Sunday, January 22, 2012

CCTV Spring Festival Gala - Highlights [Roast Pork Sliced From A Rusty Cleaver] (飲水思源)

Some photos of the highlights and first impressions from today's CCTV Spring Gala Festival. I missed the opening few hours, it started at 7 a.m. here, but I have it on DVR for later viewing. Watching it from the CCTV News channel this year, it was a nice surprise to find the show had an English voice overdub, especially for the comic skits. This time around, the skits were appreciably more funny and poignant, as they're intended to be. In previous years, I watched from a live satellite feed without the benefit of live translation so the skits were mostly nebulous to me. The song lyrics were subtitled, too, though they sped by at practically unreadable speeds (like the opera segment, whoosh!). Singer, song, composer info was also shown karaoke-style. A brief one sentence summary of each skit was provided, too, to explain the premise. Overall, well done.

I think I read that this 30th anniversary program was broadcast in 3D this year. It certainly seemed possible as the production design was more spectacular than ever. The performance of James Wong's "Chinese Heart" on the steps of the Great Wall seemed especially so, as did the Eason/Faye duet. (Also commercials and product plugs were eliminated. One year, magician Liu Qian's helper was a prominent juice exec.) Not shown below, but also noteworthy, were the funked up Swan Lake, the Peacock Dance and the Robot Dance.

Program cover (Sina-slideshow)

Wang Luodan, Cao Guoqing
Wang Luodan sounded a bit off-key, sad to report (,Dave)

Charlene Choi, Feng Shaofeng bookended by two hosts
The duo did not count down at show's end as speculated earlier.

A few other acts were cut, too, it seems. The originally cited source upon recheck has been updated and modified so it's hard to compare. Zhao Benshan, for instance, dropped out due to fatigue during rehearsals. The post-midnight acts were mostly eliminated from what I recall.

Chen Kun

Eason Chan

Faye Wong

Pop idol Han Geng shadow fighting in front of a screen projection

Liu Qian did a series of magic tricks with a mirror theme

Tan Jing

Li Yundi and Wang Lee-Hom

Wang Lee-Hom

Song Zuying

(Sina-Eason Chan, Faye Wong), 2
(Sina-Wang Lee-Hom)
(Sina-Tan Jing) (Sina-Wang Luodan, Cai Guoqing)
(Sina-Han Geng), (Sina-Charlene Choi, Feng Shaofeng)
(Sina-Liu Qian), (Sina-Chen Kun) (Sina-Song Zuying)


ewaffle said...

Lovely report. Seems as if CCTV is either trying to build an international audience or is becoming aware they have one.

I know it's redundant to say that Faye Wong looked great since she always does, but...Faye Wong looked great!

dleedlee said...

Thanks, Ed.

This past year, MHz Worldview Network, a locally based indie public station, picked up two English language CCTV channels, one news and one documentary, replacing a local (ex-VOA) Chinese entrepeneur produced Chinese channel.

CCTV has long had an English channel available via stream. But like AlJazeera English (which MHz also carries) I guess they have difficulty getting picked up outside of DC and other blue state zones. Also, you may be interested to know, CRI owns and runs a local AM radio station in English here. It's produced somewhere out in California with Sino-centric news content and a mix of Chinese and Western pop music.

I will have to listen to the Faye/Eason duet again but my first impression was that her voice sounded a little disappointingly weak.

Sun Nian Fai Lok!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the report! I'll look for the replays.

BTW, I don't about that CRI station in California, but there is a Chinese radio channel here in the Bay Area that just started up sometime last year. Back when I was a kid, it was one of the two classic rock stations (Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, etc) in the South Bay. So I was surprised when I was scanning the FM dial in my car and heard Chinese music instead. It seems to be a mix of Mandarin and Cantonese pop. Boy, things sure have changed! From Foreigner to Faye Wong... ;p

Anonymous said...

I just came across this article about the declining popularity of the Spring Festival Gala. Like you said elsewhere, it seems like the regional galas are the ones to watch (I'm guessing clips from those might show up on Tudou or Youku).

dleedlee said...

Thanks for the article, Dave. I've read that the Hunan gala was very popular in previous years.

After catching the first two hours last night, some random notes and observations: 1) Cross-talk is still baffling to me, even with the overdubbing. A cutaway shot of Charlene seemed to indicate her befuddlement, too. 2) One skit involving an undercover lady cop closed with the theme from Infernal Affairs, and in slo-mo, too! 3) Another one called The Emperor and the Assassin took some knocks on time-travelling and reimagining of classics, re: The Warring States; another skit also involved time-travelling – a recently State banned topic 4) The CCTV stage with undulating floor consisting of cubes was spectacularly impressive and used often and to great effect, 5) The gala was probably even more conservative than ever due to it being a 30th anniversary program. But having only watched only about three or four, and not thirty, it's still pretty entertaining. 6) In one of the comedy skit there were some pot shots at New York in comparsion to Beijing, 7) Special guests in the audience included China's taikonaut and Beijing's “best looking traffic cop“ (weirdly, he had more decorations than the taikonaut) and a family that won a trip to the gala from an online internet contest. 8)Along the lines of "subway girl", this year there was a plucked-from-obscurity singing farmer.

Finally, it may be schmaltzy and sentimental but I'd still watch it again next year. :D

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the wrap-up!

I don't think I've ever actually seen a cross-talk sketch. Doesn't it involve a lot of punning. I always imagined it as the Mandarin equivalent of mo lei tau.

Here's a funny news story about one audience member's reaction to the gala. ;p

dleedlee said...

Hah, I forgot about the sleeping sister, or maybe I saw a different one.

Turns out, Faye is getting criticized for singing out of tune with Eason. So, it wasn't just me and my tin ear. She is reportedly said to have been nervous singing with him. Not sure why that would be. But I did notice that throughout the duet, the two never seemed to even look at each other. Weird.

Here's a link to a recap with clips of the various galas: CCTV, Jiangsu, Hunan, Anhui, Beijing TV, etc. Connection was a bit dodgy for me. YMMV.