Blue’s drama report (Jan-Apr 2011)

I know that every other K-drama bloggers and viewers have been trying to wrap their head around all the new dramas premiering this summer (some of them just this very week). Casting news, name changes, release of promo posters and trailers… endless slew of information coming at us. For a change, I wanted to take a break from all this drama frenzy to take a moment to look back at the year 2011 so far while these dramas are still fresh in my mind. We’ll just call this my mid-season drama report.

As you may be aware, I have been periodically posting updates about the upcoming dramas and my expectations for them in a series of “Looking Ahead” posts. And for each drama, under the “Blue’s clues” section, I briefly shared my thoughts on the cast and the crew based on their past works. But now that I had the chance to actually watch most of the dramas featured in the first two installments (1 and 2) and as I wait for the new dramas premiering in the next two months, I became curious on how accurate my predictions have been so far.

Here is a list of all the dramas from 2011 that were featured in the first two installments of the “Looking Ahead” series and a reminder of what I had said about them earlier. (Man, the length of my “Blue’s clues” section became longer and longer with each new installment.) But this time, I’ve also included a quick review/thoughts/impressions of these said dramas as part of my drama viewing report. Yup, these are the dramas that I’ve watched, the dramas that I’ve dropped, and the dramas that I’ve skipped between January and April of 2011…

49 Days
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!
Impressions: I don’t think it’ll come as a surprise to anyone when I announce that I’m loving 49 Days. Oh, and of course, it doesn’t hurt that I’m finding Jo Hyun Jae absolutely DELICIOUS… (and all MINE). But now that that’s established, I won’t let that get in the way of attempting to be objective.

In his directorial debut, Director Jo’s inexperience shows here, especially with the transitions of the scenes and story lines. 49 Days has a slower start, and although I enjoyed the first half, I think it’s possible for some others to feel it drags or gets repetitive. But typical of Writer So Hyun Kyung, the drama quickly picks up pace mid way through the series in a nail-biting fashion. The drama has a very creative and original premise, and 49 Days is the first drama with fantasy/supernatural elements where I thought this aspect of the story was done cohesively and believably.

The entire cast is really nailing their performances, and although there have been some harsh criticisms against Nam Gyuri, she’s really not too bad, albeit a bit bland. All in all, 49 Days is an entertaining drama, and my drama crack of the first half of 2011. Do check it out if you haven’t done so already!

Blue’s clues:
 A director who worked mostly on making movies (this usually means that you can expect to see better than average drama cinematography). Bad writers. (Anyone who worked on Iris is a bad writer in my book. Perhaps I’m being too judgmental?) Big name stars, although for someone who has been concentrating on films, Jung Woo Sung’s acting is disappointing. If you’re looking for mindless entertainment, this might be the drama for you.
Impressions: Nope, I wasn’t being too judgmental after all. I bowed out of this drama somewhere in the middle of episode 2. I tried VERY hard to at least finish the episode, but within five minutes of turning it back on, I kept falling asleep. Every. Single. Time. (I guess this shows that I’m not completely superficial after all if the good looks of the cast couldn’t keep me awake.) After the third attempt, I knew it was a losing battle.

The first 30 minutes or so, Athena starts with bang, bang, bang. And in case you’re wondering, I don’t mean that it “starts with a bang”, but literally with the the sound of explosions and gunshots. You know, bang, bam, tick, tock, I don’t stop. I don’t know how else to describe it because the drama sure didn’t tell us why the characters were killing and torturing each other on-screen. But then the next thing I know, nothing was ever happening but for Jung Woo Sung’s character following around Soo Ae’s character like a love-sick puppy. Words like “mission” and “security” were thrown around every once in a while lest we forget that we were watching a spy action thriller.

The first two episodes of Athena felt like I was watching a really long, big budget music video. Where were the writers in this drama? Instead of trying to establish and develop some sort of story in its earlier episodes, the production just simply waved around special effects and big-name stars in front of our face, asking “Are you impressed yet by our prowess?” Ummm, sorry, but no.

Believe in Love
Blue’s clues:
 Overall, a decent cast. The Sons of Sol Pharmacy did extremely well, and I expect this to do well too (doesn’t have any major competitors either). The problem is that as far as family dramas go, I personally did not like The Sons of Sol Pharmacy. Oh yes, and I also thought School 4 was the worst of the School series. Sigh.
Impressions: Can’t say. I attempted to watch the first episode, but it kept buffering 2-3 minutes into the show. I was going to return to it at a later time, but I ended up never going back. Can you tell I was not interested in this drama at all from the get go? So what do you think? Did I end up missing out on a great family drama? You tell me!

Can You Hear My Heart
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!
Impressions: Let me just get this out of the way.  There’s nothing to watch when it comes to fashion in this drama, so that last sentence in my “Blue’s clues” section turned out to be pretty inapplicable here.

As for the drama itself, I was pretty surprised because it was not what I had expected from Writer Moon Hee Jung. The earlier episodes actually reminded me of old-school Korean weekend family dramas from the 90s (and in case you’re wondering, I do mean that as a compliment), but I just never knew that was Writer Moon’s style. There are some makjang elements in this drama, almost reminiscent of Baker King Kim Tak Gu. But in the  hands of the more talented writer, Can You Hear My Heart never resorts to feeling “cheap” like Baker King.

I’ve read an interview with Moon Hee Jung where she shared that she hopes to one day write a family drama classic like You and I (MBC, 1997-1998). I think Moon is quickly developing into a scriptwriter who I’m going to watch out for to one day do just that. Seriously, let’s bring back the glory days of weekend family dramas, instead of the makjang mess that they’ve all turned into now. *sob*

I had earlier said nothing stands out about the director. Well, I’m going to store PD Kim Sang Ho’s name in my head now because my gosh, if there’s one thing about this drama, it is beautifully filmed!

Oh yes, the cast merits a special mention, especially Jung Bo Suk in the role of the mentally handicapped Bong Young Gyu. It’s hard to believe that he’s the same man who played the deliciously evil villain in Giant just last year. I’m sure the lead actors felt tremendous pressure after the amazing performances delivered by the talented child actors in the earlier episodes, but I’m finding that the adult actors are really holding their ground. But for me who rarely fall victim to the second male lead syndrome, it’s surprisingly Lee Kyu Han in the role of goofy Lee Seung Chul who’s coming to steal my heart.

I’m a week behind in this series and although I’m not in love with this drama yet, I’m enjoying it so far. Good story, well-directed, well-acted. What’s not to like?

Crime Squad
Blue’s cluesBecause 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)!

Impressions: My gosh, did I write a long Blue’s clues section or what, and most of it pretty irrelevant to Crime Squad itself!

The drama synopsis had said: “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.”

Did I miss something? When did “bright and cheerful” come to mean psychopathic killers committing serial murders? I wish the drama either went all out dark and mysterious, or lightweight and heartwarming. Instead, Crime Squad just straddled in the middle being neither this or that, and just told predictable murder “mysteries” that culminated in the good ol’ plot device of corrupt politicians and other higher uppers.

Make no mistake about it. This was a poorly written drama and had some of the cheesiest lines ever. I felt pretty bad for the actors for having to deliver those lines. But depending on the nature of the cases for that week, it did provide mindless entertainment and I ended up finishing the series to the end. Is it weird if I confess that I always watched this drama while working out? It was perfect for that purpose. It never demanded my utmost concentration, but it kept me entertained enough to make doing crunches much less tedious!

Oh, and I must add that I was right about the dramatic gun-down finale. Booyah! Score for Blue!

Dream High
Blue’s clues: Inexperienced director. A sitcom writer. Idol stars. A disaster waiting to happen or an unexpected gem? Kim Soo Hyun, why, why did you pick this project?!
Impressions: Well, in retrospect, it did do Kim Soo Hyun much good because it did help raise his name recognition level with the general public and brought him many endorsement deals.

But which was it? A disaster or an unexpected gem? I never ended up falling in love with Dream High as others did. I didn’t find it to be anything significant or mind-blowing. But on more than one occasions, I found myself smiling despite myself and may have even shed a tear or two. There was a quiet, unassuming charm about it, and although I don’t know if I would go as far as calling it a “gem” of a drama, let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised? I do think much of that is attributed to who I called the “inexperienced” director (Director Lee Eung Bok). There was that same quiet, unassuming charm present in his earlier Drama Special episode (The Great Gye Choon Bin), and his work in Dream High sealed the deal for me. Lee Eung Bok is a talented director, and he’s gained a new fan in me.

Before the show premiered, everyone expressed concern about the young idol cast. As expected, their acting was raw, but despite so, it was surprisingly not annoying. Now, as for Bae Yong Joon’s cameo appearance, well, he should be VERY ashamed of himself… Oh, and Park Jin Young is a HOOT. I think all the scenes where I laughed out loud involved Park Jin Young’s character.

The Duo
Blue’s clues: “Eh” director. Air City was awful, but I think that might be attributed more to the poor writing. A writer who has been around for a long time, and has a pretty 유치한 (juvenile) sense of humor. Expect to see a lot of silly side characters. Not the most exciting actors (when it comes to acting talent), but hey, they’re all nice to look at.
Impressions: Of course, the “writer who has been around for a long time” was in reference to Writer Kim Woon Kyung.

He wrote some enormously popular dramas in the 90s, and earned a status as the writer of “commoner” dramas. To this day, he’s probably the first scriptwriter to come to mind when people think of dramas about those who live in the slums of Korea (달동네).

His dramas are very character-focused and he wrote some very memorable characters, especially side characters. However, the downside is that when I think back to his older dramas, only the characters come to mind and nothing of the plot. Hyung was about two orphaned brothers after the Korean War, and umm, they caught lice off of each other’s back? The Moon of Seoul was about a gigolo and his neighbors? Usually, when I think back to older dramas, I recall the general plot, even if not specific scenes. With Kim Woon Kyung’s dramas, I recall the characters and perhaps some trifling happenings in their daily lives, but I can’t for the life of me remember if there were any plots to them. Is that a good thing or bad? I don’t know… it’s your call.

But when I watched the first two episodes of The Duo, the first thing that came to my mind was, “Wait, is this really a Kim Woon Kyung’s drama?” Granted the last drama of his I watched was The Thief’s Daughter from 2000 and I didn’t even realize that he had continued to write dramas since, but this is not the Kim Woon Kyung I remembered. For one, the first two episodes of The Duo were very fast-paced and there were so many things and revelations made all at once. There weren’t any supporting characters (at least from that I can foresee) making silly comments at the side. Personally, I like this new Kim Woon Kyung much better, if this is something he’s going to keep up throughout the series. That I’m not sure of though because I never ended up continuing after episode 2. It’s not that I actively decided to drop the series, but it just went on the back burner and before long, I gradually forgot about it.

Flames of Ambition
Blue’s clues
Not familiar with the director. Solid (but very dark) writer. I really don’t like Seo Woo. Very anger-inducing characters.
Impressions: I dropped the drama around episode six. Regardless of what I thought about the drama (at the point I dropped it, I had not really established any opinion as to the drama itself), I was too repulsed and disgusted as I watched an earlier scene where the protagonist “induced” her own sister to get raped in order to steal her sister’s spot in an arranged marriage that she coveted for herself. My gosh, must Korean dramas come to this?!

King Geunchogo
Blue’s clues: Should be a solid writer and director team. Pretty good cast. It might be worthwhile to check out if you’re a traditional sageuk fan.
Impressions: I was really captivated by the opening narrative in the first episode where a narrator explains about the founding of Baekje by So Seono and her sons. Both Mama Blue and I exclaimed in excitement, “Ooh, this looks like it’ll be GOOD!” And then just a few minutes later, we both fell asleep in the very same episode during one of the earlier battle scenes. I feel like I experienced both heaven and hell in one episode. Being the quitter that I am and having way too many dramas in my drama queue, this went to the “drop” pile. For those who have continued to watch King Geunchogo, so which is it? Heaven or hell?

Blue’s clues:
 “Eh” director. Writer who has lately been going more for flash than story. Solid cast.
Impressions: I’ve watched few minutes in the first episode, and there’s something about Jang Hyuk’s acting that really bothers me and I couldn’t stomach continuing any further. I don’t know what it is about him because I do like the man himself and admire that he’s one hard worker. But, his face always looks… umm, dead and constipated in his dramas. People praised him for it in Chuno saying he was in character. I wasn’t convinced then, and Midas sealed it for me that that’s just his permanent expression when he acts. But enough with this Jang Hyuk hate. Like I said, I have nothing against the man and actually think he’s quite attractive.

Since Mama Blue has continued to watch the series, so this is really her impression of Midas based on what she told me. She was very ambivalent about it the first couple of episodes, but somewhere around episode eight-ish when Kim Hee Ae’s character betrays Jang Hyuk’s character, she started praising it and called it the best drama from the current weekly lineup and one of Writer Choi Wan Kyu’s best recent dramas. Since I tend to agree with her opinions on most dramas, I’ll take her word for it.

However, when I asked her again last week on how Midas is going, she just said it’s okay and is second-best. (Puhaha, the first being 49 Days. Yay, Mama Blue! I knew she’d come around to the dark side soon enough.)

My Princess
Blue’s clues:
 At least one solid director (I really like him!). Not familiar with the other one director. Very questionable writer. Cast is very easy on the eyes. The leads can’t act, but they’ve been improving lately. It’s possible they may surprise us here.
Impressions: That one solid director is of course in reference to Director Kwon Seok Jang of Pasta. I still like his style and my opinion that he is a good fit for romantic comedy dramas remains unchanged. But I bursted out laughing at the end of episode one when the closing technique (since I’m not aware of what it’s called, let’s just call it stop motion technique) and music style used in My Princess was identical to that of Pasta.

But, oh man, was this a boring drama or what! The only saving grace was the two leads who were adorable together. Earlier, I had said, “Cast is very easy on the eyes. The leads can’t act, but they’ve been improving lately. It’s possible they may surprise us here.” Well, they did surprise me, especially Kim Tae Hee. I’ve always known her to be a pretty-face, but despite so, she always bored me. This was the first time where I understood why she was indeed Korea’s darling. Song Seung Hun still does his signature neck twitches when he wants to emote, but I was surprised to find that his comic timing was good. I don’t understand why they don’t do more romantic comedy dramas.

New Gisaeng Story
Blue’s clues:
 Another ultimate makjang writer. Not familiar with the director, except that he’s the writer’s real-life husband. And typical of the writer’s past works, a newbie actress is in the leading role, if Im Soo Hyang is the lead actress here. (Interesting fact: Most (all?) of her past dramas had 5 characters in its title. This one has four. Does this signify that she’s breaking away from her earlier style?)
Impressions: What can I say? It’s signature Im Sung Han-style drama, and no, she’s not breaking away from it here. The straight-laced, perfect female protagonist. Birth secrets. People giving away their babies like candy. The fortune teller who shows up and always give an accurate foreshadowing of what’s to come. The voiceover of characters’ inner thoughts. Yup, they’re all here.

The last Im Sung Han dramas that I’ve liked were See and See Again and Ondal Princes, and I’ve had an allergic reaction to all her dramas since then. I don’t know whether my tolerance level for Im has gone up or what, but strangely, I don’t find New Gisaeng Story to be too bad. In fact, I’ve managed to watch up to episode 11 so far and although I ended up skipping to the most recent episodes, I am curious as to what will be the fate of the female protagonist. But really, in my heart of hearts, I think I’m just waiting around for the scene that dramaok is waiting for- the hot passionate make out session between Damo and Saran. Wait, it is coming, right?

Paradise Meadow
Blue’s clues: Solid director, decent writers, inexperienced actor (Changmin) and bad actress (Lee Yeon Hee).
Impressions: I really don’t have much to say. The acting by the cast and the story bored me in the first episode. I continued on to episode 2, but immediately fell asleep. So the drama was dropped somewhere in the first half of episode 2? (By the way, in case you’re wondering whether I actually fell asleep in all these dramas mentioned, the answer is yes. Even before I can register in my head and my heart what I think/feel about the drama, my body physically reacts to it first by shutting off and going to sleep when a drama bores me. It’s surprisingly very effective.)

Blue’s clues:
 Not familiar with the director. At least one “eh” writer (Son Young Mok). Solid cast. Choi Soo Jong and Ha Hee Ra are a married couple in real life, and their acting is top-notch here.
Impressions: I stand corrected. My assessment of Son Young Mok as an “eh” writer was based on his work in The Iron Empress, which I found to be an awful sageuk drama. (Our local tv channel used to air it during our family dinner time and we found it so awful that our dinnertime chat always consisted of “W(ho)TF wrote this crap?!”) But Writer Son really redeemed himself with President (although two other writers should also be credited with it). I didn’t enjoy it as much as I probably should have and I should add the caveat that this drama is not for everyone (which explains the low TV ratings), but if there’s one thing I have to say about this drama, it is very well-written. The only criticism I have is that being the cynical one that I am, I didn’t buy the drama’s portrayal of the majority of presidential candidates being people with the best wish of the country in mind, and I also found the ending to be rather anti-climatic.

Royal Family
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?
Impressions: Royal Family had such a promising start. Immediately after episode 1 ended, I started the next episode right away because I wanted more, more, more. (This is a rare occurrence for me.) The drama was well-directed and the cast was great. (Yes, even Cha Yeh Ryun.) The story was compelling, and I was left in a daze at the prospect that Yeom Jung Ah’s Kim In Sook character may not be this angel that we think she is.

In the hands of a more talented writer, this could have turned into an awesome series that explored the mentality of chaebols. But instead, with the introduction of the murder subplot, I quickly lost interest. It seemed like the writer wanted to tie this in to the moral ambiguity of our female protagonist, but instead, I thought the story just seemed to lose focus and was becoming a very middle-of-the-block K-drama. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. It was oh so safely mediocre.

Blue’s clues:
 Director who did mostly films (See my above comment for Athena.) The only problem is that I got terribly bored watching Spring Breeze. The director and the scriptwriter are a married couple. I wonder how that’ll affect the drama filming, if at all.
Impressions: Oh, Sign! This drama pains me the most because it really could have been a very good drama. In the first half of the series, the cases were interesting and kept me on my toes. As a viewer, I really wanted to know what the missing clues were, just like the forensic investigators looking for them.

But as the drama progressed on, it became merely sensational. Did all the death cases have to be serial murders by psychopaths out on a killing spree? My gosh, if you watch this show, you would think Korea was a country of serial murderers. The first or two cases of such was fine. But when they’re all such cases, I found myself rolling my eyes. Oh, another psychopathic serial murderer who gets high off of killing people? Why, of course! Aren’t they all?

The problem started in the second half after PD Jang Hang Joon stepped down from his directorial job and took his wife’s job of writing the drama. Since he took over, the cases lost any “human” touch to them, and became more and more about how to make the case involved bigger and badder than the one prior to it.

Smile, Mom
Blue’s clues:
 The ultimate makjang writer. Kang Min Kyung wins my worst actor of the year award.
Impressions: Sorry, haven’t checked out this drama and have nothing to report. Then on what basis did I honor Kang Min Kyung with the worst actor of the year award?

No further comment.

Thorn Birds
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.
Impressions: Sorry, haven’t checked out this drama. I was almost tempted to because of my new-found love for Han Hye Jin after Jejoongwon, but it’s just not going to happen here.

Twinkle, Twinkle
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.
Impressions: I have nothing to update here since what I last said about the first episode. I haven’t picked it up again since then.

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25 Responses to Blue’s drama report (Jan-Apr 2011)

  1. supah says:

    After reading yours, thought I’d share mine:

    49 Days: dropped. I haz major issues with the writer and wanted to find something to hate about the drama, but couldn’t really find it, then I freaked out about a Lee Yo-won/Jo Hyun-jae pairing looking highly unlikely. Jo Hyun-jae is too precious for Nam Gyuri — so show is dropped. (You can’t find a better excuse to hate a show than that, really.) But I won’t steal him away from you. I’ll just ogle him in First Love instead, hee! (It’s a show that’s been sitting on my hard drive for yonks, need to finish it and delete the files.)

    Athena: the promos of Jung Woo-sung in bed with every. single. female cast member were enough to make sure I was not going to touch this sleazefest with a ten-foot pole.
    You did well to drop it earlier than later, sistah.

    Believe in Love: couldn’t get through first episode, nothing special, seemed rather bland.

    Can You Hear my Heart: WUB! So bad, mockworthy bad, but where it’s good, it’s full of heart and reminds me of Smile (which, like you said was crammed with heart) and I just can’t tear myself away from it. I think I’ll be sticking with this through the end. Helps that I am loving the majority of the cast. And I totally, electro-shocked myself by fancying Kim Jae-won… He’s just turned out all manly after MS. Rawr!
    Namgoong Min IS turning in a rather bland performance, but in recent episodes, he’s beginning to disturb me, is it just me or does he have sizzling sexual chemistry with Kim Jae-won’s Dong-joo aka. his ‘brother’, his ‘sister’ Woo-ri (Hwang Jung-eum) AND his foster mother. I swear I’m just not just imagining things….

    Crime Squad: Wouldn’t have minded a cop procedural with a Kim Seung-woo and Sung Ji-roo reunion, but that didn’t happen. Still, I’ve not really had the motivation to check it out.

    Scream High: This stands for everything I kind of dislike, so acted completed blind, deaf, dumb to it. And wished for it to be over really quickly, so I wouldn’t have to see a precious Kim Soo-hyun being wasted in this show (and gaining mass popularity for pretty lame reasons — when we all know he is so much more than that).

    Duo: Watched the first episode and really liked it, vowed to return but… I’m lacking the motivation to return; not so fond of the adult cast.

    Flames of Ambition: I like this, I’m anticipating the twists. I too had a problem with the rape scenes in the opening episodes, and skipped the entire second episode.
    The men are completely useless but I’m liking the performances by the actresses, even SEK’s/Na-young’s meek and unassuming sister.

    King Geunchogo:
    I liked the writer’s previous work Ja Myunggo and had mixed feelings about her Fashion 70s, but just didn’t have the stamina to commit to a long-length sageuk, especially where I wasn’t too excited about the cast either. Recently I’m hearing people moan about it, so it’s a no-go for me.

    Midas: Liked the first episode, but like Duo, just don’t feel like returning to finish it.

    Princess: Ew. Like Scream High, it’s my worst nightmares condensed into drama format.

    Gisaeng Tales: WUB! Not seen any of Im Sung-han’s dramas before so everything is new and unexplored terrain for me. I really like it. Refreshing, intelligent and I always enjoy the performances, plus awesome OST. (Miji <3)
    Btw, they've already had a steamy (too-hot-for-TV) makeout session — but then I'm up to date, on episode 30.

    Paradise Ranch: So baaaad. SO, so BAAAAD! Probably worse than Scream High and Princess, even. I was dared into watching the first episode and still haven't recovered.

    President: It's the Comrades PD, did you not watch Comrades? He's amazing. Watched the first episode and ehhh… I'd been expecting a different kind of political drama, it had first been described as very Sandglass-like, then they changed their minds. Forget it.

    Royal Family: Ji Sung. As a Prosecutor. Forget it.

    Sign: Ehhh.. Forget it.

    Smile, Mom: Ehhh… Forget it.

    Thorn Birds: Liked the cast, checked out the first six episodes. It remained shrill and makjangy. Dropped it like a hot potato.

    Twinkle Twinkle: Too standard. Love the cast but couldn't get past the first episode.

    • Kristal says:

      OMG, Hot makeout session on Gisaeng?! That’s funny because I was watching episode 27 yesterday and literally screaming at my tv ‘can you two just kiss and get it over with already?! sheesh’. Two really beautiful people with chemistry like those two need to be like kissing every episode. Just sayin…

      • supah says:

        OK, Kristal, you’ve been caught, SO caught. You’ve been fast-forwarding or skipping episodes altogether, if you’ve missed that?

        I meant ‘sorry to spam*’ in the comment below about the youtube clip. D’oh!

      • Kristal says:

        I fast forwarded through some scenes in the earlier eps but it was mostly the scenes with the male workers at the gisaeng and the kitchen lady. You’re not talking about that fantasy sequence early on are you at the villa or whatever? Cause I don’t count that.

  2. ripgal says:

    LOL at the Worst Actor clip..

    No particular drama WOWed me this year. President is on tops then Royal Family?

  3. blue says:

    Yay! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    I’m with you about The Duo. I liked the first two episodes and vowed to return. But like you, I just lacked the motivation to do so. I wonder why that is…

    Nope, haven’t watched Comrades. It’s one of those dramas on my to-watch list because of the rave reviews, but for some reason, I’m just not motivated to actually go out and watch it…

    “Btw, they’ve already had a steamy (too-hot-for-TV) makeout session — but then I’m up to date, on episode 30.”

    Reminder to self: Go watch episode 30. Thanks for letting me know!

    Isn’t that Worst Actor clip precious? It’s so awful, but for some reason, I find myself keep re-watching it.

    The hilarious thing is that the name of the clip is “Kang Min Kyung Vuvuzela.”

    • supah says:

      Comrades was a pretty solid war drama. I thought it was great (personally I say Giant takes the crown for best drama of 2010, but it’s a pretty strong contender still.) Still, if you’ve seen Eyes of Dawn (aka. the Omma of all war epics) Comrades suddenly seems tame and lightweight in comparison.
      (I’ve finally d/loaded all episodes of EoD, but am too chicken to resume, stuck at episode 5 currently.)

      Ohh… The steamy makeout scene isn’t in episode 30. I want you to watch all those episodes between 11-30 and find it for yourself.

      • supah says:

        And sorry to say, but yeah, I LOLed till I could LOL no more at that clip. The choice of background music makes it even more hilarious.

  4. missjb says:

    blue, I love your review, especially crime squad and athena review. It make ROFL. haha
    I may check can you hear my heart, i love this kind of drama. A Drama with alot of heart.

  5. nytah says:

    I’m with you on 49 days!
    Kang is the best, though i do think he looks better with Lee Yo Won rather than Nam Gyu Ri.
    I started watching 2-3 eps of Can You Hear My Heart but i found it rather boring, with the little kids being the best part. It didn’t seem worth it to continue after they grew up.

  6. Mrs. Hand Towel says:

    That Smile, Mom clip was HILARIOUS!! I would have given her the same side eye the guy was giving her…
    49 days rocks my socks!

  7. D says:

    thank you for making me laugh with that clip…..but my worst actor of the year (so far) would go to Lee Yeon Hee in PR..not even Changmin or even the bevy of idols that adorned the screen in Dream High……I probably could have continued with the drama had it not been for the nails-on-chalkboard reaction that her performance was inducing in me

  8. lei2010 says:

    49days mind bogling at first, then midway, i began to get tired of the repetitive scenes and i’m beg to lose interest but now there’s many revelations and its getting interesting again, i can’t lose my grip! who the heck is Y sibling, i wonder and how i hate M and IJ, go get the tears J?

    CYHMH yeah ur right there’s a flare of makjang here but not overly done, many unforgetable scenes, u can feel it, and i love those kids they were so adorable that little DJ is excellent and KJW i love his smile and i felt his loneliness, i can relate with his character in some way, but im nt totally impaired only sick, but i don’t know with the girl W i thought at first she’s ok but as the ep pass by i’m beg to wonder y didn’t they cast a much appealing character of W. But I will watch this for sure till the end.

    The Duo – fascinating at first then i start to wonder what’s the story behind this… why do they have to put those scenes is it impt? and what abt those scenes with the 2nd lead why aren’t they putting so much care when the lead is not eye candy at all… but oh well, i still want to know the ending who will ends with whom…

    Manny – i just like to watch rom-com drama, since there’s none airing so far, and i like the main guy. he’s cast in the ob-gyne drama last year.

    the rest of the drama i don’t like, i will just dl older dramas.
    blue; can u recommend older dramas to watch particularly in a rom-com genre, i’m still dl daljas’s spring then later on sangdo, any more? i’ve fin WIAN though i like the drama but i don’t like the ending.

    • blue says:

      Sorry, but which drama is WIAN?

      As for rom-com recommendations, which dramas have you seen and liked so far? Everyone has such different tastes… But for me personally, I’d recommend My Girl, Delightful Girl Choonhyang, Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy, Soulmate, Pasta, and What’s Up, Fox. They’re all fairly recent so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding subs either.

      It just started airing, but I’m really liking what I’ve seen so far of Best Love. You should check it out if you haven’t done so already! *Cross fingers that it continues to deliver!*

      As I haven’t watched My Name is Kim Sam Soon yet (oh, the blasphemy!), I can’t personally recommend it. But people who I trust have all said it’s pretty good, so you might want to try it out as well.

      • lei2010 says:

        its When its at Night starring Kim Sun Ah & Lee Dong Gun, i like KSA after watching MNIKSS and LDG in Sweet 18. yeah ur right diff people have diff taste coz this drama is not well liked by anyone but as for me, i enjoy watching tho i don’t like the ending.

        Best Love i couldn’t find a link where i could watch it in eng sub yet.

        I will try Pasta, and Biscuit Teacher & Star Candy coz the rest I already watched, too bad I couldn’t watch Sandglass in Dramafever coz its not working in my country.

      • blue says:

        Wow, you watched a lot of rom-com dramas. If you don’t mind checking out longer family dramas instead of the conventional rom-com dramas, I think you might like “Smile, You” and “Family Honor” as well.

        Btw, Sandglass is a good drama, but it is a drama surrounding political corruption/gangsters in Korea during the 70s and 80s. So it actually might not be a drama that you had in mind.

  9. lei2010 says:

    well, actually i’ve been a fan of k-drama a long time too, and my country used to air rom-com and saguek drama genre that’s why i was able to watch those. I already watched Smile, You, tho i didn’t watched it from its 1st ep, but when i saw Jung in got abandon after her wedding, got hook with it, and i couldn’t wait for a day to watched it so began to hunt it down in the net. fav character is the grandfather, most unforgettable scene is when the grandfather was diagnosed of having a stomach cancer and the first thing he asked is if its hereditary, that drama is full of love, i cry and laughed at the same time, fav family k-drama…

    i’ve been trying not to get hooked with a drama if its 30+ but what can i say if its worth it, then its ok to have eyebags once again… family honor i haven’t watched but i will take a look… hope its not teary kind drama, coz im a tearjerker that’s why i often like to watch rom-com. but if its political corruption, i don’t mind, as long as the main lead is eye candy and there’s romance, y not…

    • blue says:

      That was one of my favorite scenes in Smile, You too! I cried so much when the grandfather asked whether his cancer was hereditary. (Btw, he had liver cancer, not stomach cancer.)

      Family Honor is not a tear-jerker. Not a comedy either, but just romance/family drama? Based on the dramas that you’ve shared you liked, I think you might enjoy it!

      You seem to have watched a lot of dramas. Please share if you have any recommendations for me!

      • lei2010 says:

        i don’t know if there’s some drama i can recommend based on ur extensive long list of already watched drama, to be exact my list of already watched drama is not nearly 100 yet. But if u haven’t watch Snow in August, try that one, tho the drama is underrated but the story is good although i’m a bit disappointed at the ending, and if u haven’t watched this movie, pls try these too, M, Blue Swallow and Heartbreak Library.

        and if u want to watch j-drama, i can recommend some, somehow, if there’s no drama i watch in korean, i look for j-drama since its only 11 ep and the way japanese talks it amuses me somehow.

  10. kcomments says:

    Boy, Blue your takes put smiles on my face ^^, now I know the word I felt when checking on a bit of Baker King, yes ‘cheap’, not to offense anyone, that’s how I felt about the production despite the Ratings. And please allow me to share my thoughts ^^

    Quite slow in the first half, so I didn’t really follow every week, but recent episodes were good. The actress (sorry couldn’t remember her name) who portrays J and Y really doing a marvelous job, cuz I didn’t confuse who she was portraying even within seconds that they swapped, solid acting. It’s just me that I could not find myself to discuss sth like ‘oh, now he knew that J used Y body’, I mean words like this from the lead character in the real world, I wish the writer had other way handling this issue. The way the writer kept adding and changing rules as the story progressed, was kind of made me wary, of course it’s done professionally that all were fallen into places, still I felt a bit cheated. I was really anxious to see how the writer would wrap everything at the end before, but now from recent episodes, I think I can guess a bit, hehe. Well, I like this one more than *cough* SG *cough* it’s not a bang bang thing but subtly nice.

    Crime Squad: Tried but failed. It should either go for serious crime drama or rom-com light hearted one, not in between. So I could choose whether to laugh or cry.

    My Princess: the monarchy thing didn’t convince me(including her palace), but watched the OTP moments, so cute, they should attempt more rom-com. I finished East of Eden cuz of this drama(man, the ending!).

    Paradise Meadow: Ouch, really tried cuz the premise, ouch Changmin. Now I remember, forgot to find out why they divorced.

    Sign: Afraid of corpses, and his screams.

    Twinkle, Twinkle: funny how I watched this a bit every week, cuz was waiting for Can You Hear My Heart to air next, the acting’s bored me, don’t know why. Talk about ‘I really really like you’, how those dialects tortured me.

    Of this year drama, only finished one ‘Dream High’, almost dropped it at episode 4, but the sing off made me continue. It’s not the best but charming. It’s like when you sit at the park, and you see all those kids running around, having a good time of their life, they capture you eyes, can’t help smiling with them. ‘Dream High’ brought me back to my school days when I started to dream, what I wanted to be, silly things I did but meant so much at that age. When Song Sam Dong said when you are adult, there are less and less things to smile about. So true, I loved that.

    Currently on ‘Can You Hear My Heart?'(my second drama this year), I first watched it cuz of the premise, didn’t really watched ‘Smile, You’, didn’t know the writer, and I didn’t watch so many family drama (last one was Golden Bride), so zero expectation, and boy surprised by the quality of the drama, well-directed, interesting premise, and beautifully made. I’m in love with this drama cuz of its ‘Gentleness’ and ‘Hearts’. I couldn’t believe I fall for KJW, didn’t like his previous dramas that much, but his portraying of a deaf Cha Dong Joo just melt my heart.

    Iviih put this MV on Softy’s blog, really want to share it here, beautiful mv. The person put his/her name all in Korean alphabets, could you please translate his name to the sound of English? Thanks ^^ and sorry for the long post.

    • blue says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, kcomments! Enjoyed it a lot!

      Aww, such a sweet MV! I’m falling further behind in CYHMH. You’re reminding me that I should get at it this weekend and catch up!

      I’m not sure what you’re asking me to translate… Do you mean the title of the YT clip?

      If so, it says, “Dongjoo & Woori- I Smile Because of You.”

      “I Smile Because of You” is a song released this year by Na Yoon Kwon.

      • kcomments says:

        Thanks Blue for the translations, I thought it’s the name of a person who made this mv, turned out to be the song’s name, hehe.

  11. solbay2 says:

    Out of all the shows, I’ve only seen Dream High and I plan to watch 49 Days in the distant future. I loved Dream High. It had a lot of heart and also made me reconsider my stance about kpop–no, actually my opinion was 100% changed after watching this show. However I don’t think it was that good (especially with the acting of Taecyeon and Woo Young, ugh).

    This quote “Hyung was about two orphaned brothers after the Korean War, and umm, they caught lice off of each other’s back?” plus that clip of the woman shouting made me giggle 😀

  12. doozy says:

    ahahahhaha… that clip is gold. Thanks for the laugh, blue!

  13. ditdut says:

    Gotta say I’m really really liking Can You Hear My Heart and 49 Days. Like you, 49 Days is officially my crack drama as well. Fortunately for me, the drama got me hooked almost from the get go. I think by episode 2 or 3, I was already fully on board. I like that with So Hyunkyung drama, romance isn’t an immediate priority. I love that her dramas are mostly about understanding who you are and finding yourself. True, romance is prevalence here, but she really knows how to portion it such that the drama’s main focus isn’t merely romance. I think it’s a problem with a lot of k-dramas where it’s all just about two people getting together.

    Can You Hear my Heart is a suprise for me. I watched the first 2 episodes and it didn’t manage to grab me. But a few days ago, I skipped ahead and started watching from the adult portion and I found myself loving it A LOT! I do wish Bong Woori isn’t such a traditionally perfect kindhearted girl. It would’ve been more interesting if she isn’t so typical. But it is such a charming cast, Yoon Yeojung just takes the cake. I’ve gotta feeling I will be shedding so much tear as her illness progresses T_________T

    I’m sorry, but My Princess was my go to cute cotton candy of doom. It was just soooooo cute that I kinda just breezed through the mucho crap inbetween and still liked it. It’s the kind of drama you really watch with your brain rested. But damn, it was so adorable.

    Couldn’t last to 2 episodes of Twinkle Twinkle. Same with Paradise Meadow, Crime Squad, Sign, and Dream High (actually I tried about 4 episodes of DH but couldn’t connect with the supposed awesomeness of it).

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