Yang Shengbo, PhD student, Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Taiwan University
Black & White premiered on Taiwan Public Television Service (PTS) in April 2004. The story is set in Seaport City, a fictional metropolis. Filmed primarily in Kaohsiung with assistance from the Kaohsiung City government, the serial showcases the beauty of Taiwan’s foremost port city, revealing scenic vistas different those of Taipei. In addition to modern settings and gripping plot development, scriptwriters also added hefty doses of romance and humor, varying the pace and setting the serial apart from crime docudramas such as Taiwan Chameleon (1997).
The plot is made up of a series of police cases, with each case pointing to an overarching conspiracy. An international drug ring, a sniper on the roof of police headquarters, a bank robbery, a thief within the ranks of a district police station, an explosion in a burger joint – all lead back to a Department of Defense arms procurement scandal. The Seaport City police department, the criminal underworld, a military unit, a foreign arms consortium, and even the National Police Agency, the Legislative Yuan, Department of Defense, the Military Affairs Commission, and a number of upper-echelon government officials are involved in the sprawling conspiracy. The action-packed serial features gun battles, a building being destroyed by an explosion – something seldom seen in Taiwan – cops chasing a suspect in the mass-transit system, and even a speeding train being brought to a stop, the production a major breakthrough in Taiwanese television dramas. In addition, the serial places great emphasis on the process of ratiocination, logically interlinking plot elements.
What differentiates Black & White from other crime dramas is the importance of forensics. In addition to constructing a laboratory stocked with actual forensics equipment, French windows, and coded locks, the serial also shows lab technicians conducting forensic investigations, a highly realistic portrayal of professional criminal investigators at work. Important clues that drive the case forward all undergo extensive forensic analysis, verifying clue compositions and origins, confirming that the investigation is on the right track, for only then can further deductions be made. As clues pile up, the details of the case gradually come to light; audiences can also link earlier foreshadowing to later story developments by means of the systematic and logical plotting. Although the production has its flaws, strengths still outweigh weaknesses.
Comprising twenty-four episodes, Black & White was directed by Cai Yuxun and Gao Linbao, produced by Yu Xiaohui and Cai Yuixu, supervised by Cai Mingyang, and written by Wu Luoying and Chen Huiru. Zhou Yumin, Zhao Youting, Chen Yihan, Zhang Junning, and Xiu Jiekai starred in major roles. The show achieved great popularity, and in 2009 was nominated for eleven Golden Bell awards, taking home five prizes: Best Drama, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Program Marketing, and Best Art Design. Black & White was later adapted as a feature film.
|Related Literary Themes：||Science Fiction and Mystery|