TV in­dus­try cel­e­brates year’s suc­cesses, stud­ies chal­lenges

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - ByWANG KAIHAO in Hangzhou wangkai­hao@chi­

AsNewYear’sDay ap­proaches, the coun­try’s TV in­dus­try is look­ing back on its smallscreen achieve­ments and re­grets in the past year — show­cased when the 30th Fly­ing Ap­saras Awards were be­stowed in Hangzhou, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, onMon­day.

Seven­teen TV se­ries stood out from 200 can­di­dates, which en­tered the fi­nal round com­pet­ing for the ti­tle “ex­cel­lent TV se­ries” in three cat­e­gories: history, re­al­is­tic theme and revo­lu­tion theme.

The com­pe­ti­tion was launched in the early 1980s as the only state-level TV se­ries award on the Chi­nese main­land or­ga­nized by the gov­ern­ment. The lat­est event re­viewed pro­duc­tions since 2014.

The award-win­ners in­clude his­tor­i­cal drama, Nir­vana in Fire, which has at­tracted mil­lions of fans with its hand­some ac­tors and tan­ta­liz­ing sto­ry­line, and Deng Xiaop­ing at History’s Cross­roads, a bi­o­graphic se­ries re­view­ing the for­mer Chi­nese leader’s life.

China pro­duced more than 15,000 episodes of TV se­ries in 2015, per­haps a boom time for the in­dus­try.

“To­day’s TV se­ries in China tend to have a solid foun­da­tion in re­al­ity and try to match the pulse of so­ci­ety,” Gao Xi­ao­hong, a me­dia pro­fes­sor at Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Univer­sity of China, said at a TV in­no­va­tion fo­rum in Hangzhou on Sun­day. She was re­fer­ring to the gen­eral sce­nario of re­al­is­tic dra­mas on last year’s small screen.

“The pro­duc­ers are will­ing to re­flect a com­pli­cated so­ci­ety through com­mon peo­ple’s hap­pi­ness and sad­ness.”

For ex­am­ple, she cites the award-win­ning The Or­di­nary World, which deals with in­di­vid­u­als’ des­tinies and love, and dif­fer­ent so­cial strata in a nos­tal­gic tone.

As 2015 is the 70th an­niver­sary honor­ing the vic­tory in the War of Re­sis­tance Against Ja­panese Ag­gres­sion (193745), the war has be­come a pil­lar of revo­lu­tion-themed TV se­ries this year.

“Those TV se­ries re­flect the war in wide spec­trum, which serves a good ed­u­ca­tional func­tion,” saysMengFan­shu, a re­searcher with the Chi­nese Na­tional Acad­emy of Arts.

“But, it is not a good idea to fill our screens with pro­duc­tions on that war,” Meng says. “Some sto­ries are ba­si­cally not rel­e­vant to the war, but have the wartime as a back­ground. That’s not to men­tion some ir­ra­tional ex­ag­ger­a­tions in de­tails that dis­gust au­di­ences.

“Many works are still su­per­fi­cial. We still lack enough pro­duc­tions with higher-level think­ing,” he says, lament­ing the over­whelm­ing ten­dency to­ward en­ter­tain­ment among such pro­duc­tions.

As for his­tor­i­cal themes, Nir­vana in Fire paves a new way for other fol­low­ers in China, ac­cord­ing to Ji­aLeilei, deputy di­rec­tor of the Chi­nese Na­tional Acad­emy of Arts.

From Jia’s point of view, Nir­vana in Fire rep­re­sents how China’s history TV se­ries direc­tors are us­ing on­line nov­els as ref­er­ences rather than ortho­dox lit­er­a­ture, bring­ing new thought to the in­dus­try.

Shi Tongyu, a me­dia re­searcher with the Chi­nese Acad­emy of So­cial Sci­ences, agrees that the im­pact of the In­ter­net has be­come in­evitable for TV se­ries in China. “2015 wit­nessed In­ter­net­based TV se­ries be­gin­ning to win ac­cep­tance from main­stream crit­ics.”

The in­dus­try has to ac­cept that the in­volve­ment of the In­ter­net has changed how TV se­ries are made, and the trend will con­tinue, Shi says.

Huace TV & Film, a Hangzhou-based stu­dio and a

• His­tor­i­calTheme

• Real­is­ticTheme

• Di­rec­tor

• Screen­play

• Ac­tor

• Ac­tress host of the fo­rum, an­nounced on Sun­day it will in­tro­duce big-data analy­ses to de­cide the cast of its up­com­ing re­make of the mar­tial arts clas­sic, The Leg­end of the Con­dorHeroes.

“We want to give the right to ne­ti­zens to de­cide who will play the lead roles,” says Chen Pinx­i­ang, a pro­ducer ofHuace. “On­line games de­rived from the TV se­ries will be si­mul­ta­ne­ously de­vel­oped.”

It is only a part of the group’s am­bi­tious plan to pro­mote many fan­tasy TV se­ries, which Ye Zhao­jun, an­other pro­ducer with­Huace, ex­plains will echo the young gen­er­a­tion’s pur­suit of in­di­vid­u­al­ism.

The whole in­dus­try is talk­ing about how to get good in­tel­lec­tual property to de­velop more de­riv­a­tives.

“Nev­er­the­less, as a broad­cast server, In­ter­net-based con­tent is still un­able to re­place gen­er­a­tions of TV pro­duc­ers’ as­pi­ra­tions. The pro­fes­sional TVseries-pro­duc­tion process is still needed,” says Shi, whodoubts the pre­dic­tion that the in­dus­try will be soon dom­i­nated by In­ter­net ty­coons.

But Zhu Xiangyang, chief con­tent of­fi­cer of Youku Tu­dou, a ma­jor on­line-video broad­caster, predicts that all TV se­ries bred on­line with low qual­ity will nat­u­rally be elim­i­nated in 2016 as more elite teams be­gin to gather in cy­berspace.

“Since on­line se­ries have be­gun to charge rather than of­fer free ser­vice in 2015, more con­tent of higher qual­ity will ap­pear,” he says.


Chi­nese ac­tors Mei Ting (above) and Chen Baoguo are win­ners at this year’s Fly­ing Ap­saras Awards.

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