Extra Life Lessons from a Mixed Bag of Dramas

I’ve already written up my year-end review over at Dramabeans (which you can check out by clicking here), so this is merely an addendum you could say, with some additional life lessons from additional dramas that I watched this year that didn’t make it to the first year-end review.

This year was a tad rocky, with only some dramas really grabbing my attention and others being merely interesting but not enough to love. A very mixed bag indeed.

The following dramas listed may not all be 2012 dramas, but I watched them in 2012, so for that I’m reviewing them.

SONG OF THE DAY

“TOUCH” from Full House Take 2 OST [download]

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ALICE IN CHEONGDAM-DONG

[Disclaimer: I’ve only seen up to episode 8 for this drama.]

I never expected to enjoy this series! Honest to God, I only tuned in because my hubby was in it, and it was not a historical drama. I also didn’t really know what to expect because the premise was simply about a “Candy Girl” becoming a “Cheongdamdong Wife” – meaning, sort of like a gold digger. How do you get behind a female protagonist like that? But I was surprised to find that this drama is really a character drama; the writer takes you into the world of Cheongdamdong, and into the minds of the characters there. It makes you understand each and every person’s background so that you can’t doubt their motivations and actions. You can hate them, but you can also understand them.

It helps that there are a lot of zany scenes with Park Shi Hoo’s character Cha Seung Jo, as he’s not sane (medically speaking) and yet incredibly endearing. To me, he’s like the kindred fanatical drama watcher who has extreme reactions and has a hyper imagination. (Oh, that’s not you? Fine, it’s me.) The comedy in his scenes and his portrayal of his supposed “cold-hearted” chaebol character helps break the somberness that Moon Geun Young brings with her character. He brings much needed levity to the drama. I am also impressed by So Yi Hyun‘s portrayal of her character, who was a gold digger herself. I’ve never seen her act in a very emotionally demanding role, and I never really connected to her – namely in You’ve Fallen For Me. But in this drama I have; I actually like her a lot despite her being the supposed “villain” in the show.

I commend this drama for touching on social issues unflinchingly, thus giving us a strong story, and also giving us a chance to escape to K-drama wonderland, where everything is sparkly and happy once in a while. I hope it maintains a strong run to the finish line, because I would hate to see a drama falter when it gets too bogged down by the melodrama. I have some faith; the writers do seem to have learned a trick or two from their sunbaes while working on Tree With Deep Roots.

Life Lesson: Bunnies are – and always will be – a hot commodity.

FULL HOUSE TAKE 2

[This is now a full series review, having seen all 16 / 32 episodes.]

I can’t believe I enjoyed this drama as much as I did. It wasn’t “cracktastic” – where I was basically counting down the hours to when it finally aired – but it certainly had me looking forward to it every week. Only in the last week, when all the storylines were coming to a close, did I actually start hyperventilating over when the next episode would come out. After all, I really wanted to know the future of Take One! Or Take Two and Only One… or whatever they were going to be called.

This drama was more famous for its atrocious hair-do’s and odd sense of fashion (teddy bear necklace?), but it should be remembered for Park Ki Woong and Noh Min Woo’s outre performances. It only exhibits their versatility as actors; for Park, it shows that he’s got a lot of range. For Noh – well, if you think this is his best role yet then this could show that he’s most at home in rom-coms. I haven’t properly paid attention to him in My Girlfriend is a Gumiho or Pasta to judge him fairly.

Known to be the follow-up to Full House this drama completely veered off that track. For those who are deep fans of Rain, this drama could be an unworthy follow-up. However I find that this drama was charming on its own right, and if it hadn’t been associated with Full House it might have been received a little better. It held on its own, and I felt every reference to “Full House” was a little too forced. Did you have to name the house “Full House,” or give Hwang Jung Eum the name meaning “Full House”?

I’m more or less satisfied with the drama, but I have to say that I was very pissed with the ending – it felt too abrupt, especially since they saved ALL THE CUTE MOMENTS for the last half-hour. What the heck. Where am I going to get my fix of  Tae-ik-nim being pouty now?

Life Lesson: Bromance overcomes bad hairdos. But just barely. 

THE KING OF DRAMAS

[Disclaimer: I’ve only seen up to episode 14 of this drama.]

King of Dramas is one of those dramas that I wish I recapped, but actually don’t wish I did because I have a lot more fun watching it than writing about it. There’s not much to think about with this drama – it’s fast paced and somewhat predictable. What I really watch for is for the performances of the actors (Kim Myung Min and Jung Ryeo Won – while not the most believable of couples, you two rock my soul) and for the amusing take at the film and TV industry. The obstacles Anthony Kim and Lee Go Eun face are quite frightening, and it makes you think twice about how dramas really are produced in Korea. I have seen how films – even short films – are produced here in my own backyard, and I can attest that it’s hard work and… somewhat boring with the wait times. So when you hear of an accident or when you hear of sickly actors, and then you watch this drama, it’s almost no wonder that these unfortunate situations occur. While lighthearted as a show, the issues it points at is definitely not, and I appreciate how the writers manage to make something so serious seem so fun. It’s grave enough to make you think about it – but it doesn’t get you bogged down with the drama. Kind of like History of a Salaryman.

I really really enjoy the performance of Choi Siwon. He’s one idol actor who gets better with every project he’s in (from what I’ve seen). I love him for going all out in his role as an over-egotistical actor who – despite being just as shallow as you think he is – has moments of depth and growth as the series goes on. He’s like Dokko Jin-lite, but I feel he’s a bit more well-written and a bit better portrayed here. Just a bit. I love the cast to pieces – although I could do without Oh Ji Eun I guess (her character and her). I love the microscopic expressions that flit through Kim Myung Min’s face and I feel that the character of Director Nam is Kwon Hae Hyo’s best supporting role yet in all his dramas so far. And special honorable mention goes to Choi Soo Eun, who plays Siwon’s annoyingly-high pitched girlfriend Bit Na. If you don’t recognize her, she was also the stylist in You’re Beautiful. She is just awesome because she rocks the role and the voice!

This is a perfectly delicious drama through and through. True – it could falter, as I’ve only seen up to episode 14 so far and have 4 more episodes. But I feel that this drama had such a strong start off the ground, and it had such a strong episodic storyline that I think it’ll be hard to mess this up. Save for a possibly very rushed ending.

Life Lesson: Cocky kings for the win. 

OPERATION PROPOSAL

I don’t know about many others, but I didn’t enjoy this drama. I have no attachment to any of the actors in this drama, and only a slight attachment to the premise as I saw a couple of episodes of the Japanese version. (Mainly, the first and the last episode.) So I tuned in with a curious heart, and was immediately turned off by the “Renovatio.” Dude – how often can a guy turn back time before learning his lesson?

Yoo Seung Ho is a good actor, no doubt; his character was annoying, no doubt. All of his regret prompted him to want to turn back time and win the heart of his loved one. He kept asking for one more chance to turn back time so that he could win her heart, but he kept messing it up by being more selfish choices than generous ones. Where on earth did he get the idea that he must become a successful baseball player for her to love him? She married a guy who wasn’t even a baseball player – but a coach! And she chose to marry that guy because he put her first! Or at least – that’s how I saw it. (I mean… that’s what I saw in Lee Hyun Jin. Just his face and *me – gobsmacked.*)

I was mad that he couldn’t get it right, and he knew he wasn’t getting it right with the girl, and yet he failed to see what he wasn’t doing right. It got to a point where I was dragging my feet to watch the end. Time travel is a fun gimmick at first, and it worked well for this drama that accepted it as a fact of life. However, by the umpteenth time, it was time to just go home to the present.

Life Lesson: ‘Renovatio’ is one letter from ‘renovation.’ Is it supposed to mean anything?

TIME BETWEEN DOG AND WOLF

OK – this isn’t exactly a 2012 drama. Haha – but I saw it in 2012, and that’s how late I am to the game. I guess because I watched it with some distance, I was less invested in the drama than I assume others may have been. I enjoyed it enough, but there were certainly some issues I had with the plot. I felt that there were too many holes about, but it was similar to Haeundae Lovers in that sense; the audience always knew more than the characters themselves, so it got to the point where I started to wonder, “Wait – didn’t you know that already?”

The chemistry between Lee Jun Ki and Jung Kyung Ho was amazing. These two are the best brothers in the world, and they don’t let a woman get in between them. If anything, it was the woman who made it more difficult for the brothers, as both of them respected each other’s space and desires. I only enjoyed the bromance in the drama, and some of the interesting performances by the veterans/older set of actors. The drama only got better when the brothers were united; apart, the drama felt a little flat for me.

The drama got better towards the end in general, and it also got better in my memory as more time passed by. I found it to be quite different from IRIS, ATHENA, and City Hunter, all of which came 2, 3, and 4 years later respectively. It’s interesting to see how the quality of action dramas have really changed and upped its game since 2007. And to think, 2007 was only 5 years ago.

Life Lesson: Bros make better spies. 

 

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