End of the Year TV Report (2015): Part 2

Next up, currently airing K-Dramas and K-Variety programs.



The OST rating system is:

Must Watch“네게 줄 수 있는건 오직 사랑뿐 (I Can Only Give You Love)” by December from Answer Me 1988
Watch“Darling U” by Kim Tae Woo, Ben from Oh My Venus
Just OK“괜찮아요 (It’s Gonna Be Alright)” by Orange Marmalade from Orange Marmalade
If you’re bored“잊혀져간다 (Becoming Forgotten)” by Lee Jung from Last
Pass“Love Lies (feat. 짙은) (Love Lies (feat. Zitten)” by Tearliner from Heart to Heart

CURRENTLY AIRING K-DRAMAS

ANSWER ME 1988 – 응답하라 1988

The first few episodes were slow and I’ll admit that I fell asleep a few times trying to watch them. But afterwards, I found a deeply emotional family drama. Sure, the dragging out of the heroine’s husband is typical and an annoying aspect of the Answer Me series but this drama has so much more going for it besides the OTP plotline that I’m willing to overlook it.

Verdict: Must Watch

IMAGINARY CAT – 상상고양이

I can’t help rooting for Jo Hye Jung as she grows as an actress. Having said that, the drama features a cute, chubby cat, not unlike Garfield, and stars Yoo Seung Ho. While the drama does lack substance, it has a short run. Plus, Yoo Seung Ho is an excellent actor and while you might recommend that I should be watching his other drama instead, Remember: A Son’s War, and while I wouldn’t disagree with you, I was honestly in the mood for a light-hearted drama and this foot the bill.

Verdict: If you’re bored

OH MY VENUS – 오 마이 비너스

What started out as a cute drama about two characters who help each other with their insecurities and fall in love, I enjoyed seeing how their characters would evolve whether it involved physical changes on the outside or emotional changes on the inside. Unfortunately, I’m confused and disappointed by the direction of the drama in the final act as the writing has now backed the flow of the story into a wall. Now it looks like these final episodes are just filler episodes as we’ve lost the momentum of core tension in the drama.

Verdict: Just OK

K-VARIETY SHOW

DATING ALONE (나홀로 연애중)

It was a short-lived reality/game show on JTBC. On the one hand, it felt like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure meets We Got Married. The charm of the show is how it went about this virtual reality experience and had the various contenders going about figuring out how they would attract the respective virtual girlfriend/boyfriend that was featured in each episode. It was also interesting to see how the celebrity significant other would react to various actions. The show starts off with various female celebrities as the virtual girlfriend but I have to admit that my interest peaked when female celebrities contenders vied for the affections of the virtual boyfriend. My personal fave is the Seo Kang Joon episode as it was hard for me not to coo and giggle every time he stared at the camera with his pouty lips. There I said it.

Verdict: If you’re bored

ANIMALS (애니멀즈)

If you’re the type to like cute animals and kid videos, then this is the show for you. The show was separated into two parts: the OK Ranch and Dogs Who Went to Nursery School. It features celebrities taking care of animals on the ranch and animals and kids in the nursery. The show had a short shelf-life but it was adorable and amusing while it was lasted.

Verdict: If you’re bored

ABNORMAL SUMMIT (비정상 회담)

This debate show featuring people from all over the world living and working in Korea had a pretty stagnant run for a good part of last year. However, it revamped itself by inviting new foreigners outside of the G12 to guest star on each episode. It not only gave us insight to the new country but also how the countries of the G12 viewed that country. As for the debates themselves, my interest in them varies from week to week depending on the question but I am definitely more interested in questions that have to deal with current events such as the more recent debate about terrorism.

Verdict: Watch

THREE MEALS A DAY: FARMING VILLAGE (삼시세끼: 정선편)

I have to admit that it was so sad to hear what happened to the dogs, Minky and Sapi, after the filming ended. So much so, that it now colors my opinion of the show as I look back on it. Despite the fact that Lee Seo Jin, Ok Taecyeon and Kim Kwang Kyu have great chemistry, this season was underwhelming compared to the previous ones. I’m not sure that no matter what guest comes on, the same variety plotlines is repeated. If it’s a female guest, there’s automatically a loveline. If it’s a male guest, they’ve got a new maknae/slave. I am interested to see where the show will take place if they decide to do a new season and most likely to a new location. Hopefully, the production team will ensure that the animals at the new farm have a home in which the caretakers are able to look after them properly.

Verdict: Just OK

INFINITY CHALLENGE (무한도전)

After not watching the show for about a year, I started watching again at the end of last year with the 90’s revival concert. Since then, I’ve been consistently watching and it’s interesting to see how the show changes and evolves. Not all episodes may be winners but certainly there have been more winners this year than losers. Despite my initial hesitation with Kwang Hee, he’s actually been great on the show and has great chemistry with the other members. If you weren’t a fan of Kwang Hee before, it pays to watch him in the most recent episodes.

Verdict: Watch

WE GOT MARRIED (우리 결혼 했어요)

This show has its ups and downs but I think the show does a good job in matching celebrities together. As much as they are a fake couple, I’m quite partial to Oh Min Suk and Kang Ye Won and Kim So Yeon and Kwak Shi Yang, so much so that I wouldn’t mind seeing them as a real couple off-screen. I’m always curious to see what the next couples will deliver.

Verdict: Watch

REAL MEN: SEASON 2 (진짜 사나이 2)

Even Real Men has its ups and downs but I actually like this cast of characters. Sleepy certain has become a star because of this show and at the moment, I’m finding Din Din hilarious. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who thought he resembled Park Seo Joon. Currently, the Marines appear to be pushing these men to limits they haven’t reached before. We’ve yet to discover if the next troop that they end up with will push them further and I’m hoping to see Jugn Kyung Woon and Kim Young Chul return to the show after their respective accidents.

Verdict: Watch

RUNNING MAN (런닝맨)

Aaah, Running Man. I still hold a fond place in my heart for the members but as for the last year, I enjoyed the episodes with our core cast members rather than the ones featuring special guests. Except for one of the most recent episodes which pitted Running Man versus X-Man.

Verdict: Just OK

SUPERMAN RETURNS (슈퍼맨이 돌아왔다)

I can’t help but be endeared by these celebrities fathers who watch over these adorable kids. I love how they each discover new things about each other whether it’s how to walk or what their kids like to eat. I’m sad that we will no longer see the triplets, Dae Han, Min Guk and Man Se but I’m so glad to see the Lee Dong Guk’s Five Siblings are so entertaining. Dae Bak – ah!

Verdict: Must Watch

KING OF MASKED SINGERS (복면가왕)

Even though I’m wrong 9 times out of 10, it’s interesting to guess who might be under the mask. It’s especially interesting if it’s a good singer but their main occupation is not a singer. The current Masked King is Amazon Cats Girl who is amazing and I have a feeling she could continue to be the king for much, much longer and set a brand new record. I have a sneaking suspicion that she’s Musical Actress Jeon Soo Kyung but the downside is that we won’t know for sure until she’s dethroned.

Verdict: Just OK

NEW JOURNEY TO THE WEST (신서유기)

It’s like a mini-1 Night 2 Days reunion. It was nice to see the gang back together only because we got to see their antics again. The unusual thing about this show is that because it was meant for the web, so the series is segmented into 10 – 15 minute chunks. Despite it being disjointed, the gang is hilarious but I’m hoping that if the series continues, they would bring back some moments of insight and heart that made the original 1 Night 2 Days team great.

Verdict: Watch

SHOW ME THE MONEY: SEASON 4 (쇼미더머니 시즌 4)

Apparently, this season had a lot of controversy due to the editing and the missions. However, I enjoyed getting to know some rappers I would have never gotten to know if they weren’t part of the show. Some are underground rappers, others are embedded as part of a larger idol group. Despite my initial reservations about Zico being one of the judges, he proved that he wasn’t just an idol but rather an artist.

Verdict: Watch

PLEASE LOOK AFTER FATHER (아빠를 부탁해)

With all the success of Dad! Where Are You Going? and Superman Returns, celebrity fathers have been put in the spotlight. What’s unique about this show is that the kids are all grown-up. Some had great relationships with their dads, others had awkward relationships with their dad. My favorite father-daughter pairing is probably Jo Hyun Jae and Jo Hye Jung because their relationship has come such a long way since the beginning. However, towards the end of the series run, I also became fond of Park Joon Chul and Pro-golfer Park Se Ri. Their witty banter was just too amusing to watch and I got hungry every time I saw Park Joon Chul scarf down food wherever they went.

Verdict: Watch

OUR NEIGHBORHOOD VARIETY SPORTS (우리 동네 예체능)

I’ll have to admit that I usually marathon a few of these episodes at a time. However, the show does a great job in making you feel proud of the YeCheNeung team members whether they were originally skilled in that sport or showing how much they’ve improved over time. I’ve also learned in the past couple of months that Actor Sung Hoon (Oh My Venus) is an excellent swimmer. Actor Lee Jae Yoon (Heart to Heart) is not only a good swimmer but he’s also picked up on judo really quickly because he was a martial arts athlete. Former Olympian Cho Jun Ho, who has been coaching the YeCheNeung judo team, is hilarious. And now I’m also interested in getting to know the music of rookie idol group, Madtown, because Jota has been so amazing on the show thus far. Although, Jota was on the track to becoming a judo athlete until an injury sidelined him. Still, it’s amazing to see what these celebrities do what they do and depict a wholesome image of sportsmanship and teamwork.

Verdict: Watch

UNPRETTY RAPSTAR: SEASON 2 (언프리티 랩스타 시즌 2)

As much as Show Me the Money had its controversy, I felt that Unpretty Rapstar was even more disorganized. The format was not clearly established and then new competitors were added on in the middle of the competition. It just seemed all over the place. However, I did enjoy watching rappers such as Heize, Truedy, Yezi and Moon Sua. Personally, I think I would rather recommend that you listen to the tracks rather than watching the show.

Verdict: If you’re bored

TWO YOO PROJECT SUGAR MAN (투유 프로젝트 슈가맨)

I wasn’t convinced I wanted to watch the show after watching the pilot but once the show figured out their format, I think it came together nicely. There’s a trend these days in remaking old songs and I think I’ve learned a lot from this show. If you’re a fan of music, this show is definitely worth a try.

Verdict: Just OK

WITCH HUNT (마녀사냥)

It was surprising and sad to see this show end its run this year. It’s not that often that sex and relationships are discussed openly on Korean television. Well, as open as you could hope for considering the Korean culture. There are some memorable debates that the show had and some interesting segments about the views of women versus men but the talk might be considered too light on substance compared to what we’re used to in the West.

Verdict: If you’re bored

THREE MEALS A DAY: FISHING VILLAGE (삼시세끼: 어촌편)

I have to admit that what draws me to this show is watching Cha Seung Won cook. I literally want him to guest on Farming edition just so that he could show Lee Seo Jin and Ok Taecyeon how to cook. This season, it was also nice to see that Yoo Hae Jin could catch something. Combined with Son Ho Joon’s dopey personality, the three really showed off some great chemistry. And the highlight was watching each new guest show up and try to acclimate with the chemistry that was already there.

Verdict: Must Watch

SNL KOREA: SEASON 6 (SNL코리아 시즌 6)

Depending on the guest and the skits, the show had its ups and downs. I think it had a few more downs than ups but when the skit was good, it had me cracking up for days. I’m a big fan of Jung Sang Hoon who has become a fan favorite with his fake Chinese reporter, Yangkochien Tsingtao. However, I fear that his comedy really only comes across in Korean as it wouldn’t be possible to translate the humor into another language. Certainly, Abnormal Summit’s Zhang Yuan doesn’t find the fake Chinese funny but I know each culture does parody how another culture speaks. However, he was also in the parody of 50 Shades of Grey and that really does not need any translation. And yes, he does everything that his character does in that parody.

Verdict: If you’re bored

HEALING CAMP 500 (힐링캠프 500인)

I only watched this show occasionally but I recently became a regular watcher when the show decided to change their format. Kim Je Dong hosts the program along with Seo Jang Hoon and Hwang Kwang Hee. Each week the audience of 500 gets to ask questions to the guest along with the MC’s. The only hitch is that they do not know who the guest is until they arrive to the filming. Depending on the guest, the show may or may not be as exciting but the show has had more ups than downs so far.

Verdict: Watch/Just OK

_____________________________________________________

BEST K-VARIETY OF THE YEAR

HEALING CAMP 500 – The show took its old talk show format and revamped it in a completely new way. So much so that I think we got to see and hear a side of celebrities that is unfiltered and unplugged. I’m a little wary to totally gush about this show as it does vary from week to week. If you’re not interested in the guest, I can’t say that you’re going to remain interested in the show but what I value is that audience input. In the last few weeks, I’ve seen Kim Je Dong steering the reins on the question with the help of Seo Jang Hoon and Hwang Kwang Hee. When they first revamped the show, it was only Kim Je Dong but I expect the other MC’s were added to streamline the question process. However, it’s not clear how much of the audience questions are inputted into the show especially since they don’t know who the guest is before they walk in. So far the formula has been working pretty well as I’ve looked forward to watching each new episode, no matter who the guest is.

BEST K-VARIETY ENSEMBLE CAST

SUPERMAN RETURNS – I can’t help it. The kids are so damn adorable and I love it when they get mischievous and cause trouble for their parents. In a harmless sort of way of course. Who could forget Lee Dong Guk’s younger twins spilling out the bag of popped rice all across the dining room floor? Or Lee Seo Jun constantly saying “bah-nya-nya” in that cute baby voice? Or Sarang defying everyone’s expectation, including the traditional instructor’s, and taking her time to finish the last bit of her lunch so that she wouldn’t have to face punishment? It’s sad that we’ll no longer see the Song Il Guk’s triplets on the show anymore but I’m glad that Dae Bak is here to stay, at least for the time being.

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