Costume TV series canceled

Two highly-anticipated TV dramas were canceled, leading to public speculations that the alleged ban on costume dramas since March remains in effect, with experts noting it might suggest that China is looking to positively guide audiences through correct historic view.

Novoland: Eagle Flag, known as China’s Game of Thrones, which was one of the two removed, was slated to premiere on Monday night on three different platforms: Zhejiang TV and video streaming platforms of Tencent Video and Youku. However, it was canceled 30 minutes before airtime.

Adapted from a fantasy novel with a huge fan base, the story tells of war, conspiracy, betrayal and lust. Some critics call the drama series a work of historical nihilism.

An officer from the Hangzhou-based Zhejiang Radio & TV Group, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the reason for the withdrawal remains unclear.

However, they admitted having received an order from “higher level,” which is “the China’s National Radio and Television Administration.”

According to The Beijing News on Tuesday, the producers of the two dramas said that the reason for the sudden change remains unclear as well.

“We’re sorry to inform you that due to a ‘medium problem,’ the drama cannot be aired as scheduled,” Tencent Video told viewers on the platform.

Shi Wenxue, a Beijing-based industry insider and critic, told the Global Times on Tuesday that he prefers to see “medium problem” as a commonly-used alibi in the industry, since if the problem does exist, the drama cannot pass the technical inspection beforehand.

The “medium problem”, Shi explained, is about the format and the delivery process of video files.

Coincidentally, almost simultaneously, another costume drama, Investiture of the Gods, which is being aired on Hunan TV, was replaced by Young Blood, also a costume drama.

Allegedly a loose adaption of a classic Chinese novel of the same name, Investiture of the Gods tells a story of the plot to overthrow the Shang Dynasty (1600BC-1046BC), while Young Blood depicts young heroes defending the country in time of war.

Shi said that Young Blood tells a much more positive story on patriotism. And there might be another reason for the arrangement that students normally complete their school work in June and watch TV at home, and having supplementary patriotism education is needed to set up a healthy character for the youth.

Besides the two, other dramas of the genre, like The Legend of White Snake (The Legend) and The Longest Day in Chang’an, have been withdrawn or postponed in March, leading the public to suspect a total ban on the genre.

Shi continued to point out that speculation of a tighter regulation aimed at better protection of teens from three months ago has become a clear trend.