Jump to content
  • Sign Up

First Episode 35: 皆大歡喜 (Virtues of Harmony)


Recommended Posts

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

Overview - Wiki - youku - tudou

Language difficulty level: Advanced

A Ming dynasty comedy.

This show is very tutti-frutti. We have a Hong Kong show dubbed into Mandarin by Taiwanese actors, using simplified characters. Unfortunately, the characters are not always very clear, and neither is the speech. The accent is very proper (sh, ch, zh, etc), though there are some Taiwanese peculiarities (wong1 for 翁, jie3 for 姊).

I found it entertaining enough, but this is not easy stuff. Loads of chengyu and long phrases, delivered relatively quickly, and the sound/subtitle quality doesn't help. Still, it's not as hard as My Own Swordsman either, and we don't have many comedies in this project, and even fewer comedies that are actually funny, so it's worth a shot. Intermediate people should be able to use the wordlist and summary here and understand what's going on.

--- Plot Summary ---

We are following a small family who own a restaurant. The mother is in charge, and has three children: the triplets innovatively named 金年, 金月 and 金日 (get it? 今年, 今月, 今日 har har). 金年 is a court official in the capital (probably Beijing), 金月 is the middle son who married a spoilt wife (who hates the youngest sister), and 金日 is the said youngest sister (who hates the said wife). They are completed by some servants, an uncle (mother's younger brother) and his careless wife.

We start with a commotion in the restaurant where a person claims there was a cockroach in his soup to try to get some money from them. First he attacks 金月, then the uncle (thinking they are in charge), but then the mother comes, creates a scene, calls him a thief, and he is chased out of the shop.

We then find 金日 arguing with 金月's wife about whether a snake is better than a dragon. A completely pointless discussion which the aunt is supposed to resolve. The mother shows up, but is also unable to settle this extremely important discussion. The background is that the three siblings are celebrating birthday soon and want to release a captive animal to honour this, but can't decide which animal to release. The mother diverts attention to 金月 who hurts himself by knocking his hand into a chair.

Since triplets are so close, both 金日 and 金年 feel the pain. Cut to 金年 who is drinking tea in Beijing and talking to a buddy. Apparently, the princess is looking for a husband, and is inviting all officials above the 5th grade (五品) to pass a test where she will pick her future husband. 金年, however, thinks that the princess is stupid and only cares about her stupid lotus flowers, so he's not interested. He plans to hand in an empty exam paper.

Later, he is hiding from the rain in some abandoned monastery of some sort, when the princess arrives (disguised as a young nobleman). Soon, an old man's purse disappears, and 金年 has to find the culprit. Since the princess is the only one who refuses to take her clothes off, she is tied, together with her servant. 金年 then takes all the clothes and goes into a dark room. One of the robes shines in the dark, and this leads to the culprit -- the old man works with skeletons, so he had phosphorus powder on his purse, the only one shining should be him. 金年 releases the princess, letting her know that her disguise (as a man) is not very convincing. But he doesn't know that it's the princess. She can't punish him because her cover would be blown, so all she can do is pout.

Cut to the exam -- the exam consists of writing an essay or a poem on the lotus flower (the princess' favourite thing ever). 金年 writes an extremely sarcastic poem, but decides to hand in a blank sheet instead. However, he accidentally drops the real sheet later, and it is collected with all the others (with his signature). Outside, the princess is throwing stuff (rotten fruit?) at a drawing of 金年's face as revenge for embarrassing her earlier. She orders 8-10 more drawings, but less handsome ones. Then she hits the emperor (her father) with one projectile.

The emperor brings in the poems so she can pick the husband. All the poems are kissing her ass except the one written (and signed) by 金年, which enrages her, so she demotes him to the lowest level possible (九品) and he has to return to his village.

Back in the village, they are releasing neither a snake nor anything resembling a dragon -- they are releasing a turtle. In order to protect the turtle from being caught and eaten, they put a coin in its mouth and recite dozens of curses that should befall anyone who eats the turtle. The aunt is buying food in the meantime, and is carrying a nice big sturgeon home, but due to a series of accidents, the sturgeon escapes in the river, and she catches a turtle instead. It's not hard to guess what happens next -- at the family dinner, the mother bites the lucky coin, and the entire family are cursed for generations to come, and even 金年 (returning from the capital) has an accident.

He's surprised about the changes in the village, sad about his demotion, and ends up buying clothes with his sister and sister-in-law (further pointless arguments ensue). The sister-in-law (金月's wife) later complains about him and how crap he is for losing his position. He (and the mother) overhear them, and he is even sadder. He then helps an old friend (now a local policeman) catch a thug and finds the city hall (I guess) to be in a terrible state, roof leaking, window broken, etc. He returns home.

At home, 金月's wife and 金日 are arguing again. 金月 bought them both the same hairpin, and they are both outraged by this. He argues that the last time, he got them different ones, and they were also outraged, so he thought this would be better. 金年 comes and asks for a ladder (he is trying to fix the window in the city hall). The family thinks that he wants to hang himself. The episode ends with the family arriving while he is fixing the window, and the resulting commotion results in him almost hanging himself for real.

--- Summary End ---

兄台 xiōng tái - a respectful form of address for someone older/of higher standing

红烧茉莉? simmer-fried jasmine something, a type of dish

田鸡 tián jī - frog

蹦 bèng - to jump / to bounce

四肢 sì zhī - the four limbs of the body

运动量 yùn dòng liàng - energy expenditure / workout

精华 jīng huá - best feature / most important part of an object / essence

汇聚 huì jù - convergence / to come together

伙计 huǒ jì - waiter

蟑螂 zhāng láng - cockroach

附送 fù sòng - give as a bonus

卫生 wèi shēng - health / hygiene

虫 chóng - insect / worm

蚁 yǐ - ant

少废话 shǎo fèi huà - nonsense / rubbish

证据 zhèng jù - evidence / proof

确凿 què záo - definite / conclusive / undeniable

抵赖 dǐ lài - to deny guilt

毁尸灭迹 huǐ shī miè jì - to destroy the corpse and remove all traces of crime / destroy evidence

关张 guān zhāng - to shut down (a business) / go out of business

大摇大摆 dà yáo dà bǎi - to strut / swaggering

捣乱 dǎo luàn - to disturb / to stir up a row

赔 péi - lose in trade / pay damage

婶 shěn - wife of father's younger brother

闲事 xián shì - other people's business

好处 hǎo chu - benefit / advantage

当家的 dāng jiā de - the person in charge of the household

抢劫 qiāng jié - to rob / looting

捉贼 zhuō zéi - catch the thief!

岂有此理 qǐ yǒu cǐ lǐ - how can this be so? (成语 saw); preposterous / ridiculous

多亏 duō kuī - thanks to / luckily

胆大心细 dǎn dà xīn xì - to be bold, but cautious

见机行事 jiàn jī xíng shì - see the opportunity and act (成语 saw); to act according to circumstances / to play it by ear

神龙见首不见尾 if you can see a dragon's head, you can't see its tail

蛇 shé - snake / serpent

机灵 jī líng - clever / quick-witted

初八 chū bā - eighth day of the first lunar month

生辰 shēng chén - birthday

放生 fàng shēng - release captive animals back into the wild

着想 zhuó xiǎng to gives thought (to others) / to consider (other people's needs)

半斤八两 bàn jīn bā liǎng - not much to choose between the two / tweedledum and tweedledee

主张 zhǔ zhāng - to advocate / to stand for / view / position

铺子 pù zi - store / shop

三胞胎 sān bāo tāi - triplets, three siblings born on the same day

公主 gōng zhǔ - princess

驸马 fù mǎ - the princess' husband

荷花 hé huā - lotus

耍猴 shuǎ hóu - juggling monkey / street performer

闺房 guī fáng - lady's chamber / boudoir

声价 shēng jià - reputation

稀罕 xī han - rare / scarce / to cherish

白卷 bái juàn - blank exam paper

区区 qū qū - trivial

菩萨 Pú sà - Bodhisattva (Buddh.)

显灵 xiǎn líng - to reveal itself (of a deity or a ghost)

磷粉 lín fěn - phosphorus powder

吟诗 yín shī - compose a poem to express one's feelings

撰文 zhuàn wén - article / essay

戏弄 xì nòng - to caper / to jest

冰雪聪明 bīng xuě cōng ming - extremely clever (used for girls) / lit: bright as ice and snow

十幅八幅 shí fú bā fú - eight to ten rolls (with the face of 金年 painted on them)

英俊 yīng jùn - handsome (this is the way the face of 金年 looks the way it is currently drawn)

丑十倍 chǒu shí bèi - ten times dumber (the face of 金年 should look like this)

国泰民安 guó tài mín ān - The country is prosperous and the people live in peace

拍马屁 pāi mǎ pì - to flatter / to fawn on

老实 lǎo shí - honest / sincere

讽刺 fěng cì - to satirize / to mock

刻薄 kè bó - unkind / harsh / mean

狂妄 kuáng wàng - egotistical / arrogant / brassy

惩罚 chéng fá - penalty / punishment / to punish

甲鱼 jiǎ yú - turtle / terrapin

难登大雅之堂 nán dēng dà yǎ zhī táng - lit. not fit for elegant hall (of artwork) / not presentable / unrefined (variation of 不登大雅之堂)

从天而降 cóng tiān ér jiàng - descended from heaven

姊 zǐ - older sister / Taiwan pr. jie3 (also in this show)

官轿 guān jiào - one of those sedan chairs that the nobility is carried in

诅咒 zǔ zhòu - curse

官邸 guān dǐ official residence

发财 fā cái - to get rich

村口 cūn kǒu - village gate / village entrance

大吉大利 dà jí dà lì - great luck, great profit (成语 saw); everything is thriving

忌讳 jì huì - a taboo / sth to avoid

无可救药 wú kě jiù yào - (set phrase) incorrigible / incurable

小器的人 xiǎo qì de rén - petty person (variation of 小气)

塞翁失马 Sài wēng shī mǎ - The old man lost his mare, but it all turned out for the best (成语 saw); fig. a blessing in disguise

避忌 bì jì - taboo word

鬼鬼祟祟 guǐ guǐ suì suì - sneaky / secretive / evil spirit

吓唬 xià hu - to threaten

鱼尾纹 yú wěi wén - wrinkles of the skin

皮粗肉硬 pí cū ròu yìng - rough skin and hard flesh

馊主意 sōu zhǔ yi - bum advice / stupid suggestion

入侵 rù qīn - to invade

偷懒 tōu lǎn - to goof off / to be lazy

木匠 mù jiàng - carpenter

泥丸匠 ní wán jiàng - person who makes/fixes clay rooftiles

With these words, I either couldn't find the translation, or I had to guess. I'd appreciate corrections, but most of these can still probably help you along while watching.

脂鲜聚积 zhī xiān jù jī - ??? to accumulate fat?

眼关六路 yǎn guān liù lù(眼观六路)- to see in all six directions / to be alert


鲟龙 xún lóng - sturgeon? (鲟 is a sturgeon, don't know what the dragon part is all about)

正所谓物以希为贵的 it is right that rare things are more valuable


放在心里 fàng zài xīn li - to not care about something

招送 zhāo sòng -

主品 zhǔ pǐn - one's rank in the imperial court (???)

不分尊卑 bù fēn zūn bēi - to not distinguish between juniors and seniors / to not know one's place

山瑞 shān ruì - I can figure out that this is a type of fish, but not more

少卿 shào qīng - minor official (???)

巴叽 bā jī

相公 xiāng gōng - spouse (???)

当狗肺 dāng gǒu fèi

诛连九族 zhū lián jiǔ zú

寒邪 hán xié - cold and demonic (???)

悉随尊便 xī suí zūn biàn - completely without respect (???)

句句属实 jù jù shǔ shí - every word of it is true (???)

Finally, the poem that 金年 composed to express his feelings for the princess:





EDIT: The wikipedia article says that 金月 is married to two women, and if anybody is wondering, this is not the case in this episode. At least, there is only one wife to be seen and the person she is bickering with incessantly is, indeed, the third sister 金日. I rewatched just to make sure.


Edited by renzhe
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a long word list! Here are some additional comments on the summary and the word list:

- they put a coin in the turtle's mouth is not for avoiding him being caught or eaten. It presents their wish or at least the mother's wish to release money to the poor people, since their family is rich.

- The brother 金年 is sent back to be the mayor of his village. That's probably the lowest level of an officer.

脂鲜聚积 zhī xiān jù jī - to accumulate taste and become juicy (not a proper word though)

眼观六路 yǎn guān liù lù - to see in all six directions / to be alert or (a kind of) clever, smart

正所谓... - it is exactly...

物以希为贵 - rare things are more valuable

不放在心里 fàng zài xīn li - to not care about something

相公 xiāng gōng - it's used for calling the husband

诛连九族 zhū lián jiǔ zú - a traditional punishment. If one commits a crime, often is some offcials disobey the emperor's rules, then not only he, but also his whole family and all the relative families are going to be killed or go into exile.

悉随尊便 xī suí zūn biàn - do as what you like to

句句属实 jù jù shǔ shí - every word of it is true

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...
伙计 huǒ jì - waiter

相公 xiāng gōng - spouse [it's how a wife addresses her husband]

These words are used in spoken cantonese.

相公 is not just a Cantonese term and it is not a term used nowadays. 伙計 is becoming rare IMHO.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 7 months later...

I confess this one totally does it for me.

If you find it painstakingly slow and dumb in the first few episodes, yet watch past that initial disgust, you can get hooked beyond salvation into watching the many hundreds of episodes, with subplots and hordes of secondary characters like 紗紗郡主, the quirky 凌公公 and the evil 萬玨奇... like I did.

In cantonese the full name of 凌公公 is supposedly ling ling fat, which means 007 ( !).

There's a sequel to this, set in modern times, many eps can be found

on tudou (beware, eps are not ordered correctly in playlist)


on youku

If you come across episodes with Mandarin and simplified character subs, please make a post of it.

Edited by Hong XQ
characters' names no longer in pinyin.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 7 years later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...