Late Winter TV Report (2013)

THE POPE HAS LEFT THE BUILDING BUT THE SHOW MUST GO ON

We’re living in fascinating times.  There are times when I think the subject matter of the stuff I watch is extremely timely but lately I’ve been feeling that there is more mediocre than good.  Maybe a few bad ones, too.  That is the whole point of these mini reviews.  It gives me a chance to highlight stuff that’s currently on the air.  Anyways, here goes nothing…

K-Drama

INCARNATION OF MONEY (돈의 화신)

From the people that brought us Giant and History of a Salaryman, this drama has got that same formula.  I’ll admit that formula is getting a little old for me but I’m still enjoying the drama.  It mostly has to do with the fact that I had been so eager to see Kang Ji Hwan again after the subpar projects he’s been in over the last two years.  The drama brings right into the heart of the issue and then it flashes back to the beginning of the story. Kang Ji Hwan and Hwang Jung Eum bring a lot of the comedy while Park Sang Min brings a lot of the thrill.  The story is complicated (and contrived) but the writers make it easy to grasp the conflict and also makes it look fun.

7th GRADE CIVIL SERVANT (7급 공무원)

The drama veers off quite a bit from the original movie and I’m still not sure if that was a good idea or not.  However, the major problem is that Joo Won and Choi Kang Hee sorely lack chemistry.  Actually there really isn’t anything wrong with their acting; perhaps I haven’t quite put my finger on what it is exactly but Choi Kang Hee’s a wrong fit with the entire cast.  I refuse to believe it’s just because she’s a lot older (and looks it) than the other agents.  Maybe a part of it is that it was a bad idea not to point out the age gap (the drama plays it off as insignificant).  However, Korea is all about age gaps and sunbaes and hoobaes that something feels amiss.  We’re almost at the end here and the chemistry just isn’t improving.

IRIS 2 (아이리스 2)

I never expected Iris 2 to be this well-written drama.  Certainly Iris 1 and Athena’s weaknesses were mainly in the script.  What I looked forward to were the action scenes but the fact that I’ve dozed off during several of them is not a good sign of things to come.  So far the drama has a great deal of exposition and mediocre action scenes.  Things started to build up in Episode 5 but so far I’m a little disappointed in the drama.  Jang Hyuk and Lee Da Hae’s chemistry is still great and so far I’ve been really liking Lee Da Hae’s character.  She’s all business at work and cute off the clock. Yoon Doo Joon has been decent so far.  I could really care less about NSS Deputy Director Choi Min (Oh Yeon Soo) and if the writers are not gonna give her a really interesting twist they should really reduce her camera time.  I love Im Soo Hyang but perhaps action is not her forte.  There was the action scene in the hotel where she pretended to be a waitress.  While I can’t say it was hot, it did improve her a bit on the action drama scale.

K-Variety

TALK CLUB ACTORS (토크클럽 배우들)

It’s too bad because the cast of actors is amazing.  I’m sure they have a wealth of stories to tell but I know at one point I will get bored of seeing them week after week.  The show doesn’t have a unique enough format to convince me that this show could last.

KIM BYUNG MAN’S LAWS OF THE JUNGLE (김병만의 정글의 법칙)

What can I say about the Amazon.  Bugs, bugs and more bugs.  The show still maintains to be entertaining but I have to admit that I start breaking out in hives when I see the group contend with all the creepy crawlies that they must endure in this jungle.  Itchy, itchy, itchy, scratchy, scratchy.

DAD!  WHERE ARE YOU GOING? (아빠! 어디가?)

I’m dubbing it the 1 Night 2 Days, Jr.  In a nutshell, the show is funny and heartwarming.  I love that each episode gives the dads a greater insight to their kids’ personalities.  I also think that the producers were extremely lucky to find these celebrities to participate in this show.  Not only are they adept on a variety show scale but they each have a very distinct parenting personality.  On top of that, each kid has a distinct personality as well and have adapted pretty quickly to having all these cameras in their faces.  All the kids are stars in their own right.

INCARNATION (화신)

I wanted to wait until the 2nd episode aired before I reviewed the show.  The show’s format is very different from Strong Heart.  It is a talk show but they pose questions to viewers and get their opinions from various age groups.  In turn, the guests have to guess the number one answer in each age group and at the same time tell stories from their own experiences.  The format kind feels a little like Family Feud but the conversations and/or answers are much more drawn out.  The second episode did feel a lot more fluid than the first one.  That may just be due to the fact that the guests in the first episode were the hosts of Three Idiots.  I would never imagine Kim Jong Min to be a fluid talker.

American TV

THE AMERICANS

Here’s an interesting look at the Cold War, the spies and their normal everyday lives as “Americans”.  What I really enjoyed from the get-go is that you get a pretty clear picture of who Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Phillip Jennings (Matthew Rhys) are as people and how they juggle their double lives.  It’s a really absorbing thriller and I’m enjoying the couple storyline so far.  It’s a little bold to have that start off at the head of your drama but it makes sense when you think about how long these characters know each other.  FBI Counter-Intelligence Agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) has a hunch about these and I love watching Beeman play cat and mouse with Phillip.

1600 PENN

The cast of characters is sorely made up of trite stereotypes and while some jokes come off as amusing and silly, more than anything I find the show and its characters annoying.  To fix the sitcom, they should tone down on Skip storylines and rely on Bill Pullman and Jenna Elfman to carry the comedy.

FRINGE

Didn’t really get a chance to review the final season of this series but while I mostly touted this last season to be mediocre, as expected, the finale amped things up and close this chapter of TV history nicely.  Rather than making the show just about a crescendo of these Fringe events, it created a nice emotional arc for our main characters.  The show starts with a helpless Walter (John Noble) and ends with a Walter who figures out how to save the world.  Peter (Joshua Jackson) had an estranged relationship with Walter but they grow to mutually understand each other.  Perpetually a loner Olivia (Anna Torv) gains a family by the end.

BEING HUMAN (SYFY)

I always found Sally to be mildly irritating but now she’s just full-blown irritating.  And it’s weird because she’s not really a ghost anymore.  Even though this series has been trying to make the show their own, I can’t help but compare it to the British version.  I like the fact that it still manages to keep things a little light even though the subject matter is dark.  Trust me, if you haven’t seen the British version, this series is keeping it totally in the lighthearted spectrum.  However, there are wacky characters in the British version that I wish they would make an American counterpart for (e.g. Adam).

BUNHEADS

This season has been sorely stagnant.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy the show anymore but I dislike the idea of Michelle and Godot being an item.  Not that they are technically an item YET but I’d rather have them bring back the rich guy with the super long driveway.  The girls though have been on an interesting journey this year and I was glad to see the other characters get the spotlight this season.

THE FOLLOWING

The series started off with a jolt and now we’re getting into the weekly pacing of the show.  I like that the series goes back and forth in time so that we get a good sense of the character’s backstories.  Those backstories are key to what makes this show absorbing.  However, I feel like we’re getting to the point where logic may not always apply.  I’m gonna have to watch a few more episodes and see where this goes.

SMASH

It’s still very early into the 2nd season for me to say much about it.  I’m liking the new blood (new cast additions) so far but I want to hear more music that’s relevant to the emotions being played out in the storyline.  I still love Megan Hilty’s character because you can clearly see how Ivy has progressed from the first episode.  She had her meltdown at the tail of last season but now she is finding a way to move on.  With Ellis gone I’m finding Karen (Katherine McPhee) to be the most aggravating.  It’s not that her sweet, naïve nature isn’t genuine.  I just find it to be lackluster personality trait and I’m annoyed that every episode constantly reminds me about that.  I’d rather spend that time with some of the other characters.

COUGAR TOWN

You know I think that I like the show better on TBS than when it was on ABC.  I feel like they could get away with a little bit more.  Not too much more but I have been enjoying the camaraderie of this cast.

SCANDAL

Every week it seems like Scandal gets sexier and sexier.  There was a promo that aired during one of the Oscar Awards’ commercial break that made me all hot and bothered.  I feel like that as time goes on my opinions change about how I feel about each of the characters.  The reveal of the group of 5 was unexpected and the fact that Quinn is learning from Huck just made her a lot more interesting.

WHITE COLLAR

I’m a little tired of this series.  Neal’s dad (Treat Williams), Senator Pratt (Titus Welliver) and following this little key to some evidence box is just a storyline that has been uninteresting.  It’s more of the same in terms of deception with less of the intrigue.  I feel like we haven’t been given enough interesting information to care what happens to Neal’s dad or Pratt.

SUITS

The 2nd half of this season of Suits wrapped up last week.  I have been growing weary of seeing Harvey (Gabriel Macht) threaten to fire Mike (Patrick J. Adams) but never actually do it.  While I never worried that Mike would not be returning to Pearson Hardman (or rather just Pearson now), I like this rift that’s happened in their relationship.  I also like the fact that Mike finally told Rachel (Meghan Markle) because… it was about time!  Now that it’s all out on the table, I want to see what Season 3 brings.

British TV

RIPPER STREET

This show is currently airing as part of the BBC America’s Saturday lineup in the States and it’s about detective solving crimes in the Whitechapel District in the aftermath of Jack the Ripper.  Since the killer was never caught, most citizens want to pin every murder on that infamous killer but the detectives must sort out the facts from paranoia.  Most of the times I love the shows that air on BBC but I have to say that this a strictly mediocre police drama.  Out of all the episodes I’ve seen so far, I enjoyed the one where we got a little backstory on DS Drake (Jerome Flynn) but the other episodes were uninspiring.

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