End of the Year TV Report (2013): Part 1

Oy, I know I’m so late in writing this but I do have a reason (or excuse) of sorts.  You can read that below when I sum up the year.  For now, it’s time to assess all the moments that caused some serious swooning, nail-biting and eye rolling K-Drama moments.  Here is a list of dramas that I’ve watch which have completed in 2013.

The rating system goes:

Must Watch – So good that it hurts to let go.
Watch – Enjoyable
Just OK – Not bad but not great.
If you’re bored – Could be downgraded to Pass at any moment but worked well as background noise.
Pass – Pissed off that I wasted my time.

COMPLETED K-DRAMAS

THE KING OF DRAMAS (드라마의 제왕)

Kim Myung Min is a fantastic actor with a great talent for dramatic and comedic roles.  Again, it was nice to see Jung Ryeo Won paired with an older actor as she seems to challenge herself to diversify her acting.  However the overblown characterization of the villain played by Jung Man Shik and Choi Si Won’s subpar acting does put a damper on parts of the drama.  And despite the predictable plot, the drama overall is enjoyable.

Verdict: Watch

CHEONGDAMDONG ALICE (청담동 앨리스)

Predictable characters and predictable actors who play them.  However, Park Shi Hoo and Moon Geun Young are adorable.  Unfortunately, this drama may turn off some viewers due to the Park Shi Hoo’s personal scandal that followed it.  If you are able to not let that be a factor and can get passed the monotony of the plot points then this drama is mindless fun.

Verdict: Just OK

SCHOOL 2013 (학교 2013)

Choi Daniel’s smugness annoys the hell out of me.  However, Jang Na Ra’s character grounds him a bit.  It’s just that it takes the drama a long time to get there.  Normally, I like when a character develops gradually but I’ve seen this type of character from Choi Daniel before and frankly, it’s annoying.  On the flip side, these two teachers are not the main focus of the drama and thankfully it is filled with a cast of young, talented and trendy actors and actresses.

Verdict: Must Watch

THE GREAT SEER (대풍수)

For a long running drama, the stories move at such a good pace.  There are a lot of characters to be emotionally involved with.  Though there is a mystical aspect since the drama incorporates the beliefs of Feng Shui, it doesn’t take over the historical aspects of the drama.  It simply makes references to what the population’s beliefs were at the time.  Unfortunately, the drama’s end comes to a screeching halt with an anticlimactic conclusion which ruined the story’s momentum for me.

Verdict: Watch

JEON WOO CHI (전우치)

Banking on the star power of Cha Tae Hyun, the writers of this drama were lazy.  Relying on the same storylines of trust and betrayal over and over again made the story repetitive and boring.  Despite the dark nature of the tale, children seemed to love the drama and Cha Tae Hyun as the titled character.  So perhaps the simplistic plot is more geared towards their level but for me, this folk tale hero from my childhood imagination was a major disappointment.

Verdict: Pass unless you’re in your tweens or younger.

FLOWER BOY NEXT DOOR (이웃집 꽃미남)

It’s the type of drama that you’d expect tons of cute and not a lot of depth.  Except there were a lot of layers in this character-driven drama and Park Shin Hye was lovely as the recluse Go Dok Mi who learns to stop being scared and come out of her Rapunzel tower.  Plus Yoon Shi Yoon is ah-dor-a-ble.  So adorable that he’s like a pink fluffy unicorn.  He’s sooo fluffy!!

Verdict: Must Watch

LEVEL 7 CIVIL SERVANT (7급 공무원)

Just go watch the movie.

Verdict: Pass

INCARNATION OF MONEY (돈의 화신)

This drama brings Kang Ji Hwan back to the small screen.  In the previous year, his projects were cringeworthy but this one was thrilling and funny.  However, if you’ve seen this production team before the story gets a bit predictable.  The watch-worthy meter depends on whether you like the cast.  I’m not the biggest fan of Hwang Jung Eum but I really enjoyed her in this role.

Verdict: Watch

IRIS 2 (아이리스 2)

To be honest, I really liked the cast line up.  Though Iris-series never produced solid storytelling, the action scenes were so enjoyable that it made me overlook a lot of repetitiveness and general ridonculousness.  This one doesn’t even deliver on the action-front.  Skip this drama and go watch the real Jang Hyuk show off his action skills on Real Men.  The man sure knows how to earn his paycheck.  He can protect me anytime.

Verdict: Pass

NINE: NINE TIME TRAVELS (나인: 아홉 번의 시간 여행)

From the producers of Queen In Hyun’s Man, they tell another tale involving time traveling.  This time the only course of history that really changes is that of the main character.  The drama really knows how to grab your attention and the cast was fantastic except for maybe two.  Their over the top acting really leaves a bad taste in your mouth.  If you don’t plan on watching this drama, let’s hope American television doesn’t screw up their remake.

Verdict: Watch


ALL ABOUT MY ROMANCE (내 연애의 모든 것)

I would have never pictured Shin Ha Kyun with Lee Min Jung but I think they each hold their own in this romcom.  The drama was a light spring affair, not all that much about politics and completely predictable but it was certainly enjoyable.

Verdict: Just OK

GU FAMILY BOOK (구가의 서)

It’s an uncomplicated drama.  The evildoers get their come uppance and the protagonists’ love story lasts… generations?  Aided with beautiful scenery and a simple plot, the drama does deliver.  However, the plot is rooted in sticking with the rules of K-Drama game and the characters are so roughly sketched in that typical K-Drama image that it doesn’t leave much room for the actors to truly own their roles.  It’s so predictable that it’s boring and sadly, I wished Seung Gi chose a different role following The King 2 Hearts.

Verdict: Just OK

MANDATE OF HEAVEN: THE FUGITIVE OF JOSEON (천명 (天命) : 조선판 도망자 이야기)

Despite the Chuno-sounding plot, this drama actually stuck out in a season filled with mediocre dramas.  Lee Dong Wook and his on-screen daughter, Kim Yoo Bin, had incredible chemistry that tugged at your heartstrings.  The mystery does take the forefront rather than Lee Dong Wook leading the drama but I was okay with that.  There’s lot of great supporting characters but the performances to watch are So Baek (Yoon Jin Yi) and Grand Prince Kyung Won (Seo Dong Hyun).  Also, the beautiful cinematography stays consistent throughout.

Verdict: Watch

TEN 2 (텐2)

I really loved the first season so I was a little bummed to see that the second season was… boring and predictable.  I fell asleep and work up numerous times while watching the episodes only to discover that I didn’t miss much.  I was pleased with the way the series wraps up but I think it would have been better to deliver a shorter season with more interesting cases rather than a longer one with the same twists.

Verdict: Pass

DATING AGENCY; CYRANO (연애조작단; 시리노)

If a light spring drama was All About My Romance, this was summer’s answer to that.  I think I enjoyed the various cameo appearances rather than the overall story.  Lee Jong Hyuk and Choi Soo Young are cute together despite their age difference but their chemistry wasn’t electrifying.  I did like seeing a darker version of Lee Chun Hee.  However, the last few episodes takes viewers for a serious U-turn.  Eeeh, just go see the movie.

Verdict: Just OK

THE QUEEN’S CLASSROOM (여왕의 교실)

I had trouble relating to or even understanding the reason behind Teacher Ma (Go Hyun Jung) nor does the character show much development.  However, the kids were delightful in this coming of age drama, especially Chun Bo Geun.

Verdict: Just OK

BLADE AND FLOWER (칼과 꽃)

Another sageuk epic with beautiful cinematography about star-crossed lovers.  Despite its desperately slow moving pace, I did enjoy watching the love story between the characters played by Uhm Tae Woong and Kim Ok Bin.  Though they don’t have a lot of dialogue, a lot is spoken through looks and actions.  They are very talented actors that don’t need to really on dialogue to tell their character’s stories. However, the drama takes place during such a tumultuous time in Korean history that it’s a bit disheartening that the writer fails to make the political strife work as captivatingly as the lead’s performances.

Verdict: If you’re bored

EXPECT DATING (연애를 기대해)

I’m always so easy to dismiss Choi Daniel.  I just don’t love him.  However, this two episode drama special turned out to be a bit more interesting than I was expecting it to be.  Not that you should be running out to see it.  There were some characters that I found annoying but it’s two episodes long so the annoyance can only last for a little over two hours, right?

Verdict: If you’re bored

WHO ARE YOU (후아유)

A little bit of mystery, mixed with lighthearted cuteness.  Ok Taek Yeon and So Yi Hyun are cute together and the plot certainly grabs you from the get-go.  I wasn’t happy with the way one major storyline turned out though and it left a damper on my impression of the drama overall.

Verdict: Just OK

TWO WEEKS (투윅스)

Logistically, I was skeptical about how this drama was going to unfold as Korean dramas tend to wait for ratings and revert to live shooting towards the drama’s second half.  However, it appears that the writer had many of the major plot points and twists worked out that the pacing felt incredibly tight.

Verdict: Must Watch

MASTER’S SUN (주군의 태양)

After Big, I think a lot of people wanted a drama that redeemed the Hong Sisters.  The drama started off being everything I wanted it to be.  It was intriguing, funny and mysterious.  I was emotionally invested in this drama.  Then Episode 13 happened and suddenly I was turned off by it.  The drama spends a lot time suggesting where it wanted to go but not going there or anywhere really.  Mainly in circles around the sun (pun intended).

Verdict: Just OK

GOOD DOCTOR (굿 닥터)

The drama had all these elements going on.  A love story, a medical drama and hospital politics but these elements rarely intertwine.  I found Joo Won’s autistic savant acting to be outdated and his chemistry with Moon Chae Won to be off.  As much as I like Joo Sang Wook, he doesn’t have the creativity to color outside the script lines and with bad script lines his character doesn’t really have anywhere to go.

Verdict: Pass

THE STRANGE HOUSEKEEPER (수상한 가정부)

Another Japanese import with android-like characters.  I like how the family drama is relatable.  Unlike The Queen’s Classroom, the children’s persistence in getting know Park Bok Nyeo (Choi Ji Woo) and welcoming her to their family opens up her character and her backstory to the viewer.

Verdict: Just OK

MEDICAL TOP TEAM (메디컬 탑팀)

This medical drama seemed to start off on the right note for me.  However, it seems like the writer felt swayed by the poor ratings and tried to give viewers an unexpected twist not only seemed out of the blue but turned off more viewers in return.  The loveline between Kwon Sang Woo and Oh Yeon Seo felt like a total miss for me because the serious lack of chemistry, while other lovelines like the one between anesthesiologist and the surgical nurse did not meet with any kind of resolution.

Verdict: Pass

_____________________________________________________

It was not only hard for me to write this post but also to pick my K-Drama winners of the year.  This year was filled with a lot of remakes of hit movies, Japanese imports and regurgitated plots.  Frankly, 2013 was not a good year for K-Dramas.  There were equal amounts of mediocre dramas as well as the poorly written/poorly acted ones this year.  A few standouts but still… it was slim pickings.

BEST K-DRAMA: DRAMA

TWO WEEKS – I don’t think it’s much of a surprise here.  It’s such a tightly written and gripping drama and there weren’t that many to pick from.  The cast all performed cohesively as an ensemble and I’m glad to see Lee Jun Ki’s follow up after Arang and the Magistrate was another good ride.

BEST K-DRAMA: COMEDY

FLOWER BOY NEXT DOOR – There were a lot of comedies and more specifically romcoms this year but this one was my favorite.  It made me swoon, it made me laugh.  Watching Que Geum made me curl my fingers and squirm because he was just cuteness in overdrive.  However, the thing that really made me love the drama was beyond being a trendy drama, the characters showed growth and development.

BEST K-DRAMA PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR

CHUN BO GEUN (THE QUEEN’S CLASSROOM – OH DONG GOO) – He’s certainly not the main character in this drama but he stole the show for me.  Amongst a cast of talented, young and seasoned actors, this mini-Cha Tae Hyun had a tough role to play but does it so poignantly.  Definitely someone to watch out for in the future.  (FYI, he also has a small but significant role in The Great Seer.)

BEST K-DRAMA PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS

PARK SHIN HYE (FLOWER BOYS NEXT DOOR – GO DOK MI) – I simply love the growth of her character in this drama.  From someone who is agoraphobic and fears interacting with people, her character pushes people away.  There are people who really have this condition so I wanted to see how the drama would handle this without being pushy about it.  On the one hand, that answer was Que Geum but on the other hand, Go Dok Mi really had to want to come out and learn to trust people again.  As Go Dok Mi, Park Shin Hye does that so convincingly with her one step forward, two steps back progression.

BEST K-DRAMA OF THE YEAR

TWO WEEKS – Overall, I’d have to give the honor to this drama.  Great cast, suspenseful storyline, calculated pacing and an addictive rock soundtrack aiding the fugitive-on-the run-feel of the drama.

Here’s hoping next year we’ll have less mediocre dramas and no terrible dramas. Well, at least not more than five.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “End of the Year TV Report (2013): Part 1

  1. I’m surprised you don’t like Daniel Choi. I actually liked his character in School 2013 quite a lot, especially because he was so smug at first. And I loved the interaction between him and Jang Na Ra’s character. But like you said, the younger cast was the real focus of the drama and I really enjoyed the kids a lot. Oh, and I liked how the show wrapped up, giving us a very bittersweet ending.

    I loved Park Shin Hye’s performance as Go Dok Mi. I actually feel really disappointed that she chose The Heirs as her follow-up project because everybody now remembers her bad kissing in Heirs, but not her heartfelt character in FBND. I really like Park Shin Hye, but sometimes I wish she’d choose different roles.

    Like

    • I grew to like Kang Teacher but I don’t like Daniel Choi because I feel like he always plays that same smug character. He’s so smarmy and it rubs me the wrong way. There were so many times that I felt so bad for Jang Na Ra’s character that when Daniel Choi’s character finally changes, it was more like ‘what took you so long’.

      As for Park Shin Hye, I understand where you’re coming from. Perhaps she was thinking that The Heirs would make her as famous as Ha Ji Won or someone of that caliber. I mean, sometimes you don’t really know that a drama is going to be bad. Certainly I was hoping for the best since I’ve liked Writer Kim Eun Sook’s previous works. I thought A Gentleman’s Dignity was great and Secret Garden was enjoyable. I still haven’t finished the last two episodes of City Hall so… there’s that. I am aware of KES’s limitations as a drama scribe but her projects are moneymakers. Ratings wise, it performed pretty well despite the dismal storyline. I guess that’s what you call selling out but it is also a career move to be in a drama that has a Hallyu type of reach, regardless of whether it was bad or good. I guess I was hoping for a Beverly Hills 90210 type of drama but that’s soo 90’s.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s