While I can say I honestly enjoyed my time with Substitute Princess, I find it hard to wholeheartedly recommend it. Much of the fun was enhanced by fan interaction and suspense week-to-week during broadcast, something that can't be replicated. If I had watched this like any other drama (ie: marathon or over several days), my experience would have been very different. Why? This drama undeniably has many strong points. But even if read morethe tools used in a narrative are shiny, the story will ultimately fail if the writing isn't strong. And in Substitute Princess, it's decidedly weak.
The plot veered off tracks slightly past the halfway point. There's a decided shift in direction so noticeable that I'd thought the writers had changed hands. In truth, apparently internal politics at SETTV coupled with need to meet public demand caused this; either way it seems the writers clearly bit off a little more than they could chew. Character motivations became muddy; one promoted character totally vanished. Plot lines disappeared partway, then reappeared only to be wrapped up unsatisfactorily. Those that were necessary were often shuffled along in favor of trying to fix the problem of choosing the OTP, but even this was somewhat rushed.
What makes this unfortunate is that the main cast is so lovable. Nikki Hsieh has fine chemistry with everyone else in the drama, believably interacting with any character according to their intended relationship. She also does a great job in her dual role, because there are even speech differences between Da Hua and Liang Yan. James Wen is a personal favorite, but he was calling in all of his talent to keep his character from imploding. His Lin Guan Jun was handled poorly by the writers and his actions often made little sense in the final episodes. Wen has a natural charm about him though, so the eye is always drawn to him regardless.
Chris Wu is the favorite for most viewers, because he's such a talent; Terry could have reasonably been as interesting as cardboard. Instead, he's gorgeous, magnetic, compelling, and sympathetic; it's easy to see why he won the hearts of viewers so easily...and he's likely the primary reason many kept tuning in. I can't blame them.
My personal favorite part of Substitute Princess is the music. This is one of the OSTs I will be importing once it's available. Both the intro and outro suit the show unbelievably well, from the tone to lyrics. Each insert song is memorable and used effectively also. A special mention has to go to James Wen, who sang Guan Jun's love theme "Why Bother." Once when it played it got me teary-eyed due to its effective usage; it's such a beautiful song and his voice is quite pleasant.
Sadly, I can't think of any reason to re-watch this drama once you've completed it--unless you want to relive the experience that is Terry. I probably won't be coming back to it any time soon.
This was a lovely drama. I sincerely enjoyed it. As my first Taiwanese drama, I wasn't sure what to expect- I just have to say, I'm impressed. The characters are a lot smarter than most of the folk that are in Korean dramas. They connect things a -lot- sooner.
Anywho, onto the actual drama.
The Story: It had a good plot. It captured my attention immediately, and for most of the drama read moreit goes through the plot really well. I just feel that they sort of cut the main plot point off a little soon, and were struggling for things to fill the rest of the episodes with, so the ending bit sort of dragged on a bit, but it wasn't really all that bad. It was quite a fun drama, and there were quite a few twists that were honestly really unexpected for me. That does NOT happen very often.
The Cast: OH MY GOODNESS. I had never heard of Chris Wu [who plays Terry] before now, and damn I have no idea why. That man is a fabulous crier. Seriously. And anybody is able to melt into a puddle at his loving looks. He, for me, was the best part in this drama, although there were few bad actors. The lead female was a bit boring, but she had character. I actually really enjoyed Xiao Fei's character... If I were to highlight one bad casting choice, it would be Liang Yan's father. He... wasn't great. But honestly, besides him, everybody fulfilled their parts to my satisfaction.
The Music: Wonderful. The OST was really, really great in my opinion. The lyrics and mood of the music always fit the situation, and there was a good theme to them. One of the best parts of this drama.
Rewatch Value: I'd watch it again, but not any time soon.
So yes, overall, I'd say that it's definitely worth watching. At times it is a bit frustrating, and you definitely see some complaints about the ending, but I personally loved the ending.
I recommend this. :)
I think I watched the same drama as Meganjoy12. However I should point out that the first four episodes were exposition/backstory overload and dragged forever but once the talks of plastic surgery take place the drama really starts. So I'd suggest starting with episode 4 or skipping from one to four or wading through all of the very long first few episodes.
After that i really enjoyed the show. Sure there were melodramatic tropes but what do you expect? Ha.
And Chris Wu is super watchable. Something about him just demands your attention whenever he's on screen.
Totally recommend this show for a weekend marathon.
I think I watched a different drama than everyone else because I pretty much loved this drama. I admit that half of my love for it was the amazing chris wu (the man could pretend to be in love with a tree and make it believable, he is just so good at playing a man in love) but I also really liked the story and characters. Yes it did have the typical Taiwanese drama clichés and craziness but I liked the way it was done and I thought that it was at the better end of the t-dramas ive seen.
also the ending didn't bug me like most others, a few things were left open but as far as the main love story it was very clear who she picked and that they would now be together but I would have liked a kiss, hug or at least her saying I love you.
The drama wasn't that bad. Just feel that it shouldn't have dragged so long. The ending was also not that bad, still acceptable for me. Chris Wu played his character well. He was actually the main reason I watched this drama. But I don't think in real life there is such a guy like Terry! May be more like in a fantasy.
Going to force myself today to finish watching the remaining two episodes. I follow this drama from the very beginning, but I just can't get myself to watch the last two episodes, because I know how it will end and I've lost almost all interest in this drama even though it started out as a great one :( .
while i wasnt happy about the ending i dont think it was so much of a cliff hanger as you had to be paying attention. they basically went over every moment of the Da Hua/Terry relationship in flash backs. showing that they were still thinking about each other. Guan Jun on the other hand wasnt a huge part of it and what we did see was pretty much big brother territory, with his parts in the finally just basically wrapping up his character. Dua Hau and Terry both said they would "meet again" if it was their fate. Da hua looked absolutely over the moon to see him on the plane.so to me it seems to indicate that she did in fact chose terry. i also postulate that there is a possiblilty that whatever mandarin phrase is being translated as "if it's our fate,we'll meet again" might have a different connotaion to native speakers and might suggest a more inimate/romantic meeting.
I agree. They probably would have had to spend a ton of money on production costs to re-do the wedding scene. Since they already did it once over, the viewers can just imagine what the grand wedding between Terry and Da Hua would be like. I wish though that they did do something like this time her giving him a ring. Like proposing to him since she finally decided she wanted Terry.
I'd been a Terry supporter throughout the show so I was really glad.
My understanding is that since her last text (that she was afraid to send to Terry) asked that if she came back in a year could she be his bride again, that yeah, her feelings had changed toward romantic for Terry. That and the flashback scenes on the plane and what you said about both of them depending on fate which brought them together again.
You call that an ending? I am glad I did not waste all 21+ hours on this! I skipped from episode 10 to 19-21 & am glad I did. They better have a special because Da Hua better make up her damn mind & pick one or the other. This is just not fair to all the fans that spend their time rooting for either one of the guys. It seems that at the end the writers did not want or could not make up their minds about which faction to disappoint (p*** off), Terry's or Guan Jun's. But isn't that the reason we all watch this kind of dramas? We know someone is going to be disappointed no matter what. I loved the actors, the story had potential but once again, it seems that the writers do not know what to do & bring such a great story to a deserving end. Please, ease my mind & finally let me know who really won Da Hua's heart. I hate ambiguous endings.