Review – Sweet Stranger & Me
Welcome to backflash city. The heavy handed, overuse of backflashes in this show reminded me of K-dramas of old… when you’d have a backflash to something that literally happened in the same episode. It’s K-dramas for goldfish.
With that said, I still enjoyed this light drama. The side characters were particularly enjoyable. It’s one of those rare dramas that fully develops its side characters, so that they’re not just around as a plot device to add conflict as the two leads find love. Oh no, these side characters get their own stories and you’ll be rooting for them to find happiness too. In fact, I liked the side characters more than the lead characters. A lot more. The two second leads, the stalker sister, the goofy side-chef, the young gangster guy… I found them all to be more interesting and complicated than our reformed gangster turned chef and the grumpy stewardess. My biggest qualm with this entire series is that it didn’t firmly wrap up the endings to these people – after laying all that foundation for them, giving them walls and windows and doors… why leave us hanging? Give those people a roof, damn it, and complete their stories.
The simple version of the plot: A young woman comes home to rest shortly after her mother dies and she catches her fiance cheating on her. Once home, she discovers her mother secretly married a young man and this handsome guy is now her stepfather and owner of her family house, business, and property. Her family turns out to be full of secrets, including tons of massive debt. An extremely handsome and feisty local “Robot Museum” owner wants to buy the land to develop it into a resort… and he’s not only interested in the property, but also our leading lady. On top of all this, the girl her fiance had an affair with keeps hanging around, bringing all her drama and shenanigans with her.
It was cute. You have to suffer through the flashbacks for it, but it’s still a nice romantic show. With two very handsome leading men.
Overall Rating – 7/10. Kneading Dough… Better Than Crossfit For Upper Body Strength.
More on Characters, Spoilers, Complaints and Musings follow….
Review – White Christmas (A Tribute to 90’s Angst)
In 2011, they gathered together all the young stars who could tear down a house with their acting abilities and threw them in a short, creepy drama together called White Christmas. They set the entire thing to late 20th century indie music… Primal Scream, Massive Attack, The Pixies, Alice in Chains, Velvet Underground… like a stolen mixed tape from my formative years. The plot is simple – seven students receive a threatening, confusing anonymous letter saying they’re all cursed and someone will die over the Christmas break. So they all stay behind, as the rest of their peers leave for the holidays. These stragglers linger in a huge empty school building isolated on top of a snowy mountain… desperate to discover what role they have to play in this mystery.
And at its heart, the show is a mystery. But it’s also an examination into a high pressure school system. It’s social commentary. It’s a therapy session. It’s an exploration of natural violence. It’s a story about people… and how they hurt and heal each other. And it is DARK, people.
I’ve had it in my que for months… saving it. Now that summer is coming to an end, I finally treated myself to dessert. And it was exceptionally tasty. Only eight episodes long but jam packed with mesmerizing performances, plot twists, and a startlingly original story. It’s on Viki – go watch it now! (and please when you’re watching it take note of all the bizarre conceptual 90’s-style photoshop artwork all over the walls in every room… cause… wow… so eerie… remember the doll heads?)
Overall Rating – 10/10. REDRUM! REDRUM!!!
Discussion of characters and SPOILERS follow….
Review – Scholar Who Walks the Night
Supernatural historical dramas are some of my favorites. Even though I have yet to see one with a really solid plot, I always enjoy them. You would think that a drama about trying to overthrow an ancient vampire who lives in an underground lair beneath the royal palace and secretly controls the Joseon monarch would be fantastic. Eh.
Okay, maybe the plot was a little boring sometimes. I mean, how many secret diaries does it take to kill a vampire, am I right? But did that spoil my enjoyment of this show? Nope. Still loved it. Why? Cause vampires, that’s why! Who doesn’t love a good vampire story? Throw in a pretty girl disguised as a boy (love that trope!) and some romance and I’m hooked. Add an incredibly sexy evil vampire as the bad guy… and I’ll pop my popcorn and settle in for a long binge watch.
Overall Rating – 8/10. Dark Shadows of the Joseon Era.
Review – Shark
Shark is the third (and final) installment in the Revenge Trilogy by director Park Chan-hong and writer Kim Ji-woo. This drama varies greatly from its predecessors, Resurrection and The Devil. Shark is a moody, elegant revenge drama that indulges in gorgeous scenery and slow plot progression. It’s like watching a Sofia Coppola film. Everything is filtered down – the action, the romance, the mystery and the suspense – and yet its easy to bask comfortably in this dark emotional pool and allow yourself to sink to the bottom.
Kim Gam Nil is well suited to the careful, calculating man robbed of his father and young adulthood who returns for revenge. Son Ye Jin does an excellent job portraying a woman who lost her first love – and in order to find him again must face the terrible secrets of her own trusted family. Though it’s not as sexy and brooding as Bad Guy or as twisted and compelling as The Devil – Shark is an excellent series for a rainy weekend when you’d rather get lost in beautiful visuals, a slow simmer romance and a interesting mystery.
It’s a beautifully crafted drama. Meticulously crafted, in fact. Every shot, every detail, every lingering camera angle and detail hint at extra meaning. Like a Hitchcock film. Though a lot longer. It’s long. It’s 20 episodes. And there’s a great deal of “sins of the father” theme going on in this show… and more than once you will find yourself thinking, “Wait… doesn’t he/she already know this/that?” and you probably won’t be able to answer your own question and it probably won’t matter cause everyone has secrets and secret identities and everyone is lying to everyone and they can’t keep their stories straight so why should we, as viewers, have to? I absolutely LOVED this drama – and have rewatched it several times over the years (okay, okay, maybe not all of it… but probably 70%)- loving it more each time. But of course, long convoluted crazy romantic revenge melodramas are generally my favorites.
It also has one of the best love theme songs I’ve ever heard in drama. Lovely, haunting and passionate – I never got tired of hearing this song.
Overall Rating: 10/10
EXTREMELY MILD SPOILERS AND MORE