It’s the battle of mega-wattage stars for the fall season. From late September to November, some of the biggest K-drama stars are going to be gracing our small screens. (Or large computer screens.) I find it amazing that their dramas are all airing around the same time and each broadcaster has managed to secure such big names for the end of the year. It’s not surprising, but I rarely get a moment to sit back and think and really relish that all of them are going to be on TV at the same time. The last four months of the year can be one of the most lucrative time periods so the broadcasters and production companies are all competing with each other for viewership ratings and money. High stakes are riding on these stars’ popularity. Who will win the race?
But more importantly, who will you watch?
I’ll section this off into broadcasters, as that’s the common factor each drama has.
Empress Ki: Formerly known as Hwatu, the drama stars Ha Ji Won in the titular role as a Goryeo princess who marries into the Yuan Dynasty and influences the fate of both countries. The drama begins October 2 every Monday and Tuesday after Goddess of Fire Jung Yi.
Pros: It’s Ha Ji Won for chrissakes! Granted, I think she’s a better action star than a melodrama star, but her last historical was seven years ago in Hwang Jin Yi and I think it’s good for her to stretch out her acting chops into this genre. It also takes place during the Goryeo dynasty, which is not often recounted in historical dramas because less is known about this period. This drama fits right in with the spate of high profile Goryeo-centered dramas (Faith, Sword and Flower, The Great Seer) and is even a complementary story to Faith‘s history — minus the time travel. Also starring Joo Jin Mo and Ji Chang Wook, this could be the next Queen Seon Deok.
Cons: It’s a 50-episode drama. Buckle your seat belts for the long haul. Also – even with a long drama it is possible to get it wrong (bad storylines, bad acting, bad pacing), but historicals are usually a solid bet. Plus the length means that it can garner more attention and more viewers over the long haul. I guess there aren’t much cons for this drama huh?
Medical Top Team: Starring Kwon Sang Woo, it will air on October 2 every Wednesday and Thursday after Two Weeks. Medical Top Team centers around a hospital full of genius doctors, in case you couldn’t tell from the title.
Pros: It’s a medical drama and, as Good Doctor has already proven, there is a lot of interest for good medical dramas. A hospital can be rife with conflict and melodrama and watching surgeons on screen can be visually engaging. It also stars Jung Ryeo Won and Joo Ji Hoon, both of whom are excellent actors that I would welcome with open arms on my computer screen.
Cons: It’s got Kwon Sang Woo and SHINee’s Minho. Ok – first off I didn’t watch Minho in To the Beautiful You so I don’t know if he’s a good actor or not. However putting him in a medical drama and expecting me to believe that he is a brilliant doctor (or brilliant intern) is a bit of a stretch. Looking good in a doctor’s white coat does not make you a good doctor. Secondly, I dislike Kwon Sang Woo. Never felt comfortable watching him in a drama. I do feel a little bad that he wasn’t happy with Queen of Ambition but I wasn’t entirely happy with him either.
Mi Rae’s Choice: Strangely enough the chosen English title for this drama is Marry Him If You Dare. I think that English makes this drama into a comedy about an ahjumma who won’t let her daughter marry a guy she disapproves of. Which… isn’t too far off the mark for this Yoon Eun Hye-vehicle. Yoon stars as a broadcast writer who meets her future older self and is told to stay away from her fiancee. It will air on October 14 every Monday and Tuesday after Good Doctor.
Pros: The drama stars Yoon Eun Hye, Lee Dong Gun, and Jung Yong Hwa. I am so excited to see Lee in the small screen again, and I think this could end up being a good drama for him. The drama is also written by Hong Jin Ah, one of the other Hong Sisters who wrote King 2 Hearts. I enjoyed that drama, and I’m positive that drama is in good writing hands.
Cons: What the hell is up with time travel taking place in a broadcast station? Hullo – we already had Nine Time Travels. Someone’s got to realize that time travel is sooooo last year. Not to mention, this drama might take on a more melodramatic and serious vibe, rather than a comedy that it’s English title suggests. (Still don’t like that English title, so I’ll keep calling it Mi Rae’s Choice.)
Secret: Also known as Secret Love, the drama airs on September 25 every Wednesday and Thursday after the drama special Expect Romance. It stars Ji Sung as rich chaebol who ends up falling for a former convict.
Pros: It’s hard for me to come up with pros for this one, other than that it stars Ji Sung, Hwang Jung Eum, and Bae Soo Bin. It’s also a traditional melodrama about betrayal, lies, revenge, and star-crossed lovers, which we have much less of nowadays on TV. Similar melodramas are Nice Guy and I Miss You, so if you like those you might like this one. And melodramas tend to have a strong pull outside of Korea. The drama has already been sold for broadcast rights in other countries throughout Asia.
Cons: It has a solid story, but I’m not one to watch a melodrama like this. I can’t stand everyone backstabbing and pining over each other if there is no comedy or humor to ground it. You could also compare other melodramas like When a Man Loves and Queen of Ambition to this one if you’d like, both of which I thought were terrible. Granted it’s not the same story but it most likely will take on the same tone.
Suspicious Housekeeper: Also known as Suspicious Maid, I’ll start calling this drama Suspicious Housekeeper since that’s the most commonly used title out there. Based on a Japanese drama, Choi Ji Woo stars as a mysterious “Nanny McPhee” of sorts who enters the household of a single father and four children and changes the entire family for the better. If she doesn’t go killing and kidnapping the kids first. The drama airs September 23 every Monday and Tuesday after Golden Empire.
Pros: The drama is Choi’s return to the small screen after Can’t Lose and it’s based on a hit J-drama. Though it might change its story to differentiate itself, it’s working off of a good story to begin with. Hopefully the writers won’t mess that up. The trailer already looks intriguing and the drama might have a good mix of happy moments (because of the children) and straight-up melodrama (a cheating husband and a mean stepmother!).
Cons: Two other dramas based on J-dramas this past year scored double digit ratings and landed in second-place, but it didn’t seem to score quite the fan base or popularity as other titles. (I’m referring to Queen of the Classroom and Queen of the Workplace.) They say third time’s a charm, but this drama could inherit the curse of J-drama adaptations not doing quite as well. It’s also possible that the drama’s melodramatic overtones will make this drama less quirky and thus less interesting.
Heirs: If you haven’t heard of this one, you must be living under a rock. Or just don’t like Lee Min Ho, which I applaud you for your bravery. Simply put, it’s Gossip Girls in Korea. Or better yet, Boys Over Flowers 2. The drama airs October 9 every Wednesday and Thursday after The Master’s Sun.
Pros: It’s got Park Shin Hye, Krystal, Kim Woo Bin, Choi Jin Hyuk, and so much more! All the hottest up-and-coming actors and idol actors are in this drama, and I’m sure it’s going to be a good load of fun. High school dramas can rarely go wrong unless the story turns weird so here’s hoping that Secret Garden writer Kim Eun Sook won’t mess it up.
Cons: Completely overhyped, I’m already sick of the drama before it started airing. I’m hoping it won’t be as ludicrous as Boys Over Flowers for Park Shin Hye’s sake, because I like her so very much.
Take your pick of your favorite actor and actress every Monday-Tuesday and every Wednesday-Thursday.
Monday-Tuesday nights: Mi Rae’s Choice vs. Empress Ki vs. Suspicious Housekeeper
Wednesday-Thursday nights: Secret vs. Medical Top Team vs. Heirs
Personally, if I had all the time in the world, my choices are Mi Rae’s Choice, Suspicious Housekeeper, and Heirs.