Thursday, January 31, 2013
This really was an interesting kdrama year, for me. Everything that was a hit and that I liked, I liked a lot. And I mean a lot. On the other hand, whatever made me angry, made me Hulk-out completely. Despite the repetition of themes such as time travel and body swapping, we had quite a good variety of shows. There is one thing about this year which acted as a blessing and a curse in Korean television. People aimed for freshness. This means that we had those capable of it and allowed to carry it out, who did excellent works, and those who simply bit on more than they could chew. And spat it out in our faces.
As you would expect of me, I will praise and attack fairly and without mercy.
I bring you The Good, The Bad, The Out of Date and finally The Best Of, as well as one special (although hardly honorable) mention. The Out of Date dramas are the ones I watched this year, that were not made in 2012. They were in my 2012, however, so they will be included in this list of mini-reviews.
Let's start with The Good. Click on the titles for more info.
One I am hesitating to recommend, as it suffers from that last-minute-melo curse many a rom-com is met with. You see, this is rom-com for the most part, until it turns into a thriller and some of the main characters suddenly develop split dominant personalities. Also, terribly annoying idol, Jessica, is "acting" in it and you've been officially warned. However, the main couple is fun and has chemistry, Lee Si Yeong is as adorable-on-amphetamine as ever and it's mostly cute and light entertainment. I do think it's worth trying and it's in some ways original, but don't expect too much. This is good to kill time and brain cells. And standards... But it's still watchable.
A dystopian society? Noir-ey filming? Superheroes? If it's one thing this is, it is original. Being an OCN series, 'Hero' is quite the eye-candy in some aspects and it's polished and thrilling. I only had one issue with this. The cases the hero solves fall right in his lap, in every episode and by a complete accident. Every. Single. Time. Also, Heuk Cheol (Yang Dong Geun) can turn people off, especially if they don't know OCN goes for multi-season series. See, Heuk Cheol is just in it for the fun, until the last 2-3 episodes when things get serious. Season 1 is the start of his journey, so you need to complete it to get it. The last 2 episodes were gold. Dark, sad, inspiring, well-written. This has the potential to have more soul and meaning than other OCN series so far. So, I'm here, I am recommending this and I'm waiting, OCN. Dazzle me.
Queen In Hyun's Man
I actually liked the cellphone part!... Are the haters gone? Good. It's true though, some of the things that annoyed me in this were things others loved and the ones I liked those others didn't. However, it's a very fresh sleek take on romance that does drama and not melo (highly appreciated in an industry based on copy/paste). It's an overall good looking and smart show, complete with some adult romance. I mean one with actual physical contact not "adult" as in "they cry a lot". Although they do cry a bit, even if it's mostly cute and light. I was frankly expecting to swoon more and didn't 100% connect with the couple, but it was good enough. A pleasant new take on things. Well done, tvN.
God's Quiz 3
How could I leave this out? Remember my whining about getting this subbed? Well, subs are a-plenty out now, so you no longer have an excuse to not watch this. This is a not-so-subtle hint that you should watch it. Go watch it. Season 3 went darker and more tense than ever, giving Ryu Deok Hwan even more to work with and show his awesomeness through. Ahn Nae Sang was a pleasant addition, although I did miss Yoon Joo Hee and was glad to see she might be back for Season 4. Which I hope happens. I really really hope. What more can I say about this? It's 'God's Quiz' and it still rocks. I give this an Ori-stamp of approval OCN gets another cookie.
I Do, I Do
While the whole abortion = evil bit did leave a bitter taste in my mouth, it was not overdone to an offending degree. It's just that it is always a disappointment to see entertainment reinforcing views on issues that modern societies and their culture should be trying to look at more humanely. That said, lovely series, nice characters which felt down to Earth and were easy so sympathize with. The romantic chemistry, or lack thereof, between the main couple was an issue with me and will be with you, unless you latch on to the plot and try to ignore it. It is a sweet, feel-good story, with a great cast and nice things to say. Not great, but quite good.
In the same category as 'Wild Romance', this is really just some light fluff. Better than 'Wild Romance', as no one loses their mind (only their memories) and with a very endearing cast of characters. It's pure fun and fluff and although it does get tiring at times, it's worth watching for all the laughs. Kim Kang Woo has an endless capacity for making an idiot of himself and he does it so well that you can't help but love him. The plot is not really anything special and it serves more as a platform for the fluff and shenanigans, but I like my light entertainment when it does not take me for an idiot. If you want to empty your mind and fill some time, watch this.
Vampire Prosecutor 2
Things are getting darker as we move on to Season 2 and more players enter the game. The characters are getting closer, things are getting sadder and the plot thickens. I did feel Tae Yeon was somehow disconnected from things, but maybe that was partially the point. New Big Bad in town and he's threatening Tae Yeon's team. I have to say, I loved the addition of Dr. Jo. He and Ji Ae brought some much needed humanity into the whole thing and both Lee Kyeong Yeong and little miss Kim Ji Yeong played those parts perfectly. Yoshitaka Yuriko was also a pleasant addition and actually had a use in the story, rather than being there to decorate the set or as a gimmick. I liked it a lot and can't wait for more. You spoil me, OCN.
The King of Dramas
The series which almost made my 'Best Of' list for 2012. Most of it was wonderful. Vibrant characters, excellent suspense and drama, it managed to avoid all the kdrama cliches and even go that extra meta-step further and show us what drama-making is like and why we get the outcome that we do. Ironically, it eventually fell victim to the things it set on mocking. You cannot, try as you may, convince me that the last few episodes' fiasco was the writer's own intention. I will stick to my theory that, like many a drama, this was mangled by the higher ups in a desperate attempt for money. I do not blame the production team and I genuinely feel sorry for them, but I must judge the final outcome, despite what happens backstage. What could have been a masterpiece drama is now a good one. I still recommend it, despite the cruelty it was treated with.
Undoubtedly the favorite of many for 2012. 'Bridal Mask' took action, period and bromance to whole new levels. While it really was a wonderful series, it did not make my favorites because of a few issues. The female lead, for one. Jin Se Yeon simply can't act. I do not accept "she's a rookie" as an excuse for complete lack of talent. No offense to the lady and this rejection of mine is not for her, it is for her as an actress. To me, one of the most important characters didn't connect. I call that a flaw. Also, Shunji was a great and tortured character. However, I feel they did not give him a smooth enough transition and show his inner struggle as much as they should have. Excellent series and I fully recommend it, but I just stated two of the few reasons why it didn't make my favorites.