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

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™‚

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.

A Yoo Na’s Street post, what else ^^

I think I’ll re-watch Yoo Na’s Street from the beginning. Again. XD I guess I say this a lot, but YNS has so much going on in each episode that I keep picking up stuff almost every time I re-watch a scene. It’s funny how much happens in a drama that on the surface seems so matter of fact and uneventful. Just goes to show that you really don’t need to pad a scene each and every time TPTB wants to make a point. Less is definitely more.

I also like the ebb and flow of ‘action’/calm in the episodes. The past few have been more about emotional tangents and quiet flow of everyday life but going by the latest epi, things may be heating up. I’m just hoping they are teasing us again and the story is not going to where it seems to be going. I’ve learned not to lock my expectations on how things may turn out as YNS has been very good at constantly proving me wrong, LOL! They take a trajectory that seems to lead to an overused and/or predictable plot point, only to give us a totally different outcome. Even if it may sometimes take more than one epi to get there. The tone has been somewhat more serious lately but I’m glad they have still found ways to insert some unexpected but giggle-worthy humour in here and there. That scene of Nam Su sounding like his boss, the Scrap Yard Yoda, was quite hilarious. Even Yoo Na was impressed, heh. I like the big lunk. He may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but he is sweet and kind. One of the strenghts of YNS are it’s characters who are layered and consistent in their acts. There have been no personality transplants and people suddenly behaving contrary to their true natures. Whenever there is change, there is always a proper reason for it.

It’s a shame Yoo Na’s Street is not getting all the love it deserves as there are so few truly good dramas around these days. Or maybe us diehard fans are just not as vocal in our adoration. πŸ™‚

Check out the fun “THugCaps” by the ladies @ The Problematic of the Unproblematic if you want a more blow-by-blow stuff on the episodes of YNS.^^ They just posted the EP 10 recap.

First impressions and ongoing dramas…

I need new dramas on my roster as much as I need a hole in my head but what can one do… there’s always a new drama round the corner. One can only hope most of them end up sucking, ha.

The New
Discovery of Romance
I wasn’t initally sure about this one as it’s by the writer behind all three INRs and I didn’t really care a whit for any of those. As it turns out, DoR has so far been pretty enjoyable as fluff goes. It’s just quirky enough to give the story some pzazz and I’ve yet to be irritated by any of the characters, which was my main concern to begin with. Yoon Hyun Min and Kim Seul Gi as trusty sidekicks are all kinds of fun and Eric, Jung Yoo Mi and Sung Joon make an interesting threesome. I really like Sung Joon and have done so ever since SUFFBB, but no matter how deramy his ‘Best Boyfriend in the World’β„’ is, Eric still pawns him in manliness and screen presence. Gosh, I’d forgotten how mesmerizing Eric can be when he turns on the charm, which btw. seems to be even more potent now that he is older (yummm…). Everyone else sort of fades away, ha. Sung Yoo Mi is always good, even when I can’t stand the character she plays (looking at you INR2). The plot of DoR isn’t exactly new, especially this year, but so far what I’ve seen has left me quite happy and looking forward to what’ll happen next.

Plus Nine Boys
TvN dramas tend to be a bit of a hit and miss with me. Some I’ve loved, some I’ve liked enough to finish them and others I’ve been totally indifferent to. They are rather formulaic and almost perefectly honed to suit the target demographic, but whether they suit me depends mostly on the script and if they’ve managed to find the right actors for the roles. This one was surprsingly enjoyable. It doesn’t feel as calculated as some of the TvN works and the concept is a little bit different from what’s been done before. I quite like the execution, as well as the characters, which is generally the dealbreaker for me. Unless it’s a procedural/crime show and then the plot comes first. πŸ™‚

Three Musketeers
It’s a fun little romp that has mostly kept to the feel of other screen adaptations out there. I hope they don’t loose the humour along the way like so often happens with kdramas. All the (un)necessary angst they love to insert just about everywhere has a tendency to weigh down the stories, sometimes so much so that they become a chore to watch. Yong Hwa still has ways to go before making a competent actor but he is holding his own here, imho. I don’t think any of the main actors are deserving for a gold star. No-one stinks up the place, they are all passable but that is just about it.

Reset
Pretty typical OCN fare, slick and looks good. Not sure if I’ll keep up with this, as the first 2 episodes didn’t quite manage to pull me in. It’ll proably end up in the ‘marathon’ pile, to be watched at some later date.

The Ongoing
Endless Love
Korean melodramas, sigh. I was ‘this’ close to dropping Endless Love as there were just too many episodes of The Weepy. There’s only so much of tears and hand wringing a girl can take. It also felt like everyone had caught a bad case of stupiditis, which lead to copious moments of eyerolling and sighing. Well, the plot finally decided to make a move on so I’m giving EL a few more episodes to convince me that this is still worth my time. Not holding my breath though.

Yoo Na’s Street β™₯β™₯β™₯
Still my darling and the best of the bunch. I just love it and everyone in it almost equally. I think I could watch just YNS and nothing else on a loop, ad infinitum. XD It is SUCH a satisfying drama to watch, full of nuances and little details that seem unimportantat but actually add meaning to the scenes. There aren’t all that many kdramas with this fully realised and well rounded characters. I’m sure there are plenty of people who’d find YNS too slow but I love the pace and how they are ‘building up’ the story by adding new bits and pieces each episode. The slower pace gives us the chance to relish every new revelation and insight into the characters. Moar please!

Yoo Na’s Street musings

Pretty much my face too when I first watched this part of ep 23. πŸ˜›

I’m now all caught up with both the raw and subbed epis of Yoo Na’s Street and very tempted to start again from the beginning, as I just can’t seem to get enough of it. πŸ™‚ Right now YNS is pretty much the only drama I will watch no matter what. We are half way through and it’s still chugging along at a steady pace, without any visible dips in quality. How rare is that? O_o At this rate YNS will join I Live in Cheongdamdong as my fave drama of all time.

The rewatch has made it even more clear how solid a drama YNS is. It’s character driven with a good script at it’s base, enhanced with competent acting and directing. Anyone looking for cheap thrills should skip this one, as they ain’t gonna get any. There is no makjang, no idiotic plot twists, no ‘swoony romance’ with all the usual overused trimmings, no manufactured angst, no love triangles or other similarly ‘pointy objects’, no crazy 2nd leads… In fact, I’ve yet to encounter any of the irritating tropes that plague most kdrams out there. Whenever a common trope is presented, it somehow gets a ‘makeover’ and ends up being something quite else than you thought, ha. Such a refreshing change.

I adore the characters and how real they feel. They fit perfectly in this little world TPTB have created. Some characters start out more likeable than others, but what I can say with confidence, is that your preception of all of them will change as the story goes on. No-one is quite how they seem at a first glance and every episode gives them more layers. I find this very true to life. There’s been many a time when a first impression of someone I’ve met didn’t quite hold true after we became more acquainted with each other. To err is human so I can’t really hate anyone in YNS, even when they do something reprehesible. We all have flaws, some bigger than others. πŸ™‚

I wish someone would make gifs of all Chang Man’s derpy faces.^^ He is totally adorkable at times. Then there are those other times when I feel like going ‘Oppppaaaa!!!’ on him, only I’m years older, LOL! Unfortunatly Yoo Na is a tougher nut to crack than little ole me, though it’s plain that even she isn’t immune to his charms.

Episode 28 tonight…. Patience is a virtue.

Yoo Na’s Street – the soundtrack

I could spend an entire day watching expressions change on Chang Man’s face. I think I’m in love with Lee Hee Joon’s acting, LOL! YNS re-watch is now at ep 15 and I’ve lost count of how many of the clips at JTBC YT account I’ve watched and rewatched. XD

Anyway, the reason of this post is the OST. I really like how different the soundtrack is. They’ve so far released only the two main tracks and the only gripe I have is that there should be more songs as these two are kinda getting overused. Not that it’s ‘almost paaaaaraaadise’ level of painful yet, ha.
Vids under

Drama Talk

On their way to give a lession to a lying, cheating boytoy of Mi Sun’s.You mess with these ladies at your own peril.

I’ve been slowly re-watching Yoo Na’s Street with subs, when time permits and I think I love it even more the 2nd time around. πŸ™‚ It’s one of those rare dramas that just seem to perform even better with re-watch, as you notice things you missed during the initial run. Even though I seem to have understood surprisingly much of the dialogue, there’s no denying that subs do help to shed new light to some of the scenes. YNS is definitely the best of the dramas I’m watching right now and it trumps most of the dramas I’ve managed to finish over the past few years. Everything just works and all the actors are spot on, no week links here.Β  One of the things I adore, is the subtle humour inserted here and there throughout the episodes. It’s very low key, like just about everything in YNS and I find myself suddenly grinning or chuckling when I least expect it. This drama is SUCH a delight in every way!

Endless Love has been entertaining so far but recently we’ve had too many episodes ofΒ  The Weepy and some of the plot is also getting sort of repetitive already. Just how many times is In Ae going to be imprisoned? Girl just don’t seem to learn. If you deliberately go poking at a hornet’s nest, you’ll eventually get stung. She knows who she is up to and she still goes ahead and puts herself in a position to be abused. Everyone else in the show seems to have wised up somewhat over the years but she just stubbornly keeps making the same mistakes over and over again. Pretty asanine from someone who is supposed to be very smart. I could underestand her behaviour in the beginning as she was just a hot headed kid, but now – not so much. I’ll give this a few more episodes to see where the whole thing is going but once the annoyance level overtakes the enjoyment level, it’ll be ‘bye, bye’.

Another drama I’ve been following is Hig School King of Savvy, though I haven’t felt any need to write about it. It’s been pretty amusing and I just love Seo In Gook in it. Boy’s got an impeccable comic timing. I am a bit apprehensive about what the last episode is going to bring as I’m not too hot on what the preview seems to indicate. We’ll see.

Last epi of Wonderful Season aired today and I still haven’t found time to catch up with it. RL should get less busy from next week on so I hope I’m able to continue from where I left off, all those months ago. Time sure goes fast, blink and it’s another week gone by. O_o

Yoo Na’s Street – EP 21

This episode managed to tug my heartstrings and made me tear up. Life can give one such a raw deal at times. It’s good to have someone to lean on at times like that.

OMG! The ending! Chang Man truly isn’t made up to be a ‘bad guy’. I could feel his grief over what he was asked to do. It was all for a friend but still… I don’t think anyone can talk him over to do something like this again. Too emotionally painful and I believe, against his moral code.

The thing with Yoo Na’s Street is that it never goes totally maudlin. Stuff happens but there is no overextended wallowing in misery here. There are good days and bad days – life goes on. This epi had it’s heartfelt, poignant moments and some rather sweet and funny ones too. Looks like we get more cute OTP interactions come next week. πŸ™‚

Yoo Na’s Street musings

Yoo Na’s Street is still my preferred drama to go to. I love the leasurely pace and the feeling of being ‘part of the crowd’. With 50 episodes they have plenty of time to felsh out both the plot and the characters. We are getting to know the people bit by bit, their backstories, what motivates them… A tidbit here another there often revealed in small, everyday conversations, which there are a-plenty. I’m not sure how accurately they are depicting the world of petty criminals but it feels pretty true to life and I’m finding the whole set up quite interesting. There is a certain way things are done and a definite hierarchy within which all the players are positioned. People take care of their own but it is often a cruel world and you have to be resourcefull and resilient to survive. Continue reading