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 – Mad Dog

Review – Mad Dog

Just an all-over great show, with action, drama, a little comedy and romance, and a whole lotta love.  This story illustrates how people make their own families.  The rag tag team of Mad Dog all had different, tattered pasts but when they came together, they found a home.

The plot is this:  A plane crashed killing a ton of people and injuring more and the reports said the pilot was to blame, taking the aircraft down on a suicide mission, leaving his younger brother with a fortune in insurance money.  The younger brother, played to perfection by Woo Do-Hwan, isn’t convinced his older brother was the culprit however.  Unfortunately, no one believes him.  Let alone the leader of a rogue team of investigators who lost his wife and son in the crash and passionately despises him.  How these people come together – to work towards a common cause of uncovering massive corruption, is the basic plot.  And it’s captivating, thrilling and hugely enjoyable.

The Bromance is Strong With These Two.

The entire show was great – from beginning to end – and really let all the characters shine.  Even the bad guys (and there were several) became fully developed, their motivations and personalities distinctive and interesting.  My favorite was the unique, twisted relationship between Joo Hyun-Ki, the heir to the airline company, and Cha Hong-Joo, the heir to the insurance company.   Those two snakes were mesmerizing!  Especially the crazed Joo Hyun-Ki, played by the talented Choi Won-Young.

Love ’em or Hate ’em… these two were made for each other.

Oh, the playful, loving relationships of the Mad Dog team, all dependent on each other, full of laughs and genuine emotion, how I loved them all!  They truly cared about each other and it grounded the drama with heart.  These were people you liked to spend time with – and wanted to see succeed despite all the obstacles in their way.  It made escaping into each episode with them more exciting and rewarding as a viewer.  Other shows should take note of this formula – as it is often sadly lacking in thrillers, the creation of a unique, likable cast.

The Team of Mad Dog… which you want to be adopted by…

Who knew a show about insurance fraud would be so spectacular?

Overall Rating – 9/10.  Using White Collar Crime to Catch Criminals.

Review – Black

Review – Black

Black was a giant twisted MESS of a show.  Honestly, it’s like the writers were suffering from schizophrenia.  It’s a show about… rape?  Corruption?  Lost souls?  Grim Reapers?  Death?  First loves?  Child murder?  Familial problems?  Romance? Revenge?  Cop stuff?  Who knows!  It just stuck its hand in a big bag of ideas, grabbed as many as it could get its fingers around, then scattered them across the table and said, “Perfect!  That’s our show!”  And everyone else looked down and said, “Wait, what?” I am hard pressed to think of a more chaotic show than Black.  Despite the great actors and the cool fantasy aspects of the afterlife, it failed in coherence and theme.  For 20 freakin’ episodes… it was like untangling Christmas lights, except when the whole thing unraveled you discover half the bulbs are dead.

And Black, Grim Reaper 444… or is it 420?,  was a disastrous character.  What exactly happens to you when you die that makes your personality turn into a cartoon character?  His behavior was so hammy, so on the nose, so “Ha, Ha, Ha, I Don’t Like Humans Thus I Must Act Like A Childish Moron.”  It was groan inducing.

I have nothing else to say about this show.  If you want to throw away 20 hours of your life one day, like I did this Saturday, then feel free to watch this mess.

THE REAL MYSTERY OF THIS SHOW (besides trying to figure out why I watched the entire thing) is the conundrum of Kim Dong Jun… and how he’s the male mirror image of Han Ga In.  Seriously.  I thought, “they must be twins…  It’s uncanny!”  But nope.  They’re not related.  Maybe they have the same plastic surgeon, I don’t know, but geepers… it’s unnerving!

Overall Rating – 4/10.  The Afterlife Is Full Of Plot Holes.

Review – Save Me (from people!)

Review – Save Me (from people!)

Is this show a dark commentary on humanity?  YES.  Was it awesome?  Yes… but it’s very, very dark, so light a few candles and pray for the soul of the world before you start viewing.

This is the story about how a family got sucked into a cult.  It’s also a story about growing up, and realizing your parents aren’t the gods of our childhood.  It’s a story about society, and how the struggle for power changes people.   Power over your own life, power over circumstances, power over others.  It’s a commentary on politics, religion, government, and the basic needs of humans – to be useful, to be happy, and to be safe.  And at its heart, it’s a story about friendship.  There’s a lot packed into this drama.

It’s not a pleasant experience, though.  The drama tackled quite a few uncomfortable topics – from police corruption to political corruption, violent school bullying to murder, unbelievable cruelty to cold manipulations of others – both emotionally and physically.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  I’m not sure I want to again for a while, either.  You’ll want to give your brain a rest after this intensity… maybe watch a Disney movie or something.  Cleanse the palette, cleanse the soul.

Overall Rating – 9/10.  Getting To New Heaven Is Hell On Earth.

Thoughts on religion, my personal opinions on the matter, and various musings follow…

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Review – Defendant

Review – Defendant

I’d like to press charges, your honor.  For bad acting.  Ji Sung was so god awful in this show, I could barely stand it.  I suffered through most of it, assuming it might taper out and get better.  It didn’t.  It got worse.  What happened to this guy?  He was so adorable in Protect The Boss!  He was less adorable in Kill Me, Heal Me, but still okay.  But in this show… it was painful.  PAINFUL.  My eyes hurt from witnessing the horrors of such a lackluster, over-the-top yet simultaneously disingenuous performance.  Ugh.  To make matters worse, Uhm Ki-Joon brought his A-Game and was outstanding, playing twins… so the comparison in abilities was blinding.

Now, I know I am on the unpopular side with this opinion – as the ratings and reviews for this drama are high with tons of comments praising Ji Sung for his performance.  I have to assume they are either new to K-World or just… delusional.  Is everyone watching the same show I was?  I don’t get it…

The plot itself was decent – though overly convoluted and a little too gimmicky for my taste.  I adore a great murder mystery, amnesia, psycho-killer, hidden identity story… but this one tried too hard.  Thumbs down.  Gave up after 8 episodes.

Overall Rating – 4/10.  Guilty of Over Acting.

Review – Liar Game

Review – Liar Game

How incredibly awesome was this show?  And it was the perfect length – at 12 episodes – not too long, not too short – just right.  I had read a bad review of it and skipped watching it for a long time, but decided to check it out recently… and twelve hours later, this binge-inducing show had completely swept me off the planet and into an exciting world of intrigue and suspicion!

Plot in a nutshell – a new reality show tests people moral aptitudes and problem solving skills as they attempt to win money in increasingly difficult ways.  This is a character driven show – and after a few games you are down to a small number of key players and you get a firm sense of their personalities, faults and strengths without the use of backstories or flashbacks (exception to the rule being the main three characters).   What lines are they willing to cross for money?  And is there a darker secret behind the show?

Overall Rating – 10/10.  Manipulation Is A Group Sport!

More discussion and very mild spoilers follow (cause I don’t want to spoil the excitement!)….

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