Highlights from the CCTV Spring Festival Gala

Last night, in between mass consumption of jiaozi and the occasional trip outside to blow shit up, we gathered around the television for the annual CCTV New Year’s Gala. I’m a cornball at heart and I actually get a kick out of the program, so in the spirit of Chunjie, I thought I’d pass along eight random thoughts on the 2008 broadcast.

1. Good list of international stars–Zhang Ziyi and Jay Chou did musical numbers, though Jay’s was a helluva lot more musical than Zhang Ziyi’s. I mean, I know she’s famous and all but seriously. I turned to YJ and asked, “What’s next? Yao Ming break dancing?” On an unrelated note, who wins in this deal: Is Song Zuying lucky she bagged Jiang Zemin and so gets invited to every gala from now until the Great Wall falls down or is old panda eyes the one who should be thanking Marx that Song gives him the time of day? Not sure how to score that one.

2. Sorta topical with sketches on traffic rules, public transportation, dishonest real estate developers and irrational investing in the stock market, plus yet another bit this year celebrating migrant workers. It was almost edgy. I mean, in a well-rounded, safety first, pillows on every hard surface kind of way.

3. A tribute to the snow disaster last week, complete with a group reading/song recapping the struggles and triumphs battling the storm. (Though I kept waiting for a Kayne West moment that never came.) That said, I’m not sure what the propaganda department was drinking when they cut to shots of the Guangzhou ‘celebration’ held for the workers who couldn’t get home. Not many happy cheery faces in that room, and who can blame them? Not good times, bad times.

4. Did you know a lot of foreigners speak Chinese? Really, it’s true.

5. Montage of leaders: Mao, Deng, Jiang, Hu…Where was Hua? Wtf.

6. The two funniest sketches? The “three women and the sailor” bit (Lao Gong! Wo ai ni!) and Song Dandan and Zhao Benshan answering questions on an Olympic trivia quiz show. (Q: What is the English word for ‘cha’? Song: “Tea!” Q: What is the English word for ‘lucha’? Zhao: “Lu Tea!” Runner-up: Zhao Benshan’s ‘Mahjong Tai Chi.’)

7. CCTV did a decent job (at least until the last hour) of not burying the telecast in Olympic schmaltz, though the basketball demonstration was probably more impressive to people who have never seen And 1.

8. Finally, nice touch at the end with the astronauts. Who doesn’t give it up for astronauts?

After the show, we went outside to watch total bedlam. One neighbor was carrying around strings of exploding M-80s, another was shooting sparks out of his 3rd floor apartment onto somebody else’s brand new car below. YJ’s parents live next door to a fire station, and the trucks were coming and going all night. Renao, indeed.