"Yuanfang, what do you think?" asks Tang Dynasty detective Di Renjie. (Internet photo)
While Sherlock Holmes' catchphrase was "Elementary, my dear Watson," the words of a new kind of detective, "Yuanfang, what do you think?" have become the signature phrase of the leading character in the TV series Amazing Detective Di Renjie. Netizens have described the trend as being "too cute," according to Want Daily, our Chinese language sister newspaper.
Spin-offs of ancient historical figures have become a recent trend on the internet. A series of sketches called "Du Fu is Busy" drawing the famous poet biking and playing basketball, has become a hit meme on microblogs.
Following the trend, netizens have turned their eyes to Di Renjie, a minister in the Tang Dynasty who lived from 630 to 700 CE. CCTV has shot four seasons of the detective series so far. In the series, whenever Di is investigating a case, he will ask his deputy Li Yuanfang, "Yuanfang, what do you think?" A microblog has been formed out of this newly famed character and internet users can go to the site and post questions to see what the sidekick thinks.
According to site data, Yuanfang gets asked what he thinks 2.5 million times every day.
China Mobile, the world's leading telecom company by subscriber numbers, has even used the catchphrase in its own ad messages to customers. One of the most recent messages released reads: "Di: There are a lot of rumors behind China Mobile's customized version of the Nokia Lumia 920T. Yuanfang, what do you think (about this)? Li: Master, there must some larger secret behind this! Lumia 920T not only supports the TD-SCDMA standard, but after 4G licenses start being issued, it will also support the TD-LTE standard. I don't know when it will be issued. Di: What do you think? Li: I think it will be in November."