Friday Drama Review: “Good Doctor”

Good-Doctor-04“A long time ago, my brother said, ‘No matter how scared you are, you have to accomplish what you want to. That the one who endures and gets past everything is the coolest person in the world.’ To me, people and the world are scary. I remember my brother’s words and I gain strength.”
— Park Si On | Good Doctor

 

Storyline/Synopsis: My Rating 7/10

A brilliant, but socially awkward autistic man, Park Shi-on is allowed to be an intern at a university hospital with the help his lifelong friend and mentor, Doctor Choi Woo-suk. Despite Dr. Park Shi-on’s obviously superior medical skills, staff and patients alike have difficulty dealing with the social stigma attached to someone ‘different’.

 

Script/Acting: My Rating 7/10

Following the new paradigm in Korean drama formatting, early episodes had a stand-alone feel to them, with short stories told and guest actors inserted for an episode or two. The format evolved into a more standard drama style as the characters were developed and the main plot took over as the main component.

good doc joo wonFrom the very start the story seemed fresh and intriguing. Joo Won’s (Bridal Mask, 7th Grade Civil Servant) character, Dr. Park Shi-on, autistic savant, was compelling from episode one and his character became more appealing with each new installment.

The difficulty in playing an autistic person was accomplished with amazing perception and compassion. The character was quite convincing both in mannerisms and in the empathetic portrayal of the needs and dilemmas faced by people with handicaps of one sort or another. good doctor moonKudos to the scriptwriters for the educational and socially proactive components of this script!

Moon Chae-won (The Innocent Man, The Princess’ Man) also played an intriguing role. As one of the few empathetic doctors at the hospital, her character, Cha Yoon-seo, initially takes on the role of caretaker, or ‘big sister’ to Park Shi-on. The turbulent transition she makes as she begins to see Shi-on as a functioning adult (who is in love with her) is convincible and sweet.

good doc do hanThe head pediatric surgeon, Kim do-han, played by Joo Sang-wook (Feast of the Gods, Giant), was a much harder sell. Playing a hard-nosed surgeon with little patience for problems within his department, he initially insists that the Shi-on can never be a “good doctor”. A difficult love life, his passion for his job and his respect for Director Choi did much to soften the edges on what could have been a lifeless, plutocratic character.

good doctor kimKim Min-seo (7th Grade Civil Servant, Moon Embracing the Sun) as Yoo Chae-kyung was one of the weaker characters in the drama. Her conniving, backhanded manner of undermining those around her (even those she loved?) made her the ‘bad guy’, and the poor excuses offered for her behavior only made her appear petty and childish. The chemistry between her and Joo Sang-wook was unpersuasive. One saving grace for her character was the respectful way in which she interacted with Dr. Park.

good doctor banner1The university hospital officials sported a team of K-drama favorites: Chun Ho-jin as Director Choi Woo-suk, the man who rescued Park Shi-on as a boy and raised him to be a doctor in his own footsteps; Jo Hee-bong as Go Choong-Man, hapless manager of the pediatrics department, blown by the winds of politics, and who, with a great sense of comic timing, eventually falls under the spell of honest friendship offered by Dr. Park; Na Young-hee as Chief Director Lee Yeo-won; Jung Man-shik as Kim Jae-joon, control-hungry Chief of another department in the hospital.

 

Music: My Rating 8/10

A nice collection of ballads, including two sung by Joo Won:

“Miracle” Lee Young-hyun  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BTavs7ufK4

“I Am in Love” 2BiC  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unftZ0HhG6Q

“I’m Crying” Baek Ji-young  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dj6OzNpr9I8

“Looks Good” Ha Dong-kyun  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6Ox4LWLjxo

“How Come You Don’t Know?” Kim Jong-kook  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_8wiMEJZqs

“Love Medicine” Joo Won  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tdbo0__GGBU

“If I Were” Joo Won  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBDdVkrwig0

“Can You See?” Eye to Eye  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPcXTZr6Zpc

Overall Charisma: My Rating 7/10

The recent spate of exemplary dramas that have weak endings is becoming a serious issue. For many of the recent dramas, Good Doctor included, the general feel is that the story progresses smoothly and then, suddenly, a wrap-up episode concludes everything. The natural story-telling progression is disrupted and fails with a poorly thought out climax and resolution.

The frustration for me, as a drama aficionado, is that while the bulk of the drama was immensely engaging and enjoyable, the lack of a suitable conclusion was a huge letdown. The ending was not wrong, or bad, but abrupt and weak.

Overall, the drama is a worthwhile watch. The characters are compelling and the stories intriguing. Wonderful child actors fill the screen with aegyo and appeal. Episode after episode held my attention and left me anxiously awaiting the next installment.

   

 Happy Drama Watching!

 good couple

 

Director: Ki Min-soo, Kim Jin-woo
Screenwriter: Park Jae-bum

 

 

Friday Drama Review: “The Master’s Sun”

master's sun2

The Hong Sisters strike again with a quirky fantasy-style romantic comedy.

 

 

 

 

Storyline/Synopsis: My Rating 7/10

master's touchThe Master’s Sun was one of the new ‘Ghost Dramas’ of the season. Tae Gong-sil suffers an accident and is left with the unwanted ability to see ghosts. Alone, and suffering from insomnia (those pesky specters just won’t leave her be!), she finds solace in an unlikely source: the loveless, money-grubbing Joo Joong-won, CEO of  a large company. For reasons unknown, his touch can dispel the ghosts that frighten the timid Tae Gong-sil. Once she discovers his unique gift, she doesn’t want to let him go. Joong-won, however, is not so happy about the company of a crazy-looking young woman, until he comes to believe in her gift, and finds that she might be useful.   Script/Acting: My Rating 8/10 Definitely less serious than Who Are You, the other ghost drama, The Master’s Sun was quirky and fun. Following the ‘new style’, early episodes stood out as mini stories, based on the problems caused by the ghosts following Tae Gong-sil around like stray cats. She reluctantly, but patiently solves the problems, and in doing so, helps develop the characters around her as well as the main plot line.  CEO Joo Joong-won has ghosts of his own: a heinous kidnapping incident when he was younger left his girlfriend dead, right before his eyes. Because of the torture he endured during the experience, he was left unable to read. But things were not all they seem… Masters_Sun_taeGong Hyo-jin (Flower Boy Ramen Shop, Pasta) was Tae Gong-shil. She was amusingly convincing as a sleep-deprived, gloomy young woman who was once considered to be someone with a bright future. In fact, her nickname “Big Sun”, came not only from her name, (태양 = sun in Korean), but her sunny personality. Her comical fixation and lack of modesty when it came to interactions with Joong-won was deliciously refreshing. masterSo_Ji_Sub_1Joo Joong-won was portrayed as an emotionally stunted, no-nonsense businessman by So Ji-sub (What Happened in Bali; I’m Sorry, I Love You). His fascinatingly deadpan presentation style was effective. His offhand “Get lost” (thematic throughout the series) combined with an arrogant hand-flip became iconic. The chemistry between the two was interesting, but not ideal. While the two actors played off each other well, romantically, they seemed mismatched.   master kang wooSeo In-guk (Love Rain, Reply 1997) returned to the screen as Kang Woo, security guard chief with a mysterious agenda. Easily one of the best characters of the drama, Kang Woo was complex character whose agenda kept the viewers guessing. His one-sided love for Tae Gong-sil was more credible than Joong-won – Tae Gong-sil pairing. His interactions with Kim Yoo-ri (Cheongdam-dong Alice, Coffee House) were one of the highlights of the drama. master funny faceKim Yoo-ri played “Little Sun” to Tae Gong-sil’s “Big Sun”. Portraying ‘top star’ Tae Yi-ryung, her character was comically jealous of the earlier version of Tae Gong-sil and reveled in Tae Gong-sil’s decline from glory. Her mission is life was to make Tae Gong-sil miserable for past percieved injustices, but she ended up falling in love with Kang Woo, instead. MAsters_Sun_Secretary_KimChoi Jung-woo put in an exemplary performance as Joong-won’s secretary Kim Gui-do. As an avid supporter of the relationship between Tae Gong-sil and Joong-won, he fills in as a father-figure to the cold man for whom he works.     master ghostCinematography: My Rating 7/10 Fun and interesting special effects were visually stimulating. The ghosts ‘morphed’ from frightening, evil characters to somewhat-less-frightening and sometimes pathetic ghouls, looking for assistance. Great use of lighting throughout added to the drama without being overwhelming.   Music: My Rating 8/10 A far more ambitious and extensive track list is available for “The Master’s Sun” than for most dramas (including instrumentals). A wonderful ballad: “Day and Night” Gummy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqnGBWAW7wQ master touchingTied for best song of the drama?: “You and I” Hong Dae-Kwang http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djTs2oIssUg “Driving Me Crazy” Hyo Rin (Sistar)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-WlBVRrkJU Best song of the drama?: “TouchLove” T Yoon Mi-rae http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5DiFqiOGJg The rock song of the drama: “Mystery” Jung Dong-Ha (Boohwal) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYLY7sgSXIQ Love this, too: “All About” Melody Day  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOwXuU949_8 “No Matter What” Seo In-guk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tDKyIn8LhA “Last One” Yoo Mi feat. Joo Suk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lgvn9fW-kFM Masters_Sun_get lost(Instrumental) “Joogoon’s Song” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dP2yg-fQ_iQ (Instrumental) “Good Morning, Mrs. Sun” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pc38PCOEUkw (Instrumental) –excellent guitar riffs – “Who Are You?” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeG1ZPFJi3I (Instrumental) “Out of the Ghost” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FydUukYp2uA (Instrumental) “Ghost Eyes” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lz0Xm8K1TCw master4-00169(Instrumental) “This Is Me” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-5nMCVZ2As

Fun, fun fun!!!: (Instrumental) “Enjoy the Party” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5rasv5yz8g

Pretty piano piece: (Instrumental) “In Memories” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_B9JXYg20ck (Instrumental) “Tears in Rain” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPgMF2eJwEQ Instrumental version of “Touch Love”: (Instrumental) “Candy Love” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCzMcMJY25c (Instrumental) “Love Connection” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFu96TL6nYA master hand(Instrumental) “Ghost Tango” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YT1mXLV7iM (Instrumental) “Empty Garden” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9EjO6-GaVI (Instrumental) “Keep Out” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIKsgkhtT0k Halloween music??? (Instrumental) “Dangerous Zone” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjNF2gum1zI (Instrumental) “Painful Memory” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_B9JXYg20ck master grab(Instrumental) “Ghost Presents” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hB8PZGf39to (Instrumental) “Love is like a picture” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HODM9TvCbsA (Instrumental) “Feather Kiss” Oh Joon-sung Sweetest of sweet melodies: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJ_pCoW3f74&list=PLWtMrZbBUq2o8jKOhs_4AiOq4XJVwtyZU (Instrumental) “White Flower” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWA_QAKDvck&list=PLWtMrZbBUq2o8jKOhs_4AiOq4XJVwtyZU (Instrumental) “Ghost World” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEEsKQrdags (Instrumental) “Foolish Spy” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFtN9W1xv7c&list=PLWtMrZbBUq2o8jKOhs_4AiOq4XJVwtyZU master kang woo(Instrumental) “Sad Wave” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1noGDmwDiQ (Instrumental) “Water in the Sky” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_73uPq8iBQ&list=PLWtMrZbBUq2o8jKOhs_4AiOq4XJVwtyZU Silliness at it’s best: (Instrumental) “Like a Mosquito” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRR0ZbyYlwQ&list=PLWtMrZbBUq2o8jKOhs_4AiOq4XJVwtyZU (Instrumental) “Making Shadow” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0pE_Rg8Flk&list=PLWtMrZbBUq2o8jKOhs_4AiOq4XJVwtyZU (Instrumental) “High Jump” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RGcFsPk-Aw&list=PLWtMrZbBUq2o8jKOhs_4AiOq4XJVwtyZU “Lake Wave” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J147aeXPqeg&list=PLWtMrZbBUq2o8jKOhs_4AiOq4XJVwtyZU   Overall Charisma: My Rating 7/10 The Master’s Sun was yet another drama that ended leaving me wondering ‘what the heck happened?’ The drama was progressing nicely and then, like a crash-landing, everything was rolled up, the lights were turned off, and everyone went home. Perhaps it was meant to be an enigmatic ending, but several loose ends were dropped leaving the viewer with a less than satisfactory conclusion to the series. Aside from the weak ending, The Master’s Sun was one of the dramas that held my interest throughout. I eagerly awaited new episodes and ran to my computer as soon as they became available. So Ji-sub and Seo In-guk? How could it not be pleasant viewing? 😉

Happy Drama Watching!

 master bed

Friday Drama Review: “Monstar”

Monstar-Poster2

 A little music… A little drama… A lotta fun!

 

 

Storyline/Synopsis: My Rating 6/10

Min Se-yi is a transfer student from New Zealand, of all places. There she herded sheep and recuperated from the trauma of losing her father. Back in Korea once again, she cheerfully attends school and quickly makes a name for herself as a soft-spoken but strong young gal who won’t put up with the intimidation and harassment meted out by the local bullies: members of a popular and elite musical group called “All For One”. One member, Jung Sun-woo, recognizes Se-yi instantly as his first love, whom he has not forgotten since childhood, and for whom he never had the opportunity to confess his feelings. And because no self-respecting Korean drama is complete without at least a triangle, where love is concerned, the outwardly self-assured Yoon Sul-chan, local KPop celebrity, recently disgraced (through no real fault of his own, if truth be told) is added to the cast. To complicate things, Sul-chan and Sun-woo were childhood friends that are no longer friendly. That antipathy is exacerbated by their mutual admiration for Se-yi.

 

Script/Acting: My Rating 7/10

A musical drama akin to Dream High or What’s Up, Monstar sports both entertaining music and a real, if somewhat simplistic, plot line. The plot may have been a little thin, but the characters were round, proving that the depth and breath of the character is not necessarily proportional to the number of episodes. With only 12 episodes in which to full develop a dramatic storyline and the people to support it, Monstar came through with shining colors. And rich sound. At least at the beginning.

The drama, which aired but once a week, left viewers hungry for more after each episode. Interestingly, however, the writers did not feel compelled to leave every hour-long session with a dangling cliffhanger. Not that neat episodic conclusions detracted from the anticipation – indeed, viewers seemed equally thirsty for more whether they were left on the edge of their seats or not.

The serendipity that brings Sul-chan, Sun-Woo and the misfits of the classroom together to form a band, “Colorbars”, is the hook that grabs attention at the beginning of the drama. As the emotional hardships and handicaps of the members are explored, the intensity builds with each episode.

Monstar-3Yong Joon-hyung (Member of KPop group Beast) is a relative newcomer to acting. He had cameos in the High Kick series and Salamander Guru and the Gang, but his role as Yoon Sul-chan is by far his largest yet. The character was an interesting mixture of haughty self-confidence and a charming lack of self-awareness, especially with respect to his own romantic intentions. To appear outwardly street-wise, yet inwardly unsophisticated was an appealing combination that Yong Joon-hyung achieved with credibility. The first kiss scene with Min Se-yi was honest and delightful.

Monstar-1Ha Yeon-soo is a rank newcomer to the industry. Landing a leading role in the drama was a well-deserved coup. This fresh, new, young actress confidently and convincingly pulled off the role of Min Se-yi with her wide-eyed innocence. The doe-eyed look could have been annoying, but paired with the uber-calm, zen-like exterior, yet belligerent attitude against idiot bullies, she created a likeable character with whom the viewers would empathize.

Monstar-2Youngster Kang Ha-neul (To the Beautiful You, Hometown Over the Hill) appears to be a regular veteran amongst the newcomers with 4 dramas and 2 movies under his belt. The Ji-hoo* of this drama, Jung Sun-woo was a soft-spoken, talented, intelligent young man with honest intentions. These characters often tend to be somewhat one-dimensional, but despite that, Sun-woo was an engaging persona.

One of my personal favorite character actors, Ahn Nae-sang (Level 7 Civil Servant, May Queen) is a true veteran actor. Well-suited for the role of the melancholy Han Ji-woong, this is a man that knows how to deliver a line with dry wit.

Monstar_colorbarRounding out a cast of newbies to the drama world: Kim Min-young as Sim Eun-ha, the spunky, chubby fellow “Colobar” member and best friend to Se-yi; Park Kyu-sun as Cha Do-nam, “Colobar” member and gangster-enforcer of “All for One”; Kang Ui-sik as Park Kyu-dong, “Colobar” member and bully magnet, called “Radio” by those wanting to torment him by forcing him to perform at their bidding; Da-hee (from KPop group GLAM) as Kim Na-na,  “Colobar” member and sullen, outcast, mob-boss’s daughter; Moon Yong-suk as Ma Joon-hee, “All for One” member and Head Bully; Yoon Jong-hoon as Sin Jae-rok, “All for One” member and Bully Underling. With a few credits to her name, Kim Yoo-hyun (Jeon Woo-chi, The Return of Iljimae) was Ma Hyo-rin, member of “All for One” and bratty, snobbish kid sister to Ma Joon-hee.

 

Cinematography: My Rating 8/10

Fun cinematography affects throughout created visual interest: musical notes flowing from the piano and coloring the landscape, flashbacks with childhood characters intermixed with present-day characters, anime sketches. Eye-candy, to be sure, but the visual flourishes fit in well with this particular genre. The thematic continuity of the flower garden coming to life as the kids continued to invade the home of Han Ji-woong was appreciated.

There was a wonderful musical number that involves two musicians from a video stepping out into Se-yi’s reality and stalking her around campus as her thoughts dwelt on Sul-chan. The theme continued in an entertaining manner throughout the remainder of the episode.

 

Music: My Rating 10/10

The music included outstanding covers of wonderful songs, in a huge range of genres: classical, jazz, folk, KPOP, dub step. The following are those released in the OST:

“Past Days” Yong Joon-hyung of BEAST, BTOB, & Ha Yun Soo    http://youtu.be/aQumrJmSUeo

“After Time Passes” Yong Joon-hyung of BEAST & BTOB  http://youtu.be/FItsgPOTWCk

“Atlantis Princess” Ha Yun-soo, Kang Ha-neul, Kim Cho-eun http://youtu.be/BSmQsq-gSbs

“Snooze (I Will Be Your Love)” J Rabbit  http://youtu.be/yGZ1cCtullg

“Don’t Make Me Cry” Yong Joon-hyung, Ha Yun-soo, Kang Ha-neul, Kang Eui-shik, Da-hee, Kim Min-young, Park Kyu-sun  http://youtu.be/HUZ9K2kgmTM

“First Love” Yong Joon-hyung of BEAST & BTOB  http://youtu.be/99evMyK435Y

 

Overall Charisma: My Rating 8/10

The major disappointment in this drama was the anticlimactic ending. There were no overt inconsistencies, but given the fabulous beginning, the way the dramatic tension foundered as the episodes progressed was sad to witness. Despite the weak ending, the drama is fun and the characters worth watching if, for no other reason, than to see a few rising stars in the Korean entertainment industry.

 

 Happy Drama Watching!

almost kiss

*Yoon Ji-hoo: A character from the drama series “Boys Before Flowers” that has come to represent a wonderfully sweet, attentive man who has an unrequited love for a girl and who becomes her friend and/or protector. He never gets the girl.  😦

 

Director: Kim Won-seok

Writer: Jung Yoon-jung

Friday Drama Review: “Dating Agency: Cyrano” Another fabulous installment in the Flower Boy Series

DatingAgencyCyranoWill Cyrano, Playing Cupid in the Theatre, Overcome his Sense of Inadequacy or Will Roxanne Perish Rejected?

 

Storyline/Synopsis: My Rating 8/10

Based very loosely on the famous Cyrano de Bergerac, Dating Agency: Cyrano introduces a modern and uniquely Korean flavor to a classic tale.

Once a financially struggling theatre, The Theatre Cyrano has become a secretive agency that hires itself out for high-tech matchmaking services. The owner, still struggling under a debt burden left by his deceased friend and partner, is the stoic, intelligent, emotionally blunt Seo Byung-hoon. He is assisted by engineering whiz Moo-jin, a sweet, but romantically naïve young man, and Do Ah-rang, a high school kid who dreams of becoming an actor.

Their well-scripted world is turned askew when Gong Min-young walks in the door. Her highly romanticized view of the world is a source of scorn for Byung-hoon, curiosity for Moo-jin, and admiration for Ah-rang. Min-young is intrigued by the work done by Cyrano Dating Agency and is drawn towards the ascetic and impersonal Byung-hoon, despite his best efforts to dissuade her.

Cha Seung-pyo is the romantic, mysterious “Master” next door – a chef by current trade, who we soon realize has had a dark past. He is captivated by Min-young and perturbed by Byung-hoon. The early episodes point to a deeper story between the two men.

The drama features fun vignette-type stories spanning a few episodes each. The narratives follow the matchmaking shenanigans between two seemingly impossible-to-match people. Each vignette features cameo appearances of well-known Hallyu stars, upping the ante for viewership ratings.

 

 

Script/Acting: My Rating 8/10

dating seoThe ‘Cyrano’ theme was an interesting and unique choice for a Korean drama adaptation. Lee Jong-hyuk (A Gentleman’s Dignity, Chuno) was a thought-provoking choice for the lead role of Seo Byung-hoon, our contemporary Korean Cyrano de Bergerac. Although attractive, his features are not the standard pretty-boy adorable, nor are they ruggedly handsome. While he does not sport Cyrano’s renowned beak, his personality, as portrayed in the drama, had both the panache and emotional shortcomings relevant to a Cyrano-esque character.

dating min youngBy far the best actress that I’ve seen amongst the women of SNSD, Choi Soo-young, (The 3rd Hospital, Unstoppable Marriage) was delightful as Gong Min-young, the charming Roxanne of the Cyrano story. The love interest of two rival males, Soo-young played the role with the wide-eyed romantic optimism critical to the role.  Her character was not, however, weak, but able to stand up to the strong men around her. Engaging and attractive enough to gain the loyalty of those around her, the Min-young character was like whipping cream on an espresso – a dollop of sweet joy floating atop the darkness.

Dating 2Rounding out the Cyrano Agency were two young men: Hong Jong-hyun (Jeon Woo-chi, Wild Romance) as Moo-jin, and Jo Yoon-woo (Strongest KPOP Survival, Flower Boy Ramen Shop) as Do Ah-rang. Both young men provided interesting characters integral to the plot but also appealing in their own datingCyrano04right. While the Do Ah-rang character was sweet, it was not as well developed or as intriguing as the pensive Moo-jin. Although identifiable by his economy of words and notoriously expressionless face, he was always understood, his meaning and his revelations clear despite their subtle presentation.

Dating-Agency-MasterThe character of Cha Seung-pyo, restaurateur, was a collection of contradictory actions and emotions mixed to create a well-thought-out, well-rounded character with complexity as rare as thundersnow. Lee Chun-hee (Take Care of Us, Captain, Road Number One) perfected the bad-boy glare, yet tugged at our emotions with his sincere attraction for Min-young. Along with his two comic henchmen, Min-shik and Young-dal, played by Bae Seong-woo and Kim Min-kyo, (two goons plucked straight out of Kiss Me Kate!), Seung-pyo provides mystery and intrigue throughout much of the drama.

dating taeminAs stated earlier, the cameo appearances of A-list stars was a fun treat: Lee Chung-ah as a ballerina and Choi Won-young as the sommelier she likes; Im Hyung-joon as veterinarian Jin Joon-hyuk, who is crushing on librarian Lee Yoon-ji; Lee Taemin (yep, from SHINee) as (what else) and idol singer; Lee Kwang-soo as a baker with a crush on Goo dating gong wooEun-ae, a chef; Jung Yoo-mi as a hilariously creepy girl with a crush on Gong Woo, a magician; and Ye Ji-won as a nurse in love with firefighter Im Won-hee.

Quite the all-star parade.

 

 

Cinematography: My Rating 7/10

Due to the surveillance work necessary to the Cyrano Agency agenda, interesting and fun camera shots/angles were often seen. The majority of the drama took place inside the Cyrano Theatre or the restaurant next door, limiting the need for extensive sets. The theatre set, however, was a fun construction consisting of multiple rooms, glass enclosures and enough silly eye-candy details to please a Willy Wonka fan. The creative lighting used inside the theatre evoked a sense of make-believe – perfect for the ‘creative’ scenarios dreamt up by the Cyrano team for their clients.

 

Music: My Rating 7/10

Jessica Jung (Girls’ Generation) “That One Person” http://youtu.be/w0nDNuEzYHw

The theme song: Peppertones “Chance” http://youtu.be/S2sEMs5j8WU

An excellent ballad!: Ra.D  “Something Flutters” http://youtu.be/RDc7JP5-0QA

Big Baby Driver “Take My Hands Tonight” http://youtu.be/3xO0VpQlkzQ

A fun 60’s-ish folksy ballad: Big Baby Driver “In The Same Storm” http://youtu.be/Q72DOWGwYl8

 

Overall Charisma: My Rating 8/10

All of the “Flower Boy” dramas, save Ramen Shop, have a certain flavor that sets them far apart from the standard table fare served up by the drama industry today. While Ramen Shop was sweet and fun, it followed the standard formats and had the same general romantic comedy feel of its contemporaries. The others in the series have all been just a bit edgier, a little off-center, slightly off the beaten path in a direction that makes them fresh and fun.

Dating Agency: Cyrano did not disappoint in that respect: a little bit of quirky, a lot of fun. In some respects it solidly nailed what Nail Shop Paris tried and failed to accomplish: a vanguard drama with fun sketches to capture the feel of the short story or single-episode series.

All in all, it is a wonderful addition to the Flower Boy Garden.

 

 

 Happy Drama Watching!

 dating couple

Director: Kang Kyung Hoon

Writer:  Shin Jae Won

 

Friday Drama Review – “I Need Romance”

I-Need-Romance poster

Filled with fun, penetratingly honest girlfriend-time conversations, “I Need Romance 2012” hits the spot for those looking for a drama with romance, humor, and yes, I’ll say it, a bit of steamy sexiness.

 

The scenarios strike pretty to close to home with the abrupt, honest portrayal of human romantic relationships. No perfect, sweet, innocent love relationships here. Twisted, real, gritty, and sometimes a bit too close to the mark to avoid personal comparisons. Ack.

Yet, the basic story concept is fun, if not entirely new: women in their early thirties looking for love – sometimes in the wrong places. Of course. How else would we find comedy in pathos? And is it not every woman’s secret fantasy to have two fabulously sexy men vying for your lasting affections? I‘ll admit it even if you don’t! Oooh la la!

OK. There’s no deep, transcendent plot–line here. But hey – it’s a romantic comedy! I thoroughly enjoyed “A Gentleman’s Dignity” for many of the same reasons.

Here’s a fun trailer tvN put out. It has little to do with the actual drama, but I enjoyed it, nonetheless, as it accurately portrays the spunk and fire of our lovely ladies in a tongue-in-cheek play on American comedic drama.

 

Storyline/Synopsis: My rating 7/10

couple 1Yoon Seok Hyun and Joo Yeol Mae are childhood sweethearts – and I do mean childhood. Their parent parents were friends and built a duplex with a shared kitchen and dining space when the two were 5 years old. When Yeol Mae’s parents passed away in her late teens and Seon Hyuk’s parents and his younger sister moved to the country, the two continued living together in the pretty little house with two golden retrievers playing in the yard. Their romance began in high school. Despite their stormy, on-again, off-again relationship over the years, they remain housemates and friends.

bestiesFortunately for Yeol Mae, she has two best friends since middle school in whom she can trust, rely on, confide in and commiserate with. The three, now in their early 30’s, all have love-life challenges that keep the story intriguing. Interestingly, Seok Hyun is included in the group as the go-to guy friend who can be relied upon to give good advice from the man’s point of view.

When our story begins, Yeol Mae and Seok Hyun are in “off-again” mode. Sun Jae Gyung and Woo Ji Hee, the besties are both in less-than-ideal relationships as well, although on the surface they look great. Their love lives all become complicated, especially Yeol Mae’s, who suddenly finds herself being pursued by a man (Shin Ji Hoon) who promises to fulfill the desired affection she’s been craving, but Seok Hyun refuses to satisfy.

 

Script/Acting: My rating 7/10

leading manLee Jin Wook plays Yoon Seok Hyun, a somewhat more realistic man, in my opinion, than the sweet, empathetic, romantic heroes portrayed in most romantic comedies. Not one for over-the-top romantic gestures, Seok Hyun does not even want to get married. He has difficulty expressing emotions – especially love – but that does not stop him from being loving in his own, manly way.

Ji HoonIt was nice to see Kim Ji Suk play something other than a conniving, sleazy character. (At least, that’s all I have ever seen him cast as…) In his role as Shin Ji Hoon we were able to see him as a strong, sweet romantic (JiHoo*-like) guy worth swooning over. Somehow, this persona seemed to fit him quite well. (Hey – it’s a K-Drama – there had to be one guy that fit the standard ultra-romantic profile.)

funny faceJung Yu Mi, while very active in the movie industry, has only done a few dramas, so her character of Joo Yeol Mae was my introduction to this fine actress. Her incredibly versatile facial expressions paired with her ability to credibly create passionate love scenes were ideally suited to this role. As a self-described ‘woman with a bad personality’, she wore it as a badge of honor and carried herself with the humorous self-dignity that can only come with age and self-realization.

Kim Ji Woo as Sun Jae Gyung and Kang Ye Sol as Woo Ji Hee were also quite engaging as the best friends. Their ability to convincingly portray emotional issues associated with single women in their thirties was appealing and entertaining.

An interesting addition to the script was Kang Na Hyun (Kim Ye Won). As the young woman who works with Seok Hyun as a co-author and crushes madly on him, she eventually displays maturity beyond her years as she successfully manages her one-sided love and even counsels the emotionally stunted Seok Hyun. Although an irritant in the beginning, her character developed into one of the more intriguing and genuinely original characters of the series.

 

Cinematography: My rating 6/10

vlcsnap-14701Unlike most dramas I’ve viewed, this one made great use of stills throughout, especially during narratives. The house used for filming (at least the exterior) was adorable. Given the trendy music and interesting characters, I feel there was much more that could have been done to make the cinematography more exciting, but it was definitely adequate.

 

Music: My rating 7/10

A little trendier than most OSTs. Nice ballads and one really cool song: “I Could Give You Love”.

“Only U” 10cm http://youtu.be/cKSKWYboRgw

This is the opening song. I hated it the first time I heard it, but it grew on me fast and I realized it’s perfect for the drama. “Riding the Wind” Deli Spice http://youtu.be/TSFzPzCQCN4

Best song: “I Could Give You Love” Lasse Lindh

http://youtu.be/sCIftyzDX8g

Pretty ballad: “Have You Heard” LeeSA http://youtu.be/W0mWvEqo9Dw

Another pretty ballad: “” Page http://youtu.be/O6b-ln_rzeg

 

Overall Charisma: My rating 7/10

INR2showerThis is a drama that will definitely appeal more to older (30 years +) viewers than younger viewers. And the older the better. The more I watched, the more I realized that there’s a poignancy that only many years of screwed up relationships will really make you appreciate and identify with.

The characters were significantly more realistic than in many dramas. There was also a very pervasive lack of inhibition when it came to discussing the subject of sex. I think if this drama had been aired on SBS or MBC it would have been a very different drama, but because it was tvN, a cable channel, more liberties were taken with the script than would have been allowed in main-stream programming. Refreshing and exciting, really. 😉

 

Happy Drama Watching!

 dogslq

 

*Yoon JiHoo – Uber-romantic, uber-gorgeous, what-every-girl-wants character in “Boys Over Flowers” played by Kim Hyun Joong

 

Director: Lee Jung Hyo, Jang Young Woo

Screenwriter: Jung Hyun Jung

Friday Drama Review: “Incarnation of Money”

Is Money the Root of the 7 Deadly Sins?

 

Incarnposter1 The eternal battle – winning at all costs verses leading a righteous life.

A story of the redemption of some, for others, the inability to redeem one’s self.

And money. Lots of money. BIG money. The kind of money that incites enormous greed and induces people to abandon their convictions and sense of moral responsibility in order to acquire it.

 

Storyline/Synopsis: My rating 7/10

“Money is God”, Lee Kang Suk’s father tells him at a young age. A bright child raised in a wealthy household with a doting mother, attentive staff and proud but often-absent father, Kang Suk is a confident young man with a bright future ahead of him. The fairy-tale future crashes around him when his father’s mistress, Eun Bi Ryung and right hand man, Ji Se Kwang conspire to kill his father and frame his mother. Stripped of his family and wealth, the young Kang Suk discovers the truth and becomes the target of twisted cruelty.

Injured and suffering memory loss, Kang Suk is discovered by the powerful, politically connected loan shark Bok Hwa Sool and her quirky daughter Bok Jae In, who christen him with the name Lee Cha Don. They eventually place him in an orphanage, but provide funds for the best education.

incarnation castA hero who is beautifully flawed, imperfect – gasp – even criminal! Lee Cha Don grows up to be a conceited, self-assured, money-hungry extortionist. Not your average Prince Charming, to be sure.

Jae In, our heroine, is a conceited, self-assured but approval-seeking, food-hungry, overweight over-eater. Not your average Princess.

The story revolves around the struggles of the conspiracy group who killed Kang Suk’s father and conspired to keep everything secret and their rise to powerful positions with the help of the money stolen the family, and Lee Cha Don’s (Kang Suk’s) discovery of his own identity and battle to set things right.

Script/Acting: My rating 7/10

As an actor who appears equally comfortable dressed in a fashionable three-piece suit and dressed in drag as a dynastic queen, Kang Ji Hwan is remarkable to say the least. His acting style is amusing and engaging. His performances are honest. His portrayal of Lee Cha Don/ Kang Suk was, for the most part, credible.

Hwang-Jung-Eum-incarnation-of-moneyHwang Jung Eum played Bok Jae in, the wealthy loan shark’s daughter with an unusual personality. Although her character in this drama was not very appealing, whether it was the actress or the script is debatable.

The script called for Bok Jae In to be grossly overweight, a theme that’s been used successfully in dramas like Dream High and less effectively in dramas like Romance Town. The make up work is outstanding. It’s difficult to see where the real actor ends and the artificial pudge begins. The question becomes whether or not the weight issue is necessary or if it is being used rather gratuitously and/or abusively. In Dream High, the weight issue was vital to IU’s character. In Incarnation of Money, not so much. The character of young Bok Jae In was unpleasant and unappealing even without the weight factor. Using weight for gratuitous purposes felt like a cheap shot throughout the series.

The other issue it caused was the implausible nature of the romance between Lee Cha Don and Bok Jae In. Lee Cha Don thoroughly disliked Bok Jae In when she was overweight but began to love her after plastic surgery (cheater!) Nothing in her personality changed at all, yet viewers are supposed to believe that Cha Don loves Jae In for who she is. There was nothing in the script to support this premise, so the romance always felt artificial and was a major detraction from the story.

Incarnation-of-Money-6Take out the romance, though, and a fine Machiavellian tale emerges of lust, greed, avarice, wrath, pride and envy. (For those wondering, that’s 6 out of the 7 Deadly Sins. Perhaps Jae In’s gluttony was included to make a perfect set?) Park Sang Min was entirely believable as the sleazy prosecutor cum murderer Ji Se Kwang. Oh Yoon Ah as Eun Bi Ryung, mistress, abandoned lover, and not-so-intelligent businesswoman, was required to play a huge variety of emotions and character iterations and did so with style. The other major characters in the evil cadre, Lee Seung Hyung as Go Ho and Lee Ki Young as Kwon Jae Kyu added depth and drama. The loan shark, Bok Hwa Sool, played by Kim Soo Mi, was a delightfully witty character. Her descent into dementia was treated with dignity and humor, and acted with soul.

There were, to be sure, a few unbelievable gaffes – like the evil chief prosecutor Ji Se Kwang goading Cha Don by telling him their plans as a fait accompli in writing via email. Pure silliness.

Cinematography: My rating 6/10

While my preference would have been to leave out Bok Jae In’s weight problem, the make-up work was very well done. Filming for some stunts was also nicely done, others were kind of cheesy. Cinematographic themes that began at the onset were not carried out throughout the drama, making it feel almost as if a new cinematographer was introduced at some point.

Drama clichés: Same old prison, same sets as seen in many others; shower scene (thank you, Kang Ji Hwan); little bit of a turnaround as we have a rich girl, poor boy (who should have been a rich boy, alas).

Incarnation_of_Money_OST_Part_2Music: My rating 7/10

Final song “Up and Down” EXID extremely fun, catchy (But then, I’m a big EXID fan…): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7qFVs4RbC8

Be-boppy fun. “Chance” Kim Ji Soo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PV5Ge9zf0Q

“Memories of You” IVY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jbjf2mOqHM

The main theme: “Money” P-Type feat. Kang Min Hee of Swings http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uN376rQW5TQ

“You Are the Love” Seo In Young http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGc41fdoDp0

Great Song! “The Day for You” Jang Jae In

Overall Charisma: My rating 6/10

I debated long and hard over what kind of overall rating to give this drama. There was so much to like in this drama series! The general concept was good. The acting was good. The music was good. The cinematography was fine. The biggest problem was that the romance in the drama was so implausible that it was a difficult hurdle to overcome, and it colored too much of the drama. Had the romance had been downplayed, perhaps I could have scored the drama higher. But even the ending rested on the culmination of the romantic pairing, in the worst possible context, in the least probable way. Better characters were left unaccounted for and instead the focus was placed on the least gratifying aspect of the series.

Other aspects of the drama ended pretty well. Conclusions for the ‘axis of evil’ while not entirely explained, were at least appropriate. I find it interesting that directors and scriptwriters feel that romance (at any cost) is more important than a good story.

 

 Happy Drama Watching!

drag queen

Production Company: JS Pictures

Chief Producer: Han Jung Hwan

Director: Yoo In Sik

Screenwriter: Jang Young Chul, Jung Kyung Soon

 

Friday Drama Review – “City Hall”

City-Hall-Poster2

Kim Sun Ah for Mayor! Hurrah!

 

Whenever your mood is in need of a pick-me-up, any drama casting Kim Sun Ah in the lead is sure to the remedy. In terms of comedic timing, few actresses today can touch her unique vocal style and physical comedy. “City Hall” is a great example of silliness at it finest. Certainly, no one will mistake this drama for serious political commentary.

Storyline/Synopsis: My rating 7/10

“City Hall” takes a humorous look at the political workings at the local and national levels. Jo Gook (Cha Sung Won) is a relentlessly driven political machine, the illegitimate son abandoned by his powerful, mysterious, politically connected and well-respected father BB (for Big Brother). His aspirations lead him to the small, rural town of Inju where he is sent to do some dirty work: remove the current Mayor and set in place a ‘puppet’ Mayor. Plans go awry when the ‘puppet’, Shin Mi Rae (Kim Sun Ah) not only begins to pull the strings, but grabs ahold of Jo Gook’s frayed ‘heartstrings’, as well.

Script/Acting: My rating 8/10

The script is witty. While I would definitely classify this firmly in the comedy genre, there was enough drama and suspense to prevent it from being classified as inane. The plot and the characters are not so memorable that this drama consistently floats to the top of the list when making recommendations, but I have to admit I forgot how much I enjoyed it, when I sat down to re-watch it recently. The dramatic tension and plot twists keep viewing pleasurable worthwhile, even the second time around!

Kim Sun Ah is comedic genius. How can anyone not appreciate using tactics straight out of a Greek comedy to bring her recalcitrant Directors back in line. One look at the pool scene with her shimmies and “Ooooh!”s and you’re hooked!

2013-02-03 17_53_14
Original gif thanks to http://dr-myri-blog.blogspot.com/2013/02/my-top-5-swimming-pool-scenes.html

Cha Seung Won was deliciously suave, charming and complex Jo Gook. His acting skill is apparent as he brings to life a driven but care-worn, strong but wounded, psychologically complex character. The transformations and changes in direction were credible and dramatic.

Min Joo& LeeAn interesting character in the drama was Director Lee (Lee Hyung Chul), who acts as her conscience, forcing her to look at the moral implications of what she does at every major step in the drama. The sometime dramatic, often comedic, relationship between him and him politically active wife Min Joo Hwa (Choo Sang Mi) was an interesting side story.

lee Joon HyukOur Jihoo character? (“Boys Over Flowers” – the nice guy who doesn’t get the girl.) That would be the intense, thoughtful, not-as-ambitious-as-his-boss Ha Soo In, played by Lee Joon Hyuk. A nice character, but one of the few that was underdeveloped in the drama, for the potential it held.

Throughout the drama, the slapstick-style comedy made the juxtaposed tender moments all the more heart-warming.

Drama clichés: crying in the rain, back hugs, covering people with blankets who are slumped over desks, hick (poor) girl & sophisticated (rich) guy, shower scene, over-the top romantic gestures, nice guy who doesn’t get the girl (or any girl for that matter). There were no Kpop star cameos, but a fun dance performance of Super Junior’s “Sorry, Sorry” by the City Hall Staffers.

 

 

Cinematography: My rating 7/10

Pretty scenery. Nice special effects when necessary, but not overused or overdone (like when Shin Mi Rae is imagining what she’s like to do for Inju’s future from the top of the hill.) Many of the locations filmed, both indoor and outdoor, are locations that have been used in many, many dramas. I can appreciate, however, the fun (the challenge?) of filming multiple actors and actresses amidst piles of herring on a fishing boat.

Music: My rating 6/10

There were a few songs that appealed to me in the OST, but I cannot classify this tracklist as earth-shattering.

The theme song is cute: Okay, I’ll Believe In Myself by Jung In (feat. Bizzy) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5bpLjADBDc

The best love ballad: Uncertain Love by Horan of Clazziquai http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyfJyFUUhnI

Smile by Chae Dong Ha of SG Wannabe (feat. Amen) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2da9fw5GVR4

This Love – Let Go of This Love by Position (Lim Jae Wook)

Night Falling on Street by Han Sul Hee, Kim Jung Bae

One Dream by Seo Moon Tak http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oHt0FwoICY

Overall Charisma: My rating 7.5/10

One of the most important considerations in making a comedy successful is timing and pacing. I think that “City Hall” is a classic example of how to do it right. Just when things start to get really silly – BAM – dramatic tension occurs. And just before the pace begins to bog down – WHAP – a burst of silly slaps you upside the head. Nothing earth-shattering in terms of dramatic accomplishments, but completely enjoyable. Delightful characters. Nice wrap-up at the finale with all loose ends neatly tied with a bow on top. What more is needed? Well – maybe some fried chicken and a beer….

Happy Drama Watching!

the dance

Friday Drama Review – “Flower Boy Next Door”

Flower-Boy-Next-Door-Poster-1Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

 

Park Shin Hye fans rejoiced! Another drama at last! And one in the “Flower Boy” series, to boot! What fun! And with Yoon Shi Yoon?  Bonus! I was right there with the rest of the crowd, fan-girling at the thought of another Flower Boy drama and excited to see Park Shin Hye in action again. The results were definitely entertaining and well worth the time spent watching, but I will admit to a few disappointments as well.

Storyline/Synopsis: My rating 7/10

The story revolves around Go Dok Mi (Park Shin Hye) who, after a traumatic school experience, becomes agoraphobic (afraid to venture outside the home.) She has shut herself off from the world physically and emotionally. Her next door neighbor, Oh Jin Rok (Kim Ji Hoon), a webtoon artist is completely obsessed and in love with this mysterious woman next door. Go Dok Mi, however, has developed a voyeuristic attachment to the man in the building across from her – and ends up meeting his younger brother, Enrique Geum (Yoon Shi Yoon), who decides to draw her out of her shell – literally and figuratively.

 Script/Acting: My rating 7/10

First the bad news: While conceptually, the script idea is not bad, I found it problematic that Park Shin Hye’s character was able to overcome a long-standing, deeply-rooted mental illness with so little trouble. The transformation was so unrealistic that it became a distraction, and detracted from the dramatic confrontations in later episodes. It also seemed rather improbable that the two men, Oh Jin Rok and especially the vibrant Enrique Geum, would be so attracted to the dour, gloomy, agoraphobic Go Dok Mi. Yes, you argue, but Park Shin Hye is so pretty! I agree, but in the drama she dresses all frumpy, and her hair is unkempt, no makeup, no attempt to be attractive whatsoever. Far-fetched, I say!

flower-boysThe good news: If you can get past the implausibility of the mental-illness thing, and ignore resultant inconsistencies in the character of Go Dok Mi, the drama was well acted and entertaining. The character of Enrique Geum was especially appealing and was, in my humble opinion, the bright shiny spot that made the whole drama worth watching. His character was sweet, goofy, loveable, energetic, caring and completely charismatic. I mean, just check out the panda dance:

Kim Ji Hoon’s character was also well played – a webtoon artist with a mysterious past, sweet, awkward, shy. The rapport between the two men was an interesting study of contrasting styles and ideals. And every good drama needs a nemesis. Park Soo Jin played it up as the haughty, scheming Cha Do Hwi. This is an actress who plays so many different personas so well! She does hateful brat really well!

managerNewcomer Kim Seul Gi was hilarious as the webtoon company manager. Go Kyung Pyo also did a fine job as Oh Jin Rok’s roommate and fellow webtoon artist, Oh Dong Hoon.

 

Cinematography: My rating 8/10

The sound and visuals were well-done throughout. There were fun special effects scattered throughout the drama, especially related to the webtooning. It was also nice to see filming done in a location that hasn’t been used over and over again in other dramas! The main buildings (apartments) were unfamiliar to me. Wow!

Music: My rating 8/10

There are some really nice ballads here – definitely iPod worthy! (At least, they’re going on mine, to be sure.

“Wish It Was You” Lee Jung  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLlQS5zJZFU

Sweet!:  “I Want to Date You” Yoon Shi Yoon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yza-0dn1u8

Love this one, too: “Talkin’ Bout Love” J Rabbit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOJRAdJASiE

“Pitch Black” Park Shin Hye

“You Wake Me Up” Kim Seul Ki http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IG7HM0BNUlQ

 Overall Charisma: My rating 7/10

There were so many good character in this drama that it is definitely worth seeing. I am disappointed that writer decided to deal with the mental health issue in such an off-hand manner, and feel they would have been so much better off not trying to create those implications with the character at all. Ah well. I still enjoyed it. It was still fun. It’s worth it just to see the quirky people and the fun antics. I’ll probably watch it again.

Happy Drama Watching! two men

Friday Drama Review: “World Within”

UThe-World-That-They-Live-In-Poster1aka “The World They Live In” – Hidden Jewel Among Dramas

[Soju Drama Queen] Review of “The World that They Live in 그들이사는세상”

Falling under the heading of “How in the heck did I miss this one?”, ‘World Within’, also known as ‘The World That They Live In’, is a hidden gem, to be sure. It wasn’t on anyone’s ‘Must See’ lists. It wasn’t on KoreanDrama.org’s ‘Most Shared’ list either. Yet it stars Hyun Bin (Mr. Gorgeous, himself) and Song Hye Kyo of ‘Full House’ fame and now starring in the new drama ‘That Winter, The Wind Blows’.

 Storyline/Synopsis: My rating 7/10

Ok, so it’s a drama about making dramas, which in and of itself can be somewhat tiring as a theme. The writer, however, took off in a nice direction: “Live Your Life Like a Drama.” Focusing episodically on different characters in the drama production company, the writer (and actors) were able to make truly interesting characters real. Had it just been a story of how dramas are made and the stresses involved, the drama probably would have been a flop. This however, was about character development.

 Script/Acting: My rating 8/10

Those now familiar with my peculiar tastes, may know that I have a particular fondness for Castgreat characters and good character development. This drama sported some unusually complex characters. Painstaking attention to detail was used in creating realism in the characteristics of the players. Our heroine learns to love and respect countless personalities that she (and the audience, to be sure) despises at first blush, by coming to understand the human side of their nature rather than just the surface characteristics. Take Bae Jung Ok as actress Yoon Young: at first glance a promiscuous, shallow and completely unlikable persona develops into a rich, complex, intelligent, strong woman who knows herself well, including her weaknesses.

hyun binThere are frustratingly realistic relationship woes – people so wrapped up in their own twisted feeling that they can’t express what they really feel. Frustrating in the sense that we can empathize with the feelings, not that it creates dissatisfaction in the viewing. Even the people we see as total jerks or idiots in the beginning (sorry, Uhm Ki Ju and Daniel Choi) become real human beings by the end of the drama without sacrificing their personality traits one iota in doing so.

The relationship between Jung Ji Oh (Hyun Bin) and Joo Joon Young (Song Hye Kyo) was also convincing and captivating. Real love, real fights (about real issues), real break-ups and make-ups. Nothing seemed forced or inauthentic.

The cast, by the way was stellar: Along with those mentioned above – Seo Hyo Rim (Sungkyunkwn Scandal, Scent of A Woman, Me, Too, Flower), Kim Yeo Jin (Can You Hear My Heart, Road Number One), Lee Joon Hyuk (City Hunter, Secret Garden, City Hall, Equator Man) and veteran actors like Kim Gab Soo (Sungkyunkwn Scandal, Cinderella’s Sister, Chuno), Kim Chang Wan (Coffee Prince, Iljimae, Queen of Reversals), Kim Ja Ok (Coffee Prince, High Kick Through the Roof), Lee Ho Jae (Goong, Flames of Ambition), Na Young Hee (Rooftop Prince, Baby-Faced Beauty, Style), and the inimitable Yoon Yeo Jung (King 2 Hearts, Unexpected You, Can Your Hear My Heart, What’s Up Fox).

 Cinematography: My rating 8/10

The cinematography for a drama about dramas would be expected to be exemplary. I will admit that I was not disappointed. Fun and interesting tidbits enticed my sense throughout the series. The retelling of an old story was acted out ‘Broadway-stage-style’ by the main characters with spot lighting and stage set-up. The directors’ imaginings were dramatized using pencil/pastels for one director, photo-shop style for another. Great special effects abounded – fun (or sad, as the case may be) dissolves as fantasies faded, etc.

The locations were limited but put to good use. Great lighting and sound.

Music: My rating 6/10

While the music was appropriate to the drama, there was nothing that I’m going to go running after to put on my iPod.

The ballad is really nice, though: ‘Care’ sung by Sung Si Kyung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NaVjjnMrPE

“It Was You All Along” Kim Jo Han (Spanish subs was all I could find!) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBR9a21jlNQ

Overall Charisma: My rating 8/10

There was an ineffable quality to this drama that made everything work. I loved the characters. I loved the tensions. I loved the theme. I loved the realism. The writer did a remarkable job creating memorable people that I wanted to empathize with. Not something I can say about every drama.

Put this one on your ‘To Be Watched” list!

Happy Drama Watching! huggy

 

Friday Drama Review: Lie to Me – Anytime

Lets return to 2011. There were several really great dramas that year including Tree with Deep Roots, 49 Days, Dream High, The Princess’ Man and Heartstrings – all of which are review-lieworthy, by the way. While listening to some exceptionally epic ballads issuing from my iPod, I was reminded of (and had to watch yet again) another 2011 favorite: “Lie to Me” with Kang Ji Hwan and Yoon Eun Hye.

Storyline/Synopsis: My rating 8/10

Who wants to be forever under the foot of the woman who stole (and married!) your first love? Intolerable taunts lead our heroine to tell a little white lie (“I’m married”); the gargantuan snowball that lands on her head as a result provides episodes loaded with comedy and romance galore.

Enter a demanding, handsome chaebol bachelor whose orderly life is suddenly disrupted by the hardworking but free—spirited, somewhat scattered Yoon Eun Hye. Following obediently along the proscribed path set before him, his life is suddenly turned upside down and inside out by rumors of a “secret” marriage to an unknown civil servant. Mix in an ex-fiancé and a runaway brother and the possibilities for confusion and trouble are endless.

Script/Acting: My rating 7/10

Eun Hye

 

The role is perfect for Yoon Eun Hye who is delightful as a sweet, scattered, lovable Gong Ah Jung. The role fits her acting style perfectly.

ji HwanKang Ji Hwan as the cool, dispassionate, turned passionate, Hyun Ki Joon was also a perfect choice. Kudos to the couple for passionately convincing embraces and smooches. (Not your standard fare in K-dramas to be sure! LOL)

sung joon

 

Sung Joon (fabulous in Shut Up Flower Boy Band) was a credible, lovable and oh so pitiful Hyun Sang Hee. Excellent performances were put in by a number of veteran actors and actresses. The script held a few interesting surprises in what could have been a relatively predictable storyline. Especially gratifying was the evolving relationship between archrivals Gong Ah Jung and Yoo So Ran. Too often, ex-friendships remain one dimensional and static, but the storyline between these two women remained a compelling feature of the drama.

Drama Cliches: Taking care of him when he’s sick, carrying her piggyback, requisite hospital scene, a second male lead who won’t get the girl (sigh), running into each others arms on the beach. Let’s not forget really dumb mistakes that lead to obvious misunderstandings. (The jewelry box near the end.)

Cinematography: My rating 7/10

The drama has some great scenery, filming on Jeju Island as well as Seoul proper. As in many SBS dramas, the SBS building was used as the business office building, having failed to mask the sign in at least one scene where Ki Joon is racing into the building. There were places minor sound distractions were not masked well. Minor issues to be sure.

Music: My rating 9/10

Unbelievably sweet ballads prevail throughout drama. As I said previously, said ballads on my iPod provoked a second viewing of this drama! My personal favorite is “Walking on a Cloud” performed by Cho Kyo Chan. Sadly, nothing is available for purchase on iTunes, but the following tracks can be found online if you’d like to listen to them: “Shameless Lie” (4 Minute’s Heo Ga Yoon), “If This Night Passes” (SS501’s Kim Hyung Jun), “I Belong to You” (MBLAQ), “You are my Love” (Kim Yeon Woo), and “Are You Still Waiting” (Hee Young). Here’s a fan-made teaser set to my favorite music:

Overall Charisma: My rating 8/10

One of the best features of this drama is not so much the storyline, as the characters themselves. The evolution of each person was a drama in and of itself. Too often, characters evolve, if at all, in predictable ways, but in “Lie To Me”, personalities grew and changed in a somewhat realistic fashion.

I’m thinking twice is probably not going to be my lifetime viewing limit on this drama.  If you haven’t seen it at least once, it’s worth a try – at the very least for the music! (If not for the PDA… :-p)

Happy Drama Watching!

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