It’s interesting how dramas affect us, get a hold and grip into our emotions so easily and flimsily. One minute we can love and devour a drama like no other, the next we may lose interest, with all curiosity zapped away by lightning just like that, no warning signs no nothing. I’ve had a fair share of those this year, beginning with the screamfest horror that was of Gaksital, to the once whack zip fun turned boring Arang and The Magistrate, to cute-turned-solemnly makjang fare that was of My Daughter Seo Young, and to the most recent Missing You (admittedly this never really got to me save for the first 4 eps thanks to the wonderful Yeo Jin Gu and Kim So Hyun). These dramas caught my attention, hooked me on from the beginning tho they were never really perfect to begin with… but something happened along the way, the dramas faltered? Stupid things happened? Things didn’t make sense? I lost interest, and yeap they were all binned, trashed and never to be seen again. It could be me and my never-ever consistent and fickle taste in dramas, it could be the drama Gods up there doing their magic to save me some precious time for the really golden dramas instead (ILICDD you!). Who knows?
But let the bygones be bygones, the K-drama world never stops, the globe keeps spinning, new dramas are churned out every now and then, we get hooked, we lose interest, the cycle repeats itself. Maybe I should be thankful that some dramas aren’t up to par, for I could drop them without hesitation and thought, move on to the newer batch and indulge in excitement and freshness of ’em all (provided that they do not go all incredulous on me all of a sudden). Speaking of which, the recent hot off the oven dramas I’m watching right now: Cheongdam-Dong Alice and School 2013.
School 2013 [03/16]
School, a place of irony and contradiction don’t you think so? When we were in school, we HATED school, the countless hours of droopy eyes before our teachers, the going on and on of lessons and lectures that we will never remember once the bell rings, the once a week tests and once in two months exams..etc oh all those horrible memories! But then again, when we look back in time, we realise that we never knew, we loved being in school more than anything. The youthful innocence, the playful minds devoid of the ability to scrutinise worldly problems, there was nothing better than having to go on about our on worlds without having to take real responsibility. School oh school, how I miss you.
Perhaps I was a goody goody girl and in a goody goody class with goody goody teachers back then, I have never experienced anything alike to what’s being shown (student violence) in School 2013. I do not think it’s non-existent but it’s just that I’ve never really encountered it first hand (not that I’d have ever wanted to back then thank goodness). I can understand but it’s just not very easy to relate.
I do appreciate what drama’s trying to tell, about the erratic behavior of such students and their motivations and reasons behind their actions. But I guess I was expecting a little bit more than just the typical and pedestrian plot of teacher trying to tame and guide her students to do the right thing, walk the right path etc… I dunno, I just think there can be more originality to tackling school themed dramas, like maybe for instance, the paradox between a teacher’s authority and student’s opinion, or perhaps, the extent of physical punishment and discipline, the stress and pressure suffered by teachers who are not competent or up to the job.. I think they are plenty of issues which can be dealt with, creatively with a twinge of freshness if writer makes a point to deviate from the hackneyed notion of violence is the only problem in school. I’m not saying that School 2013 is not without all those elements (we’re only up till Ep 3 who knows), but it’s just a bit underwhelming to start off the drama predictable, writer’s problem.
I have no problems with Daniel or Nara but I’m not very much intrigued by the teacher characters right now. They have cute and lovely chemistry (I can vouch for that) and I love it when they bounce each other off with their differing points on teaching. It’s just that their characters feel very plain and listless so far. It’s not that they’re so boring I want to skip their scenes, in fact they do exert certain importance in scenes involving their students’ misfits and disobedience.. but hmm..I dunno, I think they’re lacking a certain charm of their own, as if besides being the passionate and result-reaching teachers they are, individually, they have no personality? But you know, I’m in a good mood now, given the rabid fan I was of their previous collab in BFB, I’m going to watch a few more eps to judge whether I like them or not.
The students are ermm.. just okay. It’s gonna take some time for me to warm up to them because they’re all so closed off in their own ways, for reasons we’re not supposed to know now (yes drama we know). I know I’m supposed to be empathetic and concerned for Nam Soon, and I’m supposed to like him for his willingness to help, but I’m not very fond of his elusive and avoiding ways. It’s a problem I have with a lot of drama characters when they refuse to talk, to communicate or at least leave a reason, they just don’t elicit much feeling from me because I cannot relate to their problems, and so I don’t have a reason to feel bad or sorry for them. Easy as piece of cake. Lee Jeong Seok is doing fine if not just decent, but nothing great to call home. The only time when I look forward to his scenes, are his when he gives it a point to talk to people (like when he’s with Ha Kyung).
The rest of the students are less interesting, but maybe because they’re not as fleshed out as Nam Soon. I’m actually more interested on Jong Ho and his rash behavior but again, he does nothing but glares and stares non stop, I feel bad for the actor. And Park Se Young‘s Ha Kyung, I can only say that she does it better fierce and noisy (Love Rain), acting all stiff stoic just doesn’t make her icy queen (it worked in Faith because she had an amazing Ryu Deok Hwan to lead and amp her scenes).
Overall, just a lil bit more than okay a start for School 2013. Still more so underwhelmed after Ep 3, but am going to continue watching in hope that things will spice up a bit. Can I count on you Kim Woo Bin?
Cheongdam-dong Alice [4/16]
Crack, crack CRACK! This drama is CRACK!
It’s crack because it has a animated zany Park Shi Hoo trying to go all SG Joo Won on us (I don’t mind because I have soft spot for this actor – I’ve liked most of his dramas ever since Prosecutor Princess). It’s crack because Moon Geun Young‘s her usual awesome self once again (her last one was terrible fcked up crap MMM) . And it’s crack because it’s about mad-hatter falling for Alice, how wicked SWEEEEET!
CDDA isn’t one drama I’d expected to have myself hooked on, granted that I wasn’t really fond of the first 2 episodes. I also had this terrible tugging notion prior to drama premier that PSH and MGY just couldn’t and wouldn’t work because PSH looked way too mature for the forever 15-year old looking MGY. And then I also had no idea drama was going to be about MGY’s character Se Kyung’s way up the ladder of the rich and glamorous. First 2 episodes I was quite ambivalent, though I had a zany fun time watching PSH pull off the exaggerated clownish Cha Seung Jo character of his. He’s obviously over-acting to the point that nothing can pull him back ever, going all out with his expressions mannerisms and even bodily actions. Strangely tho, however allergic I am to OTT, I actually enjoyed watching him go on and off manic without warning. I dunno maybe it’s the PSH softie in me, I just cannot hate him.
But something along the way clicked, something in Ep 3 got me interested. The drama has interesting themes about poverty and wealth, differences in classes of life, and how such drastically different classes affect certain facets of life, affect the way they approach life. Necessity is always the beginning of motivation, and here it’s Se Kyung’s thirst to break off poverty and debt that pushes her forward, towards something that she’d never think of doing, being the person she once condemned and wowed never to be, Seo Yun Joo. I do think drama is taking everything on face value and making the theme work merely on the basics of K-drama formula, nothing terribly original or creative there, but somehow, the driving theme intrigues me, and I want to see if Se Kyung is able to make it in the end (either way, to be a designer or to be like Seo Yun Joo).
Ep 4 solidified my intrigue in CDDA further. The more I watch of MGY, the more I begin to see why she’s so loved and appreciated as an actress. Not because she’s been acting since forever, not because she’s the nation’s lil sister, because this girl has fire in her, she imbues her portrayal with such passion and emotion that you cannot help but want to root for her. My initial ignorance and doubt of her performance as Se Kyung gone, she does innocence cute and vulnerable spot on, and while her other more extreme reactions can go a lil overboard at times, she’s generally a ball of fire on her own.
And PSH, yes oh PSH! What a crazy mad albino bird you are! His mad-hatter portrayal gets me into delirious fits, sometimes I just fall off my chair. lol I do no think this performance is for everyone though, he can be utterly unbearable and cringe-worthy that no amount of MGY wonder can do good, but as much as he is poison to the others, he’s like meat to me, I can devour him in a go (provided that he doesn’t go zig-zaggy in a kamikaze lol). His character Seung Jo is also part of the reason why I’m not dismissing this show for now, I just find him thoroughly interesting and amusing, with a certain innocence and naivete. It’s not just his crazy silly OTT expressions, or his bipolarity which gets to me all the time, but the fact that he’s a person who wants to feel again, who wants to love again (but is afraid to because of his earlier betrayal by Yun Joo) in spite of his cool-ish confident front.
There are certain things I’m miffed about with this show, such as the all over the place direction and the typical 2nd lead evil trope (which I believe will happen tho Yun Joo’s being sort of a mentor to Se Kyung now). But they aren’t major gripes I’m planning to harp on right now because I do want to see where Se Kyung plans to go from here. Ep 4 ends with her stuck between her wall of conscience and her drive to achieve more than what she has. It’s kind of interesting because if she does decide to go all out, her character would more or less be marred with a shade of grey, tainted, definitely not your typical female lead stereotype – who has to be kind, nice, loving and unselfish. But I LIKE, at least she’s not damsel distress waiting to be rescued.
Overall, a pretty good start for drama. No where near the other drama in CDD, but still decent. I find PSH and MGY’s chemistry believable for now despite the still obvious age-gap, and acting is just fine. If drama continues to be as enjoyable and interesting the way it is now, I’m all good. Crosses fingers.
credits: pictures as tagged