The time transcending pure love of a mermaid to a conman

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A lot of expectations were already thrown at this drama even before it was airing due to A-list actors and top writer/director headlining the production.  I say it did exceptional in maintaining the fantasy, romance and comedy as it progressed along the story.  His hero projection to his lead girl in a refreshing and a quirky run I thought he won’t be able to pull off.  I was so fond of Jun Ji Hyun’s inventive approach to suit up her role in a fun, lingering kind of way.

True, that it can’t be helped for it to be compared with “You From Another Star”, having the same psycho villain and supernatural love defying theme, but the base fairytale approach that seems to be familiar to anyone is most likely the key ingredient to its delightful run. 

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Lee Min Ho overturned the table and took in the reign of carrying the story by leveling up to Jun Ji Hyun’s expected brilliant portrayal by polishing his comic timing halfway through the narrative.  His hero projection to his lead girl in a refreshing and a quirky run I thought he won’t be able to pull off.  He owned Heo Joon Jae’s character so well that I can finally say he’s grown from a pretty face to a now versatile bankable actor.  On the other side, Jun Ji Hyun’s inventive approach to suit up her role in a fun, lingering kind of way made me cracked up a lot of times because of her optimistic approach to her new-found world.  Her love ride with Heo Joon Jae was an amusing and love-affirming watch as they learned to understand each other’s flaw and adjust when necessary in appeasing their fears and celebrating what makes them happy.

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The fusion of reincarnation plot and the mermaid-human romance appeared trite on its onset, but as the plot thickened, it felt like the mythical element was stronger as the driving point than the real-life premise projected in the story.  Another thing that was nicely done by the writer was how the melancholia of the past timeline seemed to complement the quirky flow of the present timeline.  Legend of the Blue Sea made me smile a lot and warmed my heart as I cheered on the impossible fulfilment of Cheong and Joon Jae’s reincarnated romance.  It effortlessly kept me piqued on how the plot will unfold and did not give me a slight annoyance because it came well prepared on its weekly spectacle and knows when to trigger the adorable points and cast the entrancing spell for me to stay invested on its future. 

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I struggled giving the proper love “Legend of the Blue Sea” deserves because it is airing with equally amazing dramas on its run, but I remained steadfast and faithful even with the penultimate episode’s joke.  

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The consistency of the plot while using alternate timelines of the past and the present would have gone ambiguous.  But the writer strategically switched the focal character point from the heroine on its preliminary episodes, then maneuvered to the hero halfway through the story, and converged them in equilibrium as we hit the waning events and push through the conflict resolution.  “Legend of the Blue Sea” succeeds in a lively pace of intelligent storytelling with smart characters you will not hate as they don’t play dumb at hindrances thrown at them. 

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Having time-transcending and supernatural love defying themes appeared to be ambitious and risky due to its tendencies of not being able to expound on the development of the characters moving in the story.   But the base fairytale approach that seems to be familiar to anyone is most likely the key ingredient to its engaging ride. 

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I was impressed on how the story stayed focus while fusing the two timelines by not over-using the technicalities and details, but by enhancing the emotional connection of the main leads.  Instead of me having a kdramaaddict moment like “why is Cheong physically adept in the present but not in the past?”, I was more of “come on now, he took a harpoon from the past to save her and she took a bullet for him in the present, let’s give them the ever-after they deserve”.

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I chose to say the best things about this drama given that it was steadily amazing on its ride.  Each episode was a satisfying watch that propelled me to look forward on how the story will unfold.  My only issue was the safe landing or more of auto-pilot ending on the last episode.

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Legend of the Blue Sea was strong on the candied-heart-fluttering moments of Joon Jae and Cheong, but even stronger on relaying the couple’s sweet and yet agonizing journey to endure the love they have in the present in the pretext of a human-mermaid romance impossibility.  It neatly executed the narrative by using simple rules considering its metaphysical premise.  It modernized the reincarnation plot, by playing the resident drama fix of how love overcomes anything and beyond everything. 

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The Sweets and Surprises of 2016 KDramaland

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Limitless and scintillating in showcasing varied stories for 2016, this by far is the best Hallyu-Drama flaunting in my 11 years of K-drama stalking.  It was a year of no specific recurring theme, interestingly imagined premise and mostly character-driven plots.

 

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We saw a lot of memorable characters and narratives that kept k-drama faithful like me on panda eyes in trying to keep up with the amazingly consistent stretch of these creatively crafted stories.  I don’t have any disappointing rant for this year’s parade given that even those mediocrely done productions delivered strong moments in their run.  So, in closing my kdrama experience, I would like to walk down the memory lane on those fiction- driven moments that touched my pure heart, revived my broken heart and stirred my strong heart.  Join me drift away to calming felicity, biting agony and sweet oblivion in reminiscing the diverse beauty definitions brandished by kdramaland players this year.  Here are dramapills perfect for when you can’t seem to understand your emotional outbreaks or when you just want to be alone and to relax.

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THE RUNAWAY HITS

 

Descendants of the Sun

comfort food + bubble wrap = your dream love story

Dazed and intoxicated in a fictional one-sided love, I got more than what I bargained for choosing “Descendants of the Sun” as my first pick this year in my favorites and placing it on my all-time-favorite list.   And no, it’s not because of Captain Yoo Si Jin’s dashing and magnetic appeal nor the running topless army guys doing their morning routine.  It is simply because it deserves all the hype and kdrama addicts’ rave it got because of its superb screenplay and well-executed story.
Rarely do we get a story in drama land that is so affecting when the narrative is relying on the love plot.  Most of the time it maintains a decent showing but in the waning part of the series it will lose its magic.  No romance kdrama has made it to my top favorites basing on the screenplay and the acting.  What they all failed to achieve, DOTS casually slayed in a watch-us-this-is-how-it-should-be-done manner.

The drama was pre-produced and raked millions with its budget.  KBS gambled in taking over the drama meant to go to SBS, but the risk paid off a thousand-fold because of its success.  So why did a drama set in a not so positive environment won over the viewers’ hearts?  The applause it got can be attributed to how fit the actors to their characters were, the realistic-sometimes-cheesy-most-of-the-time-pure-love of the main characters, the snappy lines, the giggle inducing captured frames and how the story depended on the fulfilment of the romance just as the romance bloomed because of the flowing story. 

The issues resolved in the story focused on braving the odds for love and the death defying conflict in the finishing kick of the series.  The charm of Captain Yoo Si Jin would have not been possible if his lead girl was not as endearing as our clever surgeon Mo Yeon.  I must admit that episode 15 was the weakest episode because it struggled in a denouement or conflict limbo.  I was hoping the finale week would just be a fan service but they scared me when I thought it would push an open-ended closure or everything-is-a-dream-lead-man-is-dead ending.  That’s the only negative point I had in its entirety, but given the balanced conception of a drama thriving in a love premise, it was forgivable.

I gave a 10/10 score for Descendants of the Sun for its ingenuity in capturing the heartfelt romance even with violence and disaster plot.  It left lessons on patriotism, life, career and friendship.  There are stories that need not to be embellished because they can stand alone when you chronicle it without confusion and with a direction.

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Another Oh Hae Young

Princess Leia Organa + Cinderella = one strong, romantic woman in love

“Another Oh Hae Young” was as prettily written as Descendants of the Sun, but even more heartfelt because of the realistic approach of the love plot.  The kisses were intense, the arguments were heart-wrenching, and the scenarios created were what you did in a real love world.  

We typically get utopian love stories, but that was not the case for “Another Oh Hae Young”, they shared the pain and the bliss in its barest and heart piercing manner.  What drew the viewers is how the angst and confusion of qualifying love was stripped to its messiest and yet sweetest state just how someone would remember how he fought for his one great passionate love.

I think anyone who has loved someone to the point of being drained and crazy will have a weep fest watching the drama.  I can only imagine the heartbreak the writer of this drama had experienced in his life to capture the real emotion someone must go through when he is bargaining with love and when he is angry and missing the person at the same time.

If there’s one lesson Oh Hae Young and Park Do Kyung’s romance would leave their viewers is that how you don’t overthink when you intend to love someone all the way… how you say I love you because that’s what you felt at that moment… and how you embrace the love feeling because you believe it to be true.  

Another Oh Hae Young is not just your typical rom-com drama.  It takes pride on its keen perception of the difference between how a man and a woman take on distinct approaches on loving someone while weighing on their pre- conceived inhibitions that the relationship might not work.  It tackled playfully and seriously the kind of love someone can give after learning lessons from a heartbreak.

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Something About 1%

A magical stone that can grant you a wish to get the oppa of your dreams + sweet kisses = pure bliss

With its swift format following how web dramas usually are, it managed to fully explore the story with each closing chapter, and that’s a feat hard to maintain given the limited minutes for online dramas.  The lead couple’s chemistry is spot on in delivering those knee-weakening scenarios courtesy of the dapper lead man and the sunny disposition of the heroine. It will make any girl squeal on her pillow as the drama generously displayed heart-fluttering scenes every chance they can get.  I swear you can feel how melting the kisses were by Jae In and it will literally emanate from the TV screen straight to your parted lips. For those who religiously follow Korean dramas we all know how the trend is for the lip locks — fish-like and boring, so be prepared for strings of whoa! and kyaaa on those extended smooching frames because Ha Suk Jin oppa knows how to feast on the romantic ride and will put you on a lovestruck-fangirl-trance and turn your eyeballs to hearts.  *kkk

This amazingly done rom-com darted cheesy and predictable.  Even now I still wonder how I got so addicted with everything so unadorned about it.  The premise of contract relationship has tendencies to overkill rom-com tropes if not executed with the right amount of love chemistry progression.  What made me got hooked in the story of Da Hyun and Jae in was how their romance happened like how it should be… by sharing conversations, bickering and meaningful events.  They were on a clear agreement that strings will not be attached only to succumb to the emotion that sprung because they willingly involved time to spend with one another.  They were intending not to cross the wall they set initially, only to be struck on the reality of how binding shared memories can be in a relationship.

Something About One Percent was brilliant in creating simple situations for the main leads and turning it to cohering pieces that has fulfilled a stunning love narrative.  The vibrancy of the heroine’s character complements the temperament of the lead man leading to a charming yin-yang romance.   It was refreshing to feel a romance drama that is not fortified with misplaced conflicts and negative vibes.  It may not be that polished or creatively conceived with twist and turns and top actors that can make such a romantic drama spree amazing.  But it is with its heartfelt and pure storytelling that made me pick it as one of my favorites for 2016.  There was no special frosting and extraordinary premise Jae In and Da Hyun went through to arrive in that moment when they realized they love each other.  They were just there letting love happen through their shared memories.  The simplicity of the romantic narrative won me over.  It made me reminisce those unadulterated girl crushes I had when I was younger.  “Something About One Percent” engrossed me because the love built up came in so natural and sweet.  Something that pierced those old love memories I had when they were not yet nightmares.  *chuckles

Focusing on the sparks and connection was what was so efficient in this love chronicle.  The conflict thrived to whether the love couple will disregard their feelings toward each other after the relationship contract or surrender to each other, make the relationship real and face together the varying world they have armed with their steadfast love. 

A beautiful love story sometimes does not need to be elaborated.  It can be as simple as it can get if we can feel the heartfelt love flowing.  Love does not ever happen in an instant.  You’d be lucky if you recognize it happening in the moment.  It is when we are not beside the person that we realize we are in love, and holding them in our arms is when we want to love them even more.

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Signal

a vikings theme park ride + a hard to crack mystery game = an addictive adrenalin rush

Dear JJ Abrams, this is your fault.  While “Signal” hit an impressive run with its linear storytelling in different timelines, it did not give me jaw dropping moments and rave spree months after it ended.  Sure, it was good while I was watching it, but it was not something new that I have seen.  If my preconceived knowledge on the genre though will be stripped, I would probably have liked it a lot. 

Halfway through the drama, I liked what I saw even if I saw it already.  The only peculiar thing in the drama was the use of the haunted radio that linked the main police officers from the past and present.  But I have religiously watched Criminal Minds, Dexter, The Mentalist and the rest of police procedural Hollywood TV series so there’s nothing surprising that I saw with the criminal files they tackled.   It was more of me waiting if the writer will niftily tie the loose end and connect the relevance of the supernatural twist to complete the story. 

When the story conflict was resolved, I didn’t like the open-ended closure.  I followed the thrill and analyze the situations like I was also a police officer, and then I was given something to ponder on in the dying minutes of the drama.  I was like what was that?  You already baked a satisfying conclusion, why cool it down and put it in a fridge?    But for the record, that’s my only concern about “Signal”.  Over all it was excitingly projected.  The runs on how they made the cases simultaneously being solved from different timelines were easy to follow and the main actors exhibited great chemistry.

If you are up for quick fix of cop drama with a supernatural serving, plan your next binge-watching activity and set it to the radio frequency of Signal.

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Legend of the Blue Sea

the little mermaid + Jack Dawson = epic love that defies fate 

A lot of expectations were already thrown at this drama even before it was airing due to A-list actors and top writer/director headlining the production.  I say it did exceptional in maintaining the fantasy, romance and comedy as it progressed along the story.  His hero projection to his lead girl in a refreshing and a quirky run I thought he won’t be able to pull off.  I was so fond of Jun Ji Hyun’s inventive approach to suit up her role in a fun, lingering kind of way.

The fusion of reincarnation plot and the mermaid-human romance appeared trite on its onset, but as the plot thickened, it felt like the mythical element was stronger as the driving point than the real-life premise projected in the story.  Another thing that was nicely done by the writer was how the melancholia of the past timeline seemed to complement the quirky flow of the present timeline.  Legend of the Blue Sea made me smile a lot and warmed my heart as I cheered on the impossible fulfilment of Cheong and Joon Jae’s reincarnated romance.  It effortlessly kept me piqued on how the plot will unfold and did not give me a slight annoyance because it came well prepared on its weekly spectacle and knows when to trigger the adorable points and cast the entrancing spell for me to stay invested on its future. 

The consistency of the plot while using alternate timelines of the past and the present would have gone ambiguous.  But the writer strategically switched the focal character point from the heroine on its preliminary episodes, then maneuvered to the hero halfway through the story, and converged them in equilibrium as we hit the waning events and push through the conflict resolution.  “Legend of the Blue Sea” suceeds in a lively pace of intelligent storytelling with smart characters you will not hate as they don’t play dumb at hindrances thrown at them. 

Having time-transcending and supernatural love defying themes appeared to be ambitious and risky due to its tendencies of not being able to expound on the development of the characters moving in the story.   But the base fairytale approach that seems to be familiar to anyone is most likely the key ingredient to its engaging ride. 

I was impressed on how the story stayed focus while fusing the two timelines by not over-using the technicalities and details, but by enhancing the emotional connection of the main leads.

I only have the best things to say about this drama given that it was steadily amazing on its ride.  Each episode was a satisfying watch that propelled me to look forward on how the story will unfold.  

Legend of the Blue Sea was strong on the candied-heart-fluttering moments of Joon Jae and Cheong, but even stronger on relaying the couple’s sweet and yet agonizing journey to endure the love they have in the present in the pretext of a human-mermaid romance impossibility.  It neatly executed the narrative by using simple rules considering its metaphysical premise.  It modernized the reincarnation plot, by playing the resident drama fix of how love overcomes anything and beyond everything. 

 

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Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim

doses of magical medicines + hot doctors with surging cranky attitudes = finally a medical kdrama worth watching

The high ratings Romantic Doctor achieved justified the impeccable performances the cast gave to the first medical drama I ever liked.  The doctors of Doldam hospital feasted on showing off the dynamic interaction hence turning the surgeries worth watching.

Blending well the character growth while sticking on the medical world premise was successfully achieved thanks to how the actors brought out their characters’ resonance.  The character-driven story left me wondering on why I suddenly became a cult follower when the base narrative is bare and typical.  It could be that I miss House and Meredith and McDreamy, but there’s something engaging in “Romantic Doctor” that is so addictive and yet unrealized up to the very last minute.

 

Goblin

a rich immortal boyfriend + a Haruki Murakami romcom novel (if that is even possible to make) = a supernatural love story that all girls dream about

I can only imagine the amount of money Goblin’s writer will rake this year after successfully creating two hit dramas in a year.  I am actually imagining Grim Reaper handing me down a number for the queue to her cult following.  I like everything about Goblin even the minor flaws.  The yarning of Korean folklore and supernatural premise fell so perfectly placed in the modern setting.  The chimeric world it created became a haven for kdramaaddicts who enjoyed an amazingly sweet drive of blind curves while cheering on the interconnected lives and fate of the main cast from the  past and present.

The bromance, the love pairings, the heart-wrenching central conflicts and the impeccable writing are some of the reasons why I think this is probably one of the best dramas in the last 10 years.  “Goblin” exhausts its potentials to a movie like scale and claimed a victorious conclusion in the most consistent and wistful way.  While being strong on the light scenes, it did not lose focus on the emotional moments.

“Goblin” deserves the hype and the ratings because of the amount of hardwork, the production team and the actors committed in perfecting the story. 
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THE SURPRISES

 

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo

your dream college boyfriend + your swag adorkable young love = you will thank me later after watching it

I was initially adamant to watch this youth drama because there were a lot of dramas on my plate already.  But one weekend when I was done with my pending reviews and watch list, I gave it a chance and before I realized it, I was giggling and crazily laughing uncaring if the entire village will wake up due to my kdrama late night frenzy.  *swaaag

I was all smile and teary-eyed remembering my youth days as portrayed by Bok Joo and Joon Young in Weightlifting Fairy.  The hours spent watching this couple fell in love was like a comfort food and bubble wrap combined. I am picking “Weightlifting Fairy” is one of the best kdramas of 2016 for being such a genuine coming of age story that beautifully captured the joy and pain and everything in between of being young… of building dreams and of falling in love for the first time. Jung Joon Hyung is now our prototype of a best college boyfriend ever as Bok Joo will reminds us always of how as a woman we will go through phases living all the kinds of girl we could ever be.  

Weightlifting Fairy felt like the virtual child of My Lovely Sam Soon and Reply 1997 dramas with its engrossing charm to withstand the heavy ratings block competition while it was airing.  

This youth drama will put you on a spell and you won’t realize it until you find yourself doing reruns of it prior to your sleep just like what it did to me.  I promise you a sweet throwback experience that you will have a hard time to compose a hashtag comment on.  

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W:  Two Worlds

Pretty Woman + The Triwizard Tournament = meeting the man of your dreams and his beautiful wife

I struggled in a long lull trying to come up with my thoughts about W: Two Worlds as it gave me a mixture of an electrifying writing but then it failed to close the story with a befitting ending.  Sprinting in a mind-blowing setting and pushing me to the extent of an imaginary world where everything is possible to happen, I had a lot of jaw-dropping and head splitting moments following Kang Chul and his adventures in discovering the world inside the world he lived in.  This drama has endless possibilities and was so strong in mocking predictable outcomes that the viewers pondered about.

Kang Chul and her swoon worthy adorably sweet moments with Oh Yeon Joo made me almost kill my non-living pillow out of the butterflies in my tummy that must have been wanting to see Kang Chul too.  Just like Yeon Joo I know most of the girls like me passed that stage where we put in writing our ideal man, and that’s why maybe “W” is hitting home very well in me because it tapped on my young woman fantasies so I can relate well to Yeon Joo.  I was like “aigoo!  Kang chul!  be still my heart!” on the heart fluttering episode 7 that I forgave MBC right away with Episode 8 preemption.  I didn’t notice Lee Jun Seok before but his Kang Chul portrayal suiting up a dapper handsome face, teasing smirks and mouth gaping smiles encumbered the rational woman inside me, making me consider the possibility of being with my dream man if I draw him too, even when I can only write.  *giggles

After crossing the half of this sweetly addictive drama journey, I have fears on how all the dots will be connected as we winded down to the story.  From the bottom of my heart I rooted for the love couple’s ever after.  Even though from the onset realistically speaking it doesn’t seem viable.  But since we are defying rules in two alternating worlds, I took everything bargaining on the possibility that the closing episodes will be seamlessly done basing on the already established scenarios.  So, when Kang Chul and Yeon Joo went to a more complex conflict in trying to defeat the villain who has outwitted his creator and has forced the love couple to part ways for them to survive, the reset Kang Chul pictured to be the resolution in protecting his lady love ended up to be an additional pile of side problems they had to overcome which in turn frustrated me.  By the time they successfully nailed their happy ending, I was so exhausted with the writer on why he had to do that long route and diminish the fan service scenes he could have extended to compensate on how he twisted his plot and teased the followers in catching where he intends to go.  Did I like the ending?  It was fair and satisfying but the movement of the story from its strong onset felt like the waning episodes hit a roadblock and the main leads were stripped of their initial brilliance and were thrown at a UFC fight night where they had to survive.  *chuckles

Less the staggering twists and turns that were ever present in the narrative, I still like how “W: TwoWorlds” was so ambitious on how it vividly displayed and chronicled a love story that defied alternate universe.  It maneuvered to constant deviation and possibilities having the premise of “everything is possible to happen if they can draw it”.  I love smart characters playing in the story so I must give it to Yeon Joo on how she perceives efficiently in moments when Kang Chul is hindered by the limitations of his heroic role which was dependent on his fictional character.  All throughout its showing, I was immersed on the extent of chimeric world the story would thread to, even when it hit a frustrating circle, but then it bounced back to a neatly delineated denouement although I would have wanted another hour of extension.  

There is no doubt on how exemplary “Two Worlds” accelerated to its proxy-universe-deriding setting.  It gave a surreal drama experience and yet the romance development for the main leads was pragmatic and memorable.  If you have not caught up on Kang Chul and W yet, don’t wait for next year to happen, and be prepared for a mixed emotion spin as you frolic on this enslaving kdrama spectacle. 

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Task Force 38

Neal Caffrey + Oceans 11 cast = new world heroes against corruption

With the amount of romance dramas brandishing in KDramaLand 2016, a story maneuvered by a con-artist and his snappy team helping an employee of the city’s Taxation office in retrieving unpaid revenues from greedy rich people surprisingly caught and glued my attention due to how exciting it propelled a simple premise with its gripping manipulation of the cheats they pulled to complete their missions.
There was a time when I went gaga over Neal Caffrey in White Collar so I think that’s why I was committed in watching Jung Do and his team plus Seo In Gook is a feast even without topless scenes on this drama.  I love the snappy editing.  All those small cons they created to push the final trick to tame down the villains were visually achieved while narrating it clearly.  There were not moments of indecisiveness on where the story is flowing.  From its kick off, “Task Force 38” was strict with presenting what they will do and how they will resolve the conflict.  Adding a well-blended team that explained to me well through their conversations about the new world I was introduced to about the politics manipulated by the tax evaders.  On paper and when you get the picture on the premiere episodes, it looked something that will require patience or Seo In Gook devotion to finish but the exciting vibe set each week made me crave waiting on how the reversals will be accomplished.

The story was on spot on establishing the war between the villains and heroes.   While it builds the conflict from the greedy intentions of the fiends, the showdowns were always fought through strategy and wits.  The writing skillfully incorporated the character sketches and their roles in fulfilling the goodness over wickedness lesson given in the story. 

Task Force 38 is straight to the point with the premise, the conflict, and how the people moving in the story resolved and closed it.  It helped that even with the serious topic, the protagonists were drawn as suave Robinhood and upright citizen who only wanted to make sure that no one is above the law in paying taxes.  True it made use of an illegal approach to defeat the baddies by brewing schemes to make them forcefully pay what they owe which is still technically bad, but it fairly explained the limited options in stopping corruption when the people responsible for it are puppets of organized crime group.  Life have inconvenient realities that can’t be dealt with by justice.  So, if you get to the resolution even if the means defy law if there is no life threatened, then just settle with it.

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Age of Youth

Dawson’s creek + American Pie = a trip to your 20’s self

Just like the Belle Epoque girls, I too have a lot of regrets and dreams when I was in my 20’s.  Coming from a disappointing drama stalking from summer dramas that turned stale halfway their runs, picking up Age of Youth was merely decided by the number of episodes it will sprint. Thank heavens that I got more than I expected from it.

“Age of Youth” is a retrospective youth drama about women in their 20’s. The five ladies promenaded their love inhibitions, self-esteem issues, school worries, what happens after school disappointments and all the rest of typical predicaments, 20’s women usually worry about.  Tailored to show the common faces of women, this honest drama has a melancholic resonance as it progressed to strengthening the bond of the 5 women living together in a dormitory who all have baggage from their past that haunt them in their present lives.

These sassy girls and their friendship made me spiral down to the recesses of my memory 10 years ago onwards… Those are the years when I also had part time jobs to support my studies and had broken up with a long-time boyfriend. After permanently joining the society’s work force I lived like a normal 20-ish woman but not the bar hopping, wine/beer drinking kind of life because of the remnants of the values I had from the religion I was raised. I was more of a bookworm-couch-potato kind of girl. Ouch, yes I spent most of my 20’s like that trying to piece myself up after a painful broken heart.

So, this drama hit home in me. The friendship, the life uncertainties, the magical feeling of being in love, and the regret on the wrong choices echoed clearly on the situations narrated by the characters in commanding vibrancy that made me smile on how everyone of us has different stories, pain and bliss from when we are younger, and when you fast forward to the present, you will be proud of yourself in surviving those life and love complications.  How the story put together the strong connection of characters through their growing respect, love and friendship to one another was sketched beautifully in a way that I thought of those moments that led me to my very own circle of lady friends. It was drawn in logical detail solidified by the attachment of situations that made use of the girls’ sincere understanding of each other’s vulnerabilities.

Jin Myung, Yi Na, Ji Won, Na Eun and Eun Jae are fictional reminders that we will get to have different kinds of friendship in our life, most of it will be dependent on time. So, it is very important to keep friends who shared you a lot of memories because as time changes, you can never go back to it, but if you cherished the memories, it will always put a smile on your face no matter how much time passed by.

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THE STEADY PLAYERS

 

Moonlight Drawn by the Clouds

cherry blossoms + paragliding = the first love you keep dearly in your heart

Like most of the girls these days, I willingly plunge to “bogum virus”, hence I was ready to invest in “Moonlight Drawn by the Clouds” regardless if it will break me or not.  I was rewarded with an impressive picture of a young prince who defied the political struggles surrounding the power he is destined to have while chasing his one true love.  Eventhough Lee Young and Hong Ra On will not be hitting the pinnacle of my best dramas this year, the full drama package was commendable due to its poignant sketching of the main characters and the writer’s impeccable timing to pin me on my spot and not sway away from following the story in those moments when I almost did.  Drawn on a historical premise, “Moonlight Drawn by the Clouds” is a sweet drama treat brimming with giddy-ish scenes that will make you reminisce that once special love when you were young.

It’s hard to keep the balance of romance and conflict on period dramas.  There will always be a moment when the plot will drag so proper blending and stirring is pertinent to avoid a stasis.  That being said, there were some languid events in the story when Prince Young was battling with the government officers as he took a long route to overcome the surge of the villains.  It was good that they started on a strong note and added some comic hints to establish the love story of the Crown Prince and a young woman who disguised herself as a eunuch.  It was like a big net was cast to the viewers, holding us still, that even when the narrative hit the agonizing break up and frustrating powerlessness of the hero, we remained optimistic that he will conquer it all and prove that love can happen if you earnestly work on it.

“Moonlight drawn by the clouds” began a spirited and addictive stride, struggled a bit while substantiating the story conflict and characters’ driving forces, and ended safe and steady.  The closing episodes though cracking the main problem and giving out a happy ending to the main characters I felt would have yielded a more well-explained conclusion if they pushed for another two episodes.  It looked like the fragments of the resolution were forcedly laid to prove a feasible happy ending coming from a strenuous attack of the antagonists who made the most out of their evil ways in challenging the hero of the story.  And for this reason, much as I want to hail the brilliant facets of the drama and to overlook the imperfections out of my one-sided-bogum-noona-romance, I should be fair that it was a good drama, but it shared some weak points from the story writing.

“Moonlight Drawn by the Clouds” is an engrossing period tv production starter if you are a new kdrama addict recruit.  The mixture of youthful romantic vibe and the seriousness of historical plot will encourage you that this kind of genre is not boring as it seems.  All those strong moments and a little of those dragging villain runs, this heartwarming love tale will tap on those youthful romantic memories that we kept in her heart.  Those days when our love views were not yet corrupted and just free flowing.  Not cheesy and heart-fluttering nonetheless, Prince Young and his first love will take you to an amazing ride with their binding commitment in not giving up on love.  

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Five Children

Family outing + seafood feast = your dream family getaway

Second serving of love has never been this lively until these adorable families connected through marriages and made their family even bigger, wackier and happier.  “Five Children” was the first family weekend drama I finished and it was a feat I’m so proud of because it was 54 episodes.

“Five Children” presented lessons about filial love, parenting, friendship, failed relationship, romantic love, life uncertainties and personal worth.  It covered almost all the facets of the common struggles adults face in daily lives and in the long run.  I like how the dynamics of an extended family was pictured in the series.  It was messy, rowdy and crazy, but at the end of the day, the people interacted, listened and accepted decisions that are beyond their control and that they should not worry about. 

In its entirety, “Five Children” presented a glimpse of an everyday Korean family life with beautified love milieus.  It taught me a thing or two about the generation gaps when joining a new family.  The story was clear with its most important lesson on how communication plays a vital role in empathizing and understanding the situation you have with someone in any kind of relationship.  It left a positive encouragement to pursue romance regardless of how many times you might have failed in the past and how much pain you might go through until you finally get it.

It might overwhelm your drama addiction spare time so pace yourself if in case you would want to enter Mi Jung and Sang Tae’s family.  For its feel-good approach and fetching family and love memories framed each episode, I am happy to sprint my way to see all the characters smiling through the happy endings they achieved.

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Flower in Prison

Joan of arc + Voldemort reign = good intentions yield positive results

Bracing myself with a lengthy period drama run, what hooked my loyalty to weekender “Flower in Prison” was its balanced execution of political struggle, neat narrative, infuriating villains and optimistic underdogs.  I journeyed with the heroine Ok Nyeo in exploring the situation of state prison, merchant organization as well as the early days of defending crime convicted victims who can’t fend for themselves circa Joseon era.

It helped that the fiends were established since Day 1 and there were no alterations thereafter.  It was an amusing video book read, I was totally immersed to following the lead girl in search of her birth secret and ultimately being instrumental in serving justice to the antagonists that have put her in a lot of rough situations.

Flower in Prison was not an easy watch especially if you mostly lean on trendy dramas.  There are a lot to absorb in a long sitting but there will be so much to learn.  It has resonating characters and encouraging plot that magically locked me on a weekend alarm to check how Ok Nyeo and the rest of the guys were doing.  I like that for a period drama, the main cast propelling the scenarios of the story did not reach a hundred in numbers and that the concentration of the wickedness was centered to the married couple only.

 It gets so draining when punches are thrown from every direction so I felt that it was in a fair equilibrium.  There was a moment that I want to rage war with Ok Nyeo for delaying her birth secret revelation and accepting all the stomping they received from the villain, but the charm of period dramas has always been the battles played by the heroes and villains in outsmarting each other.  As romance was not a major element on the series, the vengeance plot took a lot of swinging and swaying and painstaking binge before the goodness banner finally prevailed.

With its perfect blend of political intrigue, side plots of espionage and state prison situation, memorable characters and engrossing storyline.  I picked “The Flower in Prison” as my period drama this year because while it was fundamental in its approach in combining the political background to the characters’ impetus drive in creating their own moments, it was easy to digest without losing a polished vibe and a classic video storybook.  It kept the excitement and historical lesson of the plot at a level where you craved for more and notched a satiating closure befitting of its humble opening and unwavering chronicle.

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Remember: Son’s War

filial love + painstaking hero journey = a decent melodrama worth your tears

Remember:  War of the Son came strong to my attention once it hit the TV waves.  It was heading in a thrilling direction where revenge is the premise and where the characters can’t trust one another.  The story was backed up with superb character portrayals out shadowing some of the lengthening kicks I did not see in “Punch”.  Yeah I believe “Punch” will now be my yardstick for kdramas in this kind of tone.  Nevertheless the heartfelt please-save-my-father plot was more than  enough to spin the story of a son’s promise to uphold the truth and clear the name of his father who was victimized by an abusive powerful family.

I was actually praying for warranted kdrama miracle out of the hardships Jin Woo took, but they ended it on a sad note.  I  don’t know if they were implying that revenge at the end of the day does not matter, but I was hoping some magical or experimental treatment to save Jin Woo’s memory.  But at the end of it all it dawned on me that the story is really about a son’s  unconditional devotion to his father.  So throwing  a romantic ever-after twist really don’t fit in the journey of the lead character.  

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Jackpot

joseon gambling + persevering hero = a historical drama that would be easy to endure

Only when you have learned to appreciate Sageuk productions can you really claim that you are a certified kdrama addict because understanding the beauty of period dramas requires patience and total immersion to Korean history and culture.  So it is but a challenge and a path you have to go through in discovering the extent of your kdrama addiction.  *chuckles 
The longer the period drama the greater the struggle so it will be a blessing if it will be a mid length drama that can tackle the story without rushing it.  Unfortunately that was the case for me for Six Flying Dragons so I settled with Jackpot/Daebak as it didn’t tire me out with its 20 episodes.
 
Jackpot managed to nail the fundamental elements of a historical drama.  It has a thrilling plot with Joseon gambling scene on the side, birth secret and family issues, conspiracy woven conflicts and the strong showdowns of the villain and the hero. Though it may not be perfect, it presented a solid story that didn’t go astray but focused on the main characters’ discovery of the lessons they have to learn on their own journeys.  Jackpot opened to the brilliant rawness of the set design of the gambling scene of Joseon.  The antiquated but thriving in excitement ambiance of underground gambling houses more than 200 years ago put me on a hypnosis and before I knew it,  I was religiously watching a drama that didn’t thrive on the romance plot of the story to sail the story to its finish line.
 
Jackpot has all the required elements of a period drama but it focused more on the development of the character.  The story was not as shifting when it comes to the outwitting moves of the heroes and villains but it was steady to the protagonists’ goal to defeat the villain and vice versa.  When I looked back to what I recall most about it, I remember most the equally brilliant depiction of the main  cast.   I really enjoyed the gambling scene premise and any story  with master-padawan-ish story arc is sold for me.  I also like that the brothers chose patriotism over love.  lol  The ending scene put tears in my eyes while the OST airs because it made the picture even more poignant and satisfying.
Though it was not perfect, Jackpot delivered and its length didn’t drag me from dozing.  Kudos to Jang Geun Seok.   As always he can do well in romantic stories but even more in drama.  It started strong, sailed steady and closed without any rush and with finality.  If you like organic historical story,  you would appreciate its authentic drive to present the story without unwanted plot swerving and misplaced characters.

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THE FEEL GOOD DRAMAS

 

Shopping King Louis

Drunk merry hobbits + first time entering Diagon Alley = an easy go lucky day that won’t ever go wrong

If there’s one story in kdramaland this year that was brimming with optimism and happiness, that will be Louis and Boksil’s journey in living together a world they were not familiar with, trusting in their friendship and eventually realizing that fate brought them together for them to fall in love.

While every drama was busy with the ratings and solidifying a remarkable plot, “Shopping King Louis” sassily strutted like a big pile of positivity due to its endearing characters, heck even the villains were adorably bad in the story.  It’s that one drama that was made for sunny days and for people who just want to lounge and not worry about kdrama clichés and conflicts and just want to live each episode as light as possible and without worrying about so many things.

The sincere characters and the optimistic theme spread evenly all throughout captivated my emotionally drained self from the heavy plotted melodrama and period dramas this year.  “Shopping King Louis” was designed to become an elixir of positivity and sometimes we just need those dramas that will make us feel good.

Bok Sil and Louis complemented each other so well that I can’t help but cheer them on learning and living a new life thrown at them.  It made me so happy seeing a fictional couple unrestrained and yet so innocent in their life approaches.  The heart-warming romance that bloomed between them may not be steamy but indelible just the same.  In its entirety, the cast were all fetching in their roles to a point that even the villains will not even annoy you.  I was closed to thinking that hobbits oversaw the production while they were merrily drinking because depression was never hinted in its run.

With its zany warmth, although lacking in depth, “Shopping King Louis” will amuse you of the character centered plot that teaches friendship, trusting and love.  If you need a grin and laughter inducing drama treat, then settle your camping things and imbibed on the cheerful adventure of a shopaholic who found the meaning of life and love when he lost all his memories.

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Drinking Solo

Road trip to nowhere + solving a rubix cube for the first time = understanding why alcohol washes out life problems painlessly

What drew me to watching “Drinking Solo” was the simple storytelling, setting and character building.  It was a plain picture of the struggles of students taking lessons to pass the civil service exam and the battles of the instructors in surviving the present day adult life complications versus those idealistic dreams they had when they were young.  The love concerns inserted were additional bonus in amusing myself in watching the cast move on with their fictional life.  

Conversations and communication propelled the built up of the story.  It was more of the characters’ side stories connected to create one full thought without losing track of the individual narratives.  The love plot though at par pleasing would have been so great if it ended the love couple being together than the shown hint that they were probably heading that way.

My favorite part of the show to be honest was the scene stealing spree by the instructor who did all those impersonations.  *chuckles Yeah, there goes the extent of my minimal adoration to slapstick comedy.  But all those tricks he pulled made me laugh hard.  It was an enjoyable run to watch every one of them moved within the Noryangjin world.  The casual vibe was comfortable and that’s why even with its bare setting, I endured witnessing how all the cast members conquered their struggles and dreams.

A light and chirpy watch if you have patience with talk-induced drama.  The hook was cast halfway for me.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed the simplicity, easy conflicts and the humor that was nailed nicely by presenting how single people deal with the lack of love, dreams and life.  

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Beautiful Gong Shim

neighborhood lawyer oppa + dorky woman with self esteem issues = a surprisingly sweet and lingering lovestory

 A typical neighborhood love that bloomed from pure trust and understanding between unexpected friends and their journey to acknowledge that they were built so perfectly for each other because it is their destiny to fall in love eventually. Crossing the line between friends and romance requires a courageous stance that you know what you are doing and you are prepared to take a leap of faith. Love is not romance until it is reciprocated. The impeccable sassy and cheesy chemistry of Dan Tae and Gong Shim has had me on laughing fits most of the time.  Their comic characters were drawn so well and so compatible to each other that they compensated to the predictable plot of the series.  KDramas are known for the weird-looking kisses but the delightful love couple made sure to redefine the awkward kiss scenes and made me giggle a lot with the enchanting build up of their love story.

I mentioned how “Beautiful Gong Shim” played on trite scenarios but even if it did, it didn’t wear me out because the cast especially the main love couple were so endearing to watch in their comic takes and cutesy moments. It was the kind of love story that I rooted for because the romance built up so genuinely from friendship and dismissed the usual uncalled for love complications present in traditional kdrama romcoms. Gong Shim and Dan Tae left me feeling good after closing the book of their story and in the near future if I looked back on their story, at least there will be something for me to remember because of the refreshing take of the narrative.

There’s nothing fancy in the drama, it followed the basic ingredients of a romcom but leaned on the main leads’ personal struggles while discovering their romance. The quirky vibe of the love couple on their romantic moments were the generator of zest and appeal from the onset till the finale episodes. I was used to seeing Nam Goong Min in his evil roles so his laid back approach here mixed with Gong Shim’s free spirited portrayal compensated to the threadbare setting. Sure, the conflict dragged up until the closing episodes but it did not annoy me much because the series refused to dig on so much negativity. True that the last minute break up plot was not needed but as usual the charming heroine threw her grudges and trust the man he loved right away after learning the reason why he never contacted her. They always talk to each other in quirky and honest kind of way all the time. Their dorky love just make me overlook the technical points and just happily engage on the bright side they always offer.

“Beautiful Gong Shim” had this unique sense of drawing you and before you realize it, you look forward to the story. It might not be smartly written with out of this world plot or sweetly created with perfect romantic premise, but it was a moving story with engaging characters that worked harmoniously to present a pure, relatable and charming story telling.

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One More Happy Ending

damsel in ex-distress + single dad trying to forget his deceased wife = finding love at the right time

Cooked and prepared like your average rom-com, One More Happy Ending was a delightful watch.  I would like also to applaud the strong side stories of the supporting characters which were equally vibrant as the main love story.  The plot delved on the varying emotions of women struggling to keep up with love and relationship.  The marriage camp and relationship board sticker ideas were also some of the cutesies I will remember about this refreshing romcom.  This most likely will appeal to singles in 30’s who have failed their marriage once… who are finding the love lost along the way in their current marriage… who are unsure of finally settling down and who have been waiting for the right person to come along.

Love perspectives change as you age and as you learn from your past mistakes.  What I learned about this drama is to never give up on love and romance and to understand its importance in sustaining a relationship.  Love will take different forms in a relationship as time goes on.  It will kick off to adoration, go steady through memories and romance, move to years of comfortability and will stand firm to loyalty…  and it is important that in  those changing moments you are by your lover’s side.

Nicely blended, safely done and just pure encouraging love and dating narrative.  One More Happy Ending was as bright as spring and feel good as summer… perfect to add on your rom-com binge list.

 

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THE PRETTIES IN THEIR OWN DAMAGE WAYS

 

Moonlovers:  Scarlet Heart Ryeo

Jack Dawson + Juliet + World War 2 = meeting your dream boy who fell in love with the wrong girl

Sprawling to a grand setting and power house cast, I did expect a lot on “Moonlovers:  Scarlet Heart Ryeo”.  I sure have issues on the languid built up of the story in the beginning episodes, but I came to realize the staid plot yarning was necessary to cushion the heaviness of the tormenting conflict faced by the lead couple heading to the culmination of their romance and eventual break-up.   Albeit the tormenting emotional strain I got with Scarlet Heart Ryeo, it will belong on my favorites for this year because I love that it became even more believable and fervent due to the plot’s instability and the main characters’ indecisiveness.  It was a situation that might have killed the drama, but because the essential character motivations were clearly drawn, as a viewer I enjoyed that feeble and vulnerable facet of the production.

I was not expecting a happy ending given that most of the characters were killed.   It was still Hae Su and 4th Prince So’s love journey for me.  The sweets, the tears and the angst… all of it.  I took So’s last word as an open-ended closure on his acceptance of losing his one great love and longing to find her in the future.  I witnessed how they defied the shrewd political struggle in the royal family to get to a point where they can freely love each other and share memories together.  So, I’m good that I know they love each other and they know it very well too.

Just as life is short, love is also fleeting.   The all-important love lesson #ScarletHeartRyeo taught us is how loving someone does not stop when we gave up on the person because the love does not belong anymore in the future.  It is a sweet reminder on keeping as much happy memories as you can to keep you going in moments when you yearn to be with them in the future, but they can’t stay by your side anymore.

 If truth be told, I was not expecting something cohering anymore because I was so scared the writer will kill all the characters at the last minute.  *chuckles Did the closing chapter satisfy me?  Though I did not get the happy ending, I was okay with it.  I know that it was bound to be a sad ending so I was prepared for what will happen.  I was okay that they did not push to a scene where Hae Su of the present meets So while he passes by the cosmetic store where Su was working to ask for a BB cream.  *lol So I was relieved.  Though Scarlet has a lot of flaws, I was fond of it because the love story was pragmatic in tapping on melancholic memories where viewers can relate to especially if they have once loved crazily like the kind of love they paraded in the drama.   I take Scarlet Heart Ryeo with all my heart because I believe that a happy ending does not measure how great a love can be.

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Fantastic

Love apprehensions + to hell with everything = the blind faith we put on true love

Even with the dying premise, I have grown to love “Fantastic” because of the dexterous cast and how they blend together supporting each other’s friendship and stories.  Fantastic is an optimistic story that not only encourages through its love theme, but also with how the main characters could leave cool life lessons as they tackled the roles they played in the narrative.

There was a point when I stopped watching the drama when the cancer plot was too much to handle for me, but it drew me again because I want to believe that it will still end on a positive note and not an open-ended closing.  That I think was a great move as the story was rendered in simple sketching but has taken pride on how immersing the actors were in playing their roles.

Hae Sung and So Hye’s love story though challenged by the cancer problem concluded in a not traumatic ending.  I was scared that it may follow the sad wrap up trend of the romance dramas this year so I was happy that they settled for a happy ending for all of them. “Fantastic” incorporated some agonizing notes.  Hence, it can go to a consistent direction that would be complementing the story well, but choosing to go to a sunny closure was also befitting to its story given how vibrant the characters were.

What I like about the stream of Romantic Dramas for this year is that it avoided the weep fest routine.  They were crisp and daintily designed to balance the problem and the resolution of the story.  The friendship side story and the noona romance from the supporting cast make “Fantastic” an engaging watch.  It has an appealing cast chemistry and the sad cancer conflict is cushioned by the no-frill-just-heartfelt delivery of the scenes.  It is a complete package with the right amount of kdrama clichés, engrossing love couple, wacky supporting characters, annoying villains and unswerving storyline.

“Fantastic” gave a nonchalant committal with me, nonetheless I could finish it because it did not give me a hard time in understanding the cast and their stories as well as the minimal discrepancies of the plot along the way.  The feisty heroine, the comedic timing and the binding friendship circle were the reasons why I remained loyal with them.  Although plain and leaning on the cancer cliché, I was drawn to the lucid role-playing of the main cast as they went along with their struggles.  “Fantastic” did not surge to such outstanding impact, but at the very least I get to remember what it was about a week after watching it and even now because it was an easy watch and yet lingering.  If you fancy a sane and steady romcom then buckle your seatbelt for a fantastic ride.

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Jealousy Incarnate

bromance + woman who loves falling in love = perky love triangle that will make you smile

Sure, there were a lot going on in “Jealousy Incarnate” that sometimes the sporadic mini plots did not equate well to its overall make, but the eager and vibrant cast made up to that missing push the story failed to achieve.  Honestly the safe ever-after ending failed to complement those strong moments of the lead cast along with the story conflict they had to face together hilariously and painfully.  Nevertheless, I did enjoy the sweet ride and the endearing couple who tackled the friendship defying love chase.

While I did not fully rave on “Jealousy Incarnate”, there were a few strong scenes that lingered in my mind after watching it.  That cute Hwa-Shin-Jung-Won bromance was so quirky, I can bottle it for my PMS days.  I love when rom-com dramas focus on the love story conflict, and what a way for “Jealousy” to present a love triangle that did not feed on angst or misplaced and incomprehensible obsession of second leads.  Instead it gave out a nice fight between the lead man and second lead who equally deserve the heroine.  I don’t know why the finishing kick delved to career drama because I already claimed my closure when Na Ri reverted to following Hwa Shin again, but the latter had to restrict himself out of respect to his best friend’s grieving heart.  I don’t know if I can label it as a bland extension or a last-minute attempt to add embellishment on this romantic cake, but I sure did find it pointless. They should have settled to fan service and then zipped it with the chirpy wedding.  The facile interaction of the main trio, prior and after the love conflict, felt hilarious on one side because they were acting like high schoolers in justifying the situation they had and even resorting to that cohabitation settlement to help weigh in where each of them stand.  But that just show how we do unreasonable things when we are too consumed with rationalizing the love we felt. The romantic entanglement amused the girl and the woman inside me because the story clearly depicted how much a woman’s faltering choices affect decisions to commit in a relationship.

I think it would have been safe as well if it went to a shorter run because the kind of narrative it circled to was not that complicated to begin with. Though there were a few heartfelt and emotional scenes I enjoyed, the stagnant progression and dormant conflict made my heart veer away from liking Jealousy Incarnate as a whole.

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THE HYPED DRAMAS YOU MAY OR MAY NOT LIKE

 

Entertainer

cute boyband + wallpaper heroine = Ji Sung oppa, what happened?

Sadly, in my melancholic attempt to look back on “Entertainer”, there’s nothing much that I remember about it, no matter how much heart Ji Sung oppa gave to the drama.  The story as a whole was not something that I would reminisce in the future.   Sure there were a little highlighted moments especially those musical performances but they were overshadowed by the lack of the vibrancy of the storytelling.   So I’ll be making this a very quick review.  Skip it when you have a pile of kdrama on queue to watch.  Even if you will watch it for Ji Sung oppa, there’s nothing much oppa-happiness-pill that you would get anyway, so settle with other dramas that would make the most out of your time.  I watched it because I was counting on Ji Sung oppa’s choice given that I liked most of the dramas he did, but there’s really nothing much going on. 

“Entertainer” tells the story of an entertainment manager who hit a slump on his life and resorted to forming a boy band to resurrect his career and to avenge the bitter betrayal he got from the company CEO he used to work with.   There was a backstory that connected him and the second lead playing the lead vocals of the boy band he created and they both relied on each other when they were hit with life’s misfortunes.   Entertainer closed to a happy note bringing down the villain and making the dream band famous but in the course of beating the conflicts, the story remained dormant in expounding a stale plot.  It failed to add dimensions to a more engrossing actors that would have lifted the given cliches to a more decent showing.  Yeah I think the lackadaisical effort of the actors was the main culprit why it failed my expectations

I don’t know if it’s the chemistry of the cast, the boring storyline, the stoic romance or all of it happening at the same time.  Though it’s not as bad as “Big” or that recent Rain oppa drama, it made me emotionless while watching it.  It baffled me how my fortitude was at a different level in witnessing it happen, and being okay with how much the story progressed from  stagnant to lethargic to not being able to accomplish anything.   I can’t help but sigh for all those wasted hours and talent. 

“Entertainer” with its highly famous cast is far from the great showings we are so far getting in kdramaland this 2016.  It will be overshadowed because it really didn’t accomplish a fairly done production.

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Uncontrollably Fond

dying premise + lovers = tragic love story

The thing about Uncontrollably Fond is that it tapped into those memories of lost and depressing love that people don’t want to look back anymore in their lives.  It was not a happy-ever-after kind of romance that appeals typically to almost anyone, instead it delved to the most shameful, most regretful and most painful things anyone can do because of love.

Uncontrollably Fond has put me on all the level of frustrating emotions I can ever have as a k-dramafan.  When almost all k-drama addicts have given up and turned their backs on it, I remained faithful hopeful of some miracle that might salvage its disappointing run.  Down to its finale week I have long accepted that there will be no happy ending.   At some point I even begged k-dramagods to stop the writer from her ludicrously hurtful storytelling or to just kill Joon Young and insert an “it has all been a dream” plot, because I have never felt bad for k-drama characters before, until I spent time with this story.  That being said except for the temperamental second lead girl who was sketched annoyingly without room for a redeeming dimension, I have praises on the main leads’ heartfelt portrayals even if it drained me emotionally with and without tears. 

Limited by its pragmatic approach, the writing did not swerve to a feel good direction to appease the agonizing dying-man-all-willing-to-protect-his-woman setting.  And that’s the reason why my forbearance was tested in Joon Young and Eul’s love journey.  I have come to terms how we act irrational when we can’t get the amount of love we think we deserve… how the pain we felt to fight for our love does not mean less to the love we gave to stay in a relationship… and how loving in the moment is a lot more times better than worrying about your future together when love might not be there anymore.

As Uncontrollably Fond won’t appeal to those who craved light and sweet type of romantic stories you can indulge to this narrative but be aware that you will be put on tormenting spot most of the time.  Though deemed to have been badly written, there was a thread that held the loyal viewers and that’s the dying scenario of the lead man.  I stayed until the end because I believe that not all love stories are wrapped in kisses and sweet memories.  There are those that are melancholic and yet lives on as someone’s one great love.

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Doctors

stoic heroine + countless surgeries = hype did not justify the story

My fangirl loyalty badge to Kim Rae Won oppa was the only reason why I endured Doctors’ 20 episode run.  Now that I’m looking back to write my thoughts about it, I feel so empty.  *chuckles  

I credit the starpower of the cast for raking in high ratings eventhough the story did not deserve it at the very least.  When the surgeries took over the story, it was a feeling of journeying to Mt. Mordor to destroy the one ring of them all for me.  I was tired needing an elixir of life that would push me to understand if I was watching a drama or I’m learning to become a doctor through a confused medical documentary.  Hye Jung in her rational self was indecisive if she will go full throttle with her vindication plan, or if she will just forgive and forget or if she should just worry about the things that would have mattered to her at the moment.  

The writing was not friendly and it did not even complement the character sketches when they could have expanded it more given the complexity of the main roles drawn.  A little believable sprinkle of love complications would have broken the languid development of the story, but they throw in a lovable second male lead who settled to the proverbial fate of second lead syndrome.  True, the drama presented Hye Jung’s admirable journey in healing her personal issues  by relying on her own and through the people surrounding her with love and support, but I can’t reconcile the lesson I can get from it.  If I will have my way, I won’t play safe by not adding some grit on the proper response of the characters who were put to the edge because of greed.  Anger should be released when required in the story, but Doctors was in this unreasonable daze that retaliations were even placed in a glossy box with a pink thank you note in it.  

Finding the right intention and execution was the biggest weakness of “Doctors” for me.  It failed to sustain a consistent storyline that tied the character motivations to the world they were supposed to live in for the majority of its run and then concluded to a forgive-and-forget ending because the drama has reached the limit.  It was a miracle that grandma didn’t crawl from after-life to stop the writer from dragging her death as the conflict.  What I would have done instead was throw in some challenges to Hye Jung and Ji Hong’s love realizations since they established them to have been having faulty romantic veins.

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Cheese in the Trap

crazy character + promising love couple = skip it or watch the first half of it

I don’t know how to start my thoughts about this drama but I will try.  It felt like that sweetest romance you had which turned a nightmare overnight.  I want to blame the writer and PD for sleepwalking somewhere, but out of the initial cutesies  and romance, I will try  to be forgiving.  It was still not as bad as “Big” drama but it was a case of a company not being able to put up with its employees’ rallies settled amicably to giving some chocolates, going to the moon and just disappearing to the unknown.  Haha

For the standard summary, “Cheese in the Trap” is a college campus romance between a complicated rich man’s son’ with trust issues and a normal girl who made the man she fell in love with trust humanity again while battling her own personal and family issues.  They have great friends.  There were a few romantic filled moments up to midway of the drama until they pushed on unnecessary plot conflicts instead of focusing on building the romance even more.  

 Let’s make this short and simple, don’t watch it anymore.  Or just watch the first half and then move to another drama.  Or watch the full drama when you are heartbroken so that you will be numb when you hit the ending of the story. 

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Lucky Romance

geeky lead man + superstitious lead girl = almost there but not quite kind of love

The yin-yang love battle between the science oriented lead man and the superstitious heroine started cute, stayed sweet and hilarious but pushed its luck too far in securing a safe ending.  That being said, I won’t whine but I won’t give high praises for it.  Lucky romance is like your summer fling, it was good while it lasted, but then eventually when it ended, there was no lingering feeling.

“Lucky Romance” had a simple plot of a girl who deprived herself of being in love out of fear that her built in jinx instigated by a quack shaman’s advice would make her pure love turn to a curse to people she cares about.  Then she met a man who cured that deluded credence and never gave up on her no matter what even if she kept pushing him away.  The narration started well for the story.  It threw a hook using the extremity of the love couple’s personalities and how they eventually fell in love with each other.  The middle part was a cotton candy festival as delightful scenes paraded before heading to the conflict.  However it failed to end with a smooth finishing kick.  Lucky Romance made use of cute epilogues that viewers look forward too as an aid to what really conspired to notable moments in the story. 

The stride to emancipate the heroine in acknowledging that she deserved to be happy was fueled with redundant scenarios that didn’t help propel a gratifying ending for the story.  It would have been nicer if they resolved the industrial spies that they weren’t able to corner while leaving Bo Nui and Se Hoo blissfully in love, instead of laying a “road to love perdition” for them to conquer in the closing episodes.

Mediocrely done with some wacky and sweet notes, Lucky Romance is a rom-com drama perfect for those who still grieved on Ryu Jun Yeol’s Jung Hwan Reply 1988 character.  At least his role here was spot on decisive.  It had a stable and sunny storytelling but failed to tidily fetter the conflict to secure a satisfying closure.  Nonetheless, it notched a safe landing with its last minute tweak of bringing together the unified game developing and lifetime wishes in the finishing frames.

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BEST DRAMA:  Goblin and Descendants of the Sun 

BEST DIRECTING:  Goblin and Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim

BEST EDITING:  Signal

BEST STORY:  Goblin and Descendants of the Sun

BEST SCREENPLAY:  Goblin and Legend of the Blue sea

BEST INNOVATIVE DRAMA:  W: Two Worlds

BEST SUSPENSE DRAMA:  Signal

BEST ROMANCE DRAMA: Oh Hae Young Again

BEST PERIOD DRAMA:  Flower in Prison

BEST YOUTH DRAMA:   Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Ju

BEST ROM-COM DRAMA:  Legend of the Blue Sea 

BEST WEB DRAMA:  Something About 1%

BEST DRAMA CHARACTERS:  Kang Chul in W:  Two Worlds, Shim Cheong in Legend of the Blue Sea, Master Kim in Romantic Doctor, Goblin in The lonely shining goblin

                                                       

BEST ACTOR:  Lee Jun Ki as 4th Prince So in Scarlet Heart

BEST ACTRESS:  Seo Hyun Jin in Another Oh Hae Young and Romantic Doctor

BEST SECOND LEAD:   Kang Ha Neul in Scarlet Heart, Go Jung Won in Jealousy Incarnate

BEST FANTASY DRAMA:  Goblin and Legend of the Blue Sea

BEST VILLAIN:  No face in Two Worlds 

                              Nam Gyu Man in Remember: Son’s War

BEST KISS SCENES:  Oh Hae Young Again and Something About 1%

BEST BROMANCE:  Alpha Team and Goblin-Grim Reaper

BEST LOVE TRIANGLE:  Jealousy Incarnate

BEST LOVE COUPLES:  Lee Jae In and Kim Da Hyun in Something About 1%

                                           Lee Young and Kim Ra On in Moonlight Drawn by the Clouds

                                           Park Do Kyung and Oh Hae Young in Oh Hae Young Again

Heo Joon Jae and Shim Cheong in Legend of the Blue Sea

Ji Eun Tak and Goblin in Goblin

BEST CAST ENSEMBLES:  Goblin, Descendants of the Sun, Signal and Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim

BEST SCENE STEALER:   Park Soo Kyung in Oh Hae Young Again and Min Jin Woong in Drinking Solo

BEST OPPA CRUSH:  Lee Jae In in Something About 1%

                                      Kang Chul in W:  Two Worlds

                                      Heo Joon Jae in Legend of the Blue Sea

Jung Joon Hyung in Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Ju

BEST MUSIC:  Scarlet Heart Ryeo and Goblin

BEST CHARACTER ACTOR:  Sung Dong Il in Scarlet Heart Ryeo and Legend of the Blue Sea