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Too much of a good thing

By Xu Ming (Global Times)

14:40, February 27, 2013

Legend of Zhen Huan (file photo)

In China, you never need to worry about missing some classic TV drama, because, if it's really a classic, it will appear on your screen again and again without your demanding.

Recently, some netizens grumbled that during the long holiday of Spring Festival, An Lingrong, a female role in The Legend of Zhen Huan, died three times on screen within a single day, reflecting the frequent rebroadcast of the drama.

Meanwhile, the grumbling reminds people of the frequently repeated broadcasts of many other TV series such as Princess Huanzhu, A Dream of Red Mansions (1987), Journey to the West (1986), and others that have been deemed "immortal." Their persistent popularity has initiated a social discussion on the decade-long phenomenon.

"Behind the frequent rebroadcast of classics is the lack of new excellent works," said Hong Shui, a TV industry insider. "The TV stations need to guarantee the rating and they'd rather turn to classics as a safe choice."

Irresistible classics

The Legend of Zhen Huan, a story about infighting among imperial concubines in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), is the most recent drama that has led to a rebroadcast wave among TV stations. By the end of 2012, many major TV stations took turns rebroadcasting the drama. Among them, Heilongjiang TV has earned the nickname "Zhen Huan TV" because it has broadcast the series more than 10 times since last July.

But despite its overexposure, Zhen Huan, which has been broadcast dozens of times, is far from setting a record. As reported, Journey to the West (1986) has been rebroadcast over 2,000 times since its birth. Drawing Sword, a war story of patriotism and heroism, has appeared over 3,000 times within five years.

Other classics on the rebroadcast list include The Legend of White Snake, Home with Kids, A Dream of Red Mansions (1987), and some chivalrous dramas like The Legend of the Condor Heroes (1983). Many of them are called "must-broadcast" dramas during the summer holidays due to their frequent appearance.

While on one hand the repetition is evidence of the excellence of these classics, their continuous rebroadcasting causes concern among some in the industry. The repeated "bombing" of such TV shows not only makes the audience aesthetically tired but also wastes broadcasting resources.

Still, there are always audiences for the shows. One reason is, as many netizens have admitted, people like to review the classic shows they have watched time and again either on TV or online in order to focus on the process itself. "The classics are my first choice because most TV dramas today are too crude," a netizen told Global Times, "The classics are bits of gold sifted out of the sands of time."

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