Since this drama is still airing and it is an episodic drama (different stories every couple of episodes), this will be a quick spoiler-free article on my thoughts on the drama!
Detective L is a Chinese detective drama that is set in Shanghai during the 1930s. Luo Fei is a genius advisor for the police department where he helps to solve crimes. Xiao Man is a rookie female detective and the only woman in the police department. Luo Fei and Xiao Man partner up to solve mysterious cases around their city with the help of forensic doctor Ben Jie Ming occasionally. There are 24 episodes in this drama with each case taking around 3 episodes to be solved.
Bai Yu as Luo Fei
As his work history displays, Bai Yu has played many similar detective roles in dramas before and is well known for these roles, especially Guardian. Therefore, he is very comfortable with this genre and does a really great job of delivering in terms of acting. Bai Yu really makes the show even better, he's extremely talented and fun to watch on screen. Out of all the detective roles he played in the past, this one stands out as being the most fun. His character is hilarious in Detective L, fans of Bai Yu will not be disappointed!
Una You as Xiao Man
This is her most prominent role so far and she portrays an optimistic rookie detective learning from Luo Fei. Despite not having a lot of major roles before, her acting is very solid, it never feels awkward on screen or stiff which is what may happen with many inexperienced actors/actresses. I think this is a good start for her acting career and I will be looking forward to her future works.
Jeffery Ji as forensic scientist Ben Jie Ming
Even though he has yet to have a breakthrough role, his acting is very promising and he delivers as the forensic scientist in this drama. Unfortunately, even though he is one of the more prominent supporting characters in the drama, I feel like the drama writers did not do him justice by not giving him enough screentime. I hope to see more of him in the drama, and hopefully, he will get a leading role soon to show off his acting skills. He definitely does have great potential and I would like to see him get a drama of his own to display it.
My Opinion: Currently on ep 18/24
1. The cinematography is BEAUTIFUL
I'm talking about the editing, the setting for this drama, the beautiful details in each shot are just amazing to watch!
The costume designs are nice too, Luo Fei has a very grand wardrobe (even nicer than mine), he changes his outfits quite frequently even more than the female lead, I guess it makes sense and matches his eccentric character in the show. They change up his outfits usually switching out the accessories such as sunglasses, hats, new blazers. I like it a lot compared to those dramas with literally the same outfit for the entire show.
I mean... Look at the transitions and camera work!
2. Well written characters and acting
Everyone in the cast gives off very solid acting despite most of them being rookie actors who never really acted as main characters before. I like that they also show character development for Xiao Man in certain scenes where she uses techniques she picks up from Luo Fei rather than staying the same the entire time. She is more the physical member of the duo while Luo Fei is the brains. I like that they gave her a role that allows her to protect Luo Fei, she's very talented with guns and physical fights, and her investigation skills improve quickly while working with Luo Fei.
I also like how well balanced the main 2 leads are and their chemistry while working together. They make a believable team that has funny bickering moments and subtle romance.
3. Similar to Sherlock Holmes
I am a huge fan of the TV series, this is basically a Shanghai version, so many similarities. Luo Fei is the classic Holmes we know and love with the eccentric attitude, being super intelligent and funny at the same time. It's personal preference, some fans love it and some hate it. I think it's good, not as good but good in a different way.
I must say the theme song is very similar, but I don't really mind it. It gives me a nostalgic vibe with the classic Holmes and Watson pairing, but Watson is played by a woman here.
4. Highly addictive
I tried to only watch one episode a day or limit my drama watching due to work and school but something about the fun and quirky, self-confident Luo Fei makes you want to watch more. The drama does a good job making you feel invested and wanting to watch more.
5. Funny extra ending scenes
There are little random scenes at the end of each case (every 2-3 episodes) that just show funny little skits or everyday scenario involving Luo Fei. For example, they had a scene of Luo Fei running around solving a "theft scene" for the landlady and the result was hilarious.
I love these scenes because it is so refreshing and nice to see after a heavy episode/case. It's like a bonus or a cherry on top which makes the drama even better.
1. Some cases are better than others
Like most episodic case-based dramas there will always be some that are better than others. In my opinion, the cases are hit or miss for me. Not every case is amazing, there are some that stand out more than others. I was always waiting for a case that had me SHOOK but so far none did, there are a few intense moments here and there, most of the plot twists were mediocre in my opinion. I think I'm around 3 quarters of the drama right now, there are only about 6 episodes left, I think they might be saving the big moments for the last couple of episodes so keep in mind my current rating and opinion might change after the final episode, but for now I'll stick to what I've said.
2. Lack of backstory for the supporting casts
One of the downfalls of this drama is that there is a lack of backstory for other characters aside from Luo Fei and Xiao Man. Even the main leads' backstory rarely gets mentioned, and if it is then it is a very small portion/short period of the time. I think the forensic scientist especially needs this because he is an important team member, yet we barely know anything about him aside from the fact that he's friends with Luo Fei and lives with
dead bodies (at his workplace).
I feel like to make you care for these characters, there should be some screen time dedicated to their backstory perhaps a flashback of how the main side characters got to know Luo Fei? It will help us understand these characters and support the story better too. If something big happens to these characters, later on, we might not feel the impact of it emotionally unless the writers spent time making them memorable prior to the incident (and no, this is not a spoiler targeted at any character, it's more of a general example).
Overall, it is still such a great watch and an enjoyable time. It is also a pretty quick watch, most episodes are around 35 minutes long and the way they write the cases, having them solved in 2-3 episodes you want to keep watching. I had to keep this article short since there's not much to explain or say with an episodic drama, but check it out! I really recommend any of Bai Yu's detective dramas honestly. He is great as Luo Fei in this drama. If you are a fan of Bai Yu, you won't be disappointed. Also, one of the best things is that it's available on YouTube, I love dramas with English subs on YouTube, it makes my life easier to watch it on my phone.
Rating right now: 7.5/10
It hasn't "WOWED" me yet, but it's still addictive and enjoyable with the balance of humour and crime making me fly through the episodes. In a nutshell: If you like Sherlock Holmes and Asian dramas, this one should be on your plan to watch list.