SHANGHAI — A squad of highly trained cops. A deadly enemy. Just 24 hours to solve the mystery and save the day.
Sound familiar? If all that’s not enough, the title clinches the comparison. “Anti-Terrorism: 24 Hours” is the latest East-copies-West TV series from China’s increasingly market-driven broadcasters, and it borrows more than just a storyline from Fox’s hit skein “24.”
The Kiefer Sutherland starrer is a de facto smash in China, despite never hitting the small screen legitimately.
Series one and two have been available on pirated DVD for some time now, titled in Chinese, “Anti-Terrorism: 24 Hours.”
In case you think the identical titles are a coincidence, the new domestic TV series has nothing to do with terrorism, as it follows a drug squad for 24 hours as they attempt to thwart a narcotics ring.
“Borrowing” ideas — and titles — from Western TV shows is gaining popularity in China. Earlier this year, marketing for Taiwan’s “Pink Ladies” leaned heavily on comparisons with “Sex and the City.”
The new “24” takes borrowing to new levels. Shot in “real time” (like “24”), it is set to be played in 24 episodes syndicated across several regional stations. Sichuan TV has already announced that it will play the episodes back to back for a whole day.
As if that were not enough to pull in the crowds, life has conspired to mirror art and give the show a last-minute boost.
One of the lead actors, mainland pop star Jing Gangshan — who plays a member of the drug squad — was detained in Beijing Airport Oct. 13 on suspicion of drug possession.
Local media reported that he was released later that day to continue shooting the show.
The producers couldn’t have planned it better.