Review – Fantastic (isn’t quite)

Review – Fantastic (isn’t quite)

Here’s the thing with this show.  It really does deliver all that it promises to in the first episode.  You’re introduced to all the characters, you get the general sense of what will happen, and most importantly… the tone is established.  This drama plays out both campy and melodramatic.  It’s an odd mix, and one only K-Dramas seem to master.  You’ve got silliness on the flip side to serious issues.  Cancer isn’t the only thing that can kill you after all.  The public’s opinion of your skills, for one.  Loosing yourself in a loveless marriage.  These things can also kill you.  They murder your confidence, they eat at your self worth, they slowly liquify your soul.  A lot of people are struggling in this show – and only by coming together, and anchoring themselves to others who have more grounding and positive life experiences, are they able to heal themselves.

It was okay.  I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it.  It wasn’t what Goldilocks would call “just right,” but it was comfortable enough that I settled in and watched the whole thing.

The main couple, the drama writer diagnosed with cancer and the goofy, struggling actor… meh.  They were cute.  I don’t really have anything else to say about them though, as the second romance in this show was far more interesting:  The story of the confident, head-strong young woman who’d turned into a mousy doormat after marrying into a rich, political family.  She was Cinderella, literally cleaning up after everyone and mocked openly for her circumstances.  I enjoyed how this show had her rescue herself, in a way.  Sure, she had the love of a hot young prosecutor (Ji Soo!) to help her and the support of her friends – but as an adult, more often than not you have to rescue yourself when your life goes sour.  And run away on a motorcycle.

Honorable mention also goes to another side character – the lovable doctor who is also fighting terminal illness.  Though I wasn’t overly in love with the romance in this show, the bromance was outstanding.  Our goofy actor and this doctor end up bonding and sharing a remarkably sweet friendship towards the end that helped them both become better people.  Plus I like Kim Tae-Hoon… he has an unusual vibe and tends to make most shows better just by hanging around in the peripherals.

Anyways… it is what it is.  Nothing to write home about, but I wouldn’t avoid it either.

Overall Rating – 7/10.  Fantastic It Is Not.

P.S.  Jo Jae-Yun, who played the actor’s manager, rocked my socks.  He’s always comedy gold.

 

Review – Cheer Up / Sassy Go Go

Review – Cheer Up / Sassy Go Go

Plotline:  The top 5% of an elite high school belong to the Cheerleading Club, but in name only… these kids just use the club space to further their studies.  Next door, the bottom 5% dance their pants off in a Hip Hop Club, annoying the nerds who share a wall with them.  When one of the top students worries her extracurriculars aren’t meeting Ivy League standards, it is suggested they turn their fake cheer club into a real one and try to win Regionals.  Unfortunately, none of the nerds can dance… so the school officials help them blackmail the Hip Hop Club into joining their team, increasing their chances of success.  Love, anger, friendship, betrayal, and lots of lost sleep over exams follow.

This show was a joy ride.  Just… a bunch of fun, from start to finish.  The problems of these students at their high pressure school were interesting to watch.  All the parents, officials, teachers, and outside pressure illustrated how complicated and stressful the system was.  But overall, it was just fluffy feel good fun.  Nothing too deep, nothing too serious, nothing too overdramatic.  The characters were cute and likable, even the unlikable ones (shout out to Chae Soo-Bin who killed it as the near nervous breakdown #2 in the school desperate to climb to the top at any cost), and the plotlines moved quickly through the 12 episode series.

I had just finished the book Revival by Stephen King… the ending of which left me slightly traumatized… so I needed something light weight and heart warming to ward off the nightmares.  This show as perfect for that.

Overall Rating – 8.5/10 – Bring It On, Elite Boarding School Style.

Review – Doctor Crush / Doctors & Good Doctor (Diagnosis please…?)

Review – Doctor Crush & Good Doctor

So… pushed myself to watch some medical dramas… some of my LEAST favorite shows of all time.  Ugh.  Is there any thing more tedious than watching people being rushed about on gurneys, those annoying machines that are always beep beep beep beeping cause something has gone wrong or dropped too low or too high or whatever?  A bunch of people continuously washing their hands and slicing up humans like it’s Top Chef.  Gross.  Clearly I am not cut out for the healing arts.  I’m grateful that others are… but it’s not my cup of tea.  And I am rarely interested in anything that occurs within the horror white washed walls of hospitals.  But still… I thought I’d try.

The first time I tried Doctor Crush, also known as Doctors, I didn’t make it past episode six.  Despite the somewhat promising first episode and unique premise (rough and tumble bad girl decides to mend her wicked ways and focus on turning her life around – to become a surgeon, of all things, motivated by the suspicious death of her grandmother… and the encouragement of a hunky doctor-turned-teacher-turned-romantic-interest who also becomes a surgeon again), it quickly did a belly flop into snoozeville.  After six episodes, I thought to myself… I’ll never get these hours of my life back.  I must abandon ship! I must run before the love I have for Park Shin Hye is diminished.  I really liked her and that older teacher dude, too… though their chemistry was off.  Way off.

Seriously, I am uncomfortable even LOOKING at this picture, that’s how bad the chemistry was…

Which dooms a romantic storyline, so the show lost its spine right there.  They seemed like friends, I guess… but every time they were out having one of their “romantic” dates, the smiles of the male lead seemed fake and strained and our female lead actually seemed physically uncomfortable.  The actors tried.  But I wasn’t buying it.

Then I gave the show a second chance, months later, and completed the series.  The second time around, I did enjoy it a bit more but it still felt lacking.  The tall Yoon Gyun-Sang was awkward as a physician and a character, his one sided crush on the female lead felt forced and convoluted.  The beautiful Lee Sung-Kyung was slightly more interesting, as the insecure pretty girl who was used to being at the top, but her character came across as unintelligent… and she was supposed to be a freakin’ brain surgeon so I had trouble believing anyone could be so dumb and so brilliant at the same time.

As I was watching, I wondered if I wasn’t being overly critical of the show.  I mean, it wasn’t that bad, was it?  But then cameo actors would show up and suddenly everything became exciting, interesting, and completely engaging.  The motorcycle riding thug played by Ji Soo stole every scene he was in, for example.  I also want to add that our leading lady had real chemistry with this guy… I’d love to see them paired up in a show, wouldn’t you?

The grandmother?  Brilliant.  Namgung Min came in as the father of two young boys who both had brain tumors – around episode 13 – and I was overwhelmed with how he could turn a bit part into the most profoundly moving few episodes in the show.  Namgung Min was the nail in the coffin, in my opinion.  After he showed up, and basically turned every other plotline into a stale piece of bread, I knew I wasn’t being overly judgmental.

There’s a scene in the last episode where a stern father is coming to comfort his grown son – who is facing a serious surgery.  And the son confesses he’s terrified his life will be ruined after the surgery, or worse, he might die.  And the father grabs his hand and yells at him that he won’t die.  And then both are overcome with emotion, the son crying, the stern father unable to look at him turns away but still holds his hand.  Now, that scene was amazing.  And it was two side, side characters.

  

This is my problem.  Why are there no scenes like this with our leading characters?  Or even the principle side characters?

Doctors just wasn’t that great.  Tolerable, yes.  Memorable?  No.

Overall Rating:  6.5/10.  A Flatlined Medical Romance.

Good Doctor was much better.  Even though I didn’t love it, at least it was interesting.  An autistic genius doctor struggling to overcome his ticks and social limitations to function properly enough to make it as a successful surgeon?  Okay, I’m intrigued.  The actor was brilliant, too.  He was brilliant in Bridal Mask and he was brilliant in this.  Moon Chae-Won was also lovely, as always, as the sorta doofy but genuinely sweet surgeon who took him under her wing and into her heart.  Though I liked her, she never felt fully believable as a surgeon.  Opposite this sensitive pair, we have just about everyone else… a well rounded cast of doctors and patients.  And of course, the head of pediatrics, the hunky young doctor who spends the majority of the show screaming at or belitting our autistic doctor.  It’s rough.  There’s a lot of abuse disguised as tough love, and a lot of flat out abuse.  And yet… I don’t know… I wasn’t entirely emotionally invested since the outcome seemed obvious from the first episode.  I would have stopped watching this show – but it had something unexpected….

The Good Doctor provided small moments of beauty.  Almost painful in their sincerity.  If it had been delivered in another show, it would have seemed too corny, too cheesy, too force-fed lesson-of-the-day… but because they snuck it in between bloody operations and screaming doctors, it worked.  These moments were largely delivered by the autistic doctor, but not entirely… sometimes they came from the children, or the staff, or the just through an expression or a moment of understanding between two characters.

The romance was sweet but also kinda… hm… well, it’s difficult.  The man has the emotional maturity of a 10 year old.  He’s incredibly smart and sensitive and kind… but it’s hard to imagine a night of passion with him in the bedroom.  Though I am no expert on the subject.  Perhaps that’s just another thing he would surprise everyone with and also be extremely good at… who can say.  It seemed unlikely.  But whatever, that’s not all there is to romance, after all, as this show clearly demonstrates.  Our lead male offers love in a strangely pure form and our leading lady is able to receive it with equal kindness of spirit.  They were, in a way, a wonderful couple and truly unique in the history of k-drama.

I’m not sure I’d recommend either… but if you’re gonna watch a medical drama – Good Doctor is your best bet.

Overall Rating – 8/10.

Review – Strong Woman Do Bong Soon

Review – Strong Woman Do Bong Soon

Strong Woman Do Bong Soon reminds me a lot of iZombie.  It has a playful “comic book” style that knows how to have fun.  Zap, Boom, Shabang!  Those over the top, tongue-in-cheek comics where though good guys fought off villains, no one was injured beyond repair and good humor ruled over seriousness.   Think… the bright friendly, child-saving Superman of the 1900’s… not the monotone angsty Superman of the 2000’s.  Do Bong Soon is here to save the day, damn it!  And you’re going to feel great about it.

 <-This NOT That-> 

I adored this show!  It had so much going for it… which I will be discussing with massive spoilers below… but above all else, it was romantic.  So, so soooo romantic.  Cute romantic.  First love romantic.  Original Superman romantic.  You remember… the big-grin fly me over the city romance of a hunky guy smitten with a feisty girl.

Overall Rating – 10/10.  Saved The Day.

Spoilers and Fangirling with Much Discussion Ahead!

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