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First Episode 14: 编辑部的故事


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

A younger Ge You stars in a classic early 90s (?) series about a struggling magazine.

Emule - Youku - tudou (w/ subs)

OMG, this was a throwback to the 1980's real socialism drama. Very interesting for that fact alone. I've had this recommended by several people before, and I've finally got around to watching it. And it's good. Besides a convincing backdrop, it also has very regular, everyday language. I felt like I was back in China trying to follow the conversations around me -- which means that it was very typical.

Unfortunately, this means that my understanding was at the level of my ability to follow everyday conversations in Beijing -- which means that without subtitles, I got about 60% of this. Enough to basically put together the broad strokes, but insufficient to actually understand what exactly is going on, or the finer points of the discussion.

Anyone found any transcripts or subtitles (I was unsuccessful)?


Edited by renzhe
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Yeah this show is great. Although some of the later episodes seem to come across as educational propaganda (don't believe rumours, be a good citizen, be on the lookout for cheats and conmen etc etc). One thing I couldn't quite figure out was whether at times it was biting satire or if it was taking itself seriously and just didn't realise how some things came across. For example, in the first episode, there's a scene where Ge You's character is talking with Ge Ling in the corridor, and almost directly under a no smoking sign, he lights up a cigarette. There are plenty of other things like this too.

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With Ge You acting and Feng Xiaogang and Wang Shuo writing the script I'd be very surprised indeed if they didn't know exactly where the no-smoking sign was. In fact at that time they no doubt had to go to special lengths to find one. Oh, I'd forgotten Dashan was in this episode! (ah wait, he's not, that's later.)

Anyway, this first episode introduces the staff of the magazine 人间指南 as they attempt to cope with a changing marketplace - they're having trouble getting articles together from writers (组稿), interviewees are pulling out as it would be embarrassing (跌份) to be seen in their publication, the readers aren't even writing in to complain, and copies are piling up on roadside stalls. Even the staff are losing heart - "where should this photo go?" - "Anywhere. Nobody's going to look.", there's talk of closure (停刊), and the staff are all running into each other at the employment center, where they get pep talks on how to run a magazine.

The older actors in this are just fantastic - the conversation between Liu Shuyou and the old lady who just bought a batch of magazines is priceless. It's also always nice to see an older Beijing - the old style buses, more bicycles on the street, people with fen in their pocket.

Chief editor Chen announces he will retire to let someone else take over - which gives rise to some office politics, with Yu Deli positioning himself behind the desk right away, a nice heart to heart between Liu and Chen, Niu Dajie embarking on a process of elimination, and an alliance between the two young and ambitious members of the team, Li Dongbao and the lovely proto-white collar Ge Lin.

Language wise it's none too simple, with no subtitles, some pretty fast mouths and a fair amount of political language (mainly from Niu Dajie) and idioms and so on.

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  • 1 year later...

Yeah, this show seems to be highly rated by most people I've talked to. Both for being one of the first comedies around, and for all sorts of clever writing.

I might give it another shot one of these days, but I think that I'll need to get my hands on a copy with subtitles.

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  • 2 months later...


So, finally re-watched the first episode. It is much easier with subtitles (thanks, roddy!) and I guess my level has improved considerably since first looking at it.

Still, subtitles are quite important, especially given the strong Beijing accent.

I'm going to watch some more. Who else is joining in?

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I watched several chunks of the first episode last night after finding the subtitles. That pause between someone suggesting putting 戈琳 on the cover and him replying is just priceless. He's not just dismissing it out of hand, he's giving it full consideration and deciding . . . 你不行。

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This show was made in an era at which the so called “痞子文学” ruled, which was considered golden era for Beijing centric shows with cast speaking with relatively heavy Beijing accents. Tons of quality show were produced. Among which 编辑部的故事 was one of the best. As for Niu Dajie's political language and some of the plots seemly tinged with propaganda messengers, I think they were not like some of you might think since the hallmarks of “痞子文学” were deadpan jokes and the whole attitude that nothing is sacred. Sorta like Beijing cab drivers' attitude, if you know what I mean.

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Just watched the first episode. Show seems interesting enough, but they indeed did not have learners of the Chinese language in mind when writing the dialogues!

I'm never sure in cases like that whether I should just go on watching the show and take what I can understand, or go through it slowly to pick up the words I didn't know yet. How do you guys handle that?

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It depends.

I generally try to understand what is going on. I don't try to understand every single word, but will pause and look up the words that are important for understanding what's going on.

Sometimes I will look up everything while watching the first episode, but it's generally too much hassle to do this for an entire show.

When watching this show for the second time, with subtitles, I paused from time to time to re-read the lines and think for a bit. I even rewound a couple of times to go over trickier parts.

Just watching this without subtitles and at full speed will be tricky.

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