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Channelsurf China


by Wayne Capstore

When you have been in China for more than a few months, the DVD torrent turns into a drip, like a faulty air-con unit. If one or two new titles a week isn't enough for you, the looming shadow that is Chinese Television will creep into your life, just like those shadows in Independence Day when the aliens' ships first move into position over the target cities, like New York, Los Angeles and so on. To help you with all this TV, gou-rou.com's resident couch potato, Wayne Capstore, has watched some more television. Here he presents his list of things that can be found on at least one Chinese television channel at any one time.


- Young woman in a suit, partially obscured by a laptop computer with a massive LENOVO sticker on it.
- Medium quality news footage of some sort of conference involving boring, overweight, identically dressed officials with mineral water in its original bottles. The room is decorated with one of the following - gold and red drape curtains, red banner proclaiming the Xth meeting of the X committee, oversized vases full of flowers.
- Men whose grins' stupidity are matched only by their "pig" make-up running from some sort of badly generated effect involving a lot of primary colours, closely followed by another in a monkey costume that wouldn't trick a two year old. (n.b. - several versions of Journey to the West will be on concurrently)
- Replays of provincial TV channel gala shows with Kung Fu Children, male singers in glittery suits, and presenters having more fun than would be expected given the circumstances.
- Costume melodramas set in the Qing/Ming dynasty, cheap Kung Fu, terrible acting, awful plots involving a heroine who is in love but never tells the hero, and a blatant disregard for physics.
- Costume drama featuring elegantly dressed upper class Shanghainese in the 1920s. Ridiculous mix of costumes and very very boring extra-marital affairs.
- News footage showing things going wrong in other countries.
- Footage of the Chinese medal winners from the last Olympics, any excuse will do.
- Time lapse footage of a road junction in Chongqing demonstrating how modern China is now.
- Modern drama show in which an immoral power dressing woman spoils the relationship of the sweeter heroine who wears less make-up! The message is clear, powerful women are dangerous!
- Really really rubbish animation. Initially seeming like 1950s Soviet Cartoons, credits reveal it to be made last year in Suzhou.
- Wartime "historical dramas" showing the Communists suffering many defeats but eventually single-handedly defeating the Japanese, who, despite having vital military objectives, spend most of their time pushing over Chinese peasant women with fruit carts.