Reply 1997 may be owning my heart in terms of quality and heart at the moment, but it’s certainly not the only drama I’m watching. The rest on my plate are not nearly as good or heartfilled with lovely squee-worthy moments , they’re not like really good or even half-good (save for Arang), but they’re not loathsome to an extent that I’d consider them trashbin-worthy yet. I think after AGD I’ve developed a weird drama watching formula. That drama sucked in the female characterisation department, totally degraded the self value of women to zero, the guys weren’t great, but at least they had own personal beliefs worth fighting for and were amusing – they were the only reason why I continued watching till the end. And hence, the formula – find the hook or something worth watching for, quality or not, crap or not, I give it a try. Drama doesn’t necessarily have to be wow or good in all aspects, gimme something or one thing to love, no, just mere like or interest will do, I’ll watch you.
Golden Time (12/13)
Passable medical drama, doesn’t have the intellect of White Tower, and yet isn’t all out dramatic like Brain either. It’s got moderate focus on both the medical and political side of the profession, and glosses through medical procedures and ethics reasonably well. There are some interesting cases, some boring, some predictable ones, but none of them are particularly over-emphasised or dramatised to draw unnecessary tears. Good thing, no tears wasted on manufactured plot, bad thing, drama just feels present, a bit mundane and every day like.
Writing can be quite uneven and uneventful in spite of the different medical cases presented, but if we pay close attention to some details here and there, the heart is there. With some dashes of realism (tho not very obvious). There are also moments of dilemma and conflict which we can relate to, no matter in which profession we are. Moments of frustration and stress, when faced with decisions between 2 evils. Drama deals with those issues, barely scraping thru, but they’re at least taken into consideration. It’s not just a drama with doctors managing to save every single dying patient with their godly hands or skills. Patients die, feelings have to be dealt with. Part and parcel of life, of a doctor.
Execution is just decent, sometimes a bit choppy in editing but it’s the least of my gripes. Acting-wise, Lee Seong Min is stealing the show as the confident, practical but emotionally hardened Doctor Choi who fights all out, blood and body for his patients. Unfamiliar name? The actor who played schizophrenic professor in Brain, and our beloved King Jae Ha’s brother in K2H, that’s him. He’s charismatic without being over, and HOT without having to try. And his acting, just top-notch. The way he immerses in the role, exquisite. Lee Seon Gyeon is doing fine, Hwang Jung Eum, just okay. But if we’re talking about show here, you need to give it to Dr. Choi.
Half-way thru, we haven’t got a tinge on romance yet, but the signs are there. I’m neutral on LSG and HJE’s characters getting together, because I feel they click best and most natural as buddies and colleagues. But Dr. Choi and his assistant Shin Eun Ah played by Song Seon Mi, their understated chemistry and tension – so freaking electrifying. Their feelings are more often compressed and restrained, but yet they are explosive whenever they’re together. And they share just a few scenes together in each episode! Shows how much experienced acting actually makes a difference.
10 more episodes, not expecting much from the writer, but if pace maintains the way it is, I have no major complaints. It’s not gonna get a WOW or WOAH from me, but at least, I learn something along the way.
Arang and The Magistrate (02/02)
Arang and The Magistrate, no doubt, has the better cast/plot/acting/direction ensemble out of the plate. They’re not necessarily all stellar or great, but they’re all above average decent, which makes the whole package a lot more enjoyable and easier to watch without having to worry about nerves or hair. 2 episodes in, pace is already set, characters are already introduced sufficiently well, motives are told, and more than anything else, we already have a sizzling OTP in the making.
The premise of the story is quite bizarre but refreshing. A ghost and human co-existing in harmony, how’s that? The last time I heard, humans feared the other world like the plague. Which makes it all the more interesting that the ghosts in this drama are not fearsome at all, and are actually cute endearing spirits which, which can also come in the form of a Shin Mina. 😛 Add a Lee Jun Ki into the mix, who plays the indifferent to the world-on-outside-but warm inside magistrate Eun Oh with his own take and with such plethora of charisma, I haven’t heard an overly critical or bad word about this combination. Their story, their acting and their chemistry, so far – everything that I want from this drama done right. Not that I’d expected a lot in the first place, and not that they’re doing amazing wonders, but at least they’ve gotten off to a good start.
I can already foresee my heart thumping and breaking for the OTP – for one they’re such a compatible pair that you can’t deny their fondness for each other, but on the other, they’re split by worlds so far apart. How in the world can they even up together?! The only possible solution? We have Yoo Seung Ho playing the Jade Emperor (WTF?!!!!) in here, who has a pet-goat which can emote as good as he can, so I conclude that anything can happen.
Romance aside, the mystery of the other guy intrigues me more than anything. It’s interesting to see Yeon Woo Jin play a darkish evil character who has secrets up his back (possibly linked to Arang’s death?). He played such an endearing smart ass in Ojakyo Bros it’s definitely going to take some time to adapt to an entirely different him in here.
I’ve heard and read minor complaints on Shin Minah looking overly modern-like as Arang. Her sageuk speech needs polishing I concur but I fail to see where she lacks playing a lady clad in a hanbok. I think she exudes cheerful elegance and confidence in it and certainly doesn’t bug me in any way. Perhaps if she can tone down her exaggerated gestures it will be better, but so far I’m fine with how her character’s being presented.
Overall, a good and interesting beginning. With good direction, acting and awesome music (score and instrumentals are great). Not sure how long it’s gonna last for me, but I’m gonna savour it while it lasts.
Faith / The Great Doctor (04/04)
I’m such a diehard shallow fan of pretteh, I must admit that. I had the highest expectations for Faith out of all the new dramas. Song Ji Nah and Legend (which I loved), which word doesn’t spell EPIC there? And it has pretty Lee Min Ho, what can possibly go wrong?!
And wrong it goes indeed. This drama has the worst ensemble of every drama element out there. Not that none of them are capable of being salvaged, but it really sucks to see a potential for epic go down the drain like this. The trailers actually looked good, but it looks like we’ve been taken for a ride. Aiks.
First off, both the production and the direction of Faith are horrible, terrible and atrocious! I have seriously not cringed over such shabby production this much, the costumes look worn out and old, an obvious recycle of Legend’s fittings, the setting unappealing and “cheap” looking. And to top it off, the worst than lackluster direction to add to the horrid. I really don’t get what happened to Kim Jong Hak, Legend looked awesome and epic on all scales, but Faith, geez, everything looks reused old and patched up shoddily. It took me about 3 eps to figure things out, you know, not everyone’s a Yonsama. Lee Min Ho and Kim Hee Sun may be huge names in Korea, but they’re no Yonsama. Hence the lack of production costs for a grander scale perhaps?
Writing is just okay, but very amateurish for an experienced writer like Song Ji Nah, who had begun off with classics like Sandglass and Eyes of Dawn. There are some interesting plots in the drama, but somehow they come off really forced and are paced all over, there isn’t any coherence at all. A reason why I wish for a better direction and production, at least if the writing sucks, some really nice cinematography and visuals can make up for what’s lacking. Unfortunately, the magic of the writer-PD team has obviously eroded over the years, what we get is a combo mesh of lackluster-ness, it’s so embarassing.
Then…we have screechy/noisy Kim Hee Sun and underperforming Lee Min Ho (okay he’s improves a bit in 3/4) plus the other subpar supporting actors (save for Ryu Deuk Hwan an Park Se Young playing King and Queen, they’re way underrated, but their performances are decent enough), it’s easy to see why some people actually dropped this drama 2 episodes in. I know Eun Soo’s supposed to be annoyingly fidgety and unsettled (she’s in a different world), but goodness gracious, I never really thought NOISY could annoy me to this extent. I seriously cannot stand her screechy and high pitched noisiness, the way she moves around like a jumpy bunny, woman, stay still! I know you’re supposed to be noisy, but I cannot see and believe a modern female from the 21st century (let alone a doctor/surgeon) acting like this! o_0 Even her OTT acting doesn’t bug me as much, it’s annoying. Lee Min Ho on the other hand, is managing fine. I think he underperformed in the first 2 eps, but he got a lil better in 3 and 4 and is showing a lot more range (albeit not too extensive) as things move along. It’s just that he tends to look empty and devoid of soul when he’s in deep thoughts, making him a tad hard to understand. But I believe he’s got what it takes, I’m gonna give him some time and a benefit of doubt (boy I have faith in you, you better not disappoint).
Characters and OTPs-set up wise, I’m all for the King and the Queen! I’m not particularly invested in Choi Young/Eun Soo because I know they will end up together, it’s a given. I do like seeing Choi Young taking charge when ES’s too noisy to be taken seriously, but that’s about it. I’m sure they’ll be cute and stuff, but ehhhh. However, the King and the Queen, oh they intrigue me like no other! I already love their estranged relationship from the get-go, and how they have this love-hate affection for each other. I don’t want no triangle or square love conflict, keep CY/ES and King/Queen and I’ll be good. Individually, I like the King the most, followed by Choi Young and Noguk. Writing’s not doing much but Ryu Deuk Hwan’s giving his best, making us empathize with the unwelcome King who wants to be accepted and acknowledged. Choi Young, just because he’s Lee Min Ho (okay I’m shallow) and Noguk, because she’s got sass and spunk, albeit very restrained.
That said, there’s no denying drama’s still a hot mess. Many wrongs cannot make a right look good. Right now I’m merely hanging on for the King/Queen story and his story with Choi Young. It would be interesting to see how Choi Young will grow to understand and love his King for real, and not just out of duty. Bromance always works best for me if OTP doesn’t work out. Writer Song, just give me that will you? I ask for no more.
Miss Rose (02/04)
Another one I’m watching for the hots! Roy Qiu oh Roy Qiu, why are you so damn FIONNNNEEE?! <333
Watched 1st 2 eps, and there really isn’t anything new or fresh about this. A recycled and typical cliched set-up, with the same old format used in practically every single TW series out there. It doesn’t bother me too much though, because I generally have very very low, sometimes no expectations for TW series. They’re all the same – cheesy OTT and ridiculously out of this world unrealistic. But we do love a fairytale story sometimes, girls will always be girls.
Premise is very City Hall like as ockoala mentioned in her blog, basically the same if we tweak the job descriptions of both Roy and Megan’s characters a bit. The difference here is that both the main characters Gao Cheng Kuan and Rose are slightly milder compared to Jo Guk and Mi Rae in CH. GCK is the typical smart and confident character while Rose is just an ordinary subordinate who has her own set of survival skills in the bloody competive world. Everything from the set-up to execution is vapid hackneyed and devoid of originality.
But eye-candy is really a very dangerous thing, and Roy Qiu is no simple eye-candy. I seriously think I can watch crap just for him..his beautiful eyes and stares and Y(u$)+(#+(+$*#+(#_ gah I’m getting all gibberish now. 😛 I don’t think he’s particularly good acting wise, but I can live with sub-par acting as long as he’s pleasing enough to my eyes. I even think he’s cute and silliness OK and not bothersome given his supposed-to-be stern and poised character. Megan Lai is what I would call the perfectly cast ordinary, she looks pitch perfect for the character. Though I’m not very impressed as of yet, at least she’s not annoying?
OTP chemistry is just right, not too overly sizzling, and not lacking much (I think Roy Qiu can have chemistry with a rock!). I think once they hit the bickering/ai mei stage, their tension and chemistry will be amplified by folds. Not invested yet, and am not sure if I’ll be able to sit through this long enough until they get married.
Overall impression so far, it’s just an OK series. Nothing particularly interesting or funny, but yet has an unknown pull over me at the moment. Probably Roy Qiu again, but I should probably stop regurgitating stuff. hehe..
Will begin on May Queen and Five Fingers soon, and probably 1000th man too, just for Lee Cheon Hee. I know I won’t be able to juggle so much, so my guess is that I’ll be dropping some off my plate soon. Till my next impressions post then! Ta-da!
credits: photos as tagged