The Grand First Episode Project
What is it? The idea is simple. Twice a week, we watch the first episode of a Chinese TV show.
Why? Exposure to a range of different genres and language, without the need to commit to watching a whole series. Of course, if you like a show enough you want to keep watching it, there's no reason why you can't.
How? We provide links to online video sites (easiest, but poorer quality) and downloads (requiring software, mostly Emule or similar) so you can actually see the show.
Hard? Probably - this isn't stuff designed for learners, it's actual Chinese language television. But you don't necessarily need to understand it all to enjoy it, it's fantastic practice and where available we'll provide links to transcripts. Also the majority of shows will have subtitles, and questions on the language involved are more than welcome.
When? Every Sunday and Wednesday, although that's just an arbitrary schedule. There's no reason why you can't watch a show at any point, and obviously you are also welcome to just pick and choose the ones you think are interesting.
Where? See below for the schedule, links to the shows themselves, and to our discussions on each one.
What now? Look at the schedule, pick a show you think looks interesting, or just the most current one, watch it, and tell us what you thought, along with any questions you may have.
How do I help? Just get involved. If you are able to post vocab lists you make up, plot summaries, or suggest other shows to include, all the better.
What if I forget? Then you probably didn't like the idea in the first place. But just in case there's a dedicated RSS feed for this forum here so you can be alerted when there's a new topic started, and registered members can set up email alerts here
2nd April: 士兵突击. The kid from 天下无贼，盲井 and 暗算 joins the army. Discussion Emule (RMVB); Torrent, rmvb. Youtube (1 of 5, see related videos for the others). Youku. Subtitles / transcript.
6th April: 空镜子. Two sisters in Beijing fall in love, fall out of love, marry, etc. Though not to each other. Discussion Emule (RMVB); Torrent (couldn't find, anyone?); Youtube?; Youku.
9th April: 武林外传. A motley crew of scoundrels and ne'er do wells accidentally open an inn, with hilarious consequences. No really, it's actually funny. Discussion Emule; Torrent (look for the results down the page, first one should do); Youtube (1 of 5, see related links for the rest; Youku;NOW WITH TRANSCRIPT!
13th April: 微笑Pasta. Taiwanese urban romance - not sure about this one. Discussion
16th April: 神探狄仁杰: Tang Dynasty detective stories. See Discussion for some vocab lists for first and some other episodes. Discussion Emule. Youku.
20th April: 我爱我家: Much-loved family sitcom set in 90s Beijing. Discussion 我爱我家 emule, youku, see discussion for link to transcript.
23rd April: 落地请开手机: "It's about a flight attendant, her family, a group of mobsters, and a lost mobile phone of great importance to the said mobsters." © Renzhe 落地请开手机 emule youku, Discussion
27th April. 魔幻手机 - Time traveling mobile phone? Sohu HD, Emule, Discussion
30th April: 家有儿女: Family comedy. Husband and wife remarry, creating a chaotic and fairly easy to follow household. Partial transcript in discussion topic. 家有儿女 emule youku, Discussion
4 May: 康乾盛世秘史. Drama aboot the Jesuit Castiglione becoming the court artist in Beijing. Stars Dashan (who's also appearing on the side of buses in Dalian just now) Emule, Youku, Discussion.
7th May:奋斗. Follows the trials and tribulations of a cohort of fresh graduates in Beijing as they struggle to cope with job-hunting, love, and plot twists. Emule, Youku, Discussion
11th May: 好想好想谈恋爱: The Chinese Sex in The City, everyone says . . . emule youku, , see discussion for transcript.
14th May. 暗算. The story (in the first act at least) of a secret unit attempting to detect and decode transmissions by Nationalist agents in the early 50s.[/url] Emule, Youku.
18th May. 编辑部的故事. A younger Ge You stars in a classic early 90s (?) series about a struggling magazine. NB: No subtitles, and not easy to understand. Emule, Youku.
21st May: 中国式离婚 - marriage and divorce - mostly divorce - in modern China Youku Emule
25th May: 北京人在纽约 - Jiang Wen stars in a tale of Chinese emigrants making their way in New York. No subtitles. Youku Emule Discussion
28th May:金婚 - 50 years of a Chinese marriage. Although you only get one year in the first episode Youku Emule
June 1: 狼毒花 - a hard-drinking, womanizing ruffian takes on the Japanese army, mostly single-handed. Youku Emule
June 4: 5号特工组 - A team of special agents work to fight the Japanese in late-30s Shanghai Youku Emule
June 8: 美味关系 - Er . . it's Taiwanese. Youku Emule
June 11: 狂花凋落 - International secret agents set their sights on a figure crucial to China's space program. Youku Emule
June 15: 天龍八部 - Martial arts and intrigue during the Northern Song dynasty Tudou Emule
June 18: 上海灘 - 1930s Shanghai again. You'd think the city just sprang fully formed into existance in 1930. Anyway, newcomer to the city accidentally saves the life of a leading businessman's daughter. Youku Emule
June 22: 孽子 - "boy lives with his parents, then mother runs of, then little brother dies, boy finds out he's gay and he's kicked out of the house by his father." - Lu, on whose advice we're skipping to episode 3. Youku Emule (original first post below, can probably be ignored now)
Right, let's see how much enthusiasm we can muster for this particular idea . . .
Back in the depths of 2005 we had a joint soap opera watching event. The idea was that over the course of a month any of us who were interested would work our way through a certain soap opera, posting as we went our comments, questions on vocab, the plot, etc.
While it wasn't a complete failure I'm not sure how many people actually finished it and, to date, it hasn't been attempted again. This isn't a massive surprise - watching a complete TV show in a foreign language is a fair commitment, and with the month schedule it would be easy to fall behind, get discouraged, etc.
Given that the Book of the Month idea has picked up a bit of momentum over the last few months though, I've been thinking of ways we can maybe get something TV-based up and running again.
I think it would be worth while making it something easier to dip in and dip out of, so that nobody feels they are falling behind and taking a week off doesn't mean you have no chance of catching up. Something where you don't commit to weeks of watching something in a genre that you might hate. Something where you don't end up throwing a brick through your TV at episode 19 of 幸福像花一样 (or was that just me).
So I'm thinking what might work better is to attempt to go through a number of first episodes for TV shows. Less commitment, but a jumping off point for anyone who likes something enough to stick with it. Much easier to dip in and out of than a complete TV show. And without the need to get through an entire show in a reasonable period of time the schedule can be slowed down quite a bit.
I was thinking covering the first episodes of two shows a week. Choosing the shows would be combination of seeing what's recommended on here and elsewhere, what's top of various charts, and so on, trying to get a reasonable variety of genres, etc.
We'd set a date for each one and anyone interested would attempt to watch it on or close to that date and post with any comments / vocab they noticed or are unsure about / etc. Obviously people can also come along late and do the same, but if we can get a few people doing the same thing at the same time it's more likely to build up some momentum.
To make it as easy as possible for everyone to get hold of the material, we'd plan in advance and provide links for downloads by P2P programs and also to online video sites such as Youtube / Chinese equivalents.
That's all kind of vague at the moment, but I think it might work, if there are people out there who are interested in watching the actual episodes and posting / discussing them later. If this gets a few positive responses I'll go ahead and stick together a two-show a week schedule for April. If it doesn't, I'll not bother.