Drama year 2014 in retrospect

Where did the time go? It’s already mid January and a new drama year is out of the gate. But what about the previous one…?

Looking back, what did last year actually bring? Mostly more of the same but there were couple of great dramas that turned 2014 from ‘mainly meh’ to ‘ok, I’ll give it a pass’. It probably comes as no big surprise to anyone who ‘knows’ me that the biggest (overrated) hit of the year did not impress me much, nor did the ‘it’ boy who headlined it. But, as the saying goes, can’t win ’em all. XD

I checked out quite a few dramas as per usual but actually managed stick with only 14, two of which are on hold (Woderful Days + Pride&Prejudice). I’ll finish both one of these days.

My favourite dramas of 2014 were Yoo Na’s Street, Misaeng, Discovery of Romance and Secret Love Affair. They all represent different genres and at a glance don’t seem to have much in common but look deeper and the commonalities start to become apparent. Good script, great acting and a competent director who knows what he/she is doing. None of them were pickled in makjang or had overblown histronics either. Another thing in common were characters who had more than one side to themselves but felt very real in their imperfections.Β People weren’t exactly how they seemed in the beginning. Everyone had room for improvement and often your preception on someone changed as the story progressed. I was thinking of writing something about each of these four but when I actually got downt to it, I realised I don’t have anything more to add to what I’ve already written about them in my posts. πŸ™‚

So, upward and onward, let’s hope 2015 brings on some good ones as well.^^

Drama grab-bag

Let’s start with Discovery of Romance… What a nice surprise it turned out to be. My track record with the writer-nim hasn’t been stellar but this one sort of came out of nowhere and got me good, LOL! Imho DoL is the most balanced work of the writer and even if it tackles many of the same aspects of love and relationships as her previous dramas, it managed to skirt around the pitfalls the others fell in. Jung Yoo Mi and Eric were pure awesome and the rest of the cast wasn’t too bad either. In many ways I think DoL is a little gem, albeit a misunderstood one. Too bad there were so many people who just didn’t ‘get’ it.

Just 4 more weeks of Yoo Na’s Street left, sniffle. This is one long drama that doesn’t feel like it’s dragging on and on. I don’t think it’s lost any steam like I’ve seen some saying, to me every episode is still as fresh as in the beginning. I care what happens to these people, get emotional when they are hurting and laugh out loud at the funnies. YNS has this clever way taking a tired trope and giving it a new twist. What other drama manages to make a ‘love triangle’ come out both rather hilarious and poignant? I still love, love, LOVE the characters!! Well, most of ’em. *g* There are a few I could do without but as YNS is a drama where every character counts, even the bad apples have a special place in the story. Another thing I love about YNS is that problems are never magnified up to wazoo just to add extra (makjangy) excitement. And they tend to get solved pretty darned fast too. People actually talk to each other, unless they make it clear they are miffed and won’t be talking, ha.

Picked up Bad Guys and so far so good. It has the Vampire Proz writer so we can expect a rather twisty story. The cast is grrrreat! I’m finding the characters pretty intriguing and waiting eagerly to know more about each of them. It’s OCN so bloody and violent is a given. This wasn’t instant love like VP but I am rooting for the bad guys. XD

Three Musketeers is still a silly little romp I rather enjoy watching. No brainpower needed so it’s my ‘winding down’ drama. Entertaining and easily digested.

I’m watching Wonderfull Season when I don’t feel like watching anything else, LOL! It’s a pretty traditional KBS weekend family drama. I think I need to find some time to watch more than one epi every once in a while to get back to the flow. It’s just that YNS is SO MUCH better in every way and compared to it the KBS brand of slice of life feels kinda dusty and dry. I like the characters well enough and the story per se isn’t bad at all but it lacks… something. It’ll probably be better to get back to it properly once YNS has ended to avoid any undue comparison.

Endless Love… sigh. Getting through it with a copius use of the FF-button. I did hope it would not succumb to the usual weekend melo malady but alas, that’s exactly what happened. Too much filler and not enough substance. The drama did start out pretty well but it didn’t take long befor it got overly weepy and started going around in circles. The pace picked up a bit around the mid point only to plunge back to treading water and re-using bits of plot from earlier episodes. Most of the characters lost any originality they may have had in the beginning, I was especially sad to see how the Lady Villain turn into a typical screechy hoyden. Jung Woong In’s Park Young Tae is the only truly interesting character left. He is always great as the Dastardy Adversary. πŸ™‚ Endless Love is just too damned long. It’d probably been better as a mini with 20-24 epis, or even 30 epis at a pinch.

I was initially quite interested in Secret Door but the more I read about it, the less I wanted to watch it. My gut instinct was telling me ‘this ain’t it’ and as I’ve learned to trust my gut, I decided not to pick Secret Door up.^^ So, I’m still waiting for a more traditional sageuk to watch.

Next batch of dramas is just around the corner and the ones I’m most interested in are Misaeng, Modern Farmer, and Dr Frost.

Discovery of Love – the OST

Discovery of Love was one of the unexpected pleasures this year, love it. Complex characters and a thought provoking story – just up my alley.

DoL also has a wonderful OST and this post is all about that. I’ve added links to English lyrics when avalable, the rest of the viedos are either hardsubbed or have lyrics under the ‘show more’. No spoilers. Enjoy! πŸ™‚
Bunch of vids under^^

Discovery of Love and other findings

Why is it that Eric breaks down so beautifully? Every new revelation seems to shatter Tae Ha just a little bit more and even if he tries not to show it, there is a world of sadness and hurt behind those beautiful eyes of his. Something you just can’t fake, it’s there and it’s real. And that, my friends is why I can’t feel Ha Jin’s breakdown the same way. Sung Joon just isn’t in the same place in life, yet. He does his best but somehow still comes off as a child, a boy not yet quite mature. Every actor/actress uses their own experiences to a certain degree when they construct a character and this is also why I tend to favour older thespians. There are very few young ‘uns who came even close. Yes, I’m biased and this may be a role tailor made for Eric but I’ve never seen him this good, this gorgeous, this heartbreaking. Coupled with what Jung Yoo Mi brings to the story, is it any wonder I feel like something inside of me wants to break too?

Tae ha’s been getting a lot of flack. I think people are missing something vital. TH never ‘came’ between Ha Jin and Yeo Reum. He was always there, from the very beginning. A spectre of things unresolved, words unsaid, hurt not yet healed. Like TH said, he and YR never really broke up. The debris of that bust-up was still flying around, in slowmo. Both of them needed to work through that before there was a real chance for either of them for moving on. This close to the finish line and I still don’t know how the chips are going to land. I won’t even try to guess. I hope the writer proves me wrong this time and gives the story an ending it deserves.

While I was pondering upon the ornery characters of Discovery of Love/Romance I realised something. Most of the dramas I’ve really liked recently have sort of upset people with their storylines and/or characters. Some of the reactions have been quite extreme, to say the least. We all watch dramas through the prism of our own background and experiences. I’m no exception but when either the story or the characters rub me on the wrong way, I’ve learned to let go. Why torture myself with watching something I don’t enjoy, that makes me angry? All in all, I do prefer stories with more meat around their bones and fully rounded characters that feel real. Oh, I do enjoy fluff at times, as long as it’s not totally mindless and makes some sort of sense. πŸ™‚