Tencent’s Adaptation of ‘The Three-Body Problem’ Is a Hit — For Now

On the one hand, the new TV series may be the most successful adaptation of Liu Cixin’s sci-fi novels to date. On the other hand, only four out of 30 episodes have dropped so far...

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5:29 PM HKT, Tue January 17, 2023 1 mins read

On January 15, Tencent Video and CCTV-8 began streaming yet another TV adaption of Liu Cixin’s sci-fi novel The Three-Body Problem.

Comprised of 30 episodes, the live-action series titled Three-Body is inspired by the first book in Liu’s famed trilogy, and features Chinese celebrities such as Zhang Luyi, Yu Hewei, Wang Ziwen, Lin Yongjian, Li Xiaoran, and Wang Chuanjun.

An English-subbed version on the program’s first episode is available to watch on YouTube.

On January 16, the author himself tweeted about the new program, saying, “I’m very happy to see another adaption of The Three-Body Problem. Let’s watch it together tonight.”

A hashtag related to the new series, which has been trending on the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo, has garnered 200 million views at the time of writing. Tencent has boasted that as far as debuts go, the adaptation has outperformed all other shows on the streaming platform to date.

Although the TV show doesn’t have a score on the Chinese reviewing website Douban yet, comments about it have largely been positive. Many Chinese netizens are pleased about the casting, and have praised the TV series for sticking to the novel’s plot.

“The best choice is to strictly follow the original book including all lines and plot structure. Finally, here’s a good adaption for book fans to watch,” reads a comment on Douban.

Another netizen even went as far as to say, “If the following episodes are as good as the first one, I don’t have to wait for Netflix’s adaption.”

Both Netflix and Tencent have been racing to release their respective TV adaptations of The Three-Body Problem for a while now — a race that the latter has won in terms of speed. Netflix first announced the news two whole years ago, and in October 2022, the North American streaming giant finally revealed that it would be dropping its series sometime in 2023.

Other adaptations of The Three-Body Problem include a Minecraft-inspired animation and another animation by Chinese streaming platform Bilibili with subpar reviews.

three body problem poster

A poster for Tencent Video’s Three-Body Problem

A few negative voices have made themselves heard amidst the fanfare surrounding Tencent’s new TV series: Some film critics have pointed out that the production is a challenging watch for those who are unfamiliar with or not well-versed in Liu’s works.

According to a Chinese digital media outlet called The Bund, the TV show is far too ambitious for its own good, and by including every single detail in the book, may appear convoluted to some viewers. Moreover, it leaves little room for the character’ individual storylines to unfold.

That being said, it is way too early to tell if the series will be an overall success. After all, only four out of 30 episodes have dropped so far.

All images via Weibo

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