Two weeks after this series has completed, I’ve finally gotten around to writing up a review. I really enjoyed this drama. I think this is a drama I’m glad I got to sit back and enjoy, because it made me think less about the plot holes, and more about how art imitates life. This drama really made me rethink if oppa’s eyes are so red from lack of sleep, from makeup, or from crying too much because his costar couldn’t get that scene right. But then I’d forget about it and just keep on watching anyways, demanding the next episode.
Anthony Kim (Kim Myung Min) is a drama producer with the ability to make everything he produces turn into a ratings hit and a moneymaker for everyone involved. It’s his uncanny ability to convince people to get on board with him, and to make things happen no matter the cost. It’s because of his ruthless personality, he ends up being the one at fault when a messenger guy gets into a motorcycle accident while delivering the final episode’s tape. Because of the crash, Anthony picks up the video, lets the man die on the road, and finishes the drama. Oh – the drama is a hit. But he also ends up losing his reputation and is fired from his job.
Three years later, Anthony is on meds for his “depression” (or, more like tears of sadness whenever he’s just touched) and trying to start up his small production company. He can barely afford rent and paying salaries, while his former underling now has his position as head of Empire Productions. When Anthony visits the new ‘president’ Oh, he discovers that a a Japanese investor would pour in 10 billion Won into any project about 1930s Korea under Japanese colonial rule. (Ha! Gaksital much?) Anthony realizes he did come across a script like that three years ago, one by Lee Go Eun (Jung Ryeo Won). Good thing President Oh does not remember this script, and Anthony breaks into President Oh’s office and steals the dusty script from the “cabinet of scripts”.
He butts heads with Go Eun – of course – but eventually they get together a ragtag team of a has-been alcoholic director who’s supremely talented, a terrible actor but handsome in looks (a wonderful Choi Siwon), and Anthony’s former flame but good actress Sung Min Ah (Oh Ji Eun). A gazillion obstacles stop their ability to produce – anywhere from the investors backing out, to President Oh trying to smear Go Eun’s name, to even the actors butting heads – but these are all issues cleaned up in a jiffy. And we definitely get our winning drama at the end.
Too bad the ratings for this drama did not match the fictional drama in their world.
I don’t think all the characters were particularly unique from other characters we’ve seen in the past. What’s fun to watch is how these actors interpreted their characters. Kim Myung Min is not too far off from how he played the conductor Kang Gun Woo in Beethoven Virus, but that doesn’t mean he’s not good in this role. He’s certainly quite lovable here – though he’s toeing the line on “how much guyliner is enough?” here. Jung Ryeo Won is absolutely winning in this role. I’ve only seen her in My Lovely Sam Soon, parts of History of a Salaryman, and then here, and I’m glad to say that she’s quite different enough in each of these roles. I love her to death here, because the spunk and sweetness that she has makes me want to be just like her.
Oh Ji Eun is more or less quite boring, as I don’t really understand nor care for her character. Sometimes she’s a bitch, and sometimes she’s not. Sometimes she scoffs at you, and sometimes she helps you. Uh, whut? I wasn’t too interested in her as a third wheel trying to regain Anthony’s love and affection, but she certainly was entertaining enough as a romantic interest of Kang Hyun Min’s. Speaking of Kang Hyun Min, Choi Siwon is a HOOT in this role. In Oh My Lady, his acting was pretty standard, and it didn’t call for very much. Athena was a nice divergence from his “nice guy” kind of role, but still quite boring. Here, he was playing a more outrageous version of his Oh My Lady role, but he rocked it. I love that he had so many facial acrobatics, that he would sell you one emotion than give you another in a whiplash, and that he could do so many takes (as the terrible Kang Hyun Min) different enough to make you really believe he was making mistakes as a rookie actor. I mean, if you think about it, for every retake that Hyun Min made, Siwon himself might have made several too. (Although, the leeway is, if he acted something terribly, they could use that take in the final episode too as one of “Hyun Min’s mistakes”.) It’s possible Siwon could get typecast into these kinds of roles in the future, but I’d like to think that this drama was a growing experience for him in acting so that he could tackle other roles.
I’d like to make a special shout out to Kwon Hae Hyo as well, who played Director Nam at the broadcasting station. I loved his character – an upstanding man who followed his morals. He doesn’t really change too much, remaining an upright character even when he starts trusting Anthony more and ending up on his side. But this guy just rocks at whatever supporting role he’s in, from Winter Sonata to My Name is Kim Sam Soon, to What’s Up Fox and Who Are You, and even in Ghost.
All the other side characters were quite caricatures, which worked in this drama because everyone was crazy in some way. But it didn’t make me think very much of them, and any depth that they had was insignificant to me because they were insignificant to the story. Hyun Min’s girlfriend in the series, Bit Na, is the best side character as the idol singer with a breathy voice who’s been instructed to never speak or sing when onstage. *Snerk.
Right off the bat, I loved the pace, and even enjoyed the “obstacle of the episode!” set up for the series. After all – it was written by Jang Hang Joon, who worked on Sign and Harvest Villa; of course I would love that “case of the week” format. It was at turns hilarious and satisfying – hilarious because it was a bit incredulous how fast the issues would be solved; satisfying because I didn’t feel tortured by one plot point for too long. You could say the “obstacle of the day” format didn’t give the drama as much depth because it didn’t really try to develop these issues. They were all just fly-by issues where we made a pit stop during our road trip, and would never be seen again. But this was a drama that I didn’t feel needed to get too heavy. If it took all the issues too seriously, I wouldn’t be entertained. I would instead be constantly thinking, “Oh God – my oppa really went through this? How did he get over it? Did this happen in ‘name-that-drama’?!” That’s not to say that I didn’t wonder sometimes about whether a particular drama really did use a stand-in for the actress, or whether this actor really needed his lines written out for him. But because these issues were only touched upon, I could still maintain my good mood in watching the series.
I do feel that it got draggy towards the end, but it did give much needed space for the second leads to have some character growth. Even though the change may have been sudden (Hyun Min’s sudden desire to be a good actor; Min Ah being possessive and bitchy one minute, aloof in the next), at least there was some change to indicate that these characters weren’t going to be static scenery for Anthony and Go Eun’s romance. Everyone else was; I don’t need these second leads to also be like that.
The only plot point that sticks out to me like a thorn is the blindness plot line. I didn’t want it at all, but it had to show up. Even though it was alluded to a few times before, I still didn’t want to see it. It does add to Anthony’s character and just shows you how passionate of a producer he is, but even if we didn’t have this plot line, I wouldn’t have doubted for a second that Anthony was great. It was sprinkles on a cake – tasteless and unnecessary, and not as good as just plain old icing.
But if I forgot about the blindness storyline, I have to say I really did enjoy this series. It’s one of those dramas that if you can sit back and just enjoy, and watch out for the little inside jokes on the entertainment industry, you’d have a heck of a time with it. I kind of just want to go back and rewatch it to see how many drama posters I can pinpoint in the background.