Current dramas: Slump

The-Virus2

Dramas that should be, could be, should have been, and could have been. I’m watching 3 current dramas right now, and none of them, I mean literally NONE OF THEM, hooks. At all.  Even with the hotties, eye-candies, pretties, the solid performances, you name em, even with LDH and Hyukie! The only saving grace that is and has been preventing me from cursing at the insufferable thankfully, is Queen In Soo and ILICDD (which I have just finished last night in tears of happiness). Which aren’t even  current dramas, and which I don’t even want to mention in the same sentence as the pile of  inferior quality I’m subjected to.

Year 2012 was a wonderful year for dramas, packed with gems and break-outs, filled with surprises and shocking revelations. I guess you can’t have it all. Luck doesn’t strike every time.

IRIS 2

IRIS Poster

IRIS 2 oh IRIS 2, what an abomination and loathsome of quality you are. Writing and directing wise, I’ve never seen something more deplorably structured, this nonsensical, this laughable. You were given such a beautiful cast, of bunch of people who can really kick ass and do things right, actors who could rise above their potential and limitations when required and given a chance. But with writing which defy logic and even simplest of sensibilities, even Lee Bum Soo‘s trademark evil-mixed humor can only last lingering seconds, even Hyuk‘s bark can fail to bite! I mean, when the most solid of actors can only do so much, this says much about the quality.

You’re supposed to be a high-adrenaline pumped drama, we’re supposed to be in awe at least by the action and thrill, even if the story doesn’t make no sense. But no, director goes ahead and ruins the last bit of what can be enjoyed of by going slow-mo on some very obviously choreographed action scenes, making the sequences look like a  joke out of nowhere. You’re not Kwak Jung Hwan you know, only he can do slow-mo and make it look cool.

Then the characters, except for Lee Bum Soo’s (which I suspect has much to do with his very own trademark humor like I’ve said earlier), all of them spell B-O-R-I-N-G! The political stuff, I have no idea how realistic, drains away my interest good enough, but drama worsens by subjecting my fav actors to such boring vapid characters devoid of color and life. Soo Yeon had some potential in the beginning, and I had faith in LDH, but her character left lot to be desired after Yoo Gun “left” and drama had to make her lifelessness look even more lifeless than it already is. Why why why, does LDH have to be so unlucky with her characters? Could it be her problem? Could it be? I’m trying to be as unbiased as possible here.

But the worst has to be Hyuk. I feel so awful for him. One of my fav acting performances of all time came from Hyuk himself, in Chuno. I know he has it, charisma and solid enough gravitas to pull off such a character. But gosh, I cannot blame the production and writer hard enough. Here he says the cheesiest of lines, plays the most boring of characters, and displays one of the most one-dimensional acting I’ve ever seen from him in his entire career!  Maybe he feels hopeless about the whole thing too. Yaiks.

I don’t think I’ll be able to hang on any longer. In fact I have no idea how I’d endured this long – 10 episodes.  I did enjoy bits and pieces in between, mostly because of LBS and due to the fun I’d gotten from the constant nitpicking of drama’s atrociousness. And to be fair some parts were enjoyable to watch despite the sloppy writing. But nothing absolves it from being a crappy drama. My resolve is that, this shall be binned for good, I’m giving it another episode.

That Winter, The Wind Blows

 twtwb

This drama is worse. And not because it’s crappy and unwatchable, it’s not even half as horrible as IRIS2. But because, just because, it could have been a good one. One which could last me long enough to remember the heart and genuine honesty of its characters. One which could at least linger long enough for me to remember scenes which killed.

I had good words to say about drama early on, I truly honestly thought drama was safe. With acting so compelling and writing so intriguing I honestly thought I’d found my drama of the year (at least first 3 months on). Noh Hee Kyung‘s an exquisite dialogue writer, there is no doubt about that. Her lines are always exceptionally heart-moving, and sometimes provoking to an extent that it makes your heart burn and ache. But I dunno what happened from the episode I can’t remember onwards, apart from already known MAJOR problem, the awfully conscious and self-aware direction of PD Kim Kyu Tae, I somehow failed to connect with writer Noh. Her lines, still there, the meaning if explored deeper in literal context, there. But somehow, conveyance of her story felt stilted, I felt no emotional engagement, no subtle connection, to the story, to the characters, and heck, even the supposed to be siblings or OTP, I could even feel the chemistry fade away episode by episode. I’m kinda feeling she’s starting to pander towards the norm of K-drama melodrama storytelling, giving us all coincidences, cliches. I don’t see the spark in her story anymore.

Acting wise, couldn’t have been more impressed and disappointed at the same time. Impressed because finally Song Hye Kyo has stripped herself bare, and showed us that she could do the act too. But Jo In Sung, oh JIS, I think my biasness might have blinded me early on, or perhaps because he hadn’t shown too much then, now I cannot unsee his over tendency to pose and look good in scenes. I noticed that problem early on but didn’t heed much due to his beautiful features (I profess that he’s the type of pretty I like), but the more I watched, the more his limitations surfaced. He was struggling, or maybe trying to hard to make things look right, but failed, miserably. His problem, severe lack of restraint. Kim Bum and Jung Eun Ji, sighs, they cannot be more wasted here. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be that way or writer Noh decided that they wouldn’t serve much purpose in drama, because they’ve got to be one of the most non-existent or invisible second leads I’ve ever seen in any drama. In fact I don’t think they are second leads at all,  like more supporting characters instead? Not that their acting’s worth a mention anyway though chemistry is more palpable than the main OTP.

The only character I’m teeny weeny bit interested in, probably nobody knows his name, Kim Tae Woo who plays Mu Cheol. Now that’s one characterisation which intrigues me, with motivations that pique my curiosity. Actor’s not doing a WOW job, but at least he tries to do justice with it. And TBH, he may be my fav character out of the ensemble.

Overall, this is a drama which should have and could have been better. But is sliding down the boring drain the same way as IRIS2, somewhat more painfully than the latter because it had potential to begin with. Meh. Another episode or 2, I’ll decide whether to drop or not.

The Virus

The VirusUhm Ki Joon is always good in his craft, has always been and will always be the best he can ever be in any role he plays. But the thing is, the man hasn’t done a WOW project as far as I can remember, at least in recent years (Dream High and Scent of A Woman were decent, but not exceptional). Just when I thought The Virus would change the course of things for good….. it fails. :/

It’s not UKJ’s fault or problem, in fact he’s the highlight of the show. He’s got the right poise and gravitas for the character, and has a provoking charm that flows from within. I think he’s an actor who can do anything role and come off as convincing and solid as rock. Too bad The Virus is a waste of his talent and what he can do.

Investigation and medical procedural can be interesting and gripping if done right, but The Virus, it’s done before, seen before and uhhh.. boring? I  don’t feel any sense of thrill or excitement when watching it, not that I’m supposed to feel that way, but I need to be interested or at least invested in the story or the characters. Because UKJ’s so good in what he does, his character at least comes across more relatable, but the rest? Nothing much, or just in plain words, dull. Hyun Woo is a cutiepie, and I will always have a soft spot for him no matter how and what he does. I think his character has potential to be interesting, but execution and writing so far has failed to embrace that aspect. 3 eps and I already don’t want to sit through anymore of the mystery surrounding the virus, this shows how much show isn’t doing well in the hooking department. I’m left cold.

Overall, MEH.  Let’s see if I can hang on for UKJ. Another week, show.

credits: photos as tagged / ocn

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28 thoughts on “Current dramas: Slump”

  1. As for Virus, I think they could pack two first eps in one, so that they could have lots on their plate without going in circles.
    Same as you, I dropped That Winter This Drama Sucks and IRIS2 (this one after first ep). Let’s hope Spring (if it ever comes anyway) will bring some dramas. Not gems, but at least watchable ones.

    1. Maybe if Virus was a movie it’d be easier for me to enjoy. The thought of having to deal with ONE virus for 10 eps, my patience is thinning. But for UKJ I will try.

      LOL on TWTWB, which ep did you stop at? Done with Ep 12, and only realised that I’m 4 eps away from the ending. Might as well bite up and endure towards the end. IRIS 2 is hopeless, after Ep 11, my resolve is more solid than ever, trashed!

      1. Chingu, I was just going to say it’s only 16 episodes for Winter, you’re not that far from the finish line – if it was terrible I’d say go ahead and dump. It’s not bad at all yo, but I agree about Kim Kyu-tae. Hey, at least I can live with his directing here, I was expecting him to bring his life insurance cf-inspired cheesy visuals from Padam Padam. I agree the close-ups are horrible and distracting, I mean, I caught up and watched 13 last night and there’s an awkward fire-fueled confrontation between Secretary Wang (Bae) and Oh-soo (Jo) – was meant to be a pivotal moment but it was awkward, awkward and a few flashes of seeing rIIight up Song Hye-kyo’s snotty nostrils. I just couldn’t unsee it. Otherwise the story itself, although seeing it for the third time feels engaging enough. Although I really wish JIS wasn’t so over-expressive. You just can’t beat Watabe Atsuro’s performance – jussayin’.

        Shame you’re in a drama slump, I’m feeling the exact opposite right now (watch Incarnation with me). And I’m DYING to know, how was Queen Insu’s last few episodes for you?

      2. Yeah, I’m gonna hang on till the end. My disinterest probably due to the fact I thought it was going to be 20 eps. Phew, at least now the reveal is done and time for the OTP to cry a bit, get together a bit, cry again, get together again, and done buh bye. lol I’m up to Ep 12 and was a bit shocked writer Noh really went there – crossed over that line. It was a bold move I must say, it’s like Damo-fake cest all over again, but too bad I don’t really care much for the characters anymore, to even care what will happen to them.

        And yes yes Queen In Soo, it’s uhmazingly nail biting and gripping good! I’m up to Ep 42, the part where Song Yi begins on her quest to topple everyone including mom in law In Soo. And so friggggin intense, every character, every scene! This is the kind of drama that engages and makes viewers want MOAR. I love that the characters are painted in different shades, intentions and actions spurred by different motivations, but when you think about it, it’s inevitable that they can’t help be who they are and can’t help do what they do. Sometimes I want to strangle certain characters, sometimes I just bawl and cry out my tears for them. I don’t truly hate anyone of them to the core, but man this drama just bring out all those emotions and feels.

  2. I’m so sorry you’re in a kdrama slump; they’re the worst. Kdramas come out so regularly and so often that you come to believe there will always be at least one thing that will engage you, and when that doesn’t happen it can leave you feeling restless. Myself, I’m still in a haze of happiness from Flower Boy Next Door, and nothing else has been able to interest me since. FBND captured me so wholeheartedly and ever since it ended I’ve been feeling the pangs of longing and nostalgia that always come at the end of something you enjoyed. Sigh.

    You and supah have been raving about ILICDD for so long now that I want to try it out, but I think I’ll start Queen Insu first, since it’s easier to find. I second supah in asking for your thoughts on the final episodes! ❤

    1. Awww, why the apology? It happens all the time, if drama doesn’t work, I still have movies to turn to. I still have a bunch untouched, time oh time, no time! >_<

      Anyway, I'm not done with Queen In Soo yet, about 20 eps to go. You really don't wanna miss this gem of a drama. The subject is pretty heavy on politics, but rest assured it's intriguing intense and filled with moments capable of making you edge on your seat. And it's not always dark and shady, it has moments of heart and endearment filled with the most beautiful dialogues, that can make you tear up and even bawl right away. There are some spacy slow episodes, but it's all worth the watch. 😉

      1. For some reason I misread the post and thought you’d finished QI already. But 42 is good, it’s all uphill from here in terms of intensity and momentum.

        Ladida – Queen Insu – you MUST! ❤

  3. I think Jo In Sung is doing his best acting in That Winter. Well, the only drama I used to watch him in is only What Happen In Bali, but compared to his acting there, he’s definitely a lot better here. I can see what you mean by him posing, but I guess you aren’t able to look over it. There were a lot of times in the drama that if it’s not because of his acting, I wouldn’t end up bawling my eyes out. I cried watching him crying. He has various style of doing sad scenes or crying scenes and all of them are always moving. For that, I think he’s an amazing actor and is doing a great job in the drama.

    Song Hye Kyo is doing a great job from a different perspective to me. Her acting was not able to move me to tears, but she’s believable acting as a blind woman, and that what impress me and I think it shows how much work she puts in it.

    1. I’m most impressed with SHK in here because I don’t think it’s easy to play blind and emote without looking awkward or uncomfortable. Her portrayal of Young’s insecurities and vulnerability has been astounding thus far considering her past limitations as an actress.There’s a new found comfort and naturalness in her acting that I’ve never seen before in the past. I’m happy for her.

      I don’t think JIS is a bad actor, in fact he can be really good, that is if he can reign his unbridled emotions and expressions a tad more. His best acting IMO still for me, his performance in Dirty Carnival. It was explosive and OTT, but it worked for his character who didn’t have a full grip on his life. Here his best moments came from the earlier episodes before he met or when he just met Young, I could feel his loneliness and his colorless perspective on life. In recent eps there’d been more extreme OTT than restraint his emotions and more posing than before, just cannot unsee. Perhaps it’s me being picky nowadays, or maybe, character or writing isn’t working for me hence the emotional disengagement overall. But whatever it is, each to his/her own, I’m good that people are enjoying the drama and his performance! ;D

      1. Yes, to each his/her own. In contrast, I actually think his acting got better compared to the earlier episodes where he overacted at some scenes. I’m mostly impressed with his acting during emotional/sad scenes. He has a way to cause me to cry everytime. The most recent one, when he was recording the video for Young. If the same script was given to a less capable actor, I don’t think I would even shed a tear because it’s not the script that breaks my heart, but his acting.

        Anyway, other than this drama, I’m pretty much in a drama slump too. Really excited for Gu Family Book as I love Seunggi, so I’m hoping it’ll turn out good!

      2. I agree with you that SHK has really improved her acting in this drama. I last watched her in The World That They Lived In, and I couldn’t finish it, I was like stuck on episode 6 or something. I think it’s written by the same writer too. Noh Hee Kyung’s writing has been critically acclaimed, but I think that her writing is either a hit or miss for me. I really didn’t like TWTHLI. but I liked Padam Padam and this drama.
        Oh, I didn’t even attempt to watch Iris 2. I think this franchise of spy dramas should have stopped at Athena. Now it sounds to me from your post that this is like Athena all over again. I watched Athena and the whole time, I was screaming inside. Given great actors, oh why is the script and directing so horrible. Out of the 3 dramas, Iris was the only watchable drama because it was the first, and story line was decent enough.
        And lastly the Virus, I love Uhm Ki Joon to death, and like you said, every character he portrayed is pretty much spot on, but he has hasn’t had role that like screamed Award Worthy, or in your words, WOW. I actually liked him in Ghost as the villain, and in Scent of A Woman, I had a second lead crush on him.
        OCN has been doing pretty well in procedural dramas, given that I watched Vampire Prosecutor and Special Affairs Team TEN. So I was hoping The Virus might have the same effect on me. But I think that story line is just not as engaging as the other dramas. And the BIG Mystery is not like “big enough” to hook you into watching more.
        VP and TEN had mysteries and the overall story arch that made me want more every week. Like you said, “this has been done before” type of thing. The entire time time I am watching the Virus, it’s like watching a longer version of the movie Contagion. Hopefully future episodes, Uhm Ki Joon will get to shine, and plot will be better.

      3. Almost forgot to add on something a bit off topic, LOVED your banner of Kim Hyun Joo in the upcoming JTBC drama Cruel Palace or War of the Flowers. Now that is a drama that I am super excited for. Hopefully it will be subbed by someone or a subbing group.
        I adore Kim Hyun Joo, and watching her play evil for the first time is exciting.

      4. If you want a better experience of what The Virus could have been like, do check out End of The World. Now that is realism, from every aspect. You could just feel how inferior The Virus is compared to this right off the bat.

        UKJ needs a good drama, a good script. He’s one of very few actors whom I’ve seen, who does not overact or underact. And it works perfectly for him because he has a strong presence that commands attention right from the get go, he doesn’t need to rely on over-acting to get a point across. I hope one day he’ll be able to land a smashing role in a good solid one, or maybe venture towards Chungmuro, which I believe will be a great chance for him to tell the world how talented he is.

        And yes yes yes on War of Flowers, it’s Jung Ha Yeon, and Kim Hyun Joo doing an evil role. I so cannot wait!

      5. Thanks Ripgal for your reply. With your suggestion, I wanted to check out End of The World. But is there anywhere that I can watch it with subtitles? I checked Hulu, which showed episodes of The Virus, and I checked other streaming sites, but there was nothing. I also checked End of the World’s soompi thread, but no luck either.

        Update: Watching current episode of The Virus (ep. 4), and OMG I wanted to throw something at my computer. I don’t want to turn this into a discussion post on the Virus or anything. But I am like “WHAT!!!” There are spoilers ahead, warning for those who didn’t watch ep 4 yet.
        At the end of the episode, some mysterious people dressed as doctors come in the hospital to kidnapped the patient that carried the antibodies, like how could they kidnapped him? I mean, shouldn’t he be under the protected of the NIS, or like police or something?
        And also when he was rushed to the hospital and doctors refused to operate on him, suddenly UKJ has the credentials to become a “on the spot” surgeon and operate?
        Well, I guess he could, since he works for the CDC, but I don’t know if I can still follow the logic of this drama anymore.
        I do want to love this drama, and want it to get better, but why are there so many plot
        holes???

      6. Ahhhhh, no English subs unfortunately. ;( I hope a team picks it up someday because this is pure genuine quality drama, done with effort and research. The Virus is incomparable.

        Haven’t seen Ep 4, but looks like I may end up dumping after watching. What a waste of UKJ though he’s literally killing the role.

      7. Update: nothing related to the dramas talked about in this post.
        Ripgal, I wanted to let you know that dramafever is showing War of the Flowers, if you didn’t know already.
        Yay!!!!! I am sad that I don’t get to watch the wonderful End of The World, but I now have War of the Flowers to watch.

  4. It’s due to the directing maybe..
    I can no longer connect with the character, too
    Maybe It has nothing to do the fact the writers dragged Young’s problem for too long.. they have been focus on developing her character (maybe it’s also due to SHK’s outstanding acting, really amazed)… but they have been dragging Young – Oh SOo’s brother relationship for quite long and dominating the screen time..
    But I admit. I tear up around epi 10-11… when Oh Soo found out Young’s chance of her survival very limit… God.. I know Jo In SUng is very awkward and fail to deliver the depth of Oh SOo’s character.. But his character development at that episode move me so much, makes me cried when he break down >..<

    1. Writer Noh did drag out that part for a bit too long, part of my disengagement with story and characters stemmed from that too. And Young should have doubted Soo’s credibility earlier when Hee Seon told her half the truth about her brother, thought her continuous trust in Soo was a bit too far-fetched.

      1. good point you bring up Hee Sun’s confession about OS initial intention. How I wish she smell something fishy there, and start to think another possibility about OS is not her real brother. So, her growing feeling towards OS as a man at least more acceptable and not far fetched. At least she knew she is not her real brother.

  5. On TWTB. I hated the close-ups, yes. But the CF-directing style and JIS are not the only problems I had with this show. The fauxcest thing in this show bothered me to no end. And even with tons of skinship and fanservice, I still can’t feel the chemistry. I loved some of the dialogues, but overall I just couldn’t feel ‘it’.

    While watching TWTB, I can’t help to compare it to Nice Guy. I nitpicked about NG, I had some issues with the female lead and otp chemistry. But I still managed to finish it. I enjoyed the ride and I loved the implicit ending. BUT why was it so hard for me to even get to halfway of TWTB? Sigh.

    It makes me sad because like you said, this show had potential at the beginning. What happen to you writer Noh? Does working with a PD who’s obsessed with pretty cinematography (and close-up) made you lose your touch?

    1. The skinship bothered me a bit, wasn’t very comfortable with it too. I liked the idea because it was controversial and unconventional, but the execution failed to grip me from within and make me go PANG BAM WHAM, that I must root for them-kind of grip. If you’ve seen Damo before you’d know of a similar relationship (incest, but the characters never knew they were related), now that was something. That truly had me heart and soul. It’s not that I’m against the idea on TV, but execution has to deliver at least the heartfelt grip.

      1. Idea of fauxcest not knowing they are related is okay with me (like AIMH, Damo, j-dorama Sora Kara Furu Ichioku no Hoshi, just naming a few). But here, both of them are ‘aware’ of their r/ship. Well at least Youngie believed that Su was her long lost brother. So watching them being touchy feely kinda crossed the line for me.

        A friend who’s also watching TWTWB told me that maybe, the reason why Young seemed okay with her Su oppa being all close and basically not acting like a normal oppa at all is that, she was still living in the old memories. She lost him when she was still a little girl so when she got him back she wanted to have the ‘lost time’ back. Er, by sharing cotton candy, hugging each other tightly and sleeping on the same bed.

        Still does not make any sense to me XD

  6. I agree about Nice Guy. I have some serious issues with depiction of EG. Then again, for me EG is a character that less developed compare to MR and JH. Besides that, I felt Ma ru had more chemistry with Jae Hee, and looking for their scene instead because I connected the relationship between them the most… I love Nice Guy because of the whole Jae hee and Maru’s journey.

    Here in TWTB, I felt, too the OTp sis-bro relationship have been too intim for me. And they have been dragged their supposed to sis bro but have many skinship for relationship for too long and dominating the screen time…. I have a brother,but It’s not to that extent lol…

    1. The intimacy level was a bit awkward, but I appreciate that writer Noh tried to tackle that “taboo” incestuous element in their relationship. I guess my problem with that aspect lies with how it’s being executed.. or acted? The emotional grip is just void and non-existent. I just feel empty.

      I think if this had happened in Damo, let’s say if Jae Hee had found out that earlier that her lover was in fact her brother, I would still have rooted for them as an OTP (though morally unethical), regardless of how the world saw them, how the others viewed them. I was so for their relationship.

      Maybe the actors in here lack chemistry? Hmm…

  7. Have been in a slump since Can We Get Married. IDK man, my kdrama fare has been dwindling for the past year (or two) and now it’s deader than disco, sigh. Though I have been following a bunch of American shows, from the Good (Elementary, The Good Wife, Cougar Town), the Middling (SMASH, Revenge, The Vampire Diaries), and the Bad (Pretty Little Liars – srsly I have no idea why I keep coming back every week). Based on the recaps I’ve read of That Winter (DA FUG, seriously?!), can’t say I’m complaining…

    1. Hahah, I actually LOLed at your message title. Quite befitting of your current drama phase, more American than anything. heheh.. Was thinking about Elementary, because I lovelovelove Sherlock and I didn’t want anything to ruin my love for it, how’s that series? I’ve read diverging reviews so I’m kinda hesitant to start watching.

      Let me guess, you iffy on Young and Soo’s intimacy too?

      1. nah, I’m okay with the fauxest (seasoned kdrama viewer here, hello. Plus I watch j-doramas). It’s really the characterization I’m not happy with, it doesn’t seem to make any sense?

        P.S: IMO, Elementary is the best procedural show out there (as of now). You won’t regret watching it!

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