Monday, June 29, 2015

First Impression: The Time I've Loved You

The Time I've Loved You
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Episodes: 16
Broadcast Network: SBS
Air Time: Saturday/Sunday
Broadcast Period: June 27, 2015 - August 16, 2015

Main Cast:
Ha Ji Won as Jang Ha Na
Lee Jin Wook as Choi Won
Yoon Kyun Sang as Cha Seo Hoo
Choo Soo Hyun as Lee So Eun

This drama is a remake of the 2011 Taiwanese drama In Time With You which starred Ariel Lin and Bolin Chen. 
Something that's right in front of your eyes is sometimes the hardest for you to see. Jang Ha Na and Choi Won have been lifelong friends. Through thick and thin, they'be been through many things together in the nearly 20 years of friendship, including relationships that each has had with other people. Oh Ha Na is currently a career woman with an honest and confident personality, Choi Won works as an assistant purser for an airline. He has always helped Oh Ha Na whenever she got into trouble but through missed timing, a romance has never developed between them. 

I am going into this drama completely blind because I don't know anything about In Time With You the Taiwanese counterpart to this drama. I'm actually really glad that I don't know anything because I get to experience the story as it unfolds with this drama. But there still is apart of my brain that wants to know how everything works out in the end. But I think this is going to be a really fun drama and after the first two episodes I am pleasantly surprised. I honestly went in with zero expectations so I was really just checking out the first episode because I didn't really have anything to do so I wanted to give it a chance. This drama seems like just a sweet romance that is going to be easy breezy and fun to watch. I know that there was a lot of drama going on pre-production with the writer and the director but I don't think that affected the first two episodes at all. 

We were introduced to our main leads really quickly and I think we got a great introduction. We got to know both their personalities and their relationship with each other was really well established. I had seen Ha Ji Won in one other drama The King2Hearts and I LOVED that drama and I thought she had a great performance so I knew that she is a great actress but that was a very different character then Oh Ha Na but she again did a great job. I had never seen Lee Jin Wook in anything but he is a very good looking guy and I am already on board with anything he says, so I think that's a good sign. I also think it was a great sign that these two have great chemistry already which is saying a lot for the future of the drama because if there is something that will draw me into a drama it is great chemistry between the lead romantic interests. 

One thing I don't like already with the drama is the second female lead, she is a very big presenase already and I don't really like her which is too bad because I don't think her character is going to be evil or anything and I don't think I am supposed to dislike her but there is just something either about the character or the actress that rubs me the wrong way. Also I'm really upset that L is only in like 3 episodes... that's an outrage! When is he going to get to be the lead in his own drama? Because I love him and I'm already in love with his character after one episode. 

Overall I am really excited about this drama and I am hoping it won't be overly dramatic or anything. There is a bit of mystery behind Choi Won and what happened between Ha Na and him when they were younger and I can't wait to see everything fall into place and these two people, who are clearly made for each other, realize they only need each other. This is set up to be pure and simple romance without a high concept or anything that is going to distract for the main story line.  So I am extremely satisfied with the premier and I'm super excited! 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Series Review: The Lover

I didn't really know what to think about the drama after I watched the first couple episodes because I didn't really like it but I didn't absolutely hate it. Looking back I kind of wished that I would have dropped this drama because I don't think it was worth the time to watch. One of the reasons I kept with it all the way to the end was because the concept was so different, I can say with certainty that there is no other drama like this. The Lover follows four couples and shows how love comes in many different ways and showing you proving you love someone doesn't have to be the big wedding. Love is really about the simple things that you experience everyday with your partner. I really liked this concept of showing nontraditional couples because I think that is something that needs to be shown to everyone. This show also breaks the conservative wall and gets pretty dirty with a lot of it jokes, which is fine it definitely sets it apart from the rest of dramaland. You would think with a cool concept and more mature themes it would have been a great drama but it was just so boring and the I did not find a lot of the humor funny and when you don't find the jokes in a comedy funny then it just ends up being boring. 

Oh Do Si and Ryoo Doo Ri are really the main focus of the drama, we spend the most time with them throughout the 12 episodes. I know a lot of people who didn't really like this couple but I disagree, they were probably my favorite of all the couples. I feel like their relationship was so real. They are a couple that has so much love for each other but they are constantly judged because they aren't married. But for the most part, they are comfortable that way and that is so great. They were differently the most real part of the drama for me and that is probably why I liked them the most. 

The second couple is Choi Jin Nyeo and Jeong Yeong Joon and they are by far my least favorite couple. I just didn't find anything about he relationship to be real. I found myself sometimes just wanting to skip over their scenes because they honestly just stressed me out and sometimes I was just mad while watching it. Yeong Joon was this immature caricature of a real person and watching his stupid antics was not enjoyable. 

Ha Seol Eun and Park Hwan Jong are a secondary couple and they were fine. We honestly didn't get to see a whole lot about this couple, but what makes me wish we could have seen more is that they don't end up together which I thought was a great choice for the characters. But I don't have any strong feelings because we spent like zero time with them. 

And finally one of the best parts of the drama was Lee Joon Jae and Takuya. Who begin as roommates but slowly begin to realize that they have real feelings for each other. Their relationship was definitely a fan favorite, I know people who would only watch their scenes. It was great to see a homosexual relationship grow threw the show, and it wasn't a troll, which at the beginning of the drama I thought it was going to turn into. Again we didn't get to spend a ton of time with them and honestly they could have a whole drama just focusing on their relationship. 

The final episode of this drama was pretty amazing and I really wish we could have had more of those honest episodes. Other than the finale I don't really remember any of the other episodes because I feel like they were all the same. Overall I wouldn't tell anyone to go out of their way to watch this drama, the humor wasn't to my taste and I wish we could have spent more time with Joon Jae and Takuya. I think there was a lot of potential with the concept and that almost makes me more mad because I'm left wishing for what it could have been. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

TBT: Winter Sonata Review

So I write about dramas that are currently airing because that is a way for me to give my initial impressions and then see how the series turned out as a whole. But while I'm watching currently airing dramas I also have a drama that has already aired as a buffer drama, so when I have any extra time I can pick that drama up. I am trying to widen my drama horizons by watching dramas that came out in the early 2000's because I think a lot of the time I get caught up in what has been airing in the last few years, but there are a ton of dramas that are very good and have shaped the dramas we watch today. So for a while now I have wanted to talk about dramas that I have watched that I didn't get a chance to give my feelings about and what better day to have these types of reviews then on Thursday, because I'm very original and nobody has thought of Throw Back Thursday before...
So what better drama to start with then the drama that really set Kdramas on the road to international fame, Winter Sonata.

Winter Sonata is a story about first love. Everyone feels that their fist love was pure and near to them but as time passes the memories do fade. But what if the first person who made your heart flutter had died and then years later a man who looked just like your first love appeared in front of you, and just in case that isn't confusing enough, he decided to show up right before you're supposed to get married. Would it be possible to fall in love with this man simply because of the fact he resembles someone from your past? These are the questions that Winter Sonata raises as it tells the story of three people who are bounded together because of the destiny of their first loves.

When this drama first aired in Korea it was a modest hit, but the drama took off causing a huge sensation when it began airing in Japan and it became of Hallyu hit. Now I think I have a very different view of the drama because I am watching it 13 years after it originally aired and Korean drama shave changed drastically over that decade. The common drama tropes that have been used over and over again were introduced by dramas like this. So going in I knew that I was going to be watching the makjang melodrama with past loves miraculously being alive, brainwashing, incest being an actual concern for our star crossed lovers. Does it represent real life in any way... absolutely not, but it is a gripping drama that makes you come back gain and again despite the ridiculous situations because you want  to know what is going to happen to these people who have somehow pissed fate off. Is it a perfect drama, definitely not, it gets pretty draggy in the middle and Choi Ji Woo's character is one of the most indecisive person ever. But I think the good in the drama will help anyone get through the more frustrating aspects, like the cinematography, which is beautiful, and the great soundtrack. And unlike some of the other dramas in the Endless love series, this one doesn't end super depressing, a little bittersweet but not totally without hope.

I honestly liked the drama, even though there are crazy plot devises that I would roll my eyes at if it was used in a drama airing in 2015. But for me I went into the drama with a certain type of respect for what I was about to watch. I love Kdramas, like I am so in love with them that I have to share my feelings about them with as many people as possible. But if dramas like Winter Sonata didn't exist I probably wouldn't have had the chance to fall so hard for these shows, proves you should always respect your elders. So if you are one that loves dramaland as much as I do then I think it is important to take the time to watch earlier dramas, I'm not saying it's required, I mean I am just realizing I needed to start looking at dramas earlier than 2010, but it does give you a nice history lesson on dramaland.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Series Review: The Producers

I was definitely on board with the idea of this drama at the beginning. It sounded so different from any other drama I had seen before. So I was a little disappointed that the production backed away from the idea of a mockumentary so early in the show. I didn't dislike the rest of the drama but I feel like it fell into the normal drama parameters, so in that sense I am a little disappointed in how the drama ended. I definitely think it would have been interesting to see the drama done as it was originally intended, but alas, what we got was a fine drama that was entertaining and had some really great characters. 

The drama focuses in on our four main characters but Kim Soo Hyun's character definitely seemed to be the character we were supposed to follow a little more closely. We get to see his character grow into this new field and figure out where his heart truly lied. Kim Soo Hyun is really a great actor and I think he did a fine job with this role.

The stand out performance for the show was definitely IU as Cindy. I think Cindy was the only character who really grew and changed throughout the drama. After we first encounter Cindy I honestly thought she was going to be the worst but slowly we got to see a different side to her and it was beautifully done. She didn't open up all at once and when she finally did open up to our other three leads we could really tell she meant everything she said to them and they really did mean a lot to her. I really felt for this girl who was never able to truly live her life the way she wanted to and because of that environment she put up walls that were virtually impossible for anyone to break through.

I also enjoyed Gong Hyo Jin throughout the drama, I think I related personally to her character the most. But I also felt like Tak Ye Jin was a character Hyo Jin has played before so I wish I could have seen her in something new. But she really is a brilliant actress and I think she played the part very well. On the other hand the most frustrating character was Ra Joon Mo played by Cha Tae Hyun. He was so stubborn and  while I understood where his through process was coming from I just wanted him to stop being a complete idiot. I think he did redeem himself in the last few episodes but it was a little too late. But I am glad these two were able to be together in the end because they felt like the most natural couple out of all the love lines. I was always rooting for them to realize what they truly mean to each other and I just wish it had come earlier in the drama.

I was really hoping that I would absolutely love this drama, because it has an all star cast and it seemed like something different from the normal drama formula. While it wasn't a bad drama and I never got bored I was just left wishing for what it could have been. IU was definitely the shining performer throughout the production and I really watched the last half of the drama for Cindy and to see where her journey would take her.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Series Review: School 2015: Who Are You?

The School series is one that has been responsible for launching many young actors careers. It has always been known for showing the realistic, slice-of-life aspects of young students in Korea. I have to confess that I have never watched any of the earlier series and so coming into 2015 I didn't really know what to fully expect. Naturally I did my homework before hand to see what type of feel the past series have given and I got really excited because everyone loved 2013 and it showed such a realistic look at friendship and the bromance was perfect. But I think I was like everyone else when we heard about the plot for 2015 we saw that this was veering more toward a melodrama then a simple story about everyday life. I think adding the mystery was really great at the beginning and I was instantly pulled into the story. But as the show continued there are things that just weren't executed as well as they could have been and ultimately by the end I was glad that the show had finally ended. 

First I just have to say that Kim So Hyun is quite the budding actress. She is only 16 years old but has had a ton of experience and honestly she can embody a character just as well as actors much older than her. I am super excited to see her future career. She had the difficult task of playing two completely different characters and I really think she did it wonderfully. She held herself differently between the two girls and just with her facial expressions you could tell which sister was which. She was definitely a highlight throughout the entire drama. I also think Yook Sung Jae did an outstanding job. You will be hard pressed to find someone who hadn't fallen for Tae Gwang and a lot of that has to do with Sung Jae. I really hope I get to see more from Sung Jae in the near future because he really was so great. The other stand out was Jo Soo Hyang who was a brilliant villain. I absolutely hate her and if I ever see her in another drama I don't think I will be able to like her. 

I think overall I enjoyed the drama, it definitely had a stronger start then a finish but I never got tired of watching it. I think the most frustrating thing about this drama is it's focus on love lines. I just wish the drama would have focused on the friendship between all the characters into of create as many love lines as they possible could. I feel like the show focused on it so much that other story lines got pushed to the side. And I am always one for a little romance but it does feel like a bit much when you're telling a story about a group of high-schoolers who are just about to go out and graduate and really become their own person outside of school. It is just a shame that we had to miss out on some really great story lines and got stuck with the never ending love triangle. 

I actually think the hardest part watching this drama was seeing what other people were saying about the drama. It was so frustrating to see the drama reduced to a fight between two ships. I feel bad for anyone who was on Team Tae Gwang because he didn't get the girl but I also feel bad for an YiBi shippers because they were few and far between and if they ever expressed the fact that they liked Yi Ahn they were pounced on. I wasn't on anyone's side really, I was on team Eun Bi and for her to make her own decisions and own her own life and that means she can choose whoever she wants to like whether I like it or not. This is why I wish this drama had focused on the bullying and on Eun Bi as an individual character. Instead we got this stupid love war with two guys constantly grabbing this poor girl's wrist to prove how manly they are. 

The best character in the whole drama was Go Eun Byul and she only came in at the very end of the drama and then promptly left to study abroad. Like... what? We spent a lot of time thinking that this girl was dead and then we get the happy family reunion and then she is just going to leave her twin sister who she met for the first time to study in a different country. Why couldn't we see these two get to know each other and go to school together and really become a family? I feel like her character was seriously cheated. Plus when Eun Byul did come back I feel like Eun Bi lost all will to stand up for herself because her awesome sister was there to protect her. And don't get me wrong Eun Byul standing up to So Young is really great, but Eun Bi needed to confront her past and finally stand up to her tormentor.

And then there is So Young, a girl who was the direct cause of another human being trying to kill themselves. You would think causes someone would die would make you reevaluate your life choices but not So Young, she just didn't care. She was more focused on bullying Eun Bi again then taking a second to think about the fact that this girl still tried to kill herself and maybe she should back off. So Young was so amazing at the beginning of the drama because there were so many layers to her character and I wanted to see all those layers peeled away so we could see what would cause this girl to become a psychopath who does not care about other people at all. But unfortunately her character was put on the back burner and eventually I just got tired of her crazy actions, because we never got a glimpse underneath the surface. In the end we are left to believe that she is just sorry but I don't think that is nearly close to the type of punishment this girl should get, she honestly needs to be committed. 

So in the end this drama had a lot of flaws and looking back it was more frustrating to watch then anything else. There was a ton of potential at the beginning of the series but it never reached it. There are actors who are criminally under used (Lee Pil Mo) and story lines that were pushed to the side for the love triangle. I feel like this drama wasn't really a School drama at all, it was such a far departure from past installments. Even though there are a lot of problems with the drama I still enjoyed watching it as it was airing. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Series Review: Ex-Girlfriend Club

Sometimes there are dramas that are just there to be easy to watch and to entertain the audience. This is an example of that type of drama. Ex-Girlfriend Club is not meant to be taken seriously, like at all, it is a super lighthearted funny rom-com and nothing ventures down below the surface. What usually draws me to dramas is when they have a deeper layer of meaning below the romance and the comedy. I tend to watch more serious genres like the drama that I recently finished Missing Noir M. But every once in a while I like to watch a show that is just fun and I don't have to think too deep about anything. That's what I liked so much about this drama, it was just easy. So when tvN announced that the show was being cut down by 4 episodes I was initially really mad because I was enjoying the show so much. But now that the drama has ended I think it was actually a good thing, because I don't really know where the plot would have gone if we still had the original 16 episodes. We got to skip over any unnecessary drama that could have happened to keep the plot moving through the remaining episodes which would have been annoying and enjoyable. We will never know where the drama would have headed but I am happy with how it ended. This is actually the second show from tvN that I was really enjoying and then had episodes cut the other was Surplus Princess. 

Overall I think the acting throughout the drama was pretty solid. Byun Yo Han is adorable and I could honestly watch him in anything. He is just a good actor, I went back and watched some of his scenes in Misaeng and I saw how dynamic he really is. I love him and can't wait to watch him in future dramas. While on the other hand Song Ji Hyo has never been my favorite actress. I did not enjoy her last drama Emergency Couple but that was the first drama I had seen her in so it could have just been a bad drama and she was working with what she was given. While I think that is true to a certain extent, because I enjoyed her a lot more in this drama, she still wasn't my favorite. I feel like her character in both this drama and Emergency Couple are just extensions of her character in Running Man. But even if her acting wasn't my favorite I think the chemestry between these two was really good and I found myself rooting for them up until the actually got together then surprisingly I completely jumped ship and was all for the Director.

I think one of the strongest aspects of the drama was it's supporting cast. The ex-girlfriends were hilarious and I just wanted to watch what crazy situations these three women would get themselves into. Lee Yoon Ji is an absolute brilliant actress and I have loved her in the past dramas I have watched her in, when is she going to be the lead! Because she totally deserves it. The other two were very good as well but there is just something about Lee Yoon Ji that just draws me to her in every scene. Then a surprise character that actually ended up being my favorite part of the entire drama is Do Sang Woo! He was hilarious as the director and I honestly fell in love with his sense of humor and just overall character. Which was surprising because I was all for Myung Soo for the first half of the drama. 

This drama was just a really fun drama that was easy to watch. There was nothing ground breaking about the show and I know that it wasn't necessarily the greatest script or acting in the world. But the drama wasn't meant to be the ground breaking, deep thinking, moving piece. It did it's job and I would totally watch four more episodes if it was just more lighthearted love. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Series Review: Missing Noir M

One think I love about OCN is that they know how to produce dark and gritty dramas that are always amazing. They really have made a name for themselves doing these police procedurals that are never boring and keep the audience tied to the show until the very end. The only downside is that their dramas are just too freaking short. All I want is more of this drama, specially with how the finale episode ended, there is no way they can't give us more. I really loved this drama and the ending just left me a little mad, not because it wasn't brilliant but because I know the likelihood of getting another season is slim which is so unfortunate. I am not giving up hope though! I will keep on believing that another season will come soon!

This drama followed a "monster of the week" type format, where each episode we came in with a new case, some cases lasted two episodes. There was an overarching story line... but not really... We know that there is more story behind Gil Soo Hyun but we don't really get any details, even in the last episode. I think that was one of the most disappointing things with the drama, I say disappointing very lightly because it didn't bother me that much. I really want to know about his family and his background at the FBI. We get glimpses here and there but the whole story is never told. Gil Soo Hyun is just a fascinating character over all. He is so intelligent but he also has his own idea of justice. It was interesting to see him almost manipulate the investigations and see him get to the answer before anyone else but he doesn't necessarily do anything about it. His character is flawed and tragic and was brilliant. I just wish we could have seen more.

I get bored easily when watching police procedural dramas, it just seems like the same thing over and over again. But each episode of this drama was excellently crafted and by the end I was emotionally invested in each case. I think my favorite episodes were the first two episodes, because they were honestly just amazing and they reminded me of my favorite American television show, Hannibal. It also has my favorite "villian" in the entire series played by Kang Ha Neul who is brilliant. And then the episode that just moved me where I was bawling at the end was episode 7 entitled HOME which has one of the most tragic endings ever. By the end of the last episode the theme of the show seemed to be pretty bleak, it's overarching theme seems to be that power is justice. One of the bad guys in the final episode says that there is a reason why justice isn't power, because power is justice. Which is true, you look at justice systems all over the world and you will find corruption and people exploiting the system for their own personal gain. This show illustrated how unfair life can be sometimes, it shows again and again people who deserve to live, die and those who deserve to die, live. 

I loved this show and I will probably watch it again because there is so much that you can get out of it. It is a fascinating look at justice and really asks the audience to decide what justice really is. I just want more and more of this drama and since they left the final episode with a lot of loose ends I am just hoping they are kind enough to give us a second season. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

First Impression: My Love Eun Dong

My Love Eun Dong
Genre: Romance, Melodrama
Episodes: 16
Broadcast Network: jTBC
Air Time: Friday/Saturday
Broadcast Period: 5.29.2015 - 7.18.2015

Main Cast:
Joo Jin Mo as Ji Eun Ho/Park Hyun Soo
Baek Sung Hyun as Park Hyun Soo (27 years old)
Jr. as Park Hyun Soo (17 years old)
Kim Sa Rang as Seo Jung Eun/Ji Eun Dong
Yoon So Hee as Ji Eung Dong (23 years old)
Lee Ja In as Ji Eun Dong (13 years old)

Top actor Ji Eun Ho hires ghostwriter Seo Jung Eun to write his autobiography in 2015. Eun Ho is tense, irritable and difficult to work with, but Jung Eun finds her assignment fascinating because Eun Ho claims he began acting not because he wanted to become a star but because he thought being in the limelight would help him find his first love, Ji Eun Dong. Eun Ho and Eun Dong's complicated romantic history has spanned two decades, and he's convinced that he can never love anyone else. As Jung Eun helps him remember Eun Dong and why he lost her, Eun Ho (whose birth name is Park Hyun Soo) looks back on his memories of her, from when they met in 1995 when he was 17.

I've started to think that I have an actual problem... I just have this need to try and watch all the new dramas. It's an actual problem because right now I am in tech rehearsals for my show that is opening soon, I am at rehearsal until one or two in the morning and then I go home and instead of going to bed like I should I turn on a drama. The struggle is real and I am basically a walking zombie. But it's totally worth it... right?

I was really intrigued by this show for a while and I always knew that I wanted to watch it, jTBC develops really good dramas that are high quality and entertaining to watch. The story was also super interesting to me, I mean it's not terribly original but at the same time I haven't watched a drama that showed first love through the years like this. After the first two episodes I am so in love with this show, it is a pure romance that is there to make me feel like love is real. I know it is also a melodrama so there will probably be plenty of angst to come but I look forward to seeing the main characters go on this journey to discovering each other again. 

I think they have put together a great cast too. We haven't really gotten to see our two leads work but the younger actors were really great. I was instantly sucked into the story and everything felt so natural. I haven't seen the two main actors in anything so I don't really know what to expect but if they continue down the path the first two episodes set up I think they will do a great job.

This is such a cute drama and I am really excited to see the relationship between Hyun Soo and Eun Dong grow. I hope that they don't stop the flashbacks, I really loved seeing their past selves and seeing how their relationship began, I don't want that to go away. But I also understand that they have a story in the present that they have to tell. It would just be a waist if they got such great actors and only use them in the first two episodes. I guess we will just have to wait to see!