End of the Year TV Report (2013): Part 2

Currently airing K-Dramas and K-Variety programs.

To date or to dump rating system:

Must Watch – Yes, yes!  Oh god, yes!
Watch – Aww shucks.  Let’s go steady.
Just OK – I like you but just not that into you.
If you’re bored – No, it’s you.  It’s definitely you.
Pass – Do me a favor and lose my number.

CURRENTLY AIRING K-DRAMAS

POTATO STAR 2013QR3 (감자별 2013QR3)

Your typical Korean sitcom with all of its corny jokes.  If you liked any of the High Kick series, then this one is right up your alley as it’s from the same team.  However, the best thing about this sitcom is the cast line up.  Yeo Jin Goo, Lee Soon Jae, Ha Yun Soo, Go Kyung Pyo, Jang Ki Ha and more.  Even characters that once irritated me at the start, I’m beginning to warm up to them.

Verdict: Watch

ANSWER ME 1994 (응답하라 1994)

While this drama technically finished last weekend, it didn’t quite make it in time for my last post.  There are so many similarities with former counterpart.  I think I was all hyped up by the cameos and the idea of the sequel but it felt a bit like the same drama with a slightly different execution and ending.  It’s not as good as the first but I fangirled about this one all the same.  I’ll get into it more in my review.

Verdict: Watch

PRIME MINISTER AND I (총리와 )

I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the pairing of Lee Bum Soo and Girl’s Generation’s Im Yoon Ah.  Would they even have any chemistry?  Technically, the jury is still out on that one but so far I am enjoying this drama.  I will say that I’ve been hooked by the light, fluffy tone of many romcoms early on but I become disappointed by the same, tiresome plot points.  So I’m wary about this one but so far I like.

Verdict: Just OK

PRETTY MAN (예쁜 남자)

Recently, Jang Geun Suk gave an interview in which he said that he wanted to approach viewers with his sincere acting rather than rely on his star quality.  I don’t think Jang Geun Suk is a bad actor and Hong Gil Dong is a good example of what he’s capable of.  Since then I haven’t really seen anything of his that wowed me and this project isn’t really anything new for him.  I thought the premise of Pretty Man sounds absurdly fun.  The best thing about the drama so far is IU.  I just don’t see what the tone of this drama is supposed to be.  The drama made me laugh early on, now there’s this tone of intrigue with all these birth secrets.  My interest has been waning for awhile.

Verdict: If you’re bored

MISS KOREA (미스코리아)

This is another SM C&C drama and at first I was skeptical because of Lee Yeon Hee.  She’s not the most dynamic actress and while I’m not totally impressed with her performance here I do think the concept of this drama is a lot more interesting than I originally thought it was going to be.  The drama takes place in the 90’s as a bunch of friends working together at their own startup cosmetics company tries to make the popular girl from high school win the Miss Korea pageant in order to bring brand awareness back to their makeup.  It’s a little bit of a love story, little bit of an underdog story and little bit of a Cinderella story.  The underdog and Cinderella tales are almost the same thing but there’s different line of wardrobes.

Verdict: Watch

YOU FROM ANOTHER STAR (별에서 그대)

I think this is my favorite drama so far out of all the new ones.  Kim Soo Hyun and Jeon Ji Hyun ooze chemistry that extends as far back as when they were in The Thieves together.  I even love the Epilogue interviews at the end of each episode.  You don’t need to watch it to get the story but it just adds a little something extra.  He’s an alien; she’s a star; there’s fate, a doppelganger situation and that’s all you need to know.

Verdict: Must Watch

_____________________________________________________

K-VARIETY SHOWS

TALK CLUB ACTORS (토크클럽 배우들)

This talk show didn’t quite make it past a few months.  The most interesting about the show was when the actors started talking about their personal and working experiences.  However, there was no in the group that was adept enough with the variety format to lead the discussions.  So a conversation will start and eventually lose steam.  It’s too bad because the cast of actors were an interesting group of people.

Verdict: Pass

DAD! WHERE ARE YOU GOING? (아빠! 어디가?)

Such a simple format and yet it spawned another networks to make their versions of this hit.  We’re so often used to seeing the mothers being the caretakers so what happens when these celebrity dads are asked to take a 1 night, 2 day trips with their kids.  Will they be able to dress, feed and play with them?

Verdict: Must Watch

INCARNATION – THE ONE WHO RULES THE HEART (화신 – 마음을 지배하는 자)

The start of this variety show was rocky but I think it began to start finding its format as it went on.  Perhaps because of poor ratings, the producers decided to change the format once again and it lost me.  Eventually it’s another show that met with the chopping block.  If you’re able to find some old episodes, there are some good ones early on with Big Bang or So Yi Hyun or Kang Hye Jung as the topics that were discussed there were interesting.

Verdict: Pass

OUR NEIGHBORHOOD VARIETY SPORTS (우리동네 예체능)

I couldn’t quite see how this show would pan out just by reading the description of it before its premiere.  However, it’s a really solid show.  Sometimes I have felt that certain sports have gone on for too long on the show but I also realize that logistically it’s hard to keep switching between sports.  Just because you’re good at basketball doesn’t mean you’ll be good at table tennis.  Also in an age when we’re trying to get kids to be more active, what could be more positive than seeing variety stars running around learning new sports?

Verdict: Watch

REAL MEN (진짜 사나이)

Here’s a variety show which I would call the occupation variety show.  Send a bunch celebrities of various ages back to the military.  For people like Kim Su ro and Seo Kyung Suk, I can’t imagine that it’s easy starting over as a private when it’s been 20 years since they originally served their time in the army.  For young idols like Lee Joon and Park Hyung Shik, they’re just learning as they go along.  Not to mention, they’ll have to do the real, full time thing when it’s their time to actually go into the army.  I do have to applaud Sam Hammington.  First of all, Korea is his adopted country and he’s not fluent in the language.  So there are so many times when he has this look of confusion as he tries to figure out what the drill sergeant wants him to do.  My favorite member though has got to be Jang Hyuk.  When you see the things he can do, you so know why he makes such a great action hero.  He’s also been able to provide a lot of laughs and if you’ve seen that clip of the wrestling scene, you’ll know why.  The Chuseok special was particularly enlightening as I discovered that several of the members, on a weekly, maybe daily basis, have wanted to quit the show in which the producers let them talk it out and encourage them to stay on.  Despite their lapses in confidence, over the last couple of months our members have become really tight and that one of the most important things about the army.  Being a team.

Verdict: Must Watch

BAREFOOT FRIENDS (맨발의 친구들)

This was the Kang Ho Dong comeback show for me and I was so looking forward to it because I had missed him so much from 1 Night 2 Days.  This show would be taking him on trips abroad so you can only predict what kind of hilarity would ensue there, right?  Not quite as the show proved to be really boring.  So poor were the ratings that the producers changed their format several times that the celebrities weren’t even taking trips abroad anymore.  Eventually the show got canceled.

Verdict: Pass

MUST BAND GENERATION (MUST 밴드의 시대)

Hosted by YB Band, the show was a competition format in which various bands competed against each other.  Some already known to many people while others were more indie type of bands you’d find in Hongdae.  It’s too bad that Galaxy Express had that scandal towards the end of the run as we never got to see who the finalist ended up being.  My feeling is that it was probably Galaxy Express.

Verdict: Watch

OH! MY BABY (오! 마이 베이비)

With the popularity of Dad! Where Are You Going?, this show became SBS’ answer to that.  Instead of dads, this show is about grandparents taking care of their grandchildren.  The cast is a mixed bunch.  Some of the grandparents are celebrities, one of kids is an actor and there’s a mixed-race family whom I don’t believe is a celebrity at all (until this show).  The show isn’t as put together as the MBC program and they don’t have as many thought-provoking moments about the generational gap or child rearing.

Verdict: Pass

HEART BEATS (심장이 뛴다)

Another show that’s trying to follow the success of Real Men.  I have to say with this show that I love the cast.  If I just had more time, I would probably add this to my list of programs but I didn’t get past Episode 4.  I did see that there was room for improvement but I will say that this show is very different from Real Men in that you are witnessing real 119 cases.  Cases like trying to bring drunk men to the hospital as they are trying to argue and fight with you.  Or saving some from carbon monoxide poisoning because they left something on the stove and fell asleep.  Like the Real Men cast, this variety cast moves between various 119 emergency centers.

Verdict: Just OK

RUNNING MAN (런닝맨)

It has been an inconsistent year for Running Man.  I’m still watching but this year was the first time I dozed off while watching an episode.  I know it’s hard to constantly come up with new games but this show does need a breath of fresh air.  There were some episodes that have been really funny while I left other episodes on as background noise.

Verdict: Just OK

1 NIGHT 2 DAYS: SEASON 2 (12: 시즌2)

Season 2 wasn’t as great as the first but it did have its moments here and there.  At the end there, I became particularly fond of Sung Shi Kyung and Yoo Hae Jin which I know is odd.  I don’t think there are many people who will say that but I think it’s because it took a long time for them to come out of their shell.  However once Lee Su Geun had his gambling scandal and had to stop all entertainment work, the show was pretty much done.  He’d been leading the show ever since Season 2 started.  I was glad to say goodbye and thought the show ended on a decent note.  After hearing who the cast was for Season 3, it wasn’t enough to get me to continue watching.

Verdict: If you’re bored

WE GOT MARRIED (우리 결혼 했어요)

This show has been losing steam for some time now and there were definitely some boring couples over the last year.  I don’t find Lee Tae Min and Son Na Eun all that exciting.  They’re cute as in young but not all that dynamic.  Jung Joon Young frustrates  me and I soooo would not want to date a guy like him.  I feel bad for Jung Yoo Mi but I have to admit that Joon Young’s antic have cracked me up a couple of times.  That’s the couple that’s entertaining to watch just to see the back and forth.  The couple that makes me swoon is Yoon Han and Lee So Yeon.  I don’t think I ever thought of any other couple as romantic since Alex and Shinae but Yoon Han and Lee So Yeon have find overtaken that couple.

Verdict: Watch

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

Madagascar was the, THE highlight trip last year and I don’t think the show has reached those same heights yet.  Kim Byung Man is awesome.  The way he goes out there and scales a tree, catches fish with his bare hands or builds a hut; he’s pretty damn resourceful.  It’s just that the cast this year hasn’t been all that great and the locations are starting to all look the same. Micronesia is the latest trip and so far Ye Ji Won and Im Won Hee have been cracking me up.  They are just so funny.

Verdict: Just OK

GRANDPAS OVER FLOWERS (꽃보다 할배)

Na PD was back and he’s brought some Halbaes.  And a luggage slave by the name of Lee Seo Jin.  The tricking, the adjusting on-the-go, the Halbaes different personalities.  The first season was just magic.  While Lee Seo Jin started to adjust in the second season, the Sunny dynamic added another layer of greatness.  You just have to go watch this one.

Verdict: Must Watch

NOONAS OVER FLOWERS (꽃보다 누나)

I think my expectation were too high for this one after the Grandpas edition.  The first few episodes were filled with a lot complaining and nagging.  Is this how we women sound?  (Don’t answer that.)  However ever since “the poo” incident of Episode 4, I think the show has found its own pace that’s different from the Halbaes.  Yoon Yeo Jung and her constant repetition of the same story reminds me of my mom.  Episode 5 had her continually talking about finding a new curling iron.  It’s the broken record that never ends!

Verdict: Watch

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2013 may not have been the year for K-Dramas but it certainly was a year for K-Variety shows.  New shows and formats and brand new variety heroes.  Here are the winners of this past year including a brand new category.

BEST K-VARIETY OF THE YEAR

This one was a hard one as there were several to choose from so I settled on a tie between two winners.

DAD! WHERE ARE YOU GOING? – I actually really love the Dad/Kid-Vacation dynamic.  The kids have their own really great personalities and I think a lot of the dads have also changed and gotten to know their kids over the year.  Originally I wasn’t going to choose this show as I thought it premiered last year.  It’s such a well-produced and edited show that you feel like they’ve been doing for years.  However it premiered early in 2013 and is still going strong.  Now they’ve even brought on some of the siblings and I’m so in love with Kim Min Yul that I just want to take him home with me.

OUR NEIGHBORHOOD VARIETY SPORTS – I will say that I did start to get bored during some of the badminton series as it just went on for too long.  And the Ye Che Neung team wasn’t winning so it just brought the show down.  The basketball episodes were a 180 for me.  At first, I wasn’t used to seeing a basketball game edited and cut down like that.  However, the editors figured out a way to make the whole game fit in without missing the thrill and action.  Also this show does encourage me to get up off the couch and I have brought a few episodes with me to the gym to watch on the treadmill.  They’re running and I’m running.  It works.


BEST K-VARIETY ENSEMBLE CAST

REAL MEN – This bunch of actors/singers/entertainers were brought together by the show and over the last few months they’ve become a real troop who care about each other and encourage one other.  There’s a real bromance between these members and heartening to watch them struggle through their training drills.

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