On to currently airing K-Dramas and Variety Shows.
For those that have already forgotten the rating system:
Must Watch – Hellooo, nurse!
Watch – Okay, drama, I love you, good bye!
Just OK – Good idea or bad idea?
If you’re bored – and you know it, clap your hands.
Pass – Wheel of Morality, turn, turn, turn, and tell us the lesson that we should learn: Try a different drama.
CURRENTLY AIRING K-DRAMAS
THE GREAT SEER (대풍수)
While I rarely watch longer running dramas, I wanted to give this a try because of the impressive cast. The story is about a seer who aids Lee Sung Gye to found the Joseon era. So we start from King Gong Min’s reign and it’s interesting to compare these characters to how they were represented in Faith. So, so different. There are definitely more players here and you see a fuller picture of King Gong Min including the rumors that he entertained men after the death of Queen No Guk. The drama covers a large span of years and we see our characters start out as kids and grow into adults. It’s a little weird that production decided to change some of the actors and not all of them. I don’t really understand the logic behind that decision. For example, Young Ji is first played by Lee Jin and then changed over for Lee Seung Yeon which makes sense while Ji Jin Hee has been playing Lee Sung Gye from the start.
THE KING OF DRAMAS (드라마의 제왕)
I’ve seen Kim Myung Min in plenty of movies but I have yet to see him in a drama. How did that happen? He such a great, great, great actor. I may have dissed Choi Si Won in the beginning but he’s improved slightly. He should really look to Kim Myung Min for variation on facial expression. Also, I’m realizing now that I really like Jung Ryeo Won playing opposite veteran actors rather than actors her own age. Those who can do both comedy and drama. I loved her with Lee Bum Soo and now with Kim Myung Min. Can’t wait to see what happens next, Kim Bong Dal-ssi!
Verdict: Must Watch
JEON WOO CHI (전우치)
The first two episodes were pretty boring but since then the drama seems to be finding its footing. However, it’s not as thrilling as I hoped it would be. The drama seems to be riding off the strength of its actors and most especially Cha Tae Hyun but the pacing of the mystery is slow going. While Kang Rim (Lee Hee Joon) was originally painted as the villain, we’re seeing that he’s not quite that simple. He’s like a misguided child and the one who is guiding him is Ma Sook (Kim Gak Soo) I was curious to find out the extend of what the eunuchs know because I kept thinking So Chil (Lee Jae Yong) would turn around and do something devious. That just shows how many times I’ve seen Lee Jae Yong playing a villain over the years.
Verdict: Just OK
CHUNGDAMDONG ALICE (청담동 앨리스)
Aww, it’s cute. Though the plot is trite and I thought I was tired of seeing these Cinderella type of stories, Park Shi Hoo breathes a charming light to the drama. Basically, I just drool over Park Shi Hoo week after week and this light drama acts as counterprogramming for a lot of the weightier dramas that’s currently been airing.
Verdict: Just OK
SCHOOL 2013 (학교 2013)
While I know of the other School series, I never watched any of them. All coming-of-age dramas about teenagers are defined by the generation that they’re from. So far, the drama is doing a good job of balancing all the characters. The tension between different groups of students, the teachers themselves and the teachers and the students serving the drama’s plot development very well.
I AM A SINGER 2 (나는 가수다2)
Despite the new live format, the brand new rules and the large list of competitors made this variety series not quite so competitive. As a result, I gave up shortly on this show shortly after the first month’s competition.
KIM BYUNG MAN’S LAWS OF THE JUNGLE (김병만의 정글의 법칙)
When I gave up on I Am a Singer 2, I picked up this variety show. Interesting locations and I’m continually amazed by what Kim Byung Man can do. How does he make climbing up a tree look so effortless? The trip to Vanuatu proved they could start a fire without any modern conveniences (though it took over 8 hours). The trip to Siberia was not quite what I thought it would be but it was nice to see the group challenge themselves in a different climate as they mostly visited hot places previously. However, the trip to Madagascar was not only beautifully scenic but there were so many different episodes/legs to the trip that made it feel truly unique.
Verdict: Must Watch
INFINITY CHALLENGE (무한도전)
To be completely honest, since they came back from the strike I have been behind on the episodes. Currently, I’m 4 months behind and hoping I’ll catch up over the Christmas/New Year holidays. The show is inconsistent as some episodes can be really funny while other episodes make me feel like I’m wasting my time. The constant bickering and arguing between the members is tiresome.
Verdict: If you’re bored
WE GOT MARRIED SEASON 4 (우리 결혼했어요 시즌4)
We Got Married got really lucky with this new batch of couples this season. They’re personalities are all so different and super funny. Kwang Hee and Sun Hwa are the super loud and flamboyant couple. Lee Joon and Yeon Seo are the obsessive-compulsive couple. And Julien and Se Ah are the mixed cultures couple. I love that they are all neighbors now as we not only get to see the couples with each other but see how they associate with the other couples.
Verdict: Must Watch
RUNNING MAN (런닝맨)
This variety show continues to have an impressive list of guests. Unfortunately, most weeks, we get the same game played over and over again. I don’t mind seeing the fun challenges but I wish they would change things up a bit more frequently. However, good celebrities with a great mind for variety television always provide laughs.
1 NIGHT 2 DAYS 2 (1박2일 2)
It’s been almost a year now with these 7 boys and while they’ve all grown close and less awkward with each other, there have been episodes that just aren’t as entertaining. However, they are getting to play more trivial games now and we’re still learning what everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are. Now, Joo Won doesn’t win all the time anymore but I’ve learned that he pouts when he loses which is uber cute. And Bird PD is showing more personality and not as resistant to being on camera. Sung Shi Kyung is not great at variety television as he often appears moody on camera. Not saying that he’s always moody but his quiet nature makes him a little hard to read. I really like him on the show but I think I’m in the minority here. Certainly if the sales of his concert tickets are any indication. Unfortunately, the show is still a work in progress even though the show has previously had a solid winning format for 5 whole years.
Verdict: Just OK
STRONG HEART (강심장)
We started the year with Lee Seung Gi and then he went off to go do The King 2 Hearts. Shin Dong Yup and Lee Dong Wook (particularly the latter) had a rocky start but they are really coming into their own. I think Lee Dong Wook has learned a lot from Shin Dong Yup and you can feel that he’s becoming more comfortable talking to the guests and exchanging quips with the regulars. Unfortunately, the show spent months preparing to say goodbye to Lee Teuk (for military service), two episodes/weeks of Farewell, Lee Teuk, and even after he’s in the army he sent a letter mentioning how he’s doing. I love Lee Teuk but enough already. Like before, the show’s main strength is the quality of the guests and the fact that we get to see a large group of them all in one setting.
The show is pretty crazy but Lee Su Geun, Eun Ji Won, Park Jong Min are friends and already spent 5 years on TV doing 1 Night 2 Days. The show is now coming into its own, which means it is finding its pacing and becoming more formatted in the more recent episodes thereby lessening its appeal for me. The show may be chaotic but that unpredictability is what makes them the 3 hilarious. It’s like the 3 were your friends and you’re hanging out watching them being stupid. Now they’ve added Announcer Jun Hyun Moo to the mix as well as Eun Ji Won has been absent often due to his appearance on Crisis Escape No. 1.
Verdict: Just OK
While I’m not going to declare a winner out of the dramas that’s currently airing, I will give one for the variety shows I’m watching. The Ahh-Musings goes to…
BEST K-VARIETY OF THE YEAR
KIM BYUNG MAN’S LAWS OF THE JUNGLE – Take a bunch of celebrities and see if they can survive in the jungle. It’s not easy for celebrities to shed their images to go makeup-free, shower-free in the jungle. The Madagascar trip was a nice way to end the year on because that trip had everything. Crazy situations, beautiful scenery, cute animals and an interesting cast. However, the series as a whole was funny and fascinating at the same. It always had me coming back week after week wanting more.
Up next, American and British TV shows.