Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Scenes from Chinese TV

I thought folks might be interested in seeing what there is to see on Chinese TV. We have what you'd think of as "Basic Cable" here; there are lots more things available on TV in China, including via satellite. But what we have is the usual government-run channels. The only English channel basically runs travelogues and financial news, and that's about it. The Cheetohs ad above is actually from one of the Chinese channels. You definitely see things on Chinese TV that you'd see on screens in the U.S., like ads for American products. . . .
. . . and then there are the things you are unlikely to see on U.S. TV -- like Peking opera. The girls actually love watching Chinese opera. If you've never seen it, it is very stylized, ornately costumed, and sung (if you can call it that!) in a high-pitched whine that is definitely an acquired taste. Think Betty Boop in Chinese! Maya, who is cursed/blessed with the cutest little Betty-Boop voice, thinks all the singers have such pretty voices!

This commercial is a hoot -- drink the right stuff and you'll get the pretty girl. But instead of drinking beer, the actor drinks fruit juice!

This is an ad for shampoo, of course. But it could easily have been a news story instead -- I watched a story on the English channel about a successful attempt in Shanghai to get into the Guinness Book of World Records by having the biggest group of women doing "the hair-tossing dance" together. And yes, there was video! I was doubled over in laughter, so missed the screen grab.

You see lots of earnest interviews with scientists and factory heads on Chinese TV. I don't know what it's all about, but it seems geared to impress with China's enormous economic growth and scientific progress. I was pleased to see that the scientist worthy of being interviewed was a woman!

A lot of the offerings for kids and for grownups are historical. This cartoon is about a warrior fighting the Mongol hordes -- very Mulan-esque. The girls love it! But their favorite cartoon is by far one of the "Monkey King" offerings. There are LOTS of shows about the Monkey King -- both live-action and animated.

There are lots of musical variety shows on TV, too. Some are live concerts, usually with huge production numbers that involve dozens of costumed dancers. This lady sang in the midst of male dancers in red costumes . . . and then came the horses stampeding across the stage! I missed that screen grab, I'm sorry to say. A lot of the shows are amateurs -- a version of "Chinese Idol" it seems, with famous judges and everything. Apparently there was one show a few seasons back that included call-in voting that was so popular the national government stepped in and put a stop to it -- afraid that folks might get to like voting a little too much!

Most of the shows are dramas of the soap opera variety. This is one of the few sit-coms I've seen. And I know it's a sit-com because it has a laugh track, not because I can understand a word being said! Why is it shot with the couch in the middle of the scene? Who knows?! This scene, as far as I can tell, has the neighbor with the little girl complaining to the parents of the little boy that the boy has been getting fresh with the girl. The parents are explaining/apologizing, and promising good behavior, while the little boy periodically shouts "I love you" (in English) to the little girl. Hilarity ensues.

Ah, Tide, Chinese style!

Here are the hosts of a game show -- get a load of their clothes! There aren't a lot of game shows, but most of them seem pretty yawn-inducing. This was a kind of "Price is Right" show, with audience members called down to play. While I watched, they were guessing the price of a white wedding gown (white wedding gowns are increasingly popular in China, despite the fact that white is traditionally associated with mourning).

This is the incredibly annoying host of a cartoon show the kids like. Her attire and behavior would be appropriate for a 5-year-old, but in an adult it is just plain weird! Kind of PeeWee Herman on Midol.

Ahh, another highly dramatic music show. High drama is definitely favored by Chinese TV viewers, if the number of soul-stirring offerings are any guide.

And this show seems to combine all the favorites -- period costumes, history, and soap-opera drama! There are lots of these historical soaps -- sort of Peking Opera without the singing!
Hope you've found this Chinese version of TV Guide illuminating. Watching enough to take these photos pretty much killed my desire to watch any more Chinese TV! But then, I'm not that fond of American TV, either . . . .

No comments: