Review – In Need of Romance 3

Review – In Need of Romance 3

The more I think about this show, the more I dislike it.  I will admit being biased, as I don’t care for Kim So-Yeon.  She’s one of my least favorite actresses in K-World.  She’s like Seth Rogan… krytonite to my viewing experience.  So, I should have known better going in… but I thought, Sung Joon might save it… or Namgung Min.  Nope.

The plot is basically about a young girl who was a nanny for a rich boy all through her childhood, watching this kid from infancy until he was about 10 or so.  For him it was all sunshine and roses, but for her it was hell.  Time jump about 17 years and she’s grown up to be a bitchy, successful producer of a home shopping network and he has grown up to be a naive, successful musician.  They have a ten second romance before his identity is revealed, and then they basically switch roles from their childhoods – with him acting as the caregiver and her as the busied dependent coming in and out without appreciating him.  And, you know, they slowly fall in love.  I guess.  You’ve also got all the coworkers at the home shopping network going through their own romances – none of which are very noteworthy.  They’re so cliche and one note, they’re basically wallpaper.

One of my pet peeves is tedious voice overs – especially when they’re trying to be poetic or introspective and it doesn’t seem to match the character at all.  This show was stock full of annoying voice overs of our two main character musing about life and love and blah, blah, blah.  Just, show NOT tell, please.  If you couldn’t get that message across in the drama, then it’s lazy writing to try to throw it on top as a voice over.  Yuck.  The voice overs were like those contrite memes with inspirational sayings.  Also, the dialogue was a mess.  There were too many instances of a character saying something that sounded way too measured and preachy for sporadic conversation.  What, did they memorize this speech before hand?  It felt so unnatural.  Our male lead calmly lecturing our female lead about her emotional state… “maybe you’re just a person who doesn’t recognize your own feelings” was ridiculous.  People don’t talk like that.  Even therapists don’t talk like that.  The whole show was like this.  Groan inducing.

What the show DID have going for it was open mouth kissing.  And quite a bit of it.  And bed scenes (mainly “after” where there’s a dude without a shirt and the girl mysteriously sleeps in pajamas).  It was quite frank with its sexual tone.  If only I cared about whether any of them ever got laid, ever again in their lives.  But I didn’t.  I basically just enjoyed the eye candy and fast-forwarded through massive chunks of the eps towards the end.  Honestly, I should have just watched some kiss compilation videos on youtube… saved myself from the constant eye rolling.

Overall Rating – 4/10.  French Kissing Does Not Make Up For Bad Writing.

Review – Beautiful Gong Shim / Dear Fair Lady Kong Shim

Review – Beautiful Gong Shim / Dear Fair Lady Kong Shim

So, apparently it’s just been a really good year for dramas.  Especially romantic comedies.  I have fallen in love over and over and over this year.  And here we go again, with Beautiful Gong Shim… which is not only romantic, but hysterical!  I don’t even know where to begin to explain how awesome the main two characters are.  Gong Shim and Ahn Dan-Tae are such a bizarre, adorably weird, memorable couple.

Gong Shim wears a plain cut wig because her hair’s been falling out in chunks due to stress.  She has a beautiful, successful older sister, her mother is a former Miss Korea, and she is the black sheep of the family – the less attractive, invisible, oddball artist who can’t get a job.  She’s also hysterical, over dramatic, feisty and fearless.   On a personal note, I absolutely loved her style… everything she wore was so perfect on her.

Ahn Dan-Tae is the bum who lives in the upstairs roof room, wandering the streets in flip flops and capri pants, eating all his meals from the convenient store.  Though he’s a lawyer, he rarely charges his clients so he works as a driver at night to pay his rent.  He’s incredibly goofy, carefree, good natured, and honestly… totally adorable.  This is the same actor, Namgung Min, that just scared the pants off me in Remember with his mesmerizing performance as a psychopath, so it was awesome to see him turn his acting skills to this offbeat lovable performance.

The plot is about Gong Shim finding her footing in the world and falling in love, but it’s also got a great birth secret mystery with rich family shenanigans going on in the background.  There are so many great characters and never a dull moment… but I’m too charmed by the lead couple right now to properly review the actual storyline.  You can trust me, the story is great.  Everything about this drama is great.  It’s a winner.

The romance is… atypical, to say the least.  These two run around like crazed teenagers half the time and it’s really fun to watch.  There’s a lot of physicality in their performances – and you could tell they had a blast making this show.  They also both have extremely expressive faces and it’s a nonstop play of growls and frowns and pouts and smirks and smiles with them.  Gah, they were so ridiculously wild and cute!

Overall Rating – 10/10.  Maturity is Highly Over Rated.

A new all-time favorite.

Review – Remember

Review – Remember

Wow.

Seriously.

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

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Review – Can You Hear My Heart?

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!)

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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 – Sensory Couple

Review – Sensory Couple

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First of all… very misleading title image!  This is not a fairy tale romance and neither character runs around in beautiful clothes throughout the show.  This picture is more accurate of what to expect:

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The show about a girl who sees smells (by the seashore) and a guy who feels no pain.  Throw in a serial killer and you’ve got an unusual, yet surprisingly cute drama.

READ MORE…

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