SEASONS OF FALL
Smell that crisp air! It’s the season for apple pickin’, pumpkin spiced lattes and Fall TV. Okay, this edition will be split into two parts, mainly because new Fall American shows are still premiering. So this American TV section will cover the past season’s finales and I’ll cover all the new shows in Part 2, when the new shows have done some settling in.
Strange Housekeeper (수상한 가정부)
For lack of a better word, this drama is very… strange. Well, that mostly extends to Choi Ji Woo’s character, Park Bok Nyeo, and her quirky agency director played by Kim Hye Sook. This drama is another Japanese import and it makes me wonder why the cold, unfeeling fixers are all the rage in Japan. We previously saw that same type with Go Hyun Jung in The Queen’s Classroom. Park Bok Nyeo only makes me curious about her and I hope the drama delivers on that front. The drama is slowly starting to reveal her past. However, I find the story of the family and their ups and downs very realistic.
The Heirs (상속자들)
I was definitely expecting the worst. I know that Boys Over Flowers was a popular trendy but I couldn’t stick with the drama all the way through, mostly watching an episode here and there over my sister’s shoulder. Yeah, I’m one of those people. However Kim Eun Sook has entertained me once or twice before so I gave it a try. I liked the first 2 episodes even with its clichés and flaws. By Episode 3, I found that there are a number of characters I flat out dislike and the rest I could live without knowing what happens to them. Plus, there were hints about some of the adults having their own soapy relationship drama. Too much time to dedicate to too many people that I’ll probably end up caring little about. Walking away from this one.
Medical Top Team (메디컬 탑팀)
It was a slow start but that’s forgivable considering how many characters there are. The show does pick up speed in the 2nd episode and I could see threads of how the disparate stories will tie together. Despite the boring title, I like that this show isn’t overly expository like that other medical drama that just concluded recently. When it comes to medical dramas, you should know enough about the cases to understand it but not feel like you need a medical degree or feel like they’re giving you a medical education. This show doesn’t dumb it down for audiences and that scene in which Park Tae Shin (Kwon Sang Woo) explains the rich patient’s condition using the metaphor of a window was perfect. And by the way, was Joo Ji Hoon always this hot? Because I had forgotten.
Potato Star 2013QR3 (감자별 2013QR3)
A little absurd, a bit heartwarming and sarcastic. That’s exactly how I like my K-sitcoms. I loved the cast and the promos were hilarious so I had to give this long-running a sitcom a try and it’s now my guilty pleasure. I particularly love Ha Yeon Soo and her vivacious spirit and sincerely hope she gets better soon. She really throws her all into those slapstick scenes and this two episodes a week schedule right now is killing need. I need more of her! Yeo Jin Goo’s character is totally a lovable oddball and for some reason I keep thinking of Elvis Costello’s “She” when I’m in the bathroom. Of course there are characters I do find annoying and Noh Soo Young and Julien are at the top of that list. Hope the writers either try a different direction with them or reduce their screen time. Now that the asteroid is falling, I can’t wait to see how much more absurd this sitcom will become. That could go either way though. I could totally love or hate it and don’t think there will be a middle ground for absurdist comedy.
Answer Me 1994 (응답하라 1994)
Though we get presented with the same question of who will she end up with, this sequel to Answer Me 1997 is filled with characters I already love, nostalgia, humor and warmth. You can read today’s Bananas post for more in-depth thoughts.
Heart Beats (심장이 뛴다)
The start of this reality program felt like a rough cut instead of finished product. I often say that shows tend to dumb things down for audience. Adversely, this first episode threw me into the thick of it that I kind of felt like the new kid at a new school who is not quite in on the inside jokes yet. Apparently, the cast had previously gone through training with the emergency response unit so they were already familiar with each other. The overall format of the show is a bit of a mess and for the most part it seems to work itself out by the 2nd episode and while I really, really love the cast and the show is thrilling, my heart just isn’t in it.
Real Men (진짜 사나이)
Heart Beats was supposed to be SBS’s answer to this show but the formatting of this show is clear cut. I’m still enjoying all the various troops and looking forward to the group heading to the Navy next. Can’t get the image of Kim Su ro in a sailor outfit out of my head. If they head to the Air Force, any chance our group will get to fly planes? Cue the Top Gun soundtrack.
We Got Married (우리 결혼 했어요)
Tae Min and Na Eun are the only ones left from the previous set. They’re still pretty cute… mostly pretty. I watch them, enjoy them but if they were suddenly replaced I wouldn’t feel so bad about that. Jung Joon Young is soooo aggravating to watch and most of the times I feel bad for Jung Yoo Mi but I have to admit that they are pretty damn entertaining for television. As for Yoon Han and Lee So Yeon, he is fastly winning over Alex, in my opinion, as the most romantic guy. Considering Alex was casted waaaay back in the first season, he’s had an enormously great run in my book.
Running Man (런닝맨)
For the first time in a looong time, Running Man actually made me laugh out loud more than once this past Sunday with guests Chun Jung Myung and Kim Min Jung. Lately Running Man has been a bit boring and really needs to refresh its format.
1 Night 2 Days (1박2일)
On the other hand, I’m surprised that 1N2D has had some pretty great episodes recently. I really enjoyed the campus episodes because there was a nice camaraderie with the students from various departments. Plus it gave the cast and opportunity to have a heart to heart with some of the students about their own experiences. I want to see less celebrities and more interaction with real people. Unlike Na PD, the celebrities feel gimmicky the way Lee Se Hee PD incorporates them. Not that I’m comparing or anything like that. Although with Joo Won leaving, not sure if a new cast member will now be added.
Our Neighborhood Variety Sports (우리동네 예체능)
The excitement and energy I felt about this show when it first started up is slowly dying down. It’s not clear whether this show has fully found it’s pacing yet. I’m interested in knowing what the next big sport will be and hope that we’ll get to see something new. Part of the failure of the badminton episodes is that Team YeCheNeung kept losing the matches (although some members were able to win their sets) so it was a bit of a downer. However, I am looking forward to the basketball tournaments. There must be something in the air with basketball making a comeback in the K-entertainment landscape.
Ha Jung Woo Brothers (하정우 브라더스)
Take 577 Project and bring it to the small screen. Except this time they don’t have to rely on their feet to get them everywhere. Not much is planned: no destination, no tasks, no help. Although the title includes the word “brothers” not all the members are male and it’s not clear whether the same members will keep going on these trips. The heart to hearts were interesting and as some of these unknown actors previously appeared in 577 Project, they are somewhat familiar. However, is there enough material there to keep me entertained? The jury is still out on that.
Kim Byung Man’s Laws of the Jungle (김병만의 정글의 법칙)
While Kim Byung Man’s wilderness skills continue to amaze me, I don’t know what was up with the Caribbean/Maya Jungle trip. It wasn’t as exciting as I hoped it would be. However for this trip, they are back in Africa. There’s something about Africa and this show. They always manage to get a great cast of characters and the scenery, wildlife always seem to be interesting.
Covert Affairs has put me to sleep one too many times this summer. Dull repetitive storylines with dull characters played by not so memorable actors. I hate the love line between Auggie and Annie. It’s time to cut the cord on this one.
I was so worried about this show when it brought together two of the leading characters. Not all episodes are winners and certainly some of the push and pull got a bit childish but throughout the season, there were some really nice developments.
This show recently made a resurgence for me this past summer. With Boris and the mystery of his “death” and his crazy family to Divya, the baby and Jeremiah to Jeremiah’s disappointment in feeling like he had been used by Hank, the show offered a lot of different storylines this season which we haven’t seen before.
This show’s strength lies in its casting as it really does have strong actors. Throughout the season, there were a good number of scenes which were interesting and forwarded the plot but I can’t say there was any episode that was a standout. The show feels more about Ray fixing his own life rather than fixing those of his clients. I can’t really envision how this show will evolve next season.
I’ll admit my enthusiasm for this show waned when Deb discovered Dexter’s true identity. Though the first scene of the drama started off with a slow, calculated stalk, the series escalated the thrill by creating some fantastic and terrifying villains. Trinity Killer has got to be my favorite. However, this final season just turned crazy into careless and finally into disappointment. From the false ending to the real one, it just felt that drama wanted to give viewers an unexpected ending. Like, ‘Ha, bet you didn’t see that coming.’ The unfortunate thing is that it just felt like the drama was undecided on where to take the main character.
With the end of the 2nd season, we also must say goodbye to the series. Copper really took a different turn this season trying to create more universal storylines and less about the characters themselves. So at the end of Season 1, there’s an irrevocable rift between Kevin and Francis which eventually ends up working itself out by the middle of the 2nd season. So the buddies can go on and eliminate the bigger evil of this season. The drama just felt all over the place.
For some strange reason, the end of the 2nd season felt more like a series finale rather than a season finale. Did the show get cancelled? No, Jeff Daniels insisted that it was coming back. Anyways, this season took a different turn as well from the first as they incorporated a storyline in which our team became the storyline rather than the other way around. So Operation Genoa was fictional but they wanted to report on the importance of integrity in news reporting. Kind felt like I was getting a journalism lesson but I still love Aaron Sorkin’s moralistic view of this world. Makes it so feel-good at the end of the day.
As evidenced by my Bananas post on this show, I love this show. The shows writing and directing has been so consistently excellent and creative. The acting was realistic and compelling. Even though Walter White eventually “breaks bad”, there is still a part of you that wants to sympathize him to the very end. Then he does something truly evil and you’re like, ‘Damn, bitch. Why you gotta be like that?’ Listen, if Anthony Hopkins marathoned this show in two weeks and then proceeded to gush about the excellence that is Breaking Bad, it’s definitely worth watching.
As far as British crime dramas go, I felt like nothing much happens all season long. It takes place in a sleepy time and everybody just seems like they are lying that you wonder if the investigation is really getting anywhere. However, I was taken aback by the reveal of the killer. Perhaps that’s the beauty of this drama which lulls you into a sense of complacency and then throws you and your predictions right off the cliff. David Tennant is now going to be in the American remake with an American accent and I will make a stand right now. Not happy about that. Can we just let the British drama be?