The Production Mechanism of Chinese TV Series
Title：The Production Mechanism of and the Images in Chinese TV Series from 1979 to 1993
ZHANG Yongfeng (张永峰)
PhD 2011 Dissertation
From the perspective of the production mechanism and image, this paper studies Chinese TV series from 1979 to1993, and discusses its adaptation of literary works as well. During this period, the Revolutionary Idealism increasingly withdrew from the politics of state, while the dream of modernization quickly took its place, which has a profound impact on the function of television, the production mechanism, the literature adaptation, and the images built in TV series.
In terms of the function of television, in addition to its identity as a propaganda tool, it gradually transformed into an economic entity pursuing ideological purity but more often profit-orientated, which in turn leads to the change of the production mechanism of TV series.
The production mechanism of TV series is the result of the conflicts among national politics and other influencing factors. Among those factors, the most crucial ones are the economic interests of TV station and modernization (both insiders and the audience participate in this process). Their relationship with national politics plays a decisive role in TV series production mechanism in the following aspects: formulation of subject, the system of production and circulation, the system of censorship and the system of appraisal. In terms of the formulation of subject, there are two kinds of genre stabilized finally: one is ‘main theme’, which takes the responsibility of political propaganda and identity building; the other one is ‘variety’ (comedy, soup opera, TV shows, etc.), which takes more emphasis on profit making. As for the system of production and circulation, what emerged ultimately is the combination of the production model of indoor scene play and the marketization of circulation system. In terms of censorship system, it tends to be legalized as a result of the gambling between national politics and economic interests. The system of appraisal provides a perfect ‘site’ for star formation, thus contributing to turning TV series industry into a ‘Vanity Fair’.
Consequently, to some extent, TV production mechanism opens up the way of profit pursuing for TV series.
Literature adaptation gives more freedom of art creation to TV series; meanwhile, TV series reprocesses the literary “raw materials” under the production mechanism. Taking four cases at different stages as examples, the study explores the production of TV series under the restriction of the national politics and modernization trend of the country.
The personality image is encoded following the rule of "language" (text, sound, images). The images built evolve from "troubled teens” into “the ideal youth", from “reformers” into “capitalists" – all the images are converging gradually together, and finally recognized as one identical image – “capitalized” character image.
Introduction：The Study of TV Series Embemeded in Literature Works 1
Chapter One: “Walk by itself”: the Reconstruction of the Function of TV
1. From “Mini-theatre” to Propoganda Tool
2. From bread-and-butter issue to Economic Tool
3. Which Kind of Entertainment Tool
Chapter Two: Production Mechanism of TV Series
1. Reform and Formulation of the Subject
2. The System of Production and Circulation and the Influence of “Aspiration”
3. The System of Censorship
4. The System of Appraisal and "Vanity Fair"
Chapter Three: “Flyings with Wings”: The Adaptation of Literature
1. Wu Song：Rebellious Hero or Revolutional Warrior
2. The Yellow Storm: Civil Criticism or Patriotism
3. Rising Star: Be Failthful to the Principle of the Orinignal Works
4. Satisfy A Craving: Love Affair That Cuts Off the Psychological Trauma
Chapter 4: The Images in TV Series
1. From “Troubled Teens” into “the Ideal Youth”
2. From “Reformers” into “Capitalists”
3. Formation of Character Image