Review – Nine Times Travel
Nine Times Travel. Proving you don’t need incredible special effects or overly elaborate scientific explanations to master the art of time travel and exquisite television. Keep it simple and it will grow exponentially on its own. For what started as a rather simple drama with a “day time” television feeling, I was pleasantly surprised how quickly this show leveled up. I had a full blown emotional heart attack during episode nine and was revived only to die of shock again a few episodes later. The crash cart was brought out and “Clear!” By the end of the show, I felt like I’d been dragged across twenty years and half the world. And I wanted to do it again. And possibly again… in twenty years. Or an alternate time line. Or, ya know, some conundrum worm-hole double-layered mess that gets Hawking hard and gives me headaches.
Overall Rating 9.5/10
SPOILERS and CONTINUED REVIEW
The plot is relatively simple. A late thirties news anchor discovers his brother has died in Nepal shortly after he discovers his own immeniant death from a brain tumor. He goes to retreive the body and, as his crush of five years just happens to be in the area, propose a hasty marriage. The clock is ticking after all. Or is it?
It doesn’t take long for the handsome news anchor to discover his brother had found a way to travel back in time. With magic incense sticks. And before you say anything… why not? Why not magic incense sticks from the Himilayans? Our lead male has nine sticks. Nine chances to go back exactly 20 years into the past and change his life. Being a decent guy, he figures he can help out his family in the process. Before you know it, he’s hooked up his past-brother with the woman he’d always loved and chit-chatted with his past-self hinting of his own immeniant (in 20 years) demise. He’s even started poking around the series of unfortunate events that lead to his father’s death.
And everything goes wrong.
His girlfriend ends up his niece. He discovers his father was murdered… by his brother. Birth secrets are revealed. His tumor is not getting any smaller, in fact it’s doubled overnight. Oh, the drama! While the past unfolds behind him, the future begins to re-shape itself – caught on the 2o year gap. For example, if he handed you letter on July 22nd 1994… and you didn’t read this letter until July 28th 1994… nothing would change in the future until July 28th 2014. Cool, eh? The people that know about the time traveling can remember other time lines as the future breaks apart and splits again. Everyone else is comfortably on one path.
The cast was small and tight-knit. Special award for Excellent Freak Outs goes Lee Seung Jun who plays the best friend of the male lead. Since he’s aware of his friend’ time traveling, he’s conscious of all the mulitiple time lines they keep shifting between… and as any sane man would, has total meltdowns every time he’s torn between realities. It’s hysterical. I’ll probably dig up more of this actors dramas to see him again.
Young Lee Seung Jun is played to teenage-nerdy perfection by Lee Yi Kyung. But never mind that… let’s take another peek at Lee Seung Jun. One of my main gripes about dramas is not relating to any of the characters – but not so with Nine Times Travel. It was easy to envision this dorky doctor hanging with my small set of real friends (and larger set of imaginary friends).
This drama also reminded us all that life was impossible before telephones. These characters were on their phones more than the teenagers in my library. Whether calling their present-tense friends or their past-selves, they preferred telecommunications. It was almost shocking to see our 1990s young male lead scribbling in his diary. Handwriting! What? They don’t even teach kids cursive anymore, people. Let that sink in.
The villian of this show is a successful doctor who has built his empire on shady practices and possible mob connections. This cool collected cucumber is played by Jeong Dong Hwan (who is in everything, as we know). As our lead digs into the past, all of this guys secrets come to light. And holy moly! This guys closet is packed with skeletons.
Pre-Time Travel Villian… (on right)
Post-Time Travel Villian!
Our male lead is played by Lee Jin Wok. He has a unique personality in this drama, in that he’s not really funny or charming or even that interesting… but it suits the character perfectly. He’s a straight-laced anchor man, after all. He has a playful, devious streak that we really only see when he’s tormenting (aka flirting) with his love interest. Otherwise, he’s kinda un-noteworthy… which works with this actor and with the plot. Time-Travel was the main character, after all.
Again, snaps to the casting director – the young news anchor was a good match. Some of the most touching scenes (which showed off Lee Jin Wok’s subtle acting abilities) were the moments shared between past-present selves. The youngster’s confusion and the elder’s nostaliga were perfectly done.
The sun this drama revolves around is the romance between the male lead and his fiesty, funny coworker. Their love not only survives multiple time-lines, but even persists when their own past encounters warn against it. There’s not a lot of romantic moments in this series… just a few, really. But the chemistry between these two is excellent. You believe they’ve been flirting off screen for years. You believe they’re soul mates. And you really, really want to see them get together. I think I wanted to see this couple get together more than the last dozen couples I’ve seen in dramas that were solely romances.
First of all – they’re both adorable when they’re together. The otherwise serious news anchor turns into a grinning fool for love…
And the female lead – who sports a boyish bowl cut that generally ruins the sex appeal for men and females alike – turns into the cutest little news reporter in the world when she’s around her crush.
She’s blatantly and openly smitten with him – even when he’s pushing her away – which eventually wins him over heart and soul.
Aaaawww… what a cute k-couple….
So, next time you light a stick of incense… just remember that time travel generally is a messy experience, especially when you’re going back in time. Try to find the future-forward incense sticks on your next trip to Nepal. I hear those are much easier to deal with.
And check out Nine Times Travel. A genuinely fun, thrilling time-travel experience. I did not see HALF of the twists coming in this show… okay, not even half. Even more impressive, somehow amongst the mysteries and time traveling the show managed to keep romance the center of its universe. I hear that ABC may option a remake of this little gem and attempt to refashion it Western style. Strangely, I am not appalled by this news. Even if they gut half the show and overhaul the majority of the structure, there’s so much solid ground that I think something worth seeing might walk around on the bones of this drama. American Frankenstein, bring it!