their survival, the villagers scratch their heads wondering why the hell anyone would want to build a bridge in the desert when there’s no water.
He realizes with some embarrassment that his bridge metaphor in his Fujian dialect went over their heads and tries again in simpler terms: they will sell their produce at farmers markets in the city. This is met with lots of smiles and nods of approval; that is, if it’s for real. Can they trust the government, or will this desert experiment be abandoned, leaving them to wither and die? This uncertainty about their future is a specter that hangs over them throughout the series.
And don’t get me started on the humor, heartbreak and heroism of the great mushroom caper. An esteemed agriculture expert, Prof. Ling (Huang Jue) settles nearby, temporarily so he believes, to conduct experiments to learn what grasses can be grown to control desert erosion. As a side project, he tries growing mushrooms in small amounts to test whether they might be commercially viable for the farmers.
The possibility of a cash crop is good enough for the villagers who, when they get wind of his experiments, are raring to take the gamble. He’s reluctant to take the risk at this early stage of his research, but after getting to know the farmers and seeing their dire circumstances first-hand, he’s convinced to use their entire community for his experiment.
Minning Town’s glaring problem is a recurring, i.e., predictable, five-part deus ex machina cycle in several subplots, as follows: local or low-level authority figures are not to be trusted; an impoverished major character has no choice but to be subservient to them; the authority figure callously refuses to address their concerns; in a last-ditch effort, the character in question goes over the authority figure’s head to a more powerful authority figure who turns out to be an avuncular benefactor who almost magically solves their problem while chastising the lower level authority figure; and lastly, our major character learns that authority figures are to be trusted