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TV fans pan scripts ripped from US shows

By Han Bingbin and Xu Lin  (China Daily)

10:05, August 12, 2012

Successful US TV series have long been a major source of inspiration for their Chinese counterparts.

Many Chinese TV producers have taken delight in reproducing these screen hits by adapting their characters into a Chinese context.

For years, Chinese TV viewers have remained tolerant toward what they call "shanzhai productions". Yet very recently they have become irritated to find one local ratings champion is directly ripping off scripts and plots.

The target of criticism is Ipartment, a sitcom that deals with the hilarious happenings between occupants of two neighboring apartments of a tower block in downtown Shanghai. Soon after its third season premiered, an angry netizen posted screenshots on Tianya.cn, one of the country's most popular online forums, claiming it has almost identical scenes from popular US sitcoms like Friends.

In the meantime, 22-year-old Zhang Yan, a die-hard fan of Western soaps from Zhengzhou in Henan province, established cpartment.com, where he and other netizens post screenshots after each new episode comparing it to US sitcoms to demonstrate possible plagiarism.

<b>TV series: Copying shows could 'ruin market' </b>

According to Zhang, at least 16 of the sitcom's 24 episodes have more than 70 percent of their plot directly copied from seven Western serials including How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory and IT Crowd. Zhang said some of the dialogue is directly ripped from the Chinese subtitles of these series.

Zhang even predicted the show's upcoming storylines using his knowledge of Western sitcoms, and to his surprise he was correct four out of four times. With an average of 3,000 to 4,000 clicks every day, the website has caused many netizens to denounce and boycott the show.

"I don't mean to ruin Ipartment. I just want to put pressure on some Chinese directors and scriptwriters. I hope they stop copying," he says.

Wang Yuan, Ipartment's scriptwriter, admitted on Sina Weibo that he's a die-hard fan of American sitcoms and that he tries to progress and innovate through imitation. He would be glad, he wrote, if he could emulate one-tenth of what they are doing right. Later, in an interview with Sina.com, Wang said he has used American sitcoms' narrative rhythms, classic story arcs and jokes as a reference.


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