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First Episodes 2: 空镜子, Empty Mirror


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A part of the Grand First Episode Project -- See this thread for more info.

6th April: 空镜子. Two sisters in Beijing fall in love, fall out of love, marry, etc. Though not to each other.

Youtube - Youku.


Round Two!

Watched the first episode of this yesterday, although I've seen the whole thing before, last summer. The first episode basically introduces pretty much all of the characters we'll meet - the 人见人爱 elder sister 孙俪, her younger sister 孙燕 who lives in her shadow, the parents. 马黎明, who lives in the same courtyard as the family, and is 孙俪's childhood - and he hopes current - sweetheart, 张波, the less handsome, better-careered rival for her affections, and 潘树林, a potential boyfriend for 孙燕, introduced by her colleague 周师傅.

It's a slow-paced episode that gives the character room to breathe, and there are a couple of really nice family scenes where the parents' characters come across really well I think. Locations are also nice - 大杂院 living, running into people in the hutongs, taking a bus out to 爬山 - very very Beijing.

Certainly doesn't throw unexpected plot twists at you, just sets up the characters you'll follow through the series.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok, I just finished watching this, and would definitely recommend it to others. A good range of characters including both likeable and loathable ones, plus it's all just everyday life and so the language used is pretty easy to follow. Out of all series in the first episode project I've seen so far, this is probably my second favourite (after 武林外传).

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  • 2 weeks later...

I liked it. The beginning was unexpectedly difficult language-wise, but it got much easier after the first 10 minutes or so. Still, it surprised me with some words I couldn't find in any of my dictionaries. Most of the time, though, the meaning can be understood even without looking them up.

I like the fact that it's really authentic, with believable, everyday people, and it has a distinct melancholic Beijing feel to it. The conversations are easy to follow, this is a very good option for beginners to start exploring Chinese TV shows.

I don't know if I can really get into the story of two sisters looking for love, but the things I mentioned are strong arguments for watching a few more episodes.

Here is a vocabulary list I made while watching. I included a lot of beginner and lower-intermediate words that may be helpful for beginners, and also some words which were used in a context I didn't know before. Advanced learners don't need to bother.

吹 chuī break up

亲 qīn dear, to kiss

当傻 dāng shǎ play stupid

单位 dān wèi unit

假日 jià rì holiday, non-working day

讨厌 tǎo yàn disgusting

权利 quán lì (a) right

管 guǎn to control, be concerned with

逛街 guàng jiē to stroll, do window-shopping

马来西亚 mǎ lái xī yà Malaysia

发火 fā huǒ ignite, get angry

废话 fèi huà superfluous talk, nonsense

炉子 lú zi stove, oven

加煤 jiā méi add coal

啥 shá (dialect) what?

纯粹 chún cuì purely

喇叭 lǎ ba loudspeaker, trumpet

蜂窝 fēng wō beehive

不配 bù pèi doesn't deserve

仓库 cāng kù warehouse

保管员 bǎo guǎn yuán storeroom clerk

瞎说 xiā shuō talk drivel

胡说 hú shuō talk drivel

后勤 hòu qín logistics

记性 jì xing memory capability

俗话 sú huà proverb

矬 cuó short (???)

可逗 kĕ dòu charming

世界名著 shì jiè míng zhù world famous masterpiece

遗憾 yí hàn regret, pity

闺女 guī nü maiden, unmarried daughter

嘟噜 dū lū mutter, mumble (???)

坯 pī unfinished product

嫌烦 xián fan bother

真心 zhēn xīn sincere

长得 zhǎng de looks

蚂蚁 mǎ yǐ ant

茫 máng vague, vast

概率 gài lǜ probability

锺情 zhōng qíng madly in love

嫌弃 xián qì avoid, stay away from

揍 zòu beat up

Edited by renzhe
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Yeah, I think of all the shows we've looked at so far, this might be the best option for someone wanting to watch a complete series - the language is managable but won't be completely easy, it's a reasonable length, and it maintains levels of quality right the way through. Off the top of my head I think myself, gougou and imron have all completed it and enjoyed it - not sure about anyone else.

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  • 3 months later...

So I've finally finished this. It's fantastic.

It's more than just a story of two sisters. It feels like you are peeking into the life of several people in Beijing, an old Beijing which I have a feeling is quickly disappearing. There are laughs, there are tears, there is love and hate, but throughout all this, the show manages to stay warm and human, and refreshingly unpretentious, without dumb plot twists and cheap thrills. It is effortless to watch, and manages not to get sappy or depressing as you simply watch the life of normal Beijingers unfold before your eyes. The characters are so realistic and the setting so genuine that it almost feels more like a documentary than a scripted TV show, and I mean this in a good way.

This show is magnificent, and regardless of whether you're a beginner learner looking for practice, or someone who never watches anything, I recommend seeing it. If you see one show from the 30+ we've looked at, it should be this one. This is TV programming of the highest quality and it's a shame that not too many people outside of China will get to see it.

The best show we've seen so far, full recommendation from me. The language is relatively easy, so it's suitable for all levels.

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the show manages to stay warm and human, and refreshingly unpretentious, without dumb plot twists and cheap thrills.
Agree. I think part of the reason for this is that it's quite a bit shorter than most other series (20 episodes) so it doesn't need to pad itself out with lots of unnecessary filler.
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It's consistently good, whereas Magic Mobile has a rough patch towards the end. Even without that rough patch, Magic Mobile still had quite a lot of things happening that just seemed like they needed to think of another story-line to fill the time. I think on an episode-by-episode basis, Magic Mobile is more fun to watch, but Empty Mirror holds up better as an entire series. It's also far more accurate to real-life :mrgreen:

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Nothing is more fun than 魔幻手机, which is one of my favourite shows.

But this is far better in terms of story, acting, directing, and overall realism. It's difficult to compare. The closest in terms of quality drama we've seen would be 孽子, but whereas 孽子 is more depressing, this one is more melancholic, and always has an optimistic, hopeful, component to it.

I don't usually like watching too much drama, but this one has really warm characters you sympathise with. It's really funny at times, really sad at times, but it's always easy to watch. I recommend giving it a shot, it seems like everyone who has seen a few episodes ended up watching the whole thing, and the language is easy and very typical Beijinghua.

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  • 1 year later...

Felt like bumping this thread since I just watched this show in its entirety. I'm not a big fan of TV dramas in general, but I liked this one very, very much. It's very touching and I cried a great deal (but this might just be a sign of me getting older..) :oops:

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  • 7 months later...
  • 9 months later...

We didn't find one back then, and it's very unlikely than any such torrent would still be seeded.

Unfortunately, VeryCD does not offer links anymore, but I'm sure that if you search for 空镜子 on Emule, you'll still find sources.

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  • 5 years later...

Just watched the first episode, absolutely loved it. Thanks for the recommendation Renzhe (it was your passion for the show that convinced me to start it). Honestly living in Beijing some of the dialogue felt so natural it was impossible to tell it apart from real-life conversation.


One to continue!

  • Like 4
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Zander, glad you enjoyed it, and it's great to see this getting a watch. Did you find a good quality version online? I've updated links in the first post, but couldn't find anything that actually looks good. 

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