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First episode 81: 手机


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One of the most popular TV series of 2010 with a 豆瓣 rating of 8.4, and based on a 2003 葛优 movie, 手机 tells the story of 严守一, the host of a long running talk show and his best friend 费墨 who is a psychology professor and a consultant to the show. I guess they are both in their mid-forties.

Both 严守一 and 费墨 have serious problems with their marriages. The root of their problems aren't anyone's fault, but it leads them into dangerous behaviour with other women. They are very close and help cover for each other, but they don't discuss the real source of their problems. I haven't seen a lot of shows or movies that deal with this non-glamorous real life type stuff as well as this show does, so I'm enjoying it.

严守一 and 费墨 have another problem; there has been a shake up in senior management at the station and their long-time supporter has moved on. His replacement is the boss from hell. Their ratings are down and their talk show is at risk of being cancelled.

严守一 comes from the countryside, and the series also follows his family back in the village and their friends. This has its moments but I don't find it as interesting. However, I do like the characters from the village that come to Beijing trying to make good. One of the funniest moments so far is when a girl from the village wants to change her rather countrified name to something a bit more sophisticated to help her make it big in the Beijing entertainment scene.

As you would expect from the title, a major theme of the show is the role that mobile phones play in the modern lifestyle.

I haven't seen the movie, but the TV series does seem a bit slow in getting started, which is likely a symptom of converting a single movie into a 36 part TV series. I wasn't that impressed with the first couple of episodes but I had already bought the box set so I continued with it and I'm glad I did (I'm a third of the way through now). Not sure how closely the storyline in the TV series follows the movie, 豆瓣 says 是一个与电影版《手机》完全不同的故事.

As I say, I bought the box set, but the whole thing appears to be on Youtube.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Sorry for the late reply - yes that is it. I think episode 8 could be a good place to start. I finished this a few days ago, and although it didn't end all that strongly, I enjoyed it and would still say it is the best Chinese drama I have seen that feels modern - not that I have seen all that many and even something like 空镜子 now feels a bit like it is from a bygone era.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I watched the 手机 movie a couple of weeks ago, it is much better than the TV series. I had hopes for more from the TV series midway through, it did look like it was going to be better, but all the interesting stuff gets brushed away (censorship maybe?), there is no edge left, and it is just a bunch of nice guys. Also too many unbelievable things happen. But I think it is still better than, say, 奋斗 or similar.

The movie definitely has a edge to it. It is quite a peculiar feeling, the characters in the TV series and movie all have the same names (except 武月 turns into 伍月 for some reason) and a lot of the same specific things happen to them, but the characters are really quite different. It is like the TV series is what would have happened if the characters in the movie had studied their Marxist ideology a bit harder so as to become respectable members of a harmonious society.

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