Battle of the C-varieties: the good, the bad, and the pretty

It’s Go Fighting! This is life; it’s always good.

It’s Chinese variety show season right now. moon148 returns from her hiatus to discuss what she’s been watching on TV. 

Within a month of hiatus, China’ s SAPPRFT (basically the people who censor everything supervise the entertainment that can air on TV) has already banned a whole ton of stuff, from songs with lyrics written by Albert Leung (*coughs*) to shows that feature celebrity children like 《爸爸去哪儿》, which was only like my childhood right there (even if I stopped watching after Season 2).

Unfortunately, having grown up watching C-entertainment, this stuff is only but expected; it’s happened before — many times, even.

Rather than rant/complain about the restrictiveness of the Chinese government, how it’s ruining progress, how it’s their fault that the C-entertainment industry is the way it is today, how they always seem to ban all the things that actually attract international attention via legit entertainment fans, how I’m going to watch other countries’ shows instead, etc. I figured I might as well just not and just chill. (I mean, there are already hundreds upon hundreds of Western media outlets out there criticizing China every chance they get.)

(Although, when your bias’s album is banned in China just because it contains ONE SONG featuring lyrics by Albert Leung — also banned for some stupid political reason — how are you supposed to remain chill?)

But I digress. Treat the writing above as, say, a sample of what you might have read in an alternate universe. The point of this post is a discussion — of the stuff that thankfully hasn’t been banned yet. Some of it is actually really good, even.

(I just have this feeling that Hunan TV may one day invite one too many foreign singers for “I Am A Singer” and the SAPPRFT is going to find some BS reason to cancel that, too.)

On that note, here are the C-variety shows I’ve been watching.

Running Man China Season 4

You’ve heard of Running Man before, whether it be the original Korean version or the really popular one in China. And yes, I’ve watched a little, too. With quite a large international following, too, ZheJiang TV has even created an “Absolute English Section — JUST FOR YOU” (it’s literally what the playlist is called — I kid you not).

But what of the show itself? It’s nothing recap-worthy, but if anything quite nice to watch after a stress-filled week of school. Since there’s nothing much else going on in the scope of Chinese TV on Friday, it’s what most audiences will tune in to.

In my personal opinion, the show’s likability fluctuates quite a lot and should really be judged by the individual episode. So far I enjoyed Episode 3 of this season. At its worst, Running Man is a total bore and at its best, it’s incredibly hilarious.

Cast: Deng Chao, Angelababy, Luhan, Li Chen, Chen He, Wang Cho Lam, Zheng Kai (& random celebrity guests throughout the season)

Air Date: Every Friday

Recommended? If you have nothing better to do on Friday night and/or if your bias guests on the show.

Run For Time Season 2

You know what they say — the sequels are never as good as the first [book, movie,  and season apparently]. As a huge fan of Season 1, well

Adapted from the Japanese variety show “Run For Money Tousouchuu”, “Run For Time” features guests completing missions and avoiding “hunters” to compete to be the spokesperson for the show’s sponsor, Chun Zhen Yogurt. (Which ended up being Deng Chao even though he never participated in the show.)

Despite my silly-sounding explanation, it was a really enjoyable show to watch because it was different — it was more of an intense game show than anything, and I loved that. You can watch season 1 here.

In contrast, Season 2 follows a much more chill format, for lack of a better word to describe. From the opening animation to the little show edits, it’s clear that Hunan TV wanted Season 2 to be more relaxed and all variety-show like. Comedian Song Xiaobao is naturally hilarious but the show itself is in general underwhelming — and boring, honestly.

Because I really liked Season 1, I guess I had these really high expectations that Season 2 never reached. With popular boyband TFBOYS not part of the show anymore, Run For Time also ended up losing a large part of its initial fanbase. But if you’ve never seen any of this, it might be an enjoyable watch. (Running Man is probably better.)

Season 2 still features hunters, a time limit, and all that. Still, it just falls flat.

Cast: Tian Liang, Jelly Lin, Song Xiaobao, Du Chun, Jia Nailiang, Du Haitao (the total number is 10 but other celebrities rotate on and off the show)

Air Date: Every Friday

Recommended? No. But go watch Season 1 if you’d like.


Crime Scene 明星大侦探

Based on the Korean variety show of the same name, Crime Scene features six celebrities who investigate hypothetical crime scenes. One celebrity plays the detective while the other five are all suspects — one of whom is the culprit.

Overall, it’s actually quite a thrilling show to watch, although you will probably be disappointed if you come in expecting this to be a legit forensic show. As a fan of the whole crime/mystery genre, watching the show is still a strange experience. And the evidence they find . . .

On a random note, Gui Gui kind of reminds me of Jolin Tsai.

Cast: He Jiong, Gui Gui, Wang Ou, Sa Beining (other guest celebs rotate)

Air Date: Sunday

Recommended? I’d say yes? I’d give this 3.5 out of 5 stars. If anything, the editing is really nice.

Yep, it’s Valen Hsu.

Hidden Singer 谁是大歌神?

NOTE: If you follow C-entertainment, you might be confused about the other “Hidden Singer” or 《影藏的歌手》, which featured people like Jeff Chang, Tanya Chua, Angela Chang, etc. Basically, that one was a rip-off and this one 《谁是大哥神》legit bought the rights from Korea and everything.

Adapted from the Korean TV show of the same name, Hidden Singer features the real singer along with five “imitators”; behind the curtains, the six sing a song together. Audiences, aided by twelve “celebrity guessers” will vote for who they think the actual singer is; the contestant with the least votes in eliminated. That repeats until there are only three left; the imitator with the most votes will get to sing a duet with the actual singer.

The vast majority of the season features veteran singers from the 80s and 90s, although “young” (er) generation singers JJ Lin, Jam Hsiao, and Jane Zhang were also featured. All ten episodes featuring all the singers of season 1 have already aired, but they’re also doing some “final round” featuring all the singers previously invited. I have no idea about what they’re doing but JJ Lin’s on it so I’m watching hehe.

If you have no idea who these singers are/have never heard anything by them, Hidden Singer is probably going to be a pretty boring watch because you don’t know anything and have no basis to guess.

On the other side of the spectrum, if your all-time favorite singer went on the show, the show, while still a fun watch,  would also be a bit boring as the voice of the true singer would be very obvious to discern.

So I guess the happy medium would be a singer that you know and have at least one song from.

Featured Singers (in order): Alan Tam, Phil Chang, JJ Lin, Jam Hsiao, Richie Jen, Terry Lin, Valen Hsu, Jane Zhang, Chyi Chin, Wakin Chau

Air Date: Sunday

Recommended? If you know who the singers are.


Go Fighting! Season 2

As we all say: Go Fighting! This is life. 

Go Fighting! is life, I tell you. If I was presented with the glorious task of recapping Go Fighting!, the entire post would be laden with GIFs and screenshots.

Sure, the special effects are jarringly obvious. The budget isn’t exactly the highest. The production value isn’t that great. But that’s just what embodies the inherent amazingness of Go Fighting!

The show’s format actually isn’t all that key to Go Fighting!’s success. It really is just the beautiful chemistry between all the cast members. And the crazy stuff they do. And it seems that the episodes are only getting better and better. I loved Season 1; I love Season 2.

Seriously. All six of them are just natural entertainers, and I really really stan this.

Cast: Huang Lei, Huang Bo, Show Luo, Lay (EXO), Sun Honglei, Wang Xun

What Do They Do? Anything, from going to the airport to detonating bombs. It’s hard to describe.

Air Date: Sunday

Recommended? OMG yes!!! You have no idea what you’ve been missing out on!

Still there are a ton of other C-varieties, such as the popular “We Are In Love” featuring celebrities (trying? pretending?) to date. I’ve also seen my mom watch 《一路上有你》, which features celebrity couples traveling. Honestly, though, I lack interest in those types of shows because I don’t really care about these celebrities’ lives.

If anything, I think the one thing to conclude is that the Chinese entertainment industry is still developing (although the restrictive government keeps slowing its growth). Already shows like Go Fighting! and “Sing My Song” that aren’t based off other shows are emerging in China and even garnering international attention. And the shows that China does adapt from Korea or Japan are pretty good. Just stop with the criticism already.

— moon148


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