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

Oh Misaeng… What am I going to do without you in my screen?

When it comes to kdramas, it is really hard to come by the level of awesome that is Misaeng. Oh yeah, there is hyped up and popular but true quality is sorely lacking in most offerings these days. Which makes me sad. Not that everything I pick up for viewing is stellar. I’ve watched and even loved some pretty well cooked turkeys over the years. πŸ™‚ In any case most of one’s likes are subjective, which is why I generally try not to bash shows that don’t appeal to me. One person’s trash may be someone else’s treasure. Still, when a show is truly great, it’s great no matter what angle you view it and usually even nay-sayers have to grudgingly acknowledge that.

Misaeng continues to take me on a rollercoaster drive of emotions. This week gave me a good case of 2nd hand embarrasement, tears, laughter, compassion, fist pumps of glee… among other things. I just love character driven shows with a solid base of plot. Akin to YNS, in Misaeng every character counts, even those that just pay a bref visit. I love the fact that everyone feels so real and flawed like the rest of us. There aren’t many characters without any redeemable features, even the guys of resource team turned out not to be the total a-holes they seemed initially. I’ve got the feeling they were mostly acting out just to keep on the good side of their boss Chief Ma, who truly is one sorry excuse of a human being. Shallow end of pool: Assistant Manager Kang is hot. πŸ˜› Maybe I should re-watch Chosun Police 3 to oggle him again as a kick-ass Joseon era copper with a painful past? I’m so very tempted now…

Pride & Prejudice is a pleasant albeit not very memorable watch. It fills in the moments when I feel like watching something that doesn’t demand too much of me. It’s not silly fluff but neither is it all that evocative as a crime show either. The characters have grown on me over time, I rather like all of them. Though Kang Soo is still my fave. He is just too adorable for words.^^

I’ve decided to halt Bad Guys till it’s all done. I’m about 5 episodes behind as it is anyway. It’s funny but there’s been far more OCN shows I ended up dropping than those I truly liked. Looking back only VP, TEN and God’s Quiz 1-2 (I’m pretending 3-4 does not exist) have made the cut and with TEN my inerest is more cerebreal than ‘Squee!!!’. That distinction goes to VP. XD Bad Guys is not quite in the level of the two but in terms of interest it’s still above GQ and WAY above everything else of OCN’s I’ve tried.

Then in the category of ‘unintentionally hilarious’ I’ve recently watched Hair Show, a 4 parter Drama Special from 2011. I doubt it’ll rival ‘WTF!Paris’ but it tries hard. LOL! Honestly! Just read the synopsis… O_o

A story that about the top 1% of hair designers in Kangnam who’re determined to display their skills and soothe the hearts of tired souls who’re exhausted from life with their warm hands. Ever since the fateful day when Lee Young Won took up a part-time job at J Hair Collection and saw how the designers there can bring out the beauty and stylishness that people had never thought they had possessed, she was determined to become a hair stylist and make people happy using the talent at her fingertips.

There was also ‘hair designers’ duking it out with their scissors and hair spray, plenty of posturing and stilted acting. Baek Jin Hee was overly perky but still the best of ’em. I’ve no idea what possesed me to pick this one up. At least it was short. I did get a bad case of hair envy though. The styles the guys were sporting would suit me SO fine. HA! If one wants to watch a drama about hair stylists one could do better with Beautiful Life. Jdramas tend to do these things better, besides it has KimuTaku in his peak as the lead. 😎

Drama grab-bag

Misaeng
Well, I have to say it’s curious times we are living when an office drama turns out to be more exciting than many shows supposed to be exciting. I’ve litterally been sitting at the edge of my seat for these two latest episodes. Of course they cut off just when things were approaching the boiling point and we are left to wait a week to find out how the do-or-die presentation of that Jordan deal went down. The fall out of the ‘Park Scandal’ in eps 9-10 reverberated throughout the different departments resulting in reshuffling of positions and even quite palpable awkwardness within our previously harmonious Sales Team 3. (Noooo!) Something that is felt even more in this week’s epis. To help the team out of ‘what should be our next hot item’ slump, Geu Rae decides to suggest a move that makes everyone antsy. From the cold open we DO know how it eventually shapes up but right now things aren’t going exactly smoothly. I hate cliffhangers! *pouts*

Yoo Na’s Street
It feels downright odd not to have new episodes of YNS to watch every Mon-Tue but at least I still have all of the un-subbed ones to rewatch eventually. There’s been some grumbling about the last few episodes but I have no complaints. As a whole YNS was a pretty consistently great. I don’t even have a beef with any of the characters, they all managed to be both annoying and lovable in turn. Lots of people seem to have had trouble digesting Chang Man’s more irritating personality traits but I loved how real they made him feel. Without them CM would have been far too good to be true.

Pride and Prejudice
Not really sure I’m going to continue with this. The cases have been kinda meh and I’m not really interested in the romance either. Seems to me that I’m actually watching P&P only for the cutie that is Kang Soo, LOL!

Bad Guys
I’m several episodes behind as RL has been somewhat hectic and this is not a ‘must watch’ drama for me. It has been pretty good so far but I can’t say I’m waiting for the next episode with baited breath. IDK but apart from VP and TEN none of the other OCN dramas has truly been able to hook me. I actually sampled the first episode of Dr Frost too but wasn’t sold on it so it’s out of The List for good.

The Rest
Haven’t been able to sample King’s Face yet, maybe later this week. Apart from Healer there doesn’t seem to be much of interest dramawise coming up in the near future. Maybe I’ll just grab something from my List Of Doom aka ‘stuff I haven’t managed to watch yet’ when I run out of currently airing dramas. Or finally finish Wonderful Days… maybe. πŸ™‚

Misaeng – Still awesome

I guess Gue Rae and his Boss are the “love-line” of Misaeng. XD

I love this show! πŸ™‚ It tugs my heartstrings yet it’s heartwarming, has things to say and is occasionally very, very hilarious. I really like how they give all the main characters their turn in the spotlight, at the same time sheding light to how all the different departments in One International work. They may all be part of the same company but each has their own charactersitics and it would be a folly to think that what is acceptable in one debt. will automaticly be a go in another. A lession Baek Ki is painfully learning right now.

All the boozing going on is making my liver winge in sympathy. 😡 Goodness, I’m happy mandatory drinking sessions are not the norm here. In fact, you don’t have to drink at all when out with workmates or in other social gatherings. No-one looks at you sideways for declining.

I LOVE Lee Sung Min here. He makes Chief Oh come to life, sometimes in bold strokes, sometimes with just minor adjustments in bodylanguage. Chief Oh is brash and loud but his heart is in the right place. His bark is much worse than his bite. Sales Team 3 is definitely where Gue Rae belongs, they are all maverics in their own way. Those three really are one team now and work together pretty seamlessly. I just luff them all! 😍 It’ll be interesting to see how the new team member will shake things up. He’s a Jordan expert so quite clearly has something to do with the cold open of ep 1. Chief Oh was not happy to see him though.

I was very much ok with the tone of the first two episodes, even if they felt somewhat sombre, but I’ve just re-watched eps 1-6 with my sister and was rather surprised that there were actually more fun bits in the early episodes than I noticed the first time around. I guess I was too focused on the Trials Of Gue Rae to pay attentinon to detail. I’m glad the fun continues, especially as it comes with both serious commentary AND special effects.^^

Assistant manager Park imagines Geu Rae as his personal cheering section (the glimmering eyes had me chortling for a good while). XD

Misaeng – Thoughts after episodes 3 & 4

“You might not be familiar, in the game of Go, there’s a complete life and incomplete life. We’re all incomplete lives.”

Now that Yoo Na’s Street is winding down towards it’s conclusion I’m so glad I have another great slice-of-life drama as a follow up. Watching Misaeng leaves such a lovely afterglow, one that follows me all the way to the next week and the next episode. It’s so very rare to come across a drama that is fully it’s own thing and doesn’t need anything added or subtracted. This year I’ve been lucky enough to get two. πŸ™‚ I’m sick and tired of most, if not all of the usual kdrama tropes, so I truly appreciate the slower pace and gimmick free storytelling of Misaeng. It really feels a lot like a jdrama, somehow more true and lifelike. Lots of people have found Misaeng boring and/or too gloomy but I don’t think it’s neither. Yes, the first two episodes were kind of tinted in whistfullness but they also laid a basis on which to build the story of Geu Rae’s evolvement in the coroporate world. His journey to make his life ‘complete’. That he was such a woefull puppy to begin with, planted at least me firmly in his corner, cheering his every little triumph and every step towards the right direction. Huntig for a hanky and then smiling through the tears. There is humour in the mix too, more of it in epis 3-4. It’s subtle but it is there.

Im Shi Wan rather surprised me this time around. I’ve found him passable before but he is doing so well here. To me he IS Geu Rae, I can’t imagine anyone else in the role now. Sometimes being the right type does trump over acting experience. It also helps to have seasoned actors to work with and a director who knows what he is doing. There is something about Shi Wan makes me think that a lot of what he is putting into the role comes from somewhere inside. A knowledge of what Geu Rae is feeling any given moment. Of course Misaeng wouldn’t what it is without the rest of the great cast. Especially Lee Sung Min as Oh Sang Shik is scene stealing wonderful.^^ Kang Ha Neul’s Baek Ki – I’ve never thought him as being truly helpful or friendly towards Geu Rae. He just seems to be so on the surface, hiding his true feelings under a mask. Just look at his face fall when GR appears at the scene to round out the ‘accepted’ gang. That’s not a happy camper.

How many of those watching have done an internet search to find out more about Go/Baduk? *raises hand* Yup, I totally did, just to get a hang on what that part of the premise of Misaeng is. XD I’m useless at strategy games of any kind so… It was interesting read though.

First impressions – Misaeng & Tears of Heaven

Unlike many others seem to have done, I never thought Misaeng would be a comedy. Even if the teasers were sort of humorous, the overall tone of all the previews was more on the sombre side. What did surprise me was how atmospheric it turned out to be. It’s oddly whistful, contempletive and even melancolic in places. The colour palette shifts in blues, underlining the mood. Yet, it’s all that without being depressing. I guess the original writer of the webtoon Misaeng is based on being involved in the production, is one of the reasons the storytelling feels very assured. It also feels quite realistic. After watching these 2 first episodes I was thanking me stars I’ve never had to work in a corporate environment. They have a pretty solid crew manning the characters and I’m really liking Shiwan here. He’s progressed quite a bit from his first few roles. I think the boy might well make it solely as an actor, given time. His Geu Rae pretty much has me in his corner already. πŸ™‚ Solid start, hopefully they keep it going.

Seo Joon Young, when are you going to headline a drama I’ll be willing to watch without doping myself first?! I’ve been patiently waiting since Just You. Sirius does not count, it was a short.^^ Out of curiosity I watched the first 4 episodes of Tears of Heaven, MBN’s renewed attempt at dramas. Yup, another weekend makjang fest. What else could it be with a name like that? XD As per usual, it’s populated mostly with horrible people doing questionable things and there is at least one character who would benefit for some heavy duty psyciatric counselling. A birth secret or two as well, of course. They even managed to throw in willful negligence leading to death and amnesia within the first 2 epis, ha. There’s the typical hardworking, spunky poor girl and her prince rich dude, who this time happens to be a very nice lad, 2nd girl who’ll in all probablity turn into one of those crazies ‘who just won’t get it’, horrible excuses of mothers and fathers… You know, the usual suspects. If you like your dramas predictable and pickled in makjang with some crazy on the side, congratulations! ;P There’s a bonus too… yes, this one *g*:

Why so cute? πŸ™‚