Looking ahead to the 2011 drama lineup – Part 2

As a follow-up to Part 1, here’s a quick summary of the upcoming dramas between now and early April. As we all know, drama productions go through constant changes, with directors, writers, and cast members being added and dropped up until the actual air date. And sometimes these changes continue to happen even after the show had already aired. That is if the drama ever got a chance to air at all. (Sorry, Birdie Buddy!)

So this time I decided to limit the preview to only those dramas scheduled to air within the next two months. Please understand that nothing’s ever final and things can still change, but hopefully they can serve as a helpful guide as you choose which dramas to watch in the near future. Happy watching!

Monday-Tuesday lineup

Crime Squad (KBS)
Projected broadcast period: Mar. 7, 2011 (scheduled to replace Dream High)-Apr. 26, 2011 (16 episodes)
PD: Kwon Gye Hong (Bad Love)
Scriptwriters: Park Sung Jin & Heo Ji Young
Cast: Song Il Gook (A Man Called God), Lee Jong Hyuk (Marry Me), Song Ji Hyo (Running Man), Park Sun Young (The Sons of Sol Pharmacy), Jang Hang Seon (Baker King Kim Tak Gu), Sung Ji Roo (The Birth of the Rich), Sunwoo Sun (Will It Snow for Christmas), Kim Joon (Boys Over Flowers)
Synopsis: A “realistic” cop drama –  Through the everyday happenings and ordeals faced by cops in a crime squad, you will come to discover the familiar, “next-door neighbor” side to these cops. However, unlike the past cop dramas that portrayed “cruel murders and dark mysteries”, this will be a bright and cheerful drama.  (Excerpted from the official synopsis)
Rival programs: Will be up against the currently airing The Duo (MBC) and Midas (SBS).
Blue’s clues: Because of her unusual-sounding name, I was surprised to learn that Kwon Gye Hong is actually one of the rare breeds in k-dramaland known as female directors. I really would like to pump my fist in the air to shout “Hurray for Women” and cheer her on, but instead, there’s that one hindrance that Bad Love (KBS, 2007-2008) was one of the worst dramas I’ve ever seen in my life. To be fair, Bad Love‘s writer Lee Yoo Jin (who also authored the 2004 drama Phoenix) gave her signature “wtf hot mess” of a script about characters who seem to relish in prolonging their misery, and I doubt that even the most talented director could have done anything to save it. Matter of fact, I thought many of the scenes in Bad Love were “artistically” filmed, and this must be credited to the director, right? However, when a drama is this bad, the director cannot be completely excused from the blame. But as usual, I digress. This is not the time for me to vent about how “bad” Bad Love is, after all.

I couldn’t find any info on the two writers, so this might be their first time penning a drama script. I’m much more optimistic about writers with no precedent than those with bad precedents, so I don’t think this “lack of experience” is necessarily a bad thing.

The synopsis indicates that this will be one of those “human” dramas with some humor thrown in (usually corny, and perhaps involving the bathroom?). I predict that despite being described as a “bright and cheerful drama”, there will be a dramatic gun-down finale where the squad comes to solve a major case together, and yes, one of the squad members will likely come to the rescue of another squad member.

When I first heard about this drama, I was initially hoping that it would channel the classic Korean police drama 수사반장 (MBC, 1971-1989), but after reading the synopsis, it sounds like the style will be closer to the 2008 KBS drama Powerful Opponents. (And yes, I’m aware that Powerful Opponents was a drama involving bodyguards, not cops. But you get the idea!)

The drama has a good cast. I’m aware that Song Il Gook has more than enough fans (most from his Jumong days) who will be looking forward to whatever he comes out with. I, myself, absolutely love Lee Jong Hyuk and find him to be simply delicious. Unfortunately, I came to accept that I never seem to like or find interesting any of his past dramas that I’ve watched. *Sigh* I’ll probably skip this drama, but if you decide to check it out and it turns out to be mind-blowingly awesome, please let me know so that I too can join the fun (and relish in the goodness that is Lee Jong Hyuk)!

Wednesday-Thursday lineup

Thorn Birds (KBS)
Projected broadcast period: Mar. 2, 2011 (scheduled to replace President)-May 5, 2011 (20 episodes)
PD: Kim Jong Chang (Again My Love, Blissful Woman, War of the Roses, Terms of Endearment, Yellow Handkerchief, Paper Crane)
Scriptwriter: Lee Sun Hee (Father’s House, Several Questions That Make Us Happy, Air City, Rose Fence, Hard Love, Model, City Men and Women)
Cast: Han Hye Jin (Jejoongwon), Joo Sang Wook (Giant), Kim Min Jung (New Heart), Seo Do Young (Invincible Lee Pyung Kang), Kim Ha Eun (Chuno)
Synopsis: “This drama is not only about how one woman succeeds to become a star after starting out as an extra, but it is also a story of two women who make vastly different choices in regards to their family.” (Excerpted from the official synopsis)
Blue’s clues: So here’s a director whose past works are all quintessential weekend dramas appealing to the ahjumma fans, except for perhaps Paper Crane (KBS, 1998-1999). I definitely see the appeal of his works, and he usually does a good job balancing these “ahjumma” dramas (is that a separate genre now?) without going into the makjang territory. Only his most recent drama Again My Love (KBS, 2009) can be classified as truly bad, but that’s only because the quality of the script was just plain laughable. (No, seriously, my mom described the drama as having been written with feet.) I’ve only seen two dramas by this writer – Air City and Model – and people, things are not looking good. I vaguely remember that Model (SBS, 1997) generated some buzz back then (and not the good kind) because of its ending.

Royal Family (MBC)
Projected broadcast period: Mar. 2, 2011 (scheduled to replace My Princess)-Apr. 21, 2011 (16 episodes)
PD: Kim Do Hoon (Spotlight, Rebirth – Next)
Scriptwriter: Kwon Eum Mi (General Hospital 2)
Cast: Yeom Jung Ah (Working Mom), Ji Sung (Kim Soo Ro), Kim Young Ae (Athena: Goddess of War), Cha Yeh Ryun (Dr. Champ), Jeon No Min (Queen Seon Deok), Jeon Mi Seon (Baker King Kim Tak Gu), Seo Yoo Jung (Pink Lipstick), Ahn Nae Sang (Sungkyunkwan Scandal), Dokgo Young Jae (Pink Lipstick), Dongho (U-Kiss)
Synopsis: A prosecutor had a mysterious chaebol benefactress growing up. Now that she needs help, he’s determined to offer her his help. (Source: Official synopsis)
Blue’s clues: Is it me or does the official poster remind you of the ones for High Kick Through The Roof and Flames of Ambition? But back on topic. The director’s past work, Spotlight (MBC, 2008), had all the elements to be great. It even had a propitious start. Instead, it went the “lil’ guy up against the big, evil guy” route, and for that particular genre, it was just your standard “run-of-the-mill” drama. The writer co-wrote General Hospital 2 (MBC, 2008-2009) with several other writers. Unfortunately, I didn’t watch it and have no opinions to offer. The supporting female actresses (Cha Yeh Ryun and Seo Yoo Jung) are pretty unexciting, but the leading cast looks solid. But can that drama synopsis sound any more vague?

49 Days (SBS)
Projected broadcast period: Mar. 16, 2011 (scheduled to replace Sign)-May 19, 2011 (20 episodes)
PD: Jo Young Gwang
Scriptwriter: So Hyun Kyung (Prosecutor Princess, Brilliant Legacy, How Much Love, That Woman, A Saint and a Witch, Everyday With You, Truth)
Cast: Lee Yo Won (Queen Seon Deok), Jo Hyun Jae (Three Dads, One Mom), Nam Gyuri (Life is Beautiful), Bae Soo Bin (Dong Yi), Jung Il Woo (Return of Iljimae), Seo Ji Hye (Kim Soo Ro)
Synopsis: A protagonist who falls into a coma after a car accident receives an offer that she can wake up again if she can receive tears from three people who truly loved her. (Source: SBS)
Blue’s clues: This will be Director Jo’s directorial debut, but he was the assistant director for Bad Couple (SBS, 2007) and Family Honor (SBS, 2008-2009). Writer So makes relatively unoriginal stories very addicting, without resorting to cheap tricks. I’ve actually enjoyed all of her past dramas (well, at least the ones that I’ve seen). But man, what a good looking cast! The synopsis seems like it’d have quite a deal of the fantasy/supernatural elements, and although that’s not my thing, everything looks optimistic on paper. Hope it delivers!

Weekend lineup

Early evening weekend dramas:

Twinkle, Twinkle (MBC)
Projected broadcast period: Feb. 12, 2011-TBA
PD: Noh Do Chul (Soulmate, Hello Franceska)
Scriptwriter: Bae Yoo Mi (Who Are You, I Really Really Like You, Tropical Nights in December, Country Princess, Fascinate My Heart)
Cast: Kim Hyun Joo (Partner), Lee Yuri (Daring Woman), Kim Suk Hoon (Iron Empress), Kang Dong Ho, Go Doo Shim (Marry Me), Gil Yong Woo (Invincible Lee Pyung Kang)
Synopsis: Two women were accidentally switched at birth and came to live two very different lives. (Source: Official synopsis)
Rival programs: Is up against the currently airing Believe in Love (KBS) and Smile, Mom (MBC).
Blue’s clues: This drama has already started. I must admit that I fell asleep while watching the first episode, and this is one drama that I won’t continue watching. But without letting that bias get in the way, the director has quite a mania following and I heard many great things about his 2006 MBC drama Soulmate (our very own Bella raves about it). I haven’t watched any of the writer’s past works, although I did catch bits and pieces of I Really Really Like You (MBC, 2006) and Country Princess (MBC, 2003) (Korean title: 위풍당당 그녀, and no, I don’t know why this title became translated to Country Princess either) when they aired on my local tv. Neither managed to grab my attention. This is a cast not new to weekend dramas, with a couple of newbie actors thrown in for some good measure.

Late evening weekend dramas:

Can You Hear My Heart (MBC)
Projected broadcast period:
Apr. 2, 2011 (scheduled to replace Flames of Ambition)-TBA
PD: Kim Sang Ho (Hon, Legend of Hyang Dan, Fantasy Couple, The Secret Lovers)
Scriptwriter: Moon Hee Jung (Smile You, The Last Scandal of My Life, Tree of Heaven, Let’s Go to the Beach)
Cast: Hwang Jung Eum (Giant), Kim Jae Won (Hwang Jin Yi), Namgoong Min (The Birth of the Rich), Kim Sae Ron (Ahjussi), Kim Yeo Jin (Road No. 1), Lee Hye Young (Boys Over Flowers), Go Joon Hee (Chuno)
Synopsis: “A beautiful love story of a protagonist who overcomes hearing impairment.”
Rival programs: Will be up against the currently airing King Geunchogo (KBS) and New Gisaeng Story (SBS).
Blue’s clues: Nothing really stands out (positively or negatively) about the director. My impression is just based on two shows: Legend of Hyang Dan (MBC, 2007) and Fantasy Couple (MBC, 2006). They were both entertaining shows (mostly attributed to the writing), but I thought the director did a fairly good job bringing alive the quirkiness of the two dramas. Writer Moon’s prior work Smile, You (SBS, 2009-2010) was all heart, which is why I loved it despite its flaws. I also expect her upcoming drama to be likewise heartwarming and deliver that warm fuzzy. Nothing really stands out to me about the cast, but it is Kim Jae Won’s first drama gig since returning from his military service. I have my beef about Namgoong Min’s acting, and it doesn’t help that I find him very unattractive ever since his weight loss. Let’s just cross fingers that he put on some weight. Oh yes, and I personally will be keeping an eye on Hwang Jung Eum’s outfits in the show – I just love her style!

Final thoughts:

The more I do these “looking ahead” posts, the more I realize what a jaded k-drama viewer I am. But really, it’s my way of expressing the love for the genre. The only two dramas that I think I’ll be tuning in for in this latest batch of dramas are 49 Days and Can You Hear My Heart. I’ve had good experiences with the writers to these two dramas, and the cast is definitely easy on the eyes. Check! Double check!

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One Response to Looking ahead to the 2011 drama lineup – Part 2

  1. kcomments says:

    Whenever you said you fell asleep watching something, it’s kind of give away the spoiler, LOL. Dream High will be finished this week (the only drama I watch continuously these days, did check on MP time to time but not for the story , just for SSH’s features and KTH’s costumes to drool over, loved the ending KISS though, it was just in tune with the whole show).

    49days looking good, but supernatural thing is not my cup of tea, will wait for the review on it first. Crime squad, might be checking to see if the chemistry between the colleagues are good. Or may be I will take a break and catch up with my should-watch list.

    Did you forget ‘The City Hunter’? That’s the only one I’m anticipating right now with LMH and PMY. I know, another J-adaptation but it’s LMH, that ‘s all I can say. ^^

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