It’s been six years and I still haven’t met another living soul, in person, who watches Korean Dramas (other than the ones I have forced to watch a few – and none of them have taken to them to enough to watch unprompted).  Maybe you are in the same boat, finding your K-Drama connections online, who knows, but regardless… you are here… so I just wanted to say…

“Hey, there, friends.”

 

Global Domination

Review – The Heirs

Review – The Heirs

Well, I broke down and finally watched The Heirs.  It was much better than I expected, but also a lot of what I thought it would be.  Lee Min-Ho was rather charming as the aloof rich guy who turned into a puppy with love.  Park Shin-He did what she does best – look adorable at all times, cry a lot, and seem vaguely lost.  Kim Woo-Bin ruled as the school bully who finds his soft spot… by tormenting his first crush.  And the rest of the large cast was entertaining, interesting, and engaging as the plot lines moved around from episode to episode… from America (how bizarre was that?  Don’t break the 4th wall!) to elite private schools, and from the bedrooms to the board rooms.

It’s easy for me to be disengaged with these “super rich” dramas.  I find myself with a growing lack of sympathy of their problems, but this show managed to keep my emotions in check by doing a very good job of humanizing these rich kids and forcing me to care about them.  Quite a few of the side plots were very unique, including the awkward and funny friendship between the mistress and the mute housemaid.  It was fun to see Park Hyung-Sik before he’d capped his teeth and really matured into the full-blown handsome A-List actor he is today.  Tons of huge stars and exceptionally fine acting prowess saved what probably should have been a mediocre show and propelled it into a highly satisfying soap opera about young love between the economic classes.

I confess, I really liked it.

 

 

Overall Rating – 8/10  – Cinderella Hangs Out with The 1%.

Review – The King Loves / The King in Love

Review – The King Loves / The King in Love

This drama was divine.  It took your basic love triangle and raised it up to levels of discomfort, pain and joy that I don’t recall ever experiencing in another drama.  Kings are always lonely, isolated people – by design – the people they can trust or count on are few and far between.  In this story, our King had one friend.  One.  So when they both fall in love with the same woman… cue the twenty hours of beautiful agony this show will provide.  I think what made this particular love triangle special was that our lady in the middle really loved both men.  She just happened to love one of them a little more…

Add to that some outstanding political intrigue – none of the boring filler that so often accompanies historical dramas – and brilliant side characters – and you’ve got yourself a historical drama that stands above others.  Let’s not forget how freakin’ sweet this show was!  So many sweet moments.  And tons of genuine humor, too.  There was a great mix of everything, honestly.  Gorgeous cinematography,  detailed costuming, and a complicated but tightly woven plotline that deeply satisfied.  Until the very end.  The very bitter end.  Cause… only one of these absolutely lovable men is getting the girl, after all.  And your heart is going to break for the other dude.  It wouldn’t have mattered which one.  That’s why this drama was amazing… it was a win-win and a lose-lose either way…

Overall Review – 9.5/10.  Love Is A Game That Demands Losers.

More musing on heartbreak, some spoilers, and character thoughts follow… let’s dive in.

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Review – Defendant

Review – Defendant

I’d like to press charges, your honor.  For bad acting.  Ji Sung was so god awful in this show, I could barely stand it.  I suffered through most of it, assuming it might taper out and get better.  It didn’t.  It got worse.  What happened to this guy?  He was so adorable in Protect The Boss!  He was less adorable in Kill Me, Heal Me, but still okay.  But in this show… it was painful.  PAINFUL.  My eyes hurt from witnessing the horrors of such a lackluster, over-the-top yet simultaneously disingenuous performance.  Ugh.  To make matters worse, Uhm Ki-Joon brought his A-Game and was outstanding, playing twins… so the comparison in abilities was blinding.

Now, I know I am on the unpopular side with this opinion – as the ratings and reviews for this drama are high with tons of comments praising Ji Sung for his performance.  I have to assume they are either new to K-World or just… delusional.  Is everyone watching the same show I was?  I don’t get it…

The plot itself was decent – though overly convoluted and a little too gimmicky for my taste.  I adore a great murder mystery, amnesia, psycho-killer, hidden identity story… but this one tried too hard.  Thumbs down.  Gave up after 8 episodes.

Overall Rating – 4/10.  Guilty of Over Acting.

Review – Twenty Again

Review – Twenty Again

What a gem of a show!  Such a simple premise… a young, energetic dancer has a one night stand with a stranger that ends in an unexpected pregnancy – she ends up hastily getting married and follows her new husband to Germany, where he has his first professor appointment.  There, isolated and alone, she sort of looses her spark and falls into obscurity, her house and home becoming her entire world as all her dreams are lost.  Motherhood becomes her only solace.  Her husband pushes her further and further away, until finally he asks for a divorce when their son is a teenager.  They postpone the divorce until their kid goes off to college… and in a mad dash attempt to save her marriage by becoming the intellectual equal of her husband, our leading lady secretly enrolls in college.  There she runs into one of her best friends from high school, who secretly had a crush on her, and the show takes off!

So much happens.  There are all sorts of twists and turns in the relationships.  Affairs.  Terminal illnesses.  Miscommunication on an epic scale.  And adorable banter and humor between the adult leads, as well as all the students, faculty and staff.  So much cuteness.  And a really great story, too, of growing up even when you’re already a grown up.  I loved it.

Overall Rating:  8/10.  There’s No Planned Parenthood in K-World.

More discussion and spoilers and musing…

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ON AIR – and on point!

There are two shows currently airing that are, in my opinion, good enough to keep up with on a weekly basis.

My favorite is While You Were Sleeping – an adorable mysterious supernatural rom-com that finally matched up Lee Jong-Suk with someone he looks cute with… Suzy!  These two are, in my opinion, a match made in heaven.  The plot is still unfolding – but basically she’s always had dreams about the future that are unchangeable… until she meets our leading man.  And suddenly he starts having dreams about the future… and together, they are able to rewrite what’s coming.  It’s spellbinding and exceedingly romantic.  (update – sixteen episode in now – wow… just… loving every second of this show!)

The other show is called Temperature of Love, about a TV writer (Seo Hyun-Jin) and a Chef (Yang Se-Jong) who fall in love… but due to age differences (the dreaded noona romance, sigh, but whatever… I’m going with it) and circumstances, their relationship fell apart before it really got started.  Now they are meeting again five years later – more secure in their careers but more insecure in their feelings.

The story line is solid and interesting, but I’ll be honest and confess one of the biggest reasons I am sticking around (for a show that will apparently run for 40 freakin’ episodes) is because Kim Jae-Wook is playing this mysterious, cool badass CEO who is interested in our lead female.  Of course, that will go no where, cause… duh.  But I’m just fascinated by his odd, reserved and loner character.  Plus… whoa.  He is looking mighty fine… just… better looking each year, in my opinion.

The Temperature of Love is hot.  Fan me!

Full reviews once they both finish… in a month or two or three or four… whenever.

Review – My Wife’s Having an Affair This Week / Listen to Love

Review – My Wife’s Having an Affair This Week / Listen to Love

This is one of those shows that reminds me why I am single.  But cheers to all the working moms in the world – cause let’s face it, you are doing twice the work and haven’t been thanked for it since mother’s day of last year, right?  Though Lee Sun Gyun is adorable and has a gorgeous voice, I pretty much found him impossible to love in this show.  I kept thinking, “Let’s see how well you do with your kid for a week without your wife around, ya jerk.”  And then, when we finally get that scene, he can’t even handle it for one day.  He pawns his kid off onto his coworkers and friends, who seem to instinctively understand joint parenting more than the married, child rearing couples on this show.  Not that it is all the husband’s fault.  I hated Song Ji Hyo’s character just as much.  The bland, lowered eyed, push over wife – desperately trying to be perfect, always smiling, always agreeable.  Use your words, people.  If you act like a doormat, you can’t be surprised when people walk all over you.

Though there was a lot to dislike about this show, I did find most of it enjoyable.  The shenanigans of the unfaithful lawyer.  The online community marriage counseling.  The side romance of the two television producers was delightfully awkward and unusual.  And I liked the ending, though I wanted more.  The exploration into the nature of affairs, the motivations, the suspicions, and the consequences were interesting but also only waded into, not fully explored.  I watched the whole show – after jumping ship on several shows recently, it was nice to find something that actually drew me enough to finish it.  So… I give it a “Meh.”  A nice middle grade.  Not bad, not good, but definitely not just right.

Overall Rating – 6.5/10.  Tuna Mayo Gets Her Happy Ending Via a Shotgun & a Hot French Dude.

American Remakes of Korean Dramas

So, this weekend I sat down and watched some experimental television… aka, some American attempts to remake Korean Dramas.  There were pros and cons.

First up was The Good Doctor.  The ABC remake stars that cute, odd kid who played Norman Bates (to perfection) on the Bates Hotel.  I figured he could pull off the role and I was correct.  He’s a believable savant.  The first episode has promise, though personally I didn’t feel the emotional connection to his tragic backstory quite as much as I did in the original.  The drunk father, the trauma of loosing the pet rabbit, the horror of finding himself without his only lifeline – his brother – at such a young age… we got the same backstory, more or less, with a few new embellishments that seemed unnecessary.  The doctors seem great, so far, and they’re the most important thing.  I really liked the casting of the female doctor – she’s gorgeous and has the wide eyed innocent face required for the part.  Her boyfriend, the current top dog, is also excellent with his confidence and capabilities currently unchallenged.  And I’m willing to watch more to see how it plays out.

Will we get those same super-sweet, painfully sincere moments that the original gave us?  Will there be piggyback rides and drunken confessions?  There better be my favorite character -the lovable male nurse who always had the new doc’s back and took care of all the kids in the hospital… I can’t wait until he’s introduced.

Honestly… there’s a lot to look forward to.  The dude who remade this was also responsible for HOUSE, the only other medical show I actually liked in the history of medical shows… so I have all my fingers and toes crossed.  I’m hoping he won’t be too jaded to see how important the sincere and kind moments were in the original and try to crop them out of this remake.

UPDATE:  A few weeks in… and I’m not in love with the American version.  It just feels like another generic medical show… somehow they’ve stolen the skeleton of medical plotlines from the original but left the heart far behind.  Eh.  

 

Next, and also by ABC, was the remake of God’s Gift: 14 Days.  Retitled Somewhere Between.  It started out pretty strong – with the first two episodes moving along well… but then started dragging its feet and I admit I didn’t finish it.  They stuck to the story line, however, almost exactly, which was a pro.  Unfortunately, the intensity required for the roles was somewhat lost on our American actors.  Especially in certain scenes… when our male cop-turned-investigator was supposed to show us real sorrow, regret, or pain… eh, didn’t pull it off.  He seemed really uncomfortable.  When our lead female, the wide-shouldered mom with the awkward bangs is supposed to be frantically searching for her daughter, near desperation to save her, and running wild… she came across as wild, but I didn’t buy the fear.  The daughter was delightful, the political husband great as the conflicted man with secrets.  Supporting cast was all decent.  But without the fire under their asses, it’s hard to keep running through the plot with these actors when you feel like you could just slow down and walk.  The editing was somewhat awkward with the crime/action scenes as well, making them feel unthreatening and unsuspenseful… murders are happening!  I should be biting my nails off, not somewhat confused.

For me, the most noticeably enjoyable thing was the diversity of the cast members.  We’re talking a rainbow of colors, and I loved it.  But not enough to actually watch the whole show, mind you… it just wasn’t good enough to devote hours to.

Still – here’s hoping they keep trying.  Why?  Cause there are more unique plotlines happening in Korean dramas than American dramas, for one.  Cause American’s need to practice their acting skills and start stepping up their game with giving us believable emotional range.  And cause, if nothing else, it may cause people to seek out the Korean versions… and become K-Drama fans.  We could always use more, honestly.

P.S.  Super NOT excited to learn that there are several American shows getting K-Drama makeovers… though who knows.  I will reserve my judgement until I watch the K-Drama version of The Good Wife and tell ya then.

 

Trip to J-World

Trip to J-World

So, I took a small vacation to J-World, merely out of curiosity.  The series Million Yen Women intrigued me, so I thought… sure… and started it up.  I have to say, I did enjoy it.  My K-World viewing habits totally skewed my expectations – and the whole time I thought I knew what was going on (and if it had been a K-Drama, I would have been right, most likely)… but I was dead wrong.  About everything, really.   The show is basically about a struggling writer who finds himself living with several beautiful girls who show up mysteriously at his large home.  They say they’ve been invited, give him enormous amounts of rent, and keep their secrets while attempting normalcy in this strange household.  A few of them were very interesting, though most were just stereotypes.  It was a weird, dark little show with no real character development other than the male lead… and honestly, I am not sure he developed at all, he just finally got his small publication books to sell through a series of scandals that skyrocketed him to public fascination and fame.  And yet, despite the lack of reality and strange plot holes, I really liked it.  The whole thing was very short, with 20 minute episodes that flew by at a fast pace… the surreal story unfolding in layers.

I especially liked that ridiculously cute cat… which our author named Cat.  Cause that writer is a creative genius, I tell ya!

So I thought… maybe I should give J-World some love and try out some J-Dramas.  I mean, I’ve been a fan of plenty of anime series.  And there have been some great Japanese movies over the years.  Let’s try their television!

Mistake.

HUGE MISTAKE.

I tried to watch Last Cinderella.  I gave it my best.  Six episodes was all I could take.   I tried Mischievous Kiss:  Love in Tokyo.  Sigh.  Of course, I didn’t even like the Korean remake of this, so I’m not sure what I was thinking going in.  I tried to watch Switch Girl.  Groan.  I did manage to sit through most of Liar Game, just because it was fascinatingly horrible… and yet kinda interesting.  I absolutely ADORE the Korean remake.  In my opinion, they did that show a huge favor.

Maybe there are great J-Dramas and I just chose to sample some crappy rom-coms.  Perhaps their historical dramas are awesome.  Or their action/thriller dramas.  Who knows?  But geesh… the ones I tried just left a very unfavorable opinion of them.

I did have to rewatch the entire Rurouni Kenshin trilogy again because apparently I can’t make a trip to J-World without visiting Takeru Satoh.  Those movies are so fun.

If you have suggestions… let me know.  I would be curious to see what J-Dramas you have enjoyed.  Of course, if you liked the ones I turned off, then we may disagree on quality.  Million Yen Women seems to be a rare exception – and honestly, I’m not sure that it was that amazing, it was just… interesting.

Review – Emergency Couple

Review – Emergency Couple

Why did I wait so long to watch you???

This show was awesome!  True, I think it would have been better as a 16 episode drama instead of a 21 episode drama… as it definitely suffered from a drag down towards the end… but who cares?  It was fun.  It was funny.  It was romantic.  It was pissy and playful and interesting and enjoyable.

A young couple gets married, despite parental objections, only to have their marriage fall apart within the year.   He can’t see her side of things, she can’t see his side of things, they are both 19 and fully immersed in their own perspectives.  A few years pass, and both end up getting their medical degrees after the divorce.  Fate brings them back together when they both get assigned the same intern positions, in the ER, and are forced to meet again.  They’ve both grown up… but how long will it take them to realize it?

Overall Rating – 8/10.  Resuscitating a Relationship Requires Two Medical Degrees.

More humor, musings, spoilers, and giggles follow….

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