Review – Remember
One of the best shows I have ever watched, ever. Anywhere. And it seemed kinda “eh” starting out, but a few episodes in and I was hooked and then… I just ate it up. The characters! The plot! Honestly, the last episode was so emotionally draining (good and bad) that I think it may be a while until I can write up a decent review. So for now… I just wanted to put this placeholder in, saying: WATCH IT.
This is a finely crafted work of art.
Plot Basics: A young man’s father, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, is accused of murder and sentenced to death row. The young man, who has incredible photographic memory, dedicates his life to clearing his father’s name. Add to the mix one of the most memorable villains of all time, and you have this amazing show… that just keeps getting better as it goes.
Overall Rating – 10/10. The Truth Does Not Speak For Itself.
More about the characters and mild spoilers follow
Review – Jealousy Incarnate
This show really shouldn’t have been as entertaining as it was. The plot was kinda lame, the territory worn… but due to the amazing cast, it somehow managed to still be an enjoyable show for 20 something long episodes. I think the reason this show appeals to people is because the premise is appealing. Who hasn’t had a crush on someone who just didn’t feel the same way? And how awesome would it be if they suddenly changed their mind – at the exact time someone as equally awesome came along and also liked you? And… let’s shoot for the stars… how incredible would it be to date them both, with their permission, and even set up house together while they generously allow to figure out your feelings? Geesh. It’s so ridiculous and in the realm of fantasy, which is exactly why it was entertaining for twenty episodes.
The love triangle is really the only reason to watch it. There are better shows about broadcasting (Pinocchio) and there are better shows about cancer (Padam Padam), though I will admit the male breast cancer angle was interesting. The side story about the warring moms was funny and I enjoyed their love triangle as well. The side story about the teenagers, eh. I have a serious crush on Choi Hwa-Jung, who played the rich guy’s mom, Madam Kim, so I loved watching her prance around and try to reign in her empire and heir… oh my God, she was rockin’ in this show. Her stylist deserves a special award for fitting those curves to perfection. Damn.
Overall Rating – 7/10. Two Boyfriends Are Better Than One.
Review – Let’s Eat
This is a unique show focusing on food (oooh so much yummy food in ooooh so much detail) and how it brings people together. The main character, Lee Soo-Kyung, is a divorcee who lives in a singles apartment complex and works as a legal secretary at a law firm. I loved this character – her suspicious nature, her bristly demeanor, her begrudging acceptance of her single fate – she was strong yet vulnerable with a great personality. Most of all, I loved her love of food. She took pleasure in food the way children take pleasure in their new toys on Christmas morning. It was divine to watch her eat, moaning and grinning and stuffing her face.
Around Lee Soo-Kyung are her best friend, a stay at home mom with two rambunctious children. Her best friend’s husband, who is also a legal aid at the same firm. The two lawyers who run the firm, the hysterically delusional Lawyer Oh and the petty, gloriously geeky Lawyer Kim. We also are introduced to Lee Soo-Kyung’s two neighbors on either side. One is a young lady whose father has gone to prison, her family fortune lost. She’s naive, optimistic, good-natured, and was (in my opinion) the weakest link in the storyline.
The other neighbor is our second lead, Koo Dae-Young, an insurance salesman who is also a foodie. I also really loved this character. First of all, his job is interesting. An insurance salesman? He’s someone who knows every illness and disease and spits out scary little fun facts with a pleasant smile during conversation, ever the salesman. He’s charming, carefree, and seems to just glide effortlessly through life. When he does get himself into sticky situations – such as girls falling for him left and right – he’s actually quite mature in handling it face to face with no drama, setting things straight. I also loved when people would set him off on one of his food rants – “What?!” and he’d go into a soliloquy about the history and beauty of some questioned nature of the meal. It was hysterical and eloquent and just made an already cool guy ten times cooler.
This show decided to develop all its characters before it even bothered to get started with a romance, which was unusual. I think we were about ten episodes in before any real flirting started. And yet… I think that improved the plot greatly.
Overall Rating – 8.5/10. Unique Characters To Be Savored.
Final Thought – I loved the main female’s dog, Vara. Only our quirky female lead would chose to name a tiny Pomeranian dog after Che Guevara.
Review – Bad Guys
This show asks the question… are we humans or are we beasts? Clearly we’re a little bit of both and it’s a delicate, fragile balance for a lot of people. Especially the people in this show. The plot is basically this: Three hardcore criminals are let out of prison to help track down hardcore criminals. They are lead by an ambitious young detective and a hardened old detective nicknamed “Mad Dog.” Much violence ensues.
It’s a short drama, at only 11 episodes, and keeps up a consistent pace of action throughout. The actual narrative of the story revolves around the death of Mad Dog’s daughter – and how these three criminals may be related to her demise. I admit, I kinda loved the whole bloody festival of butchery and tears.
Overall Rating – 8.5/10 – The Beasts of Seoul and How to Catch Them.
More about the beasts of Seoul… with no real spoilers this time…
Review – Bridal Mask
Bridal Mask is one of the most epic, emotional, action-packed, gut-wrenching shows I have ever watched. It takes place during the 1930’s, when Japan had colonized the country. The hatred between the local “Joseon” people and the Japanese is palatable. Though some have been striving to live and work in peace, overall it is a volatile time rife with government, military, and police corruption. The plot centers around a young Korean man who has betrayed his people by joining the Japanese military to help them end the rebellion, in particular catch the infamous masked crusader known only as “Bridal Mask.” He is despised by his own people and distrusted by the Japanese, with the exception of his best friend, a kind-hearted elementary school teacher. A series of tragic events lead both of these men into their terrible fates.
Overall Rating – 9/10. When Elementary School Teachers Embrace The Dark Side… (also known as: The Problem With Eye For An Eye Is There Are Always More Eyes)
It would be a 10/10 but I confess it could have probably cut about ten entire episodes and not suffered from plot loss. More discussion (and spoilers! sorry, I can’t help it) follow.
Review – Secret Love Affair (a PG Rated Erotic Tale)
I avoided this show for a long time due to the “noona romance” but finally gave in when I saw it pop up on Netflix. I’ve read a ton of reviews on it, raving about how sexy it was, how divine, how romantic and beautiful and so on. And it is all of those things. But it’s also incredibly demure. This show is such a tease!
I enjoyed Secret Love Affair. But I didn’t love it. I loved the music. I loved the cinematography. I loved the writer’s for leaving a great deal of the performances “unspoken” and giving the actors a chance to emote with their facial expressions. The husband, in particular, became more interesting due to his actions and reactions of the affair. What a complicated man. And yet I found most of the characters very unlikable. And tedious. And boring. And though our lead couple shared a connection through music, I couldn’t really understand what either of them saw in each other… except for the obvious cliches associated with a relationship with such a vast age difference.
Plot: Unhappily married woman in crappy job finds solace and escape in the arms of a struggling young piano prodigy. Both their lives become more complicated because of it. Subplot and perhaps moral of the story: Rich people are mostly jerks, but since a lot of people will do unethical and crappy things to get money, can we really throw stones in our glass houses? And do you even like your glass houses or have you just bought the lie?
Overall Rating – 8/10. A Major Musical Seduction and a Minor Romance in B Flat.
Full titillating review follows (including spoilers and X-Rated commentary)
Review – Tunnel
There’s a lot to like about this show. The unusual plotline. The adorable cop shenanigans and bromances everywhere (all the main cops are dudes in this show and they’re all extremely lovable). The tangled web of time travel. The serial killer(s) and their damaged childhoods. I enjoyed the whole thing. A quality drama, highly recommended.
Overall Rating – 8/10. Grumpy Time Traveling Detective Solves An Old Case.
A little bit more about characters follows (very, very mild spoilers)
Review – Falling in Love with Soon Jung
I just didn’t get this show. I watched it. The whole freakin’ thing. Cause… I don’t know. Why did I keep watching it?
Soon Jung is boring… sooo, sooo boring. Why did all these people fall in love with her in the first place? It’s not Kim So Yeon’s fault – she can be wonderful in shows but apparently she forgot to read the script before she agreed to make this drama. The haircut did NOTHING for her. It made her look like an expressionless mannequin… and her face has always looked a little manufactured to me anyways, so that didn’t help. They should have made a little effort to give this character some depth or dimension, cause she was as flat and dry as cardboard.
Jung Kyung Ho played the asshole businessman who gets a heart transplant from a nice guy, magically transforming him into a decent human being. He was cute in this. Not amazing, not even necessarily memorable, but cute. At least he brought his character to life and had fun with it… and with his hair. Plus he had an adorable male secretary.
Yoon Hyun Min played the most interesting character – the dude who’d been in love with Soon Jung forever but had always stepped aside. But after her fiance died, he thought he finally had a chance. Wrong! Her fiance’s heart ended up in his business rival’s chest and the next thing you know, he’s playing the entire sad story out again. Except this time he’s not gonna bow out gracefully. Nope. This time he’s gonna go bat shit crazy and see if maybe scaring his crush to death might be a more successful romantic approach. While normally I would say “What were you thinking?” this method has actually worked in other dramas… so… you never know. He was a complicated mess of a man, though, and the most fun to watch.
The plot is dull. Some people are trying to save some vague cosmetic business while other people want to sell it off to make money. You won’t care. You’re supposed to care, I think, but they forgot to tell us why. Cause, uh… people work there? Whatever. And then there’s the mystery of how Soon Jung’s fiance died – which is revealed to the viewer about halfway through the show so we have to sit around until everyone figures it out. The two dudes fighting over Soon Jung aren’t interesting as a dynamic because she only likes one of them and not the other – so there’s no real triangle at all, just this sad unrequited love from this sort of sad, pathetic dude whose lost his marbles.
I really should have dropped this drama. I’ve been watching it in chunks for weeks, just going back to it when I had a little time here and there. I don’t know why, honestly. It was not worth sixteen hours of my time. The “romance” sucked.
Overall Rating – 5/10. Why Does Anyone Fall In Love With Soon Jung?
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!)….
Review – Can You Hear My Heart?
This is “old school” k-drama done right. A small but incredible cast in one fantastically complicated knot. We’re talking tropes, tropes, tropes – birth secrets, evil moms, love triangles, revenge plots, stolen children, all-people-with-disabilities-are-angels, family feuds, memory loss and more! It’s surprising how difficult it is to try to summarize this 30 episode trip to quality, emotional trauma/drama. It’s about family – the ones we are born with but more importantly about the ones we create for ourselves – through friends, through neighbors, through marriage, through fate.
A true gem and worth the watch, when you’re feeling patient and understand that a four course meal takes time. I liked it a lot. I didn’t love it, necessarily, but I enjoyed it.
Overall Rating – 8.5/10. Dumb People Are Happier In Life… So It Sucks To Be You, Smarty Pants.
Read More… in which I try to explain this ridiculously unique plotline about intelligence, the hierarchy of needs, and familial love (major spoilers ahead!)