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Thread: Differences between old TVB (e.g. 1960s - early 1990s) and modern TVB (1997-present)

  1. #1
    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Default Differences between old TVB (e.g. 1960s - early 1990s) and modern TVB (1997-present)

    This thread is primarily aimed at viewers who've watched TVB from at least the 1980s (or earlier) up to the present day.

    How do you think TVB today (and in general during the past fifteen years since Hong Kong returned to Chinese control in 1997) depicts these matters differently in their dramas between the two eras?

    1. sexuality (e.g. sexual orientation, sexual relationships, even sexually-transmitted diseases).

    2. family affairs (e.g. familial relationships)

    3. law enforcement and government issues (e.g. how are police officers, court officials, and politicians depicted)

    4. drug and alcohol abuse

    5. religious/spiritual issues

    6. personal violence

    7. crime and the criminal world

    8. mental health

    Is there a difference between how TVB's dramas treated such issues during the pre-1997 era as opposed to today?

  2. #2
    Junior Member Nannaia's Avatar
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    I stopped watching TVB in the mid 2000's and only begun to revisit some late '80s and early '90s serials (mostly ancient serials) recently. I haven't seen enough 80's series to comment on them, but here goes my take on the 90s and 2000s:

    When I was (re)watching serials of the '90s I was taken aback by the levels of violence in them. '90s violence had more malice to it which added a layer of sinister cruelty to the characters and the world setting. Road for the Heroes '92 was a comedy that balanced some very dark elements exceptionally well, something I don't think TVB can do today. In particular, there was a brutal scene where the villain stalks and executes his minion... That scene scared me as a kid, and it still hasn't lost it's nastiness. Whereas violence in the 2000s felt really tame and ineffective. The bright colors and even lighting does not help for the matter.

    I noticed quite a few jabs at the PRC, stuff that probably would not be able to fly through today.

    Early '90s series are more conservative in regards to a woman's sexuality. "Love-making" scenes for the most part were pretty innocent by today's standards. I've lost count how many times I've watched a scene where a couple stares lovingly into each others' eyes, at which the camera will pan to a candle/scenery/some object, fade to black, and it's the morning after. Oh wait, it's still being done today isn't it? I remember seeing something like this in Crimson Sabre and Bi Xue Jian '06.

    Alongside it seems to me that older series placed a lot more emphasis on filial piety. It was rather enduring more often than not. The Unfavorite becomes the family matyr and helps them all stick together seemed pervasive in the 2000s (Safe Guards 2006, To Love With No Regrets 2004, Colorful Life).
    Last edited by Nannaia; 04-14-12 at 08:37 PM.

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    Senior Member smurf120's Avatar
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    I was but a child during the '80s so I did not understand many of the modern shows so I definitely watched an rewatched the ancient shows numerous times often wearing out some videotapes. From what I do remember of the modern set (and some shows I rewatched as an adult), I feel that many of the scripts were written from blue collar (maybe some white collar) real life point of views. The rich were mainly evil, everyone was working their butts off to get more money.

    '80s - An example: "Rough Riders" where Tony Leung had two dads (no homosexual themes were explored - just misunderstanding of who the real father was), worked numerous jobs, then climbed the corporate ladder from spending extra time learning.

    There were not many overt sexual scenes that I could remember in shows, STDs were largely a topic that was misunderstood. Family was key and central - you did everything for your family and your neighbor's family. Public figures, police officers, judges always helped the rich people, I even got sense of some corruption in "Police Cadet" series. When I was younger, thru TVB I thought all Hong Kongers were either college educated and Catholic or high school drop outs and Buddhist/Guan Yu worshippers.

    During the '90s, I remember being shocked by the sexual and gang content of the shows. I think this is the decade that popularized "virginity to calm fire deviation" wuxia phase (see Zu Mountain Saga II - there were bunch of sex scenes). Looking back I think TV had to compete with the Category III movies that were coming out by the dozens every month - you can trace the career of many TVB stars to infamous CAT III past including Lawrence Ng, Joe Ma, Sonny Chan, Moses Chan, Simon Yam. Gangland crime was very dark and gritty during the 90s dramas. I definitely enjoyed music more during this decade than any other decade - people I have spoken to say this is because the '90s were my formative teenage years - but cannot discount the fact that Jacky Cheung at the time sold more albums in Asia than anyone else hence.

    One stark difference pre and post 1997 is the treatment of authority figures. The last decade definitely treats authority figures/lawyers/police with more respect and shows how they want to do what is best for society - perhaps that is the attitude shift to ask people to trust China more??

    There is at least one area where I feel TVB has gone completely backwards over the past 2 decade is the portrayal of women. Even in the '80s, men were depicted as "hiding" infidelity and trying keep trips to "nightclubs" (brothels) to a lower profile. Then the '90s it was commonplace to show men having second families in China. In the 2000's up to as recently as "L'Escargot" (2012), open display that even blue collar men as soon as they can afford to, will have a second family. It is standard for rich people to have up to four wives.

    Women (on tv) seemed less educated, often whiny, and weak in the '80s - always needing protection. "Armed Reaction" in the '90s showed that women can balance a tough job, support the family, and have a good family life. It even had controversial rape scene of main character and brought AIDS into the story line - gritty stuff. Yet in the 2000's TVB is showing young girls that it is commonplace for man to have as many wives as he can support and that every young woman's end goal in life is to get married and have kids while maintaining a shining complexion and slim figure - what is this? Modified version of the '50s??

    Only every so often you get a show like "La Femme Desperado" (2006) where you show women can be on their own and be perfectly happy.

    "When Heaven Burns" (2012) was a huge breakthrough for TVB as mentioned in various areas of spcnet forum. The main female character had casual sex, smoked, drank herself to sleep at night, and spoke her mind. It showed how hard it was to keep a good marriage together, and allowed a bad marriage to fall apart. The main character(s) had multiple speeches criticizing censorship and politics.

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    This is the second time I tried to post since it lost my whole post last time....grrrrrrrrrrrrrr
    Last edited by smurf120; 04-23-12 at 12:55 AM.

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    I know its off topic, but haven't watch tvb since early 2000, can you guys recommend good series? modern or ancient?

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    Senior Member almo89's Avatar
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    I noticed the present day dramas are not as violent. I really enjoy gritty and dark dramas. I still think Greed of Man was one of the most daring dramas in terms of violence and coarse language used.

    Since this a Ken Cheng thread, I must bring up The Bund. The grit factor in that show stands out. It really gives you a sense of realism of what the underworld is like.
    "If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put it in a bottle it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or it can crash. Be water my friends.

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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by almo89 View Post
    I noticed the present day dramas are not as violent. I really enjoy gritty and dark dramas. I still think Greed of Man was one of the most daring dramas in terms of violence and coarse language used.

    Since this a Ken Cheng thread, I must bring up The Bund. The grit factor in that show stands out. It really gives you a sense of realism of what the underworld is like.
    Hell, yeah. THE BUND didn't try to mask or "beautify" the violence; it made it real and rubbed it in your face. I'll never forget those classic scenes such as bloody opening gang fight on the street, the pile of corpses of KMT agents shot dead by Hui Mun Keung and Ding Lik's gunmen, the bloody dog corpse that Lo Gum used to terrify his mistress, the blood from Hui Mun Keung's severed finger, the newswriters (including Chan Hon Lam) being shot dead by Ding Lik's gunmen, Fung Ging Yiu finally getting shot between the eyes, and of course, the bloody shooting of Hui Mun Keung. These were violent moments so shocking and stunning that they stayed with you.

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