Drama Grab Bag

May 1st… how did that happen? Where did March and April go? Sigh, I have NO idea, months seem to whisk past at an alarming pace these days. UNB sort of took over my life and it feels like I haven’t watched anything but their videos lately, LOL! (can’t help it, they are so cute/funny and I love, love, love the songs!) But as I looked a bit harder I realised I’ve actually managed watch and even finish some dramas too, just not had any time to write about them.

Children of a Lesser God
I ended up liking this more than I originally thought. I almost dropped Drama after the first fiew episodes as it had this oddly disconcerting feel to it and I didn’t quite know what to make of the leads. It actually took me a fiew more episodes to get used to the PD and writer’s stylistic choices. The characters grew on me and I ended up liking the ragtag team quite a bit. I’m all for Teams, ya know. πŸ˜€ It also helps that the cast is mainly very solid and a good fit for the parts they are playing. Kang Ji Hwan often annoys me in his roles but he was ok here. Kim Ok Bin always brings her A game but Shim Hee Sup as Joo Ha Min was the one that really popped though. Ha Min was such a jumble of contradicting feelings and loyalities, so it was hard to tell which side he really stood in. Right to the end too. Hope Actor Shim gets more opportunities to show what he can do. Guy is way better than many of those hyped up actors the general public seems to adore. The plot isn’t particularly original, but what is these days. They did manage to put a new spin to some of it. The creepy cult was creepy.

Unnatural
Such a solid drama with a great cast. I’d call it heartwarming even, despite of it depicting the rather gruesome world of forensic pathologists. I think Japan has sort of patented the procedural formula πŸ˜€ and there are way too many made each cycle. But… among the multitude there is always fiew that turn out to be very good, some excellent even. I’ve probably said it umpteen times already but one of the main draws of jdrmas is that they feel quite real. The worlds feel lived in and the characters look and act like real people. Jdramas tend to focus on ordinary people, regardless of their social status and not an uber rich chaebol in sight. I also appreciate the fact that everything is not enhanced up to wazoo, to make things “more interesting”. πŸ™„

Unnatural really is a great example of a well made procedural that also has an overarching storyline. There’s a great post by goodally @ RattleTattle about Drama, that goes over all the points that make it so good. The writer of Unnatural is Nogi Akiko and I didn’t know that couple of my fave jdramas (Soratobu Kouhoushitsu, Juhan Shuttai!) are hers too! She has also written NigeHaji, which I still haven’t watched. I should have cottoned on as they all have the same feel and both Soratobu and Unnatural eaven feature a great Team. Like goodally wrote, “Both heads (of the department in Soratobu and Unnatural) could easily be the best 2 team leaders in dramaland” πŸ™‚

BG ~ Personal Bodyguard
Another procedural, though this time it’s about Personal Bodyguards in the private sector, as oposed to the branch of Security Police who guard e.g politicians. And there’s one of the themes of the drama right there. The SPs, especially one of their aces Ochiai Yoshiaki, think BGs as a nuisance who don’t know what they are doing.

BG is a Kimura Takuya drama and one of the better ones, I’d say. There are those who don’t think much of KimuTaku as an actor but I’ve always rather liked him and enjoyed many of his dramas too. Yes, he’s not a particularly impressive actor and has mostly relied on his good looks and natural charisma to get by. He’s also done a loooong list of similar dramas and characters and over the years he undoubtedly acquired mannerisms that he can’t seem to shake off. I don’t think it’s entirely KimuTaku’s fault that he’s been typecast and boxed in similar roles though. For years he was one of the biggest, if not the biggest earner in Johnny’s and probably wasn’t allowed to branch out, in case he’d loose popularity, CF deals and the money those brought in. If he ever had thoughts on trying to change the status quo, I guess getting married and having kids probably made him put those kind of aspirations behind him. For a family man a sold and guaranteed income is no doubt a better choice, even if it stymes his growth as an actor.

Anyways, guy’s older now and finally stepping out of his comfort zone a bit. His Shimazaki is no superhero but a regular guy in his 40’s, who’s been out of the game for years and thus not in such a good shape anymore. Which is pretty neatly shown too. He used to be on top of the profession once, so he still got the ‘moves’, besides experience always tells. Even if he is pretending to be a rookie to begin with. I like that they didn’t make Shimazaki into some sort of genius but rather a smart and experienced professional who can also look at things from a different angle. He’s quite emphatic, a regular, nice person. I like him. πŸ˜‰ The rest of the BG team is petty good, though new to the profession. Apart from the team leader Murata, that is. Kamikawa Takaya tends to bring certain kind of warmth to his characters and I always end up liking them a lot. There are two ladies in the mix. Feisty Suganuma, who is the only female in the BG Team. She takes no nonsense from anyone. Then there’s the character all seem to love to hate, Tachihara Aiko – the politician. πŸ˜€ I didn’t find Tachihara nearly as annoying as many seem to have done. Oh yes, she sketchy but then, when are politicians not sketchy? Tachihara is an attractive woman, working in a field run by traditionalistic old farts, so I guess that to survive she had to become the person she is now. She even acknowledges the fact herself in one of the later episodes.

Drama also managed to spring a twist at the end, one I wasn’t expecting at all. I’d forgotten that jdramas don’t shy away from taking a different approach to how they end things. There were no loose ends left hanging though. Why do I feel like there could be S2 in the future?

White Tower
With the latest PD Ahn Pan Seok drama currently airing, I decided to give White Tower (or Behind The White Tower, as it’s also been called) a go. White Tower is one of PD Ahn’s earlier works from 2007. It’s The Medical drama that all seem to hold as the measuring stick for all others of that genre. After watcing several episodes, I’m not surprised at the praise at all. Drama even manages to make hospital politics interesting, which is just as well as the drama is all about the politics and the people involved in it. πŸ˜‰ I found all the main players fascinating. I may not condone what some of them do but I can understand the need/reasons, even if I don’t agree with their choices. I’m no medical professional but to me the procedures also looked way more realistic than in any other korean medical drama I’ve seen so far. No wonder the scenes took ages to film.

White Tower is undoubtedly a PD Ahn drama, it has all the familiar trappings of like sheddig light to corruption and shady dealings, this time in the medical world. The cast is solid, all the way to the bit players who just make a brief appearance. The main parts are all manned by heavyweights with Kim Myung Min as the brilliant but selfish and powerhungry surgeon Jang Joon Hyeok being the focal point. There are so many familiar faces, not just from dramas/movies in general but from many PD Ahn’s own dramas. They always seem to have a mixture of new faces, a-listers, solid veterans and supporting actors and those I like to call “PD Ahn’s tried and trusted”.^^ I spotted Jang So Yun, Jang Hyun Sung and Park Hyuk Kwon.

Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food
The current Ahn PD drama, which is a lot more laid back than the one above. *g* I do like it but I still don’t know if I end up liking it as much as his other dramas of the past fiew years. This writer has a different style from Jung Sung Joo, who’s had several collaboratons with PD Ahn and whose somewhat dryly humorous style I’ve really enjoyed. Also, romance is not my preferred genre and I’m already wondering if Drama can hold my interest till the end, unless we get a bit more of something other than the OTP being cavity inducingly sweet. I’m missing the social commentary so prevalent in the other PD Ahn dramas I’ve watched. So far there’s been very little of that. I’m also missing the humor, there were scenes that were laugh-out-loud funny, often at the behest of the more pompious characters with too high ideas of their own importance. I’m at ca. ep 6 now and it feels like nothing much has happened. I don’t generally mind a slower pace, but this is a bit too slow even for me. πŸ™‚ We’ll see how it goes.

My Husband Oh Jak Do
Gosh, this one is long! A romance doesn’t need 24 episodes to tell the story. One of my fave TW dramas centered around a romance is just 13 epis and that was quite enough. I’m several episodes behind but as I’m watching the drama in batches of 2-4 epis, I’ll catch up in no time at all. Well, as soon as I can find some time to get on with it, ha. I like the OTP and some of the supporting cast as well. Could do without Seung Joo’s shrew of a mother and no-good brother though. The whole thing is a pretty easy watch. Nothing new or groundbreaking but it’s not like every drama needs to be.

Yami No Bansosha S2
I really liked S1 and was ever so happy when I found out there would be a 2nd season. But, I think this one ain’t quite as engeaging as the predecessor. The main twosame is the same, the premise is still set in the world of mangas/mangakas and here is a mystery but something is missing. I just haven’t been able to figure out what.

I tried out several cdramas but none made the cut in the end. Siege in Fog was frankly a disappointment. They did a total hack job with the editing, to the point when some scenes didn’t really make a sense anymore. We probably have to thank the censors for that. As much as I liked Elvis Han and Sun Yi as the lead couple, I wasn’t going to sit through 50 epis of wonky pacing and then get the ‘rocks fall and everyone dies’ ending. I also gave Only Side By Side With You a go but it started getting draggy and going to a direction I didn’t much care for, so I dropped it too. A pity as William was so very charming in it. *g* Mainland Chinese dramas have become ridiculously long. There is so much filler and plot pedalling in place to drag out the storyline, usually way beyond what it can sustain. Makes for a very boring watch and frequent use of the FF-button. I hardly ever get even past one third before they get Das Boot. The sad thing is that many of these dramas could have been OK if they’d been, say max 24-30 episodes. These days, when I take a look on new dramas, I usually check out the epi count before deciding if the drama in question would even be worth a looksee. Most of them get discarded right away. So, I’m still on the lookout for my next Chinese drama. πŸ™‚

My, this got awfully long but that’s what one gets from taking a month, or two to post anything drama related.

17 thoughts on “Drama Grab Bag

  1. Completed Pretty Noona..didn’t like the second half..too slow, repetitive and without much going on.
    All in all..an okay drama where I liked the chemistry but did not like female lead’s character..she never learnt from her mistakes and kept in making same ones. Didn’t get separation part either..loved the cinematography and the hero

  2. Woah, that’s a lot of shows! I’m impressed at your drama watching prowess, Timescout! I’ve been watching Pretty Noona, and 6 eps in, I am having mixed feelings about the show. Loved the initial squee, but now that real world context is coming into the picture, I wonder if the OTP relationship has enough substance to withstand the pressure in a compelling way. Still watching though! πŸ™‚ I’ve also got Oh Jak Doo on my list, but I haven’t started on it properly except for the initial couple of minutes.

    • Well, I’ve watched them on and off for couple of months, so not really.πŸ˜‰

      PD Ahn’s dramas are never really just about topic “X” but there’s usually some form of social commentary going alongside it. I’ve sort of been surprised that Pretty Noona has so far been more on the line of a regular romance. I would actually welcome some well placed strife. ☺

      • Well, I’ve been feeling undercurrents of social commentary from pretty early on, with Pretty Noona. In the sense that even though the OTP is cute together, there’s always an undercurrent of.. hm.. foreboding? Coz societal norms are not in their favor, and their love is sparkly and adorable only when it exists in its own context. Once context is layered on even in the thinnest whisper, I feel a sense of trouble or darkness for the OTP. (I’m struggling to find the right words, clearly) That’s made this a darker, more sobering watch than what we got in the earliest eps, I feel.

        • Ah, so things start getting more serious around eps 5-6? I’m not that far yet… I think. I don’t actually remember where I left off! πŸ˜€ The early epis of Pretty Noona were definitely more “fluffy” than what I’m used to seeing from PD Ahn.

          • Well.. I personally feel like there are undercurrents that draw from social commentary type issues.. but I’m not sure if that’s strong enough for your taste πŸ˜… I agree this feels on the fluffier side compared to something like SLA. In that, the OTP relationship felt like there was something soul-deep holding them together. Here, the OTP relationship feels relatively less solid in terms of its foundation.. so far, anyway πŸ˜…

  3. For cdramas, you could try Secret of the Three Kingdoms, which is getting good reception (though currently airing). My Huckleberry Friends is I think ~20-ish episodes and also pretty highly-rated. Burning Ice and Day and Night are on Netflix, but it depends on where you are.
    Personally, I’ve mostly been watching unsubbed cdramas this yearβ€”Women in Beijing (currently airing and 20 eps) and Peace Hotel (38/42 eps, there are 2 different versions) are definitely the better ones (the only ones I haven’t dropped >.<), though I'm only in the middle of both. Unfortunately, though the first ~16 eps of Peace Hotel I genuinely think are extremely well-written (it's a republican spy drama, about how our two main chars are stuck in the peace hotel and forced to pose as a couple to avoid suspicion, but there is always lots of suspicion), especially with the balance of suspense and humor, the espionage portion started getting draggy/a bit messy after that, though they're introducing this HUGE thing. But right at the same time, a very lovable character enters the hotel so I'm still enjoying it nonetheless.
    There's also a drama special/spin-off of Great Expectations (a c-drama that aired, not the novel) starring Liu Haoran (it's called θΏœε€§ε‰η¨‹εŒιΎ™δΌš), and it's only 6 eps long! Have you seen NiF: The Wind Blows in Changlin?
    That being said, though most people have pointed out the bad editing and I saw the whole fiasco where the scriptwriter was upset at how they edited Siege in Fog (a lot of the scenes were cut or something, and people suspect there is censorship because the female lead supports the Nationalist Party (?)), I still want to watch it. :') LOL.

    • Ah, I’d forgotten about Secret of the Three Kingdoms. It’s a long historical though and I’m not in mood for those atm. Maybe later. I watched the first 2 episodes of Burning Ice raw but decided I need subs to get more out of it. It’s on The List so I guess I’ll watch it at some point. πŸ™‚ Checked out Day and Night too around the same time but that didn’t really grab me so I left it at that.

      Women in Bejing is on the “will try out later” list, whether I ever get to it is anyone’s guess.^^ Peace Hotel sound pretty good but… a republican spy drama, hmmm… the only one of that genre I’ve actually been able to finish is Black Fox.

      Nope, haven’t seen NiF2, I never finished the first one either. I’m probably one of the fiew people who wasn’t gaga about it, ha. A well made drama with a great cast but I just wasn’t feeling it. I know, I’m strange. πŸ˜€

      Over the past couple of years I’ve watched several cdramas unsubbed, even though I don’t understand a lick of Chinese, well save for a fiew words. Lack of subs has never been able to keep me from watching stuff I want to watch. *g* Thankfully I understand enough Korean now so I can tackle kdramas raw if need be.

      • I tend to stray away from Republican spy dramas, too, re: I didn’t really like The Disguiser despite constant praise, but Peace Hotel kind of reigns it in through the comedy? And the antagonistic Japanese are actually not one-dimensionally evil? Chinese people will actually support the Manchurian/Japanese puppet cause because they kind of need to live? But it was mostly because early 2018 was bad for the most mainstream cdramas that I picked this up, because otherwise I would’ve also strayed away from this. There are flaws, definitely, but it’s infinitely better than the idol productions dominating the screens now.

        It’s a similar situation with Women in Beijing, actually.

        That being said, there are A LOT of big releases coming out in May, even though I was planning on watching a lot of older stuff and trying out some kdramas. At the end of the day, there’s never not enough shows to watch XD

  4. I’m excited to see Shim Hee-sup in Children of a Lesser God as i loved him in Rebel Hong Gil-dong, but i found the drama’s comedic tone to be rather jarring so i haven’t watched it past episode 2.

    Other than that, i haven’t watched, much less finished, many kdramas this year. πŸ˜…

    • Give ‘Children of a Lesser God’ another go, if you have time. It took about 4 epis for the drama to find it’s groove. The comedic aspect was one of the reasons I almost dropped it at hello, but they toned that down a lot after the initial apisodes.

      Well, I’ve dropped quite a fiew as well. I was a bit surprised that I actually managed to watch and even finish some. πŸ˜‰

  5. White Tower is a remake of the Japanese novel and drama Shiroi Kyotō.

    I have Unnatural on my list and did catch bits of it, seemed pretty decent. Toyed with the idea of watching BG just for the Yamaguchi-Kimura reunion, but not sure if I can suffer through the rest of the cast.

    • Ah, I’d forgotten about that. Heven’t seen the original of course but I believe White Tower is one of the better adaptations.

      I had no trouble with the cast of BG but then my tolerance is considerably higher than yours when it comes to jdramas. πŸ™‚

  6. You have been busy! I still plan to check out Pretty Noona, and I may give My Husband Oh Jak Doo a go too. I have quite a few dramas ahead of them on the big list though. Never short on dramas to watch πŸ™‚

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