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Yolk Man

Yolk Man (蛋黄人) is a Chinese television serial that was produced by iQiyi and broadcast between 16 August 2019 through 30 August 2019. It consists of 12 x 20-minute episodes.

What is it about?

Note: Spoilers Ahead
Yolk Man center’s around the main character of Li Zhi Yuan, a dysfunctional college student who not only loses the love of his life but is then diagnosed with cancer and has 3 months to live. An alien life form then inhabits his body, suppresses the cancer and gives him super human abilities. However, while the good alien inhabits Li Zhi Yuan an evil alien takes over another body that is controlled by a hive.

Main Character

Austin Lin plays Li Zhi Yuan. Austin is a Taiwanese actor whose career started on the singing competition “One Million Star” from 2007 and has appeared a quite a few TV and Movie productions since then. You don’t have to look to far on YouTube to find many shows that Austin has appeared in.

Review

Out of the box iQiyi provide English translation for the show embedded on the video. The translation text was very clear. However, I notice that the network gave English names to all the characters. For example, the main character of Li Zhi Yuan is now Jim.

Each of the actors gave brilliant performances and each character had their own form of “kick ass” opportunities.

China has marked this series as age group 15+. I’m not sure if it would have received the same rating in Canada, UK or US. Maybe lower.

The show is absolutely brilliant scifi with very high production values and some comedy thrown in. The special effects are excellent especially of the good alien who looks like an egg yolk, hence it being named Yolk Man. There is a decent amount of action so each episode is exciting, you are not likely to fall asleep during the show. The show is structured like an episodic scifi from the west with a brief intro, the theme music, a cliffhanger and closing theme. The final 2-3 episodes were the best with a showdown of the alien entity.

Like numerous Chinese shows right now there is a hint of a gay relationship. I notice networks are pushing the limits and including themes like these which, to me, gives a lot of hope that China is joining the rest of world. I really respect the producers for including this content.

There isn’t a particularly happy ending but there was a surprise after the closing theme of the last episode. This made me curious about the potential of a 2nd season although I haven’t seen any hints of one online. I hope so.

Score: 9/10

Where can I see this show?

Easy, the full 12 episodes are on YouTube, thanks to the network for putting it there.

By |2020-01-25T06:30:50+00:00January 25th, 2020|Television|0 Comments

MSNBC vs CNN vs BBC vs SkyNews vs France24 vs CBC

We now live in a technical age where we all have access to many news channels from around the world. This should give us a better perspective of what is happening globally.

Much of these news sources are commercial and often their main aim is to sell advertising space in order to survive, and that might give them a certain political slant. My preference is for these channels to present the news, not opinion, so I can make my own decisions. Few channels actually meet that bill.

These reviews are based on my opinion alone.

Tabloids

Firstly, the US cable networks which I class as “tabloid” journalism, more sensational and gossipy in style.

MSNBC

Out of all the channels I have access to this is the worst:

  • Not much news, focuses on US politics, mainly Trump.
  • Liberal-leaning content, don’t really relay the news from both sides.
  • Sensationalises the “news”, mainly speculation and editorialisation
  • Presenters either shout or the decibels on the broadcast is set to very high
  • Very repetitive repeating the same “news” time and time again
  • “Breaking News” can last for days when I consider it to be an old story
  • As they focus on the worst-case scenario for the world it’s very grim to watch the channel in the morning but any other time
  • Many of the hosts or guests have a Trump book to sell. Love him or loathe him, they are making money from him.

CNN

I don’t watch this channel much as the remit is very similar to MSNBC:

  • Sensationalism, speculation, editorialisation
  • Like MSNBC coverage is politically one-sided.
  • When there is real “breaking news” in the US, non-political, they have better coverage than MSNBC. I would prefer to watch PBS for this but they don’t have a 24/7 format.
  • Too many dancing graphics on the screen.
  • CNN is available globally whereas MSNBC isn’t.

Broadsheets

The following channels I class as more “broadsheet” in style; more real news and analysis, therefore, better-respected organizations.

BBC

The station has come under a lot of criticism in the past few years due to politically slanted news when the expectation of taxpayers, who partially fund the channel, expect more analysis of how both sides of the political spectrum.

  • Good coverage of “breaking news” from a UK perspective. Didn’t really care for their election coverage. Their Brexit news isn’t too bad
  • Presenters are generally calm, don’t shout, and intelligent. This is with possible exception to Aaron Heslehurst who I find loud, confusing and obnoxious
  • Often I find they cover less news in a half an hour slot than some other broadsheet style TV news channels

CBC

Even though CBC is classified as a public broadcaster it’s not the same as the BBC. It is commercial and feels like other channels. However, I do like its news presentation on both radio and TV.

  • Good balance of news and analysis. The analysis comes in the form of its program called The National.
  • Doesn’t appear to sensationalise the news too much
  • Not too many flying graphics during the broadcast
  • CBC Radio 1 has no commercials and the analysis type programming is very good
  • The other news channels in Canada are a bit more American in style and CBC News feels like a cross between BBC and ITN news in the UK

SkyNews

A UK news channel that is owned by Comcast in the US and is currently the Royal Television Society’s News Channel of the Year, as I write this, the 12th time it has held this award.

  • Appear to compress more news into their broadcasts than the BBC
  • Available on YouTube so the world can tune in to watch it
  • Pretty good on UK related news but often BBC has the edge on this
  • Sometimes sways into tabloid format but generally good all-round news presentation
  • Been watching SkyNews more than I have BBC News recently.

France24

Broadcasting English language news internationally over YouTube.

  • Excellent for world news and analysis
  • Of course, best from France related news, but don’t have access to any other English language French news channels
  • Good coverage of Africa and the Middle East, better than the BBC
  • Calm presenters providing a different perspective on the news
  • Good selection of 20 and 30-minute analysis type programming
  • Their app isn’t that great but I do get a good balance of breaking news from around the world, and they often beat many other news service providers.

Other News Outlets

There are other news outlets available here in Canada from home and around the world but don’t really watch them enough to assess them in too much detail but will give a quick overview:

  • Good Morning Britain is available in Canada but the show is tabloid garbage.
  • Fox News is the same but even worse than MSNBC, from a right-wing perspective.
  • Local stations from the US for CBS, NBC and ABC are available but feel their news shows showing what is happening in Seattle is not at all relevant to me.
  • PBS from the US is available here, they have a 6 pm news show, Newshour, which is very good.
  • We will sometimes watch Global News early in the morning, due to lack of CBC at that time of day, however, there are so many adverts splashed all over the screen they make it impossible to watch for any length greater than 10 minutes.
By |2020-01-18T21:55:43+00:00January 18th, 2020|Television|0 Comments

Asian Shows Currently Watching

There are so many Asian shows we are watching at the moment, all of them fantastic, so I thought I would compile a list of my recommendations for everyone.

Yolk Man
China

A student is dying of Cancer but an alien arrives on Earth, forming a symbiotic relationship with him, which saves his life. However, an evil alien soon follows to cause damage. Show is so well put together, special effects are brilliant, 12 x 25 minute episodes

Bromance
Taiwan

Pi Ya Nuo is a female but has to disguise herself as a male until her 26th birthday due to a superstitious omen. Then she meets Du Zi Feng, he thinks he is entering a same sex relationship with her little knowing that he is really a she. Will he still love her when the truth is revealed? Very funny yet touching series.

The Thunder
China

A more action-orientated police series from China that is pretty good, 48 x 45 minute episodes that aired Monday to Sunday in China. It has some notable stars inc Johnny Huang who is in 6 TV series in 2020, not sure how he has the time for them all. iQiyi produce some great series and I will watch out for anything that comes out of this studio.

Ossan’s Love
Japan

This series is one of my favourite so far. Set in a real estate office everyone seems to be falling in love with Haruta, except they are all people of the same sex and he is “supposedely” straight. This is a well acted comedy and I can see why this was so popular in Japan. Tanaka Kei and Yoshida Kotaro are brilliant in this. A must see. Preview is the movie of the show, DVD to be released Spring 2020.

The Untamed
China

We have just started watching this and it’s unexpectedly very good, some fans have described this as a masterpiece. Don’t watch the Netflix version, they often get the subtitles wrong or timing they appear is not working properly. This drama is by Tencent Video who have produced other dramas we have enjoyed too, worth discovering what else they have on offer.

Let’s Eat
South Korea

We are currently on the 2nd Season of Let’s Eat, three seasons produced. Each season has a different story has the same main actor appearing in all them, the popular Yoon Doo Joon. Apart from the drama/comedy theme they also eat a lot, and I mean a lot.  I’m not sure if they are going to make a third season, Yoon is currently doing his military service due to be released April 2020.

This is just a sample of what we are watching, we have many favourites that we have watched and a ton more that the plan to watch in the future.

By |2020-01-21T00:18:03+00:00January 5th, 2020|Television|0 Comments

When A Snail Falls in Love

We have just finished watching a Chinese television series called “When A Snail Falls in Love” (如果蜗牛有爱情), which we thoroughly recommend. This is my review.

The Story

A Chinese Detective, Ji Bai, played by actor Wang Kai (王凯) has to train new recruit Xu Xu, played by Olivia Wang (王子文). However, she might be excellent at psychology and profiling but doesn’t have the skillset to work in the field. They both become respectful of each other’s abilities and work together to solve a high profile case which takes them to Myanmar.

Review

The story has everything; action, romance, drama and comedy. There are a number of reasons why I believe this series is really good. It tackles the emotional effects of working the police force. Maybe it’s a Chinese cultural thing but the boss always took the blame for any mistakes of the team. The romantic scenes are touching and the action sequences are gripping. The script is complex but it is explained slowly and fits in well with the overall show. The photography is brilliant whether it’s in old fashioned markets, the docks, the countryside, the train going through Myanmar and more romantic locations. The show tackles issues that I’ve never seen in other Asian shows. On the negative side, I believe there are some parts of the story that are “lost in translation”, we didn’t understand some parts of the show which may have been down to the subtitles we saw.  It is often quite difficult to get a direct translation from Mandarin into English.

Snail Cartoon

Where To See The Show

You can watch the show on Viki, but not available in some locations (ie Canada), or the network has uploaded the show to YouTube where you can view various versions there.

By |2019-11-10T05:51:36+00:00November 10th, 2019|Television|0 Comments

Ultraman from Netflix Review

Ultraman is one of the most significant brands in Japanese entertainment so I was very intrigued to see the Netflix version of the show, and I wasn’t disappointed.  This is my review.

Who is Ultraman?

I can’t describe Ultraman better than what the Ultraman Wiki has so nicely laid out for us, however, he defends the Earth against aliens and monsters who don’t appear to be in short supply. The Ultraman industry, which started in 1966, even though it is thought that the character is actually 20,000 years old, has generated significant income in the billions. This was the first episode that aired back then:

Ultraman 2019

The new series, commissioned by Netflix, appears to take on a slightly different slant. The “new” Ultraman is the son of the original but also we find there is, in fact, other Ultramen. The 2019 version is more elaborate than it’s originals, probably the most technically stunning that has been produced so far, not the usual format this time of genre from Japan.  This new series has 13 episodes in total.

My Review

Story: The series is really engaging not just from a technical perspective but the story is sound too. It actually reminded me of many super-hero comics rather than a classic Ultraman story with a child growing up to discovering he has super abilities. The part where the new Ultraman is facing tough decisions to destroy evil aliens as told to do against what humanity has taught him to bring people to justice rather than kill them is a good story arc.

Look & Feel: Visually the series is absolutely stunning, I was just amazed by the attention of detail to the artwork which was difficult to find fault with. It really puts all other Ultraman series to shame really, however, I am sure they don’t have the budget to produce this high quality work.

Overall: 13 episodes didn’t feel enough but I am pleased a season 2 has been ordered. I would give it an 8.5/10. I think this is higher than other people have given it.

This is the Netflix trailer:

Ultraman Taiga

Started this year is another Ultraman series called Ultraman Taiga. Not as visually stunning as the show on Netflix but might be worth watching if you are a fan.

By |2019-10-21T23:45:25+00:00October 21st, 2019|Television|0 Comments

Review of Debut

Debut is a Chinese TV Show that was broadcast, in China, between 7 February 2018 and 14 March 2018, I recently saw this show and here is my review.

The original name of the show is 二分之一美少年, which translated actually means, roughly, “One-Half Beauty Boy” or “One Half of the Beautiful Boy”. The show is produced by Horgos Graphical Media Co Ltd. and Beijing Fast-forward Culture & Art Co Ltd. The show is directed by Xin Juzhen.

As I see it there are two distinct story lines in this show:

  • A manufactured boy band is in training but preparing for their debut in front of the world
  • The lead in the band is in an accident, survives but gets split into two separate bodies sharing the same thoughts. Those two people cannot be awake at the same time, when one is awake the other is asleep. One body is slim and other is overweight.

I would say the genre of the TV show could fall into these categories: Youth, Comedy, Drama, Musical, SciFi, Fantasy. It really does have a mix of everything.

Here are my general thoughts on the show:

  • The script could have been tightened up, but I would say just sit back and enjoy it for what it is.
  • It is a very cute, non-stressful, bubbly show where you more or less like every character, even the ones who are possibly considered nasty.
  • There are some very talented actors and actresses in the cast, the support toles often give more amazing performances than the main ones.
  • Maybe fat shaming is prevalent in China so I do like how it handled those issues. However, the guy who was supposed to be overweight didn’t really seem that way to me. I wasn’t keen on how they kept calling him “fatty”, he has a name.
  • It handled some suggestion of gay relationships pretty well too, there was some hint of that in many episodes, maybe some that would never have made it onto US TV. There was one overly camp bisexual character which was badly done, maybe it was comic relief but it didn’t work.
  • The last two episodes were actually really well done, with some unexpected twists and turns. There was one part of the ending that I didn’t like, relating to the supposed overweight character, you may know what I mean when you watch it.
  • The closing song to every episode is very cute and jolly [YouTube Link], something I kept singing in my mind afterwards. The other songs in the show were good too.

You can watch the show on YouTube, just search for “Debut TV Show”, it’s on 3 separate office Chinese Television accounts, English subtitles provided.

If you want to watch something that is not too taxing on the brain, that is cute and bubbly, then this show is for you. I would give it 7/10.

By |2019-10-02T21:02:04+00:00October 2nd, 2019|Television|0 Comments

Review Being King Is Not Easy

King Not EasyWe have recently finished watching another Chinese TV show called “Being King Is Not Easy”, also known as “King Is Not Easy”, “Not Easy Being King” or by its native title “大王不容易”. The show is a historical costume drama which we enjoyed very much.

About the Show

The show is about a lady, Da Xi, who runs a popular food stand who falls in love with Shao Yong, a Royal Guard. In order to be closer to him, she becomes a maid at the Palace. Through some other uncontrollable events her soul is switched with Ji Man, the Emperor, which is when the hilarity begins.

The show had 20 episodes and was broadcast Wednesday through Saturday between 30 August to 28 September 2017 in China.

Review

Chinese humour isn’t that much different than the British variety and this show also tends to be quite slapstick.  I would say this is one of those shows that is quite a gay-friendly as we are seeing a lot of on Chinese TV right now.  Da Xi, whose soul is inside the Kings, is besotted with Shao Yong, so you see some touchy-feely encounters between the two.  In one of the episodes there is a discussion which goes along the lines of “there is nothing wrong with two men being together”, this I believe is the general Chinese view of homosexuality but the conflict is they are encouraged to have a more traditional family.

So 75% of the show is focused on the body switch situation but towards the end, it goes into another interesting direction to wrap the story up.  I won’t give anything away here.

I am also surprised by the extravagance of Chinese drama’s, for a 20 episode drama they seemed to have spent quite a bit of money on it, for example, the scale of the palace, interior palace sets, costumes and special effects.

Summary

Despite recommending the show to a number of people I think people in the west don’t want to give Chinese dramas a chance. Maybe people are put off by sub-titles or they have certain views about China, I don’t know.  I think the show would suit a younger adult type of audience and hope you give it a chance.

By |2019-05-23T17:04:27+00:00May 23rd, 2019|Television|0 Comments

Moonshine and Valentine

Moonshine and ValentineWe have just finished watching a Chinese TV Series called “Moonshine and Valentine”, this is my review.

The original Chinese name for the series is 结爱·千岁大人的初恋, the English title the show uses is “Moonshine and Valentine” but is also known as “The Love Knot: His Excellency’s First Love”. The show was made in 2018 and its 25 x 45-minute episodes were broadcast in China from 9 May to 13 June 2018.  The only actor I knew from the series was Johnny Huang who I had previously seen in the low budget but internationally popular show “Addicted Heroin”, which isn’t about drugs but a gay relationship.

The storyline can be a little complex. 900 years ago a race of hybrid foxes escaped from their collapsing planet and made home on Earth. Those aliens evolved on Earth taking human form and fit into society although over the years became secretive to whom they are. Many years ago one of the Fox Clan (Helan Xi) fell in love with a woman which never worked out but she was beset with a curse. So, Helan waited through the generations, he doesn’t age, for her resurrection who is in this era is known as Guan Pipi, a journalist. In addition to this, the Foxes split up into a South and North Clans for which there is friction between them both. In the show, there is some supernatural, super hero, sci-fi element to the story but the relationship between Helan and Pipi is at the forefront.

The first noticeable thing about the show is its pace, some people online say it’s very slow but for me, this was something that drew me to it, it did have some pockets of action but not many. The story line was pretty complex but they did well-explaining things, maybe the series could have been longer to explore it a little more. There was one episode that completely went off script and away from the current timeline, at first I was a little confused and wondered if I had missed an episode, but it actually turned out to be the best of the series, wait for episode 24. My two favourites on the show were actors Li Shen (Xiu Xian) and Leo Li (Kuan Yong) whose relationship was amusing and engaging, I’m pleased as support cast they had a lot of air time. Many people complained about the ending and although it’s not how I would have finished the show I’m not sure how they could have re-written it, I doubt if there could have been a second season which is not that common in China anyhow. The best part of the show was the opening title sequence which is a work of art, like a sophisticated comic.

Because the pace of the show is slow this makes the English subtitles more readable.  In many Chinese slow, they speak very quickly and often miss some of what they are saying. I would recommend it and hope you enjoy it.

By |2019-05-10T23:43:29+00:00May 10th, 2019|Television|0 Comments

My Neighbor Charles

My Neighbor CharlesOne of my favourite TV programs from South Korea is “My Neighbor Charles”.

Currently, there is a lot of negativity towards immigrants that I have seen and heard particularly from the United States, this is due to the fear mongering from the current administration there. It is extremely refreshing to have such positive and constructive views of immigrants in this weekly reality TV show.

Every week the program explores the life of immigrants who have moved to South Korea.  A camera crew following the guests round for 2 weeks to learn about their new day-to-day life. They then go into a sit-down studio to discuss their life with four regular hosts.

Most of the guests have really inspiring stories of how successful they have been since landing in South Korea and how they have fit in with society. From the show, locals seem very welcoming to new visitors and keen to learn about new cultures.  The most rewarding part of immigration is that culture arrives in your neighbourhood and can learn many things from the people who have settled there. If only this happened everywhere.

Most of the episodes are placed on YouTube by the broadcaster the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS).

By |2019-01-11T05:06:34+00:00January 11th, 2019|Immigration, South Korea, Television|0 Comments

Circle Two Worlds Connected Review

Circle: Two Worlds Connected” was a sci-fi/mystery television show from South Korea created by broadcaster TvN which aired in 2017. We have just finished viewing all 12 episodes and I really recommend people watch it.

This sci-fi mystery was very unique and innovative, it was set in two time periods; 2017 and 2037. In 2017: It starts off with young twin brothers and their father witnessing an alien arrival, the family take in the woman although would rarely say a word. The twins grow up, while at college a number of suicides occur with fellow students which appear to be linked to one of the twins and possible sightings of the missing “alien”. In 2037: South Korea is divided into General Earth, a heavily polluted place where crimes are common and Smart Earth, a clean and beautiful city/island where no crimes occur until one day there is a murder.

Each episode is 60 minutes in duration with the first 30 minutes set in 2017 and the last 30 minutes in 2037.

Review

The storyline is quite complex in the first episodes and can be tough to keep up with the plot, however, one does become totally transfixed so it’s worth being patient with. There are many unexpected twists and turns that will continue to surprise the audience. The special effects and sets in the 2037 scenes are extremely well done and thought through, especially how technology might evolve by that time period. The acting is very good, the actors put a lot of effort into the production. In many other Korean shows you would see a lot of romance but there was very little of that at all. The music score was quite dramatic, probably too much so at points. There were quite a few unanswered questions which would lead into an interesting season 2, I’ve heard rumours about the studio wanting to make more episodes which I would really encourage them to do.

I really would like to have seen this drama shown in the west, I think it would be popular in the US, Canada and the UK, however, subtitles is not something those countries have the patience for.

DVD

Circle Two Worlds Connected is available in DVD format via YesAsia.

By |2019-01-09T21:53:54+00:00January 9th, 2019|South Korea, Television|0 Comments