A few nights ago I surfed the internet and scout for some Hong Kong shows to watch. I spent half of my life in Hong Kong growing up with TVB (monopoly of the television industry in Hong Kong). A lot of people tells me they do a shitty job in their production but very often that is also what makes it entertaining to me. When I came across this new show “Sze U Tonight,” I thought it was one of those other entertaining show TVB produced in the past. To my surprise, it was not. It was an exact imitation of North American’s favourite talk shows – “Saturday Night Live,” “Late Show with David Letterman,” and “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” all mixed together. I was a bit shocked by this brave move. The next day, not to my surprise it was on the newspaper.
Honestly, I had mixed feelings.
TVB has always been accused by copying shows from all over the world. I never thought it was a big deal since everyone lost hope to their creativity and so did I. The fact that they copy an idea is different in executing the exact same show tho. It was a shock to me that TVB is bold enough to make an exact same show with same backdrops and format. It was not an imitation. It was literally copied. And that is probably why it hits the newspaper the next day.
After reading the South China Morning Post, I came up with my own thoughts. I do agree that TVB is slacking with its production as they are the monopoly. And just because they’ve been like this all these years doesn’t mean it’s okay for their poor production. However, I don’t agree Hong Kong television entertainment is hitting it’s new low. The fact that they are willing to copy something that is so successful in North America shows their willing to change. It is a very bold and brave move and I appreciate what they are trying to succeed. Popular Japanese manga (comics) Hana Yori Dango raised popularity in 1997. Few years later, Taiwan catched up with its popularity and turned it into television drama in 2001. The popularity boost so fast across continents that Japan produced their own drama in 2005, following Korea in 2008, and China in 2009. The same show, same content was produced across the country and no one complained about it. Koichi Iwabuchi talked about this phenomenon in his article “Globalization, East Asian Media Cultures and Their Publics,” the idea of internationalism is bring media into different cultures by substituting their audience needs and wants.
Although I don’t see this bold move as hitting the bottom rock. I do think it is not the best idea to produce a show without tackling with copyrights. “Sze U Tonight” is not a bad show. I do have doubts whether it would be successful or not. It is a format that Hong Kong people are not familiar with. Or if I would say, it is a different kind of comedy Hong Kong people are not experiencing a lot.