Wednesday, April 2, 2008
AZN Television: A Great Loss to the Public!
I am not Asian myself. Perhaps if I were, I would have been aware of a cable channel named AZN for Asian-Americans. Although it was only one number removed from BBC America on my television, I never investigated the programming and apart from watching a couple of films that I found by happenstance, never really became familiar with AZN until the past month...
Too late, alas! I discovered the delights of a number of Korean drama and comedy series only to be given a rather abrupt announcement that AZN was due to go off the air permanently on 7 April.
What a loss to the public this will be! AZN obviously had a small budget as their advertisements tended to be the sort where almost miracle-working items, all at a price of $19.99 are offered to the viewers and if only one ACTS NOW, you will be sent TWO of everything. Why on earth a person would need double quantities still is not clear to me, as many of these items have fairly specialised applications.
Almost every one is familiar with these advertisements. BBC America carries them as well. They tend to crop up late at night and one is regaled with knives that will cut through anything and patches for the feet that will dispel all toxins, all
ill-humours and everything else that is negative. (A lifetime supply, no less, FREE, subject only to shipping and handling fees that usually are far higher than the actual selling value of the item itself.)
Nevertheless, despite the poor quality of advertisements (... and frankly, what is the difference? Advertising in itself is a pestilence in my view), AZN offered a range of fascinating programmes. I watched a programme that dealt with an ancient silk-weaving factory in Japan, dedicated to a project to recreate four antique scrolls depicting 'The Tale of Genji' in silk. The owner and his brother both are over 100 years old themselves and yet continue to work at the factory! In terms of entertainment, I found Korean dramas and comedies such as 'The Coffee Prince' and 'Love Truly' absorbing, delightful and highly amusing. Although the plots were not particularly original (Shakespeare used them all), the depiction of Korean culture and society, including Korean cuisine, was fascinating. 'Love Truly' follows the fortunes of a young girl who obtains a job as an apprentice cook at the Presidential Palace. I happen to love Korean cuisine and was enthralled by the very detailed food preparations shown in the course of almost every episode.
'Coffee Prince' is utterly hilarious. The protagonist is a young girl who pretends to be a boy in order to support her family. She is a Tae Kwon Do expert, among other things, and actually carries the male hero on her back when he becomes too drunk to make his way home by himself. That aspect of the character reminded me a little of Brunnhilde in the Nibelungenlied, lifting up her unfortunate (and deceitful) husband and suspending him from a hook on the wall, so that he could not bother her during the night with his inappropriate sexual attentions. (As he lied to her in order to gain her hand in marriage, she owed him nothing.)
I have a background in TaeKwonDo myself, but unfortunately must rely for the most part on the English subtitles when watching Korean dramas or film. Apart from these light serial dramas or comedies, there are some splendid historical dramas as well.
It is not only Korean culture that is showcased on AZN. Some wonderful Japanese films have aired, including 'Year One in the North'.
I suppose it is rather pointless to attempt to alert the general public to the existence of this wonderful resource as it sinks beneath the horizon permanently...
It is too bad, though, with all the rubbish stations that clutter the airwaves, to witness the demise of a station with decent programming. I could not claim that EVERY programme on AZN was worth watching and, like BBC America, there tended to be quite a few repeats of each programme, but I still prefer these stations to ones that never or seldom repeat a programme and yet air nothing but rubbish.