats not hers. WIhtout the help of tvb, she wont have gotten the award. Again, TVB invested a lot of time, energy, and money inhelping her get this award this year. Please dont tell me shes tv queen worthy for curse. Dont mention her other sereis becasue those dont count. She is only running for TV Queen for CURSE when Jessica outshine her.

      3. Dunno why, this comment looks very familiar. I swear that I saw it somewhere before, not in Jayne’s site. The strategy is always: TVB help her – TVB makes path to her. Even the way of using Maggie and Jessica as shield is the same!

        Can joh/lee/etc. help us to explain how much TVB spent to help Myolie to win this year and how they invested all these money on her? Merely curious :P.

        If not Myolie the winner this year but another contractual actress who is yoh/lee/etc.’s favourite, I wonder Maggie and Jessica’ names will be bothered to mention or not :P.

      4. I actually posted a long comment on how TVB helped her on the other form so go look back. Ill tell you what article that comment was posted if you even want to read it knowing that you are a superfan of myolie you wont care. Dont say that im using them as shields when Ive been a fan when Im judgine becasue I watched all of their sereis this year. Myolie’s fans are no different then Charmaine’s fans.

      5. Ok give me, maybe it’s another place than where I saw it.

        BTW, would you please comment without using “then” to refer to “than”? And also please try to put some (.) between the sentences. I know you are trying very hard to use (.) with this username but please try harder. If not, it’s really hard to understand what you are trying to say.

  13. Myolie Wu’s Best Actress Award is a big joke in TVB Awards history, and will stay as a big joke forever!

    There were so many many protests against her winning after the Awards Ceremony. First, Myolie’s acting has never been highly recognized as good Second, her acting in CRH was one of her worst performances in her acting career.

    1. On whatever forums, there were only NEWS of Michael fans displeased he didnt win. None of Myolie. And I say NEWS because anything less is too insignificant to deem public opinion since no winner can guarantee TOTAL satisfaction. Even Kevin who most deemed deserving of best actor, there wasn’t 100% support. Actually from list of artists, more supported Myolie than Kevin which shows her position RELATIVE to the other nominees. So even if you bring all these wonderful actresses who’ve won previously its hard to argue that Myolie didn’t deserve it THIS year. She was solid in all her series. Even Maggie who won previously for King of Yesterday and Tomorrow cannot be said to be most deserving to win because her character or acting wasn’t as outstanding this year in general. Though, hopefully next year with her grand ancient series, she might.

      1. My predictions: Sheren and Michelle will be brought out as a shield!

        😛 I’m one of not supporting KC to win 3 awards. It would be better if Micheal has at least one after all.

      2. what makes oyu think myolie deserve this year? All of her fans keep saying that she did well overall this year when tv queen is not wawarded based on theri overall perforamcne. Its awarded on one role. If you say she did well thorughout the year, then you should award her tv queen for all of her three sereis this year then. What do you mean its hard to argue that she dosent deserve it this year if you bring out the other wonderful actresses? TV Queen has a long history of winners and its fair to compare them because all of theri acting should be at the same level to win this award. So your saying myolie’s acting is comparable to michelle and sheren and the past winners? Mabey Maggie role in FH 3 was not as outstadning, but she did not do worse then myolie so giving her tv queen this year is reasonable.

      3. TV Queen has a long history of winners and its fair to compare them because all of theri acting should be at the same level to win this award

        😛 Are you going to say that Gigi Lai is better than Sheren in War and Beauty? Oops.

        She shouldn’t be rewarded for all 3 series but either of the threesome. That’s ok?

        Maybe your taste is different but I don’t find Maggie in FH3 is any outstanding than Myolie’s performance. And it’s a truism that Maggie and Jessica aren’t with TVB anymore and their relationships with TVB isn’t too close so they won’t win, for sure. Using them as a shield is meaningless. Let’s say about the more potential actresses of this year – the contractual ones.

      4. I said SHOULD be at the same level so GiGi Lai is one of the worst best actress winners and Myolie wu just joined her and probaly the worst tv queen acutally. Yeah Myolie won for the sereis that she peroframed the worst so its not okay that she wins the award. You nailed the point that Maggie and jeessica dosent have contract with tvb so they have a less chance to win which gave moylie the award. Hmm then I can conclude that Moylie dosent deserve this award becasue she got the help from TVB and cause shes a contracted artist.

      5. Since Gigi made a precedent, Myolie, even if she is that bad like you claimed, is just a follower, not the first person.

        Even not Myolie this year then will have another contractual actress to win. So it’s a fair game to contractual actresses. Then let’s put Maggie and Jessica out, focus on contractual actresses. Not Myolie, who else can be the winner?

        To conclude: Where are the evidence of help and money to make Myolie become the winner that you spoken?

      6. I actually posted a long comment on how TVB helped her on the other form so go look back. Ill tell you what article that comment was posted if you even want to read it knowing that you are a superfan of myolie you wont care. Sheren, michelle, and Louise Lee were not contracted artistis and they won so how come Jessica and Maggie cant win? Both of them did equally well as myolie but how come TVB have to give both awards to Myolie? If you talk about contracted artists, TY in the other turth and Fala in lives of omission and even Elena kong in rivers of wine have the ability to win. I beleive Elena is contracted with TVB and if shes not, well she should win if you compare her with Myolie’s role in curse. Fala has the support from TVB and even if she wins, its justified because her medicore performacne in lives is compareble to myolie’s wu medicore performacne in curse and Tavia’s medicore performacne in the other turht as well. Since TVB is sorrupted, even Linda and akte can get the award if you talk about contracted artists since Moytlie’s poor performacne in curse is not any better then Miss Koo. Ok im done commenting becasue the award ceremonies is over and the review just made me think about this again.

  14. I am currently at disc 4 of the series and I find it entertaining. Your review is not accurate. Perhaps you didn’t like the stars to start off with. Right now, Myolie’s character is still bitchy so I hate her with a vengeance. This only reflects her good acting. The Emperor is weak but that is a fact in history. You sound very critical in general towards TVB series so you are the wrong person to write these reviews.

  15. Good review!!!

    As for Lenovo11’s complaint, I think it’s a moot point. We all know the review sometimes reflects personal point of view on the series, so it’s our choice to put how much trust on the review. You can’t force someone to write good things only.

    As for this review particularly, SDS seems to be not sure if the series is likeable or not. I feel like SDS is trying to defend the series a little bit, like saying “it has some bad aspects but you might enjoy it if you watch it” so it doesn’t really help me to decide whether or not to watch this series. But based on your “honest” rating inside the review (not the neutral 3 stars on top of the review), it would be a NO for me to watch this series.

    1. Yep, took the words out of my mouth. I think you should write my reviews for me.

    2. @SDS: Didn’t know if you were being sarcastic or not.
      If you were, I’m sorry offending you. What I meant above was that I really appreciated your review. It was a good one. Just that it was bit neutral in the rating as if you didn’t want to offend its fans.
      Anyway, love to read other reviews of yours in the future.

      1. Lol it was a joke, well unless you really wanna write it… 🙂 Actually I didn’t know what to make of the series myself. I don’t watch many of the palace struggle series so I can’t really compare. To me it got better as it went on. Its one if those series id tell ppl to try hence 3 stars, 2.5 would b totally neutral with a negative twist.

  16. I felt that COTRH definitely had its negatives, but I enjoyed it simply because of Myolie & Joel. It was a love story which I actually enjoyed, and felt drawn to. I was happy for them, sympathized for them and cried for them. Why? I don’t know, there was a nice exploration of their story with their flashbacks and the standstill that they face with their complicated relationship. I feel like the story invested enough time to develop them realistically. Compared to Sunny and Jess, I couldnt buy their story for some reason…

    Apparently, the makeup and portrayal of Sunny is historically accurate but honestly, aesthetically the makeup and clothes were so… meh. esp Jess. Oh man. And Myolie looked so much… older.

    I found that a lot of the politics takes away from the battles of the harem, and I found it boring. Although I don’t think the title was bad or exaggerated at all, because realistically, only those with enough power. or courage can scheme, because others will be scared for survival. Besides, with only 3-4 ladies scheming it still has it flaws, imagine trying to incorporate 10 ladies scheming? It’ll be a mess or a whackjob of screentime and development.

    Apart from that… the drama was aright/good to me. But I can honestly say, it definitely wasnt a bad drama compared to other productions of the year.

    1. I’m too lazy to write my thoughts so I’ll just say that I agree with most of what you said! I wish there was less politics because I found the scenes with the men pretty boring. As a whole, I thought that it was one of the better dramas of the year and I actually thought that the whole story was really good.

  17. i haven’t watched the drama yet… but i personally wouldn’t deduct a point for a plot that’s obviously going to be made over and over again. it’s like a love story. we all know it involves two people. like a family business drama, we all know it’s about someone in the family trying to over take the business. like a psychological thriller, we all know it is about one crazy person against the world. because this is a reflection upon us humans. obviously these plots are going to be the same if you word it that way. unless you mean it is HOW they execute this plot? kinda unfair saying it’s not creative due to its genre…..

    1. Lol hence y I said id deduct one for most tvb series. Well plot wise the description should b broader than what you describe. Well to me I guess. But thats essay material stuff lets avoid that here. Happy new year.

  18. @SDS – sorry to get off the subject of Royal Harem, but I didn’t know how to submit a comment directly to you.

    This is the first time I’ve seen the review portion of Jaynestars and I quite enjoyed your assessment. I would like to see what you think of When Heaven Burns. 🙂

    For the record, I could not go past episode 1 of COTRH.

    1. Yea… That one is going to catch me between a rock and a hard place 🙂 yea I personally disliked the first 10 our so ep of this but I battled on.

  19. Lets see, where do I start to see the problems. Myolie Wu acting which over the years I have her as my favorite; though this I don’t know what to think.It seems okay but everybody in the series(royal harem); has pissed me off and none have a mind of their own. But I will battle on————

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