Review – Great Seducer / Tempted (to Fast Forward)

Review – Great Seducer / Tempted (to Fast Forward)

Full disclaimer – I adore the male lead in this show.  Even if his character is immensely boring, as it was in this drama.  Even if his usually shining star seemed dim playing a conflicted, conceited Lothario.  Even when he tried to convince the audience that rich kids have problems too… just not money problems, which is the vast majority of life’s problems, but, ya know… problems.  Even though this show kinda sucked, I still liked it.  Such is the power of Woo Do-Hwan.  I’m just a fan.

This show was an odd, very loose adaptation of the old Les Liaisons Dangereuse by Pierre Choderlos de Lacios.  What?  Not familiar with that 18th century French novel?  What about the play?  What about… Dangerous Liaisons, the fantastic 1988 movie with Glenn Close?  Or Valmont in 1989?  No?  Okay… Cruel Intentions in 1999?  Untold Scandal… the 2003 Korean movie?  The 2012 Chinese version?  It’s a popular story.

The plot (of Dangerous Liaisons) is simple:  Two very rich and powerful people are friends, skirting around some powerful attraction to one another.  They are both shameless sexual deviants, having affairs left and right with no real feelings for the people they are sleeping with.  When the woman is jilted by her lover for another woman, her pride is hurt and she concocts a revenge scheme… ruin the reputation of her sweetie’s new sweetie.  It’s a very passive aggressive move.  She enlists the help of her bestie to seduce this new woman, offering herself as the reward for a job well done.  Everything goes to hell once her bestie falls in love with this conquest… ruining all their lives in epic proportions.

It’s a great story, honestly, who isn’t fascinated by the idea of sex as a weapon – and worse, love as a game.  It’s a story about cruelty for pleasure, about deep insecurities, about those with power using it shamelessly over those without.  It’s funny, sexy, and… a tragedy.  Because if you start to care about your prey… it’s no longer the same game.  You’ll have a hard time serving the family dog for a holiday meal, ya dig?  Once you love them, to destroy them is to destroy yourself.  If you haven’t seen the 1988 movie version, do yourself a favor… Glenn Close is the master at playing a cruel bitch.  Though for camp value, the 1990s Cruel Intentions is also fun.

This drama takes the Dangerous Liaisons story and adds a bunch of unnecessary story lines – unrequited love between parents, another leading male, some teen sob stories, a few tangled connections and angles that do nothing to enhance the classic tale of sex and heartache.  It attempts to make the villains, aka the leads, sympathetic… which declaws the beast.  It doesn’t really make us love the bad guys or the good guys… everyone is just lounging around in the middle.  The power of the original story is that the two leads are total assholes – just terrible, terrible people –  and having one of them fall in love shatters their delicate world of manipulations and smug, shameless conduct.  That in fact, they are their own worst enemies.

This show wants to play it nice.  It’s not a morality play, it’s a teen romance.

So instead of being a fantastical, K-world version of the centuries old, beloved and wicked classic Dangerous Liaisons, it’s more like a few episodes of Gossip Girl.  And there’s nothing wrong with Gossip Girl.  Sometimes you just want to watch beautiful rich people run around and be mean, then nice, then mean, then nice to each other and know it will all work out in the end.  Fans of Gossip Girl will love this.

Overall Rating – 7.5/10.  Basically a Few Episodes of Gossip Girl, K-Style. 

Review – Twenty Again

Review – Twenty Again

What a gem of a show!  Such a simple premise… a young, energetic dancer has a one night stand with a stranger that ends in an unexpected pregnancy – she ends up hastily getting married and follows her new husband to Germany, where he has his first professor appointment.  There, isolated and alone, she sort of looses her spark and falls into obscurity, her house and home becoming her entire world as all her dreams are lost.  Motherhood becomes her only solace.  Her husband pushes her further and further away, until finally he asks for a divorce when their son is a teenager.  They postpone the divorce until their kid goes off to college… and in a mad dash attempt to save her marriage by becoming the intellectual equal of her husband, our leading lady secretly enrolls in college.  There she runs into one of her best friends from high school, who secretly had a crush on her, and the show takes off!

So much happens.  There are all sorts of twists and turns in the relationships.  Affairs.  Terminal illnesses.  Miscommunication on an epic scale.  And adorable banter and humor between the adult leads, as well as all the students, faculty and staff.  So much cuteness.  And a really great story, too, of growing up even when you’re already a grown up.  I loved it.

Overall Rating:  8/10.  There’s No Planned Parenthood in K-World.

More discussion and spoilers and musing…

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Review- The Best Hit

Review – The Best Hit

Where to even begin with this odd, nonsensical, messy yet… strangely… kinda fun show?  Here’s the premise:  In 1994, a pop duo J2 ruled the charts until its front man went missing, mysteriously… leaving behind his pregnant girlfriend.  In 1993, that same front man actually traveled through time, 20 plus years into the future, via a typhoon/staircase incident (don’t ask)… and apparently this split him into two people – the one who will stay behind and continue on route to disappearing in 1994… and the one who now roams around in the future.  Time traveling rock star hangs out with his own son (who is struggling to become a pop idol via some training program), and his two best friends – who all share a rooftop room together.  Meanwhile time traveler’s best friend and baby-mamma live downstairs, now middle aged.  From there it is a bizarre mix of flashbacks and strange relationships and strained relationships, as everyone deals with this time warp business.

It was honestly a disaster, but Yoon Si-Yoon is so good at playing these cheesy, over the top, lovable goofball rolls that he makes even the most preposterous convoluted story lines enjoyable.  I wasn’t overly impressed with anyone else – or their stories – but I stuck around.  I admit I did fast forward quite a bit.  This was another one of those annoying “short” episode shows where they’d literally just cut a normal episode in two for no conceivable reason – so the pacing always felt off.  It wasn’t quite about family.  It wasn’t quite about the entertainment industry.  It wasn’t quite a time travel mystery.  It wasn’t quite a romance or a bromance.  It was a little of everything and thus not quite much of anything.

The love triangle was more interesting than most, though, as it mirrored the infamous Pretty In Pink storyline… where you have two best friends who mean everything to each other, but one of them is secretly in love.  The key to this is making the person with the one sided love very charming and sympathetic… thus leading to “Duckie Syndrome,” where the majority of the audience likes that guy more than the lead guy and seem annoyed the girl doesn’t return his affections.  In this show, the son of the time traveling pop star has been in love with his best friend for years – and finally decides to confess once he notices her falling for his time traveling father.

So… there were pros and cons.  Probably more cons… and yet… and yet… it so freakin’ weird and unexpected that I did enjoy watching it.  The first 10 eps were incredibly hammy and nonsensical, but once it found it’s place, the story did improve drastically.

Overall Rating – 7/10.   Yoon Si-Yoon Is Fun In Every Decade.