Where to start with Shuttle Love Millennium? I started to do episode reviews but fell off once I started skipping through a lot of the episodes (oops, that’s probably a bad sign!) I loved the cinematography and little quirks, but really could not stand some of the characters. Overall, a large bag of mixed feelings with this one.
(Note: the following review may contain spoilers, but they will be blacked out. Highlight at your own risk!)
Shuttle Love Millennium is a time travel romance inspired by Queen In-hyun’s Man and intended to be a spin-off of the Chinese version of that series. It’s directed by Kim Byung-soo, the director of Queen In-hyun’s Man, and from what I understand, Yoo In-na (whom I love!) was intended to play Fang Zi Yi (Puff Kuo’s character, and I also love Puff Kuo) but was replaced because of political things. That’s probably where the main Queen In-hyun’s Man connections are, because the rest of the series fails to live up to the original.
The drama is about two men, playboy Sun Qi Long in 2016, and talented chef Zhang Zhi Gang in 1936 (both played by Wei Da Xun) who unexpectedly travel through time and switch places. At first, the two simply want to return to their proper time periods, but things get complicated when they start to realize all the strange connections between them, romance gets introduced, and they learn more about the mysteries of time travel.
Shuttle Love Millennium is directed by a Korean director, which really shows in the cinematography and overall feel of the drama. The scenes, direction, and lighting have a more polished, produced feel than a lot of Chinese dramas and is more in line with the look of Korean dramas. It’s a very pretty drama (helped by the pretty cast) and I really liked the direction/choreography of a lot of the shots and especially how the parallels are drawn between the two time periods.
I appreciated that there were no messy love triangles in the drama: the focus is very much on our two main couples (perhaps too much so, but I’ll get to that later.) The biggest obstacles to the couples’ relationships are time and space itself. It’s refreshing to not have to deal with the pettiness of second leads and jealous ex-lovers.
But there was perhaps too much focus on our main couples and romance, so much so that it flattened out our characters. There were cute couple moments and very dramatic, cliche romantic fall-outs, but my biggest frustration was with how Wang Lin as a character became reduced to nothing more than a girl in love. All she did was coo or cry over Zhang Zhi Gang and she had zero other personality. Her character was my least favorite character, which is quite unfortunate because she is one of the main characters.
When the show wasn’t busy showing us romance or the consequences of loving someone from a different time, we actually get some really interesting subplots involving big bad guys with guns who kidnap people and want to steal the secret of time travel. Unfortunately the episodes that involve this kind of plot movement are few and far between, which makes this 28-episode show seem so much longer.
The idea of time travel–especially with characters who go back and forth multiple times–brings up the idea of how much of the present is changed by the past and how much of it was simply “meant to be”? The characters have to deal with the consequences that their actions in the past (and knowledge of the future) have on the present. We never get a clear-cut answer to how much the time travelers’ actions change the present, or how much of what happens is what was always “meant to be.”
It’s difficult to execute time travel and changing timelines well, and it seems as though the drama did the best it could, but things got a bit sloppy toward the end of the show. At first, I really liked the mature direction the ending was headed toward, but I did not like where the show actually ended. I get wanting to have a happy ending for everyone–it would be pretty terrible if Zhi Gang and Wang Lin had their happy ending and Qi Long was forever alone–but Qi Long’s ending just seems too implausible. He’s too prominent in his present day life to just inexplicably disappear into another time period, and it just seems ridiculous for him to go back to before he first meets Zi Yi. By meeting her before everything, won’t he essentially change the whole timeline of what happens afterward, and negate all the events that had happened previously in the series?
Shuttle Love Millennium is one of those dramas with a lot of potential but could have been executed a bit better. It tries to do so much that a lot of characters and plot lines get neglected (would’ve loved to see more of pretty boy bad guy Jiang Shi Kai). And even with all the screen time that some of our main characters get, they don’t have enough complexity to them. Wei Da Xun does a fantastic job convincingly portraying two different characters, but the rest of the characters don’t really require much from their actors (beyond crying.) Overall Shuttle Love Millennium has all of the looks of a good drama, but none of the feel.