Friday, January 3, 2014

Overdue K-drama reviewish things

I'm so behind in my semi-reviews of k-dramas so I'll try and make these brief. But brevity isn't really my thing so...


Should be called "watch if you dare" but don't dare. This was awful. It started all cute for the first half and I liked the characters and was waiting patiently for the story to be revealed but then BLECH, the writer seemed to throw up everything and anything she could think of to boost ratings or appeal to fansor something and we lost the plot, we lost theme, we lost the essence of two of the four characters and 50% wouldn't be so bad if the other two characters had any scenes but they didn't. The second male lead got all the moments with the female but she kept making moony eyes at the first lead who seemed more like a cameo by then. And if you are going to have a time travel show about choices, you have to have the character make them - both in the show and at the end. You can have any rules you want, just stick to them! I mean, I watch Dr. Who, I'm okay with timey wimey stuff but it was like the writer didn't even think about the corner she was "box"ing herself into.

I think I'm more disappointed in this drama for the actors. Yoon Eun-hye is such a great actress and I want to see her in a good drama! And Jung Yong-Hwa has really improved his acting. I think that ultimately was a bad thing in this show since we saw more of him and his character ended up morphing into a typical clingy second lead. I'd say a clingy second lead that couldn't take a hint except Mi-Rae kept leading him on. And I don't even want to think about the ending because I've already imagined my own - which is probably more like the original was supposed to be. Because who wants a romantic comedy with no romance, no comedy and no happy ending?! Stay far far away.


I guess I'm on a negative streak because everyone seemed to adore this except me. It took my three watches to finally finish the first episode and I did like the beginning 1/2 a lot but the rest just kinda fell flat.

It's set in an alternative world where South Korea is a monarchy. He's from the royal family in South Korea. She's from the military of North Korea. They are thrown together at a joint military training event and the story takes off from there. I thought that was quite creative and I did enjoy watching the South/North teams interaction. I also enjoyed watching Lee Seung-gi's as Lee Jae-Ha grown from a man-child to a man worthy of the royal title which is saying something because I really don't like Lee Seung-gi that much. I know he's like the Ryan Gosling of Korean but he's really not my favorite.

And I loved Ha Ji-Won as Kim Hang-ah. She had a very similar character in Secret Garden but she does that tough girl with the sweet inside so very well. And that was perfect for this role because we see how she really is at her strongest as a supporter of Jae-Ha's. I do love watching a strong women in a positive role that doesn't become male bashing.

And I absolutely loved the secondary love story. Jo Jong-suk is totally adorkable in the best way. I really hope he lands some more good roles. There were a lot of other secondary character's with a lot of heart too. So with the great characters and acting, why why not a higher score? The plot was so bad in the later part of the show. The villian was cartoonishly evil and things just didn't make sense so I really had to force myself to watch the last few episodes. And spoiler: killing off my favorite character FOR NO APPARENT REASON is not the best way to endear me to you, show.


Love this! I "wrote" so much about this in my head while I was watching it but it's been so long. Maybe I should just rewatch it! I could do that, it's so adorable. I know the Hong Sisters aren't perfect but they do what they do best so well that you don't care about the flaws. And what the Hong Sisters do well is witty and quirky semi-outlandish comedies that have that touch of sweetness and heart. You would never think you could find yourself relating to would be nun turned cross-dressing boy band impersonator or a washed-out pop star turned reality show star and yet, somehow you do. It's true, their secondary characters aren't always fully fleshed out (although they are getting much better at that and this might be the best yet!), and their endings sometimes don't quite live up to the wonderfulness that is the earlier episodes but they are beloved for a reason

This particular Hong Sister's drama is about a ghost seeing insomniac and her savior, the stingy mall chaebol Joong-won. It turns out that whenever she touches him, the ghosts disappear. And since he has his own mystery to solve, they make a deal to help each other out.

I was originally kinda meh about the ghost story part because that really isn't my thing (aka - I'm a big scaredy cat) but I had to watch it anyway because - hello! Hong Sisters! It didn't disappoint. Gong-shil is a great female character - she's so needy but not in the typical k-drama fashion. And Joong-won is needy in his own way too so they are a great match. Plus, the chemistry between Gong Hyo-jin and So Ji-sub is amazing. The set-up for the skinship is perfect because it matches the story while being funny at the right times and still poignant when it needs to be. Well done on that end Hong Sisters. But the chemistry didn't have to carry the show because the character arcs are great too, you really experience how the two leads grow and change together.

And as I said, the secondary leads ended up being pretty good here too and not just plot devices or k-drama cliches. Some of the other small characters were fabulous - secretary Kim! By the end I had forgotten was a horrible person he played in City Hunter and completely adored him which says a lot. Of course, no hong sister's show would be complete without an older couple being in love or having a baby so that's there and odd as ever but not as awkward as it could be and at least somewhat connected to the rest of the show.

The big mystery from Joong-won's past ended up being a tad anti-climactic mostly because by the time the reveal came, we didn't really care about anyone but the main couple. And the ending did get dragged out with that additional episode being throw in there. You could clearly see how the entire episode could be skipped and you wouldn't even notice it BUT that is the fault of the station forcing them into it and I think they handled it well given that and I actually liked some of the confusion it cleared up - or maybe I just loved this show so much I didn't mind a bit of filler. I'm going to stop here because the more I write, the more good stuff I remember and I don't want this to be a mile long.


I think I'm probably being quite generous with those three starts but I came in with very low expectations. Basically, I hoped it would be bad enough that making fun of it would be enjoyable - you know, like Boys Over Flowers. And this is totally Boys Over Flowers part II. You've got a school full of super rich chaebols and one poor girl tossed in, disapproving parents, and bullying. So I was really routing for amusingly bad.

But I was surprisingly happy to find the first few episodes quite enjoyable as are Park Shin-hye and Lee Min-ho. Okay, especially Lee Min-Ho. I would say I would watch anything that he is in but I didn't make it through Faith so I guess even I have my limits. But this one is totally watchable - as long as you don't analyze it. Don't try. Just sit back and enjoy the pretty. And this show is all about the pretty Except the wardrobe choices, which are atroscious. As is the soundtrack. And the Engrish. And the American actors and stereotypes. But still - the pretty!

But overall, I still think it's fun and cute. The two moms are surprisingly funny as are Krystal and Kang Min-huk (lookie there, another CNBlue boy doing well in the dramas!) as the comic relief couple. Woo Bin acts the heck out of the second lead character, so much that you couldn't hate him even though you knew you should. The plot is weak and even know I couldn't really say much more than rich boy loves poor girl but that's bad - until the writer decides it isn't and they get to live happily ever after.

I know there were a lot of critics but I think PSH and LMH did really well with what they were given. LMH can stare broodingly like no one else and PSH is as good at crying as she is bad at kissing. Yes, people got tired because they seemed to do so very much of the brooding and the crying in this show but that is the writer's fault. It's a real shame because when we were shown the cheeky Kim Tan and the sassy Eun-Sang, it was awesome. I just wish there was more of that. And sure there isn't really a plot but - did I mention the pretty?


Who would have thought that a show this heartwarming could be so divisive? I watched Reply 1997 after it aired so I missed the fan craze part but this one was even crazier! Netizens around the world disagreed vehemently over whether Na-jung should end up with and in the world of K-drama, that's kind of unheard of. It's normally pretty obvious who the leads are.

I will be upfront and say that I shipped the wrong couple from the very beginning to the very end. I 'll talk about spoilery things below the warning but I will say that if you are thinking of watching this, I'd actually recommend being spoiled. It will take the pressure off and allow you to enjoy it more - because uff, the pressure.

I'm so torn about the rating for this and if I had been for the other guy, I might have given this a slightly higher rating (than my original 4) but I also think I rated it too high. But even with my heart being broken many times along the way, I'm glad I stuck with this. Because it really isn't about the big husband mystery. It's about the "family" that makes up the boarding house and how they grow and chance and rely on each other. The warm and fuzzy slice of life reply series is a perfect example of why I watch k-dramas. You sadly just don't get that in American tv these days. From the awesome parents - again (they were the same actors as in the reply 1997 drama and while they technically played different people, they were basically the same - even down to mom's making massive amounts of food.) to the great secondary cast, this show was all about relationships and feeling like you are a part of something intimate and safe, even in a big city. It's also hilarious. I had to stop watching it during naptimes because 1) I kept waking Jonah up and 2) naptime watching means no sound so no soundtrack or goat noises.

It isn't perfect. For some reason the Reply series seems to have trouble with pacing. With each episode being 1.5hr in length, there were definitely some scenes which could have been shortened considerable. I mean, this series was 30+ hours! Also, while some little things were important and tied in nicely to the whole story, other things seemed oddly misplaced - like Na-jung's love of basketball that was so intense for the first episode and then only mentioned 1-2 other times. And how Sook-sook is perhaps the easiest baby ever because we never saw him between the ages of 1 and 6. I would have loved to at least seen him at the breakfast table once or twice - was he never fed?

And of course, there is the mystery. I thought it was a bit silly in Reply 1997 because it wasn't much of a mystery but I prefer that to this time where it was unnecessarily divisive and misleading. I'm writing this 15 minutes after finishing the last episode because I don't want to let other opinions influence me first. And this review is actually much more positive than I thought it would be after the first 17-18 episodes. Because I do think the story, and especially the development of a few characters, in order to preserve the mystery which is a shame. But they pulled it back in the last episode and I'm happy with the end.

1994 or 1997? I liked them both. If you had asked me during the first 10 episodes I would have said 1994 hands down. After that, it's a toss-up. If you are watching for the overall show, 1994, if you are in it for the main couple - 1997. Not that you have to pick, you can watch them both - or don't.

The next day - Guys, I'm so torn. After letting it sit and reading a few things that reminded me of earlier points (*in spoilers), I'm just so heartbroken. Really. It's crazy. And it kinda makes me hate the writers because it was all done in the name of the mystery. But now I'm saying 2, because I don't think I can recommend it, even though I loved it, except when I hated it. Ahhh!


Right after watching: While some people who were trying to remain neutralish mentioned that they would be happy as long as Na-jung was, I disagreed. I actually didn't care very much about Na-jung. She was probably my least favorite character. And I don't mean I disliked her, I just liked everyone else so much. Especially Chilbong. To me, I just wanted Chilbong to be happy. And if he wanted Na-jung, I wanted him to have her. But I didn't actually care if they ended up together so I loved how he was brought "back" into the group. From the time he made that first phone call, my heart was screaming out, "get this guy a family!" so during that last episode with the emails, I cried a bit. I did. So touching. And then when they were all together and he called out "hyung" - killed me. I do wish they had they had laid out a bit more of his story and not just throw him that weird slipper girl moment at the end but that would have messed with the mystery so I know why they didn't, I just disagree with that choice.

Later on:

After more thinking, I'm pretty sure I liked the ending because I wanted to like it so badly. And yes, they did seem to bring CB back into the fold but still. Does that make up for the 7-8 years of being on the outskirts. I don't think so!And the fact that the poor boy's "best friends" don't remember his birthday and then when he mentions them on tv, they don't even call him but instead get all excited about their moment of fame. Blech. Character assassination by writer.

*Yes, some of the earlier moments were deliberately set up to show us that CB was the right guy for NJ. Like Trash's and CB's differing decisions on the first New Year's Night. And then the second New Year's Night. I know she liked Trash the whole time and the one sideness is a normal part of many a k-drama but in a typical k-drama, you normally get to experience why the two main characters are a good fit and eventually like each other so that even if the second lead is a good guy and likes the girl, you realize that the main pairing is better. But in this drama, we see NJ liking Trash but are shown how CB is better for her than Trash, only to be told that oh, no, Trash is. The writers tried to solve the issue by making NJ/Trash's issue (as only revealed in episode 20) be that he couldn't stop being an Oppa and rely on her. But that wasn't an issue we was through the 30 hours we spent, it was just thrown out at the last minute so they could fix it with a text. Yes, a text! Because obviously the guy who takes a bus for hours to spend time with you is not as good of a match for you as the guy who is willing to send you a text to tell you he's got a cold. Event the proposal, however swoonworthy some people may have thought it was, if you listen, he basically says that he is worried they will break up because he's such a bad boyfriend so let's get married. Anyway, this has become an incoherant rant but it did let me vent a bit. I feel better. But in my head, episode 10 happens around episode 4. They break up shortly after and New Years's happens. At that point, she starts to view CB differently and eventually realizes that she loves him. Then NJ and Trash have a conversation at the cafe and talk about how they are still family. Everyone gets along and CB get's the girl! Doesn't that sound nice? I think so.

So I can't say I don't recommend this because it was good, but watch at your own risk. Seriously. Unless you want to end up like me, a incoherent mess because of some stupid television show.
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