Review – Sungkyunkwan Scandal
I recently rewatched Sungkyunkwan Scandal, for… what? Maybe the sixth time? It’s an adorable romantic comedy. It is, in my opinion, the best historical romantic comedy. Still standing strong since 2010. It has it all. The best of all the tropes. All your favorite things. All the things you hope to see in a romantic comedy. All the tricks of the trade done just right. And for some reason, it’s impossible for me to write a review about it. Every time I try, I just end up wanting to watch it again. Sometimes you just have a to watch it. When everyone agrees that it’s awesome – how many reviews do you need to read, anyways? Trust the crowd. It’s true. It’s really, really freaking good.
The cast is perfect. The lead male is the most delightful stick in the mud nerd… and let’s face it, how often is the main character an uptight, mega nerd? But it works! It works because they paired him off with a equally smart lady disguised as a man, who has a sense of humor and a flair for drama. It works because they balanced him off with polar opposite friends – a carefree, socialite who is interested in fashion and flirting (Yeorim! Oh, how I love him!) and a misfit, rebel who is interested in fighting and social justice won through actions over words. They’re all awesome. I wanted to be bestie with all these besties.
Just watch it. You won’t be sorry. You’ll laugh and be entertained and smitten and charmed. It’s unavoidable. It’s so well written – the cast is large and memorable.
Overall Rating – 10/10. Nerds in Love.
Review – Queen for Seven Days
Did you order some tears with your romantic salad? This was a good show… that I’ve been watching unfold over the summer. Not quite great, but definitely on par with most quality sageuks. As you can tell from the name, it will not have a happy ending. But until then, it does manage to be shockingly romantic – more so than any other sageuk I can think of. Or least, more overtly romantic, in a modern contemporary way, as opposed to the subtle, slow burn romances we generally get in these historical shows. Our lead couple was charming – in particular, her overt nature compared to his reserve. Especially when they were older, her understanding of his introverted tendencies showed a level of maturity rarely seen in dramas – with her always knowing when she needed to go back to him first after an argument, or infer all the things he left unsaid. And like Romeo & Juliet, their romance was all the more delicious as everyone was actively trying to tear it apart or come between them. Nothing like opposition to make things exciting, eh?
I’ve seen a real shift lately in understanding the power of a strong psychotic character to make any drama more interesting. The crazed king motif never gets old, frankly, and Lee Dong Gun’s performance as the seriously unstable, yet strangely sympathetic/pathetic ruler was outstanding. Plus he had the best wardrobe of any royalty I have seen in a saguek to date – the man encouraged color and variety in his kingly robes, thank you. Scheming adults, lovable sidekicks, secret identities, and a variety of palace drama and violence kept the pace in each episode. This is a good drama to watch when you’re in the mood for a flagrantly emotional rollercoaster, as the emotional aspect of show is definitely its strength. The plot is not overly complicated, nor are the characters, really. At it’s heart, it’s an uber-romantic-romance (it’s not all tears, either, there are some very fluffy care-free episodes and cheeky romance moments before the melodrama sinks in).
There’s also a surprisingly modern soundtrack, yet it worked well with the show, which was sort of a hybrid anyway (there was definitely a lot of modern elements covertly woven in).
Overall Rating – 8.5/10 – If There Is A Prophesy Dooming Your Relationship… You Might Wanna Reconsider Your Choices.
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 – Healer
The definition of awesome sauce.
Our main male lead is an independent contractor who lives alone in a massive warehouse (massively cool warehouse) and dreams of one day escaping to an island paradise. He is known by the codename HEALER. And he looks very good in black. Ji Chang-Wook is a star for a reason. He shines in everything.
Our main female lead is a young street reporter who works for an online news source and dreams of being a more successful reporter. Her father is a coffee shop owner/criminal lawyer. Many of the criminals he helped in his long career have now become his employees and act as an extended family for our young heroine. Needless to say, it can be pretty cushy to have the support of such a clan. And it’s ripe for comedy gold.
Our second male lead is a seasoned reporter, well established and celebrated for his work. He has been looking for the whereabouts of a “child” for many years, who was adopted. She’d be about the same age as our lead female… coincidence? Cough, cough.
Outstanding Supporting Cast all around, without exception. Everyone is great in this.
There is action, there is intrigue, there are complicated but exciting plotlines with many twists and turns. We’ve got people under cover and double agents and secret identities and mysteries of the past mixing up with mysteries in the present. There’s breaking and entering, there’s cyber crime, there’s lots of insanely good choreographed fights. Did I mention murder? Revenge? Childhood ninja training?
The production value is top notch. The music is great. It’s a fun, fun, funnnnnnnn show. There’s also a nice romance and plenty of satisfying flirtations and longing stares to keep your heart racing with the action.
Every single episode is quality. Too good for a major review with spoilers – just watch it. Watch it. Watch it, watch it, watch it!
Overall Rating – 10/10. Awesome In Every Way.