On The Television
by Allan Montgomery
Reality TV fever will continue to grip BTV viewers this month, as we see the continuation of "More Duck! More Duck!", the Chinese show that bears a striking resemblance to American documentary film Super-Size Me. Last month, viewers thrilled to the sight of Shijiazhuang-born sound technician Chang Li attempting to sustain himself solely on a diet of kaoya (Peking duck). A smash hit, the show is now being promulgated via other regional channels throughout China. Producers are planning a roadshow in June, touring the country. Also planned is a ballet based on the programme.
"It is a bit like the American documentary Super-size Me," concedes BTV spokesman Ji Ling, "except it is about a Chinese person, so it is more interesting."
The requirements for Chang's regime are nothing if not stringent. Kaoya for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He does not have to eat an entire duck at any time, but it is encouraged. As an incentive for Chang to eat more, for each whole duck he manages to eat, the station has promised to send five Chinese students in a dinghy to the Senkaku Islands.
"I was very excited to participate," says Chang, corpulently. "I was about to be fired from my sound engineering job at the station for misconduct, but they said if I did the programme I could have my job back. Now I am very happy, even though I can't fit in my old swivel chair at the sound desk any more." At this point, Chang appears to get something in his eye, and asks to be excused.
Some critics of the production have voiced concerns that Chang is being exploited somehow. Isn't it very bad for you to eat nothing but Peking duck?
We asked the BTV-6 consultant physician, Dr. Peng Yuesen. He told us that, despite initial misgivings, he is now convinced that the health effects of the one-track foodlaw are beneficial.
"[Chang] did gain some weight," says Dr. Peng, "a sign of health. Admittedly, we project that by day 20 his liver will have actually turned into that of a duck. Despite this, I cannot praise highly enough the unspecified medicinal benefits of a kaoya diet."
Media insiders hint that the improvements to Chang's life may include a heightened intelligence, only adding to the IQ advantage he already enjoyed due to using chopsticks on an almost literally daily basis.
The show certainly makes gripping viewing. At the end of last month - day 14, with 50 student activists on their way to the disputed Japan-administered islands - Chang was beginning to look as though he had been force-fed and pumped full of air. Can he make it to lucky Day 38 and the end of the challenge before suffering massive internal organ failure? Tune in every day to find out!
Exclusive to all channels, some guy in a suit and plastic-framed glasses who you feel maybe you should recognise, but ultimately don't feel too bad about not knowing, gives a series of stilted and awkward speeches disguised as actual programming to a panel of citizens picked to look representative (including one token ethnic minority), who seem barely capable of intelligent speech or - after about fifteen minutes - sustaining the will to live.
Elsewhere, on the sports channels, look out for "It's A Greater China Knockout" - more hilarious japes and games, featuring teams from the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines and the British Indian Ocean Territory.