NINE LIVES OF A TIME-TRAVELING DRAMA
Newsman Park Sun Woo (Lee Jin Wook) is given nine chances to travel back through time to right the wrongs of the past. Through his journeys, he realizes that correcting minor things in the past veers his life in an unforeseen direction in the present.
The big thing about watching this drama was to see if the makers of Queen In Hyun’s Man figured out the time traveling genre to make it worthwhile to explore Nine. After having seen both, there are clearly some differences. Some things that were done better in the Queen In Hyun’s Man and some which were done better in Nine and this review will be making a number of comparisons.
I have said before I do like that there are clear-cut consequences to Park Sun Woo’s actions in the past. It’s more direct in Nine because Park Sun Woo is affecting his own timeline whereas Queen In Hyun’s Man time traveling journey spans hundreds of years.
As for Queen In Hyun’s Man, the main OTP definitely sizzled on screen and sometimes you can’t help real-life chemistry as the romance on screen extended into real life. However, I did like the chemistry between Lee Jin Wook and Jo Yoon Hee even if the OTP’s characteristics were similar with the other drama.
Lee Jin Wook brings a sense of lightness while playing the at-times cold, at-times joking, Park Sun Woo. Then a wave of seriousness washes over him when it comes to his past. To balance that out, Jo Yoon Hee brings a sense of vivacious to contrast with Park Sun Woo’s cool calm.
Beyond the overall time traveling genre, it appears that the signature of this production staff can be seen in their reoccuring themes and elements, such as: overenthusiastic but naïve female leads, a definite time-traveling device, the use of phone booths (and rain but that’s every K-Drama, no?), our OTP gets separated by time and death becoming the solution for that separation.
One reoccurring theme I wasn’t all that thrilled about was their overly melodramatic villains. When everyone else is relatively serious, it’s hard and almost comical to watch the villain cackling. Do they think viewers will get confused at the real villain here? And it’s no fault of Jung Dong Hwan who plays the evil Choi Jin Chul. I suspect he was directed that way because I know he’s a really great actor who’s capable of playing both good and bad guys.
Speaking of overly dramatic acting, I think the same could be said for Sun Woo’s childhood friend, Han Young Hoon (Lee Seung Joon). However Actor Lee Yi Kyung (School 2013), who plays the teenage counterpart, plays Young Hoon more seriously.
Likewise, Uhm Hyo Sup played an overly evil, antagonist in Queen In Hyun’s Man but thankfully he’s one of Sun Woo’s allies here.
You’d think there would be some kind of consistency between these two. Sure, Young Hoon has some clumsy moments but Adult Young Hoon was for the most part campy and his performance left a bad taste in my mouth. He does tone things down towards the end but the damage is done.
Despite the faults, the writers are good at telling a mystery. They know how to withhold details and know when to hit us with the reveal that sometimes it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen next. That really helped me to keep going with this drama just to see how they were going to carry out the ending.
To be honest, I preferred this ending over their previous drama. While I can respect a straightforward ending, I like that the open-ending gives viewers what they want but that’s just how I felt. However, I don’t think a lot of dramawatchers will be satisfied with this ending. So at least you’ve been warned.
Jun Noh Min is a veteran actor so I didn’t really have any doubt that he couldn’t compel me with the role of Sun Woo’s older brother, Park Jung Woo. But I really liked the progression of his character. Starting off as a mystery, we slowly peel back the Park Jung Woo layers. You go on a rollercoaster ride of emotions with every one of Sun Woo’s journey because some layers are ugly while others just make you sad.
The scene when he breaks down in front of Choi Jin Chul and then goes to the police station to find out what happened in 1993 is pretty touching and Jun Noh Min does an excellent job in making you feel Jung Woo’s sorrow.
Did I like this drama better than Queen In Hyun’s Man? No, not quite. I definitely fangirled about the leads of Queen In Hyun’s Man more as it was airing but there were certainly characters that I felt were a waste of time in regards to the bigger picture. Whereas Nine, I may not have loved all the characters but their purpose was clear in regards to the whole story. Whether you had emotionally investable characters or whether you had a fully investable story, neither drama totally hits both marks. Maybe you can’t have it all with this team. I’ve been around the block twice with this production team and they’ve produced two decent projects. While this drama hasn’t put me off watching their next project, I think it is now time to leave the time traveling genre in the past.