Sunday, May 31, 2015

First Impression: Mask

Genre: Melodrama, Romance
Episodes: 20
Broadcast Network: SBS
Air Time: Wednesday/Thursday
Broadcast Period: 5.27.2015 - 7.30.2015

Main Cast:
Soo Ae as Byun Ji Sook / Eun Ha
Joo Ji Hoon as Choi Min Woo
Yun Jung Hoon as Min Suk Hoon
Yoo In Young as Choi Mi Yun

Byun Ji Sook has always had a hard life with her father constantly going into debt and being chased by loan sharks. She desperately wants to know what life would be life if she was born into a better family and didn't have to worry about money all the time. When a series of circumstances brings Ji Sook to Eun Ha, a woman from a wealthy family who strongly resembles Ji Sook, she grabs hold of the chance for a better life and assumes Eun Ha's identity and begins to life her elite life. She meets Min Woo, a chaebol heir who is mistrusting of the people around him. But when he realizes that Ji Sook is not like the other women he has met, he is drawn to her. 

Okay so I am not a huge melodrama fan, I am just not drawn to the crazy story lines and the characters that are so far from reality that no one could ever relate to their situations. But when I first heard of this drama I was instantly drawn to it, and I honestly don't know why, but I was just intrigued. Part of it may be that this is from the writer of Secret, a melodrama that I watched and for the most part enjoyed. I wrestled with myself thinking about watching this, part of me really wanted to just give in to this guilty pleasure and watch the craziness ensure but the rational side told me that I am too busy to be starting all these new dramas and I have to cut back on the amount of shows I am following. Obviously no one can give in to their rational side when it comes to dramaland and so I decided to give Mask a try. 

The first two episodes of this drama were fast paced and I think they laid out the plot for the rest of the drama. The episodes were really used to set up Ji Sook getting involved in this scheme to pretend to be Eun Ha and give us a look at the rest of the characters. Mask is ridiled with common melodrama cliches. The plot includes a poor girl who is thrust into a wealthy world, a rich cheabol who is kind of a jerk, questionable parenting, evil relatives plotting to take over companies, murder, a super sketchy psychologist who should probably have been hit with a malpractice suite years ago, loan sharks being crappy people, and CCTV being completely useless and really easy to tamper with. And that's only two hours! This is the type of drama that is going to use every trick in the book and throw it at the audience and weirdly it works, at least for me. Yes the plot is absolutely ridiculous and everyone should know that going in. I went in prepared to see a makjang masterpiece and I think that is exactly what I am going to get with this drama. 

I am not particularly interested in any of the individual characters yet, except Min Woo. I think everyone is filling their roles nicely, the evil characters are obviously evil and the suspicious characters are there in the background waiting to reveals their suspicious ways around episode 10. I am actually really fascinated by Min Woo's character though, which is surprising because going in I thought he was going to be just a rich chaebal ass, which he is, but he is also completely bonkers and is constantly being roofied by some unknown party, my vote is on the step mother. But I really like his character and I am excited to see where his character arch takes him. 

I don't watch melodramas very often but when I do I want to invest in something that is going to take me on a crazy ride that I just let myself enjoy. I think this is going to be that drama. I can't even imagine where this drama is going to end up going because each episode is probably going to end with a game changing cliffhanger that completely negates everything we thought we had figured out. It will be fun and a guilty pleasure that I will hopefully enjoy, I am putting a lot of faith in the writer since I think Secret is the best melodrama I have watched. I am ready to grab my popcorn and just enjoy the absurdity that is to come. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Series Review: The Girl Who Can See Smells

The Girl Who Can See Smells is the type of drama that you really just want to watch for pure mindless enjoyment. If you plan on going into the drama with a serious eye looking for realism you will be sorely disappointed. All you have to do is look at the title and synopsis to know that this is really a drama that is just for fun and isn't to be taken too seriously. That's what I liked about this drama for the most part, it really didn't take itself seriously. Yes, it is about a serial killer and two people who are tied together because of their tragic connection to this murderer, but it never felt overly dramatic. The best part of the drama is the main couple and seeing them fall in love. That is what keeps people coming back each week, they are just so adorable. This isn't a masterpiece that changes your view on life but it was an enjoyable drama that had me laughing out loud more than once.

This dram started out really strong. It was fast paced and cute and everything everyone was expecting it to be. I was originally hesitant to even watch the drama because I thought the drama sounded a little weird/stupid and I didn't want to waist my time watching something that I wasn't going to enjoy. But when I started I was pleasantly surprised and I knew I had to see this one to the end. While the middle of the drama gets a little dramatic and there are some noble idiot moments, luckily the drama is able to move past that for the last few episodes and gives the audience a great finish. 

First lets talk about the best part of the drama, our lead couple. I don't know what it is about these two actors but they should be pared together in romantic comedies always. I have never enjoyed watching Shin Se Kyung, I just didn't like her acting. But as this show illustrates that she should be doing comedies rather than melodramas. Sure her acting still isn't amazing but I think she is much more suited to this type of show. Then I already liked Yoo Chun going into the drama but I haven't seen him in a comedy and he was hilarious. They had great chemistry that had me rooting for this couple at all times. 

I don't think I've ever laughed so hard as I did when he started singing!

I had seen Namgung Min in Secret Hotel just recently and I wasn't super impressed and that may be because I just didn't like that drama. But his performance in this is pretty spot on. From the very first episode you know that there is something off about this guy. Yeah you don't discover his secret until a few episodes in but there was always something weird about him whenever he was on screen. He honestly gave me chills with his emotionless stares. His character stays the same until the final episode when we finally see this calm and collected serial killer unravel a little bit. The characters psyche was fascinating and I think he acted it perfectly. 

The roughest part of the drama was accepting that the police detectives are the most inept people on the planet. I didn't really it until the last few episodes where it just got ridiculous, at one point I actually yelled at my computer screen in frustration. 

I really enjoyed this drama. I know it wasn't perfect and it had some glaringly big plot holes and some of the stupidest detective work that has ever existed in dramaland. But that isn't what I focused on when I watched the drama. I watched for the lead couple and their amazing chemistry. It was lighthearted and it was great to just numb my mind for an hour. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

First Impression: Producer

Genre: Romance, Comedy
Episodes: 12
Broadcast Network: KBS2
Air Time: Friday/Saturday
Broadcast Period: 5.15.2015 - 6.20.2015

Main Cast:
Cha Tae Hyun as Ra Joon Mo
Kim Soo Hyun as Baek Seung Chan
Gong Hyo Jin as Tak Ye Ji
IU as Cindy

In the center of Yeouido is the KBS building. On its sixth floor are partitioned offices where employees work in the network's variety department, keeping hectic schedules of filming, editing and all-night meetings. Baek Seung Chan is an aspiring prosecutor who changes careers because of a woman. He is now a rookie PD with the variety division. Ra Joon Mo is a seasoned PD who has worked in the industry for ten years. Despite working on a lot of variety programs, he has no single masterpiece to call his own. Tak Ye Jin is another PD with ten years experience, who works on a music program. She is smart, haughty and never holds back in letting others know what she thinks. And finally Cindy who is a famous singer and celebrity who became a trainee when she was 13 years old. She is called the "ice princess" for her poker face and complete control over her emotions. 

There has been a lot of hype surrounding this show. So much so that I actually think it has been a disadvantage to the drama. This drama is written by Park Ji Eun, the writer of last years break out drama My Love From Another Star and so naturally there was going to be a lot of excitement for her next project. But that excitement jumped to a whole new level when the cast was announced. A) Kim Soo Hyun who was one of the reasons My Love From Another Star was such a success, B) Gong Hyu Jin is a brilliant actress and basically any drama she touches turns to gold. C) It reunites IU and Soo Hyun who last acted together in Dream High. So really everything was working in this dramas favor. Except I've found that when a drama has such huge expectations surrounding it is hard to actually live up to what everyone thinks the drama should be. After the premeire I think there were a lot of people who are disappointed because the drama isn't what they thought it would be, but I really enjoyed the first two episodes and I am excited to get to watch the drama. 

This dramas humor takes a bit to get used to. It's pretty dry humor, it isn't flashy and outlandish like a lot of dramaland comedies. It is subtle and you really have to be listening to the dialogue to catch the little things that make the drama really quite hilarious. The drama is really long, each episode is 80 minutes and it was pointed out that that is the length of variety shows so that may be why they decided to add time to each episode. I never got bored watching but I know that was a big complaint, especially about the first episode. This isn't a drama that is going to be super fast paced and exciting. It is about the dialogue and characters. 

I was really impressed with all four the our leads. I think there is a great dynamic between all four characters. After the second episode the relationship I am more interested exploring is between Gong Hyo Jin and Cha Tae Hyun. There friendship is more complicated and interesting then the others so I want to see it fully explored. I really want these two to end up together in the end, they look really good together. Kim Soo Hyun's character is so clueless and is it is fun seeing him blunder through this new job. IU does a very good job of playing the ice princess but I also think that she gives a little bit more than just a cold-hearted celebrity, I feel bad for her because she just looks sad. At this point we don't know what type of relationships are going to form between all these characters but I think it will be interesting to see them all get to know each other. 

I know a lot of people didn't like the first two episodes because the show isn't really what they were expecting. This show has been put onto a pedestal of expectations that are really impossible to reach. I went into the drama expecting a meta filled character study and I really think that is what I got. I thought it was really funny and I liked all the characters, especially Gong Hyo Jin's character, she is already one of my favorite actress and I honestly believe she can do no wrong. There are a lot of references and cameos that will fill the drama I just hope it wont get to be too much that it distracts from the actual story. All in all I am excited for the drama and will be watching each week. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

First Impression: Warm and Cozy

Warm and Cozy
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Episodes: 16
Broadcast Network: MBC
Air Time: Wednesday/Thursday 
Broadcast Period: 5.13.2015 - 7.2.2015

Main Cast:
Yoo Yun Suk as Baek Gun Woo
Kang So Ra as Lee Jung Joo

Lee Jung Joo has worked tirelessly for five years for a clothing company to try to improve her station in life. But despite all of her hard work, life keeps throwing curve balls at her and she ends up with no job or boyfriend. Angry at the world, she ends up on Jeju Island to start over and rebuild her life. Baek Gun Woo, on the other hand, has always had a comfortable life. He doesn't have to work that hard to succeed because his family has always paved the way for him. Can these two opposites find love in the scenic island of Jeju?

Oh the Hong sisters! I have been really anticipating this drama for the last little bit because I think there has been a lot of hype surrounding the project. I have only seen a few of their dramas and I am slowly getting through another one of theirs. I think I have generally focused on the dramas that have gotten really good reviews and are ones I was told I had to watch. But I know that not all of their dramas have been winners so going into this one from the beginning and watching it while it's airing is kind of risky, because it will either be a really fun and zany or get bogged down with ridiculous plot points. But it is definitely one of the most anticipated dramas coming out this summer so I had to jump on the band wagon and go in blind.

The first two episodes have been interesting to say the least. The Hong sisters have never really been good with their first episodes and that was definitely the case with Warm and Cozy. The first episode was honestly just a mess. It starts with Lee Jung Joo traveling to Jeju to meet her long lost mother and her twin brother. The whole scene just felt weird, and was even weirder was when Gun Woo's mother denies knowing Jung Joo's father and they accept they aren't really related then they start flirting with each other. It was an odd choice. Also I just hate that they completely drop the twin thing right away without any evidence to confirm that they aren't related, just the word from his mother (who is clearly hiding something). I mean this girl traveled all the way to this island convinced this woman was her mother and then just one word from her and she drops everything. It just means that they twincest is going to come into play later in the drama and while I know that the Hong sisters will use common drama tropes I just want the twin thing to be gone. I don't want to have to worry about the middle of the drama when it will all come back to bite everyone in the butt. 

I think that opening scene was the really big problem I had with the first episode. Other than that the pacing was slow but that never really bothers me too much. I do think that the dialogue was a little cheesy at times and I wasn't super convinced by Yoo Yun Suk and Kang So Ra. I haven't seen Yun Suk in anything before so I am seeing him with fresh eyes, but I loved So Ra in Misaeng and when I heard she was cast it made me really excited to see her in a completely different genre. I was much more impressed with their acting in the second episode, especially Yun Suk. While his character is pretty shallow the story has given him chances to show real depth and he definitely brings that out. He gives some pretty heartbreaking looks and I just want to see more of that side of his character. 

The second episode was a lot better. I think they started to get a better rhythm and while the story was still slow I didn't notice it as much. There was some great moments in the episode. Overall it was just a better episode and made me feel better about the drama as a whole. While I do have some problems with some plot points that just don't seem to fit with the feel of the rest of the drama, I think it will take a few episodes to really flesh the whole thing out. I am not 100% on board with the drama but I haven't jumped ship and I don't think I will. I want to see where some of the story lines go, and even though I know that there are going to be drama cliches that are going squeeze themselves into later episodes, I am willing to ride it out..... at least I think I am...

Also the highlight I think for the entire drama is going to be So Ji Sub's cameo. It was perfect and I don't think anything else in the drama is going to be able to top that one scene. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

First Impression: Ex-Girlfriend Club

Ex-Girlfriend Club
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Episodes: 16
Broadcast Network: TvN
Air Time: Friday/Saturday

Main Cast:
Byun Yo Han as Bang Myung Soo
Song Ji Hyo as Kim Soo Jin
Lee Yoon Ji as Jang Hwa Young 
Jang Ji Eun as Na Ji Ah
Hwa Young as Ra Ra

The story centers around a famous webtoon writer named Bang Myung Soo. His manhwa's are based on his past relationships and focuses on his ex-girlfriends. Kim Soo Jin is a movie producer who is assigned to make his webtoon into a movie, the only problem being Kim Soo Jin is Myung Soo's most recent ex. The project requires Soo Jin to gather the other ex-girlfriends - Jang Hwa Young, Na Ji Ah, and Ra Ra - and work with them to get the film off the ground. 

I was actually really excited for this drama to air. I've had the biggest crush on Byun Yo Han since Misaeng and I knew that he was getting a lot of offers for dramas after his performance. So when I heard that he was the taking the drama on I knew I had to watch it. The only hesitation came when Song Ji Hyo signed on. I think she is great on Running Man but the last (and only) drama I watched her in was Emergency Couple and that drama is not one that I look back on fondly. But my love for Yo Han won out and I decided to give the drama a go. 

After the first two episodes I think it will be a pretty hilarious show. The whole set up lends itself to some great comedy and the writers seem like they are going to focus in on that aspect of the show. There have been so many dramas lately that have been melodramas cleverly disguised as comedies. And a lot of those shows were really great, but because of the feel of the first two episodes I hope with all my heart, that it stays on the upbeat comedy road all the way through to the end. That doesn't mean there can't be heartfelt moments but those moments should be the exception, not the rule. 

After the first episode I wasn't quite satisfied with the chemistry between our lead couple, it felt awkward. Usually not a great sign for our lead couple. But their past is brought into light in the second episode and their relationship becomes a lot clearer and the drama takes a big turn which was surprising to see in the first week of the show. All of the ex-girlfriends play their roles very well and I look forward to seeing each of their stories fleshed out. Right now they are more characters of real people but hopefully they will develop more throughout the series. 

There is a twist that is revealed at the end of episode two that is brilliant but also the most painful drama scene I think I have ever watched. There are a lot of awkward scenes in dramaland but this one definitely takes the cake. I had to stop the episode and just back away for a good five minutes before I could bring myself to finish the scene. It's so extremely awkward that I had to hide my face in my pillow and scream. You have been warned, it really is that painful. 

This show has the potential to be a very funny drama as long as it never takes itself too seriously. I can't wait to see where the story goes and how the characters are developed. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Series Review: Angry Mom

I really enjoyed watching this drama. It was a nicely paced show that kept me intrigued all the way to the end. Angry Mom delved into the world of high school bullying and the politics behind the school system. It is a pretty dark drama that takes its subjects seriously. The show had a nice balance between the funny lighthearted scenes and the heavier parts. From the writing, directing, and acting we get solid performances that made the drama so compelling. 

I think the best part of the drama for me was the acting. I think all the actors gave believable performances. This is a drama that relied on it's characters to carry the story. We had to connect to Kang Ja and her fight against the higher powers that were threatening her family. I was really impressed with Kim Hee Seon, the only other thing I have seen her in is Faith and that was definitely not my favorite drama in the world. So when I saw she was headlining this I wasn't really that excited. Luckily I was wrong and she gave us a great performance that was really moving. She was also a total badass and I honestly want to be Kang Ja when I grow up. Also Hee Seon looks amazing! While she didn't look like she was 17 she looks so much younger then she actually is, if I could look half as good as her when I'm her age I will be a happy camper.  

Our other lead, Ji Hyun Woo who played the ever earnest teacher grew on me throughout the drama. At first I felt like the character was really one note and was extremely naive but when he joined Kang Ja in her fight he became a rounded character who was no longer this young naive teacher but a fighter determined to care of his students. He cared more for his students then some parents and he changed their lives for the better. One of my favorite developments from the drama was the relationship between No Ah and Bok Dong. The last thing I expected to develop in the drama was a bromance between these two but it was perfect!

Speaking of Bok Dong, I think it has been universally acknowledged that Ji Soo has the stand out performance. Bok Dong starts out as a prickly bully who is controlled by the wrong side. But he slowly begins to soften and joins Kang Ja's gang. He gets out from under Dong Chil's control and is able to take charge of his own life. His character was honestly the most adorable thing I have ever scene. His crush on Bang Wool is what shows the audience that he has this softer side and watching him struggle with this crush provided us with some much needed laughter. 

I didn't think I would ever ship a high-schooler with an Ajumma but these two were so cute together, at one point I found myself googling the age of consent in South Korea, not my proudest moment. This is Ji Soo's first drama but you wouldn't be able to tell from his amazing performance throughout Angry Mom. I think he has a great future ahead and has a lot of potential, he is definitely one to watch.

I think this drama ended at the perfect time, Mother's Day is just a few days away and this show is really about the moms. The last few episodes really turns its focus to the students mothers who stand up and fight against those who have done their children wrong. I know that my mom is a fighter and has always stood up for me throughout my whole life. When I told her I wanted to go into theatre, not a very easy market to break into, and she just told me to go for it. She is the one who has pushed me to be my best self and she is the reason I am the person I am. I remember in the first few episodes I just wanted to see Kang Ja and Ah Ran's relationship get repaired and luckily the show followed through with that. 

Angry Mom pulled my heartstrings and it never felt slow or bogged down with politics. The acting was great as was the directing and writing. It showed the power of family and that a family doesn't always consist of blood ties. It's a great drama that the production team should be very proud of. If you haven't watched this drama yet I would highly recommend it be added to your watch list. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Series Review: Super Daddy Yeol

Oh this show... I remember when this drama first started I was really excited. The first episodes gave me hope for a really touching story that would bring me to tears but would make me laugh along the way. The overall story had a lot of potential but unfortunately the show just didn't hold up to all of my expectations. 

I think the drama suffered most from it's lead Mi Rae, she just wasn't likable. She would make decisions without thinking about anyone else. I think the most frustrating part of the drama was when she decided to break Yeol's heart and coldly leave him. It wouldn't have been a problem if she didn't like him and just wanted to leave but she was forcing herself to make this decision for him because she had developed feeling for him. She didn't give him the choice to either be a complete douche and leave her because he couldn't handle her being sick or to decide his love for her was strong enough to overcome his heartbreak and stay with her till the end. That's what I wanted to see, not her running away creating all sorts of misunderstandings. I think the worst part was that it hurt her daughter more than anything. Sa Rang had finally opened up to Yeol and accepted him as his dad and then she is told that her decision actually doesn't matter and we are going to start over with someone new. It just kind of sucked and didn't really make sense, since all Mi Rae wanted was to give Sa Rang a family to take care of her when she died. I just feel like there were a lot of choice made by characters that made absolutely no sense, considering what their end goals were. 

There were moments in the drama that were really well done but none of it meshed together to create a coherent story. There were so many touching scenes that could have made more of an impact on the viewer if  there was just a little bit more to the story. For example, one of the most touching scenes in the drama was between Yeol and his father, but we never really got a lot of background info on their life together and why their relationship was so strained. It's little things like that that just left the drama disappointing. 

One thing I did like in the drama was how the relationship between Yeol and Sa Rang grew. I liked seeing them grow closer and becoming family. I think it was obvious from the beginning of the drama that Yeol was her father, I kind of thought he was an idiot for not asking Mi Rae if she was his at the very beginning. But I also liked that he loved Sa Rang without the blood ties, it made the relationship more authentic. 

Overall this drama just left me feeling disappointed and I know a lot of people who dropped out half way through. While the story had potential the writing and character development left the show a very frustrating watch that I had a difficult time finishing. But I did finish it! I wouldn't recommend this drama to anyone but it did have some great individual scenes that left me at least slightly satisfied.