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Time-travel TV Series
This is a common form of Chinese film and television drama, characterized more or less by time-travel related contents or elements in its plot.
China Bans Time Travel Films and Shows, Citing Disrespect of History

The order comes during the year of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. BEIJING – China’s media authorities have stopped the clock on time travel in film and television, saying the sci-fi notion “disrespects history.” This would be odd for a country whose big and small screens have long been filled with historically porous period epics about scandalized courts of bygone eras, but not so when one considers that 2011 marks the 90th anniversary of China’s ruling political party. “The rationale [for the time travel ban] is that whatever isn’t possible in the real world belongs to superstition,” said film critic and journalist Raymond Zhou Liming, who notes that time travel is untouched by censors in Chinese literature and theater. In the electronic mass media, however, which in China reaches the world’s largest TV audience and the globe’s fastest growing movie market, the idea of time travel presents a clear and present danger. In time-travel dramas such as Myth (Shen Hua), currently popular on Chinese TV, audiences seem to like the story of a modern man going back to ancient China where, after some adjustment, he finds love and happiness. “Most time travel content that I’ve seen (in literature and theater, that is) is actually not heavy on science, but an excuse to comment on current affairs,” Zhou told The Hollywood Reporter. Apparently unhappy with film and TV presenting even the fictional notion that China’s ability to provide happiness is a thing of the past for the average man, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television posted its guidance about time travel. “Producers and writers are treating serious history in a frivolous way, which should by no means be encouraged anymore,” SARFT said. This sort of guidance, while not a black-and-white ban, commonly acts as an effective catalyst for filmmakers’ self-censorship. In a country that has no film law on the books, what SARFT says often goes. Recent messages on the SARFT website have ended with words celebrating the founding of the Communist Party of China in 1921. “Follow the central spirit of the CPC to celebrate its 90th anniversary on television. All levels should actively prepare to launch vivid reproductions of the Chinese revolution, the nation’s construction and its reform and opening up,” one bit of SARFT guidance said. The April 1 time travel guidance from SARFT, which has the power to pull the plug on any Chinese show anywhere, anytime -- answering as it does directly to China’s cabinet, the State Council -- was not an April Fool's prank, which has no such tradition In Myth, an adolescent hero travels back 2,000 years to find he is blood brothers with Liu Bang, the first emperor of the four-century long Han Dynasty to which modern China’s ethnic Han majority traces its lineage. ] “I don't think it's a bias against one particular show, but a general guideline,” Zhou said. Since China’s ruling party bases much of its doctrine and strict media management on scientific Marxism, the fantasy of time travel – which potentially gives the individual the freedom to reorder reality – conflicts with politically correct thought completely ruled by the CPC. In some ways, it's much ado about nothing. Time travel has hardly been a popular theme for moveigoers in China. The last time a major Chinese time travel film made it to cinemas here was Hong Kong director Clarence Fok’s Highlander-inspired Iceman Cometh (Ji Dong Qi Xia in Chinese), featuring actor Yuen Biao and actress Maggie Cheung in 1989, the same year the Chinese government crushed a student-led, pro-democracy movement in Beijing.

China censors want to consign time travel dramas to past

China's censors have long been known for their stringent approach to television, but now they are taking on an unexpected small screen menace – the inappropriate use of time travel. Fans fear the heyday of the popular genre is over after Li Jingsheng, of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (Sarft), denounced such dramas' "frivolous" approach to history. "Time travel dramas are becoming a hot theme for television and films. But the content and exaggerated performance style are questionable," Li, who heads the television drama management division, told a conference. "Many stories are totally made up and are made to strain for an effect of novelty. The producers and writers are treating serious history in a frivolous way, which should by no means be encouraged any longer," he said. A statement on the Sarft website warns companies to avoid "incorrect" shows, attacking time travel dramas for their "bizarre" plots and reinvention of myths and even for spreading feudal superstition. The Xinmin Evening News, which first reported the story, said the administration was outlawing the genre. But experts said the new guidelines – although they already appear to have reined in producers – were not a ban as such. "A warning – it is not an official ban – from Sarft is already strong enough," Professor Nie Wei, of the School of Movie and Television Drama Studies, at Shanghai University, said. "The producers of the Palace, the recent popular time travel drama, are changing their scripts [for the next series],. "Some of the time travel dramas nowadays are made in a very shoddy way and are irresponsible in not respecting history – but overall, it is more complicated [than Li suggests]. "I think whether there is time travel or not is not important. What matters is whether it is a good piece of work or not." While western examples of the genre, such as Life on Mars or Quantum Leap, have often focused on the recent past, the Chinese programmes fuse a modern mindset with the country's passion for costume drama. Last year's hits included the Myth, in which a teenager travels back 2,000 years and becomes an army general. The Palace was about a modern girl who finds herself in the much more recent Qing dynasty, where she is torn between two rival princes. The Sarft director has found at least some backers among television viewers. "History is history; history is not entertainment. This [sort of thing] would confuse young people's minds," one internet user wrote in an online discussion. But another asked: "Who would watch a television drama as if it was a textbook? Why should it be taken so seriously?"

"Legend", China's first time-travel TV series

Entering the new year, the Chinese small screen continues to thrive, as a string of ambitious productions hit the airwaves. In today's spotlight, we focus on one of the best of them, the new TV series "Legend." On January 2nd, the TV series "Legend" aired on the TV drama channel of China Central Television. The show is promoted as the country's first time-travel mythology TV production, and is an adaptation from the blockbuster movie of the same title. The popular movie starred Jackie Chan, but for the TV version, the actor has assumed the role of Chief Supervisor. Stanley Tong and Jeffrey Chiang are also in on the project as artistic supervisor and director respectively. Leading the cast are Hu Ge and Zhang Meng, who are supported by big names like Ren Quan and Bai Bing. The story is about time travel, romance, family love, and brotherhood. Hu Ge plays the role Yi Xiaochuan, a modern-day archeologist who travels to ancient times and becomes a national hero and noble warrior. A parallel story follows a romance that spans a thousand years. The show is a combination of ancient epic, modern style, legendary mystery, and intense suspense. Hu Ge said that he took the role because he was attracted to the compelling story. The 50-episode production fully reflects the contrasts between ancient and modern times. Apart from his startling, inappropriate, and sometimes hilarious vernacular, Hu Ge's role brought a whole array of modern gadgets like a mobile phone and a digital watch to the past. Hu Ge said, "It's not so startling. The story is about time traveling. So it is quite natural that modern language and stuff appears in the past. It's quite within expectations. I think it's a major attraction of the show. In terms of subject matter, the show bears a certain resemblance with Xun Qin Ji. But each era has its own distinctive features. For instance, this year is 2010. If we travelled back to Qin Dynasty, we will bring lots of 2010 stuff to that period." As Chief Supervisor, Jackie Chan displayed much concern for the quality of the production. At a promotion for the show, he expressed his hope that more new actors will become famous through the production. One rising star is Zhang Meng who plays multiple roles in the production. In addition to portraying a fashionable modern-day young woman, she also plays a lady of great beauty and elegance from antiquity. It is said that eight renowned TV producers and directors have pledged their support for the show. They include Zhang Guoli, Jiang Wei, Zhang Jing, Wu Yi, Ding Xin, Li Yang, Ma Zhongjun, and Zhao Junkai. Also, some veteran entertainers attached much hope to the production.

Knowledge Graph

1 Time travel has been a television mainstay for at least fifty years and has, appropriately enough, gone through the decades (sometimes) growing more sophisticated along the way. There have been at least fifty such shows, but Empire has distilled them to a sampling of fifteen that span from 1963 (Doctor Who) to 2017 (Time After Time).

2 Doctor Who remains the longest-running time travel series, initially spanning twenty-six straight seasons between 1963 and 1989, and resurrected in 2005 for an all-new ten-plus-year run.

3 So far they’ve dealt with the Hindenburg, the assassination of President Lincoln, Nazis (what’s a time travel series without Nazis?) and the Alamo, among others. Creators are Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan.