Late Spring TV Report (2016)

THINK I DO REMEMBER HOW TO DO ONE OF THESE POSTS

It’s been so long since I last did one of these that I don’t know if I remember how to do one.  I don’t think I did one once last year but I’m going to try to better about getting these out.  It’s nice to be able to talk about shows that are currently running.  There are times when I start off loving a show only to be disappointed at the end.  Also, there are those American shows that I don’t have the time to do full reviews or shows that I’ve given up midway that it’s a nice way to recap some thoughts on those shows.

K-Drama

Daebak/Jackpot – 대박

I had a lot of hope for this drama.  I thought the brotherly rivalry was an interesting factor of the drama but there is so much going on in the drama that there’s very little that’s interesting.  Jang Geun Suk’s character is fictional and I’m not sure if it’s because he’s a fictional character that the writers are having difficulty grasping the point of the story but it’s all over the place.  It’s such a shame because I think the actors are doing such a good job.  It’s a bit difficult to explain because I find certain scenes so compelling because the acting is so good, like scenes with Jang Geun Suk, Choi Min Soo and Yeo Jin Goo.  However, I think the real history was more interesting than the story that’s being presented here.

Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul Ho – 동네변호사 조들호

Out of the 3 dramas that premiered in the Monday/Tuesday primetime spot, this was the one that I was least looking forward to only because I didn’t know much about the plot.  However, I decided to let Daebak go while keeping this one.  Go figure.  Sometimes I’m not a big fan of Park Shin Yang’s acting because he’s so over-the-top and crazy.  However, perhaps it’s also that over-the-top and craziness that makes me find his character gripping.  At the heart of the drama, it’s an underdog story and Kang So Ra’s down-to-earth acting which nicely levels out some of Park Shin Yang’s lunacy.

Monster – 몬스터

It’s a classic revenge story and there aren’t that many surprises in the plot but it’s certainly taking advantage of the chemistry of Kang Ji Hwan and Sung Yoo Ri.  I fell for the pair in Hong Gil Dong and chuckled at them during Detective Cha.  Unlike Hong Gil Dong, I guess I’m hoping that they will have a happy ever after ending but I can’t help but worry about the length of this program.  It’s a 50 episode drama and I’m not sure if the drama has a lot “story” or plot twists that will sustain viewers.  Even as of now, I’m watching more for the chemistry between the leads over the revenge plot but that can only take you so far.  I’m even getting a little impatient over when we might be able to see when Kang Gi Tan will find out who Oh Soo Yeon really is.  I guess all we can do is see and wait, albeit with a skeptical side glance.

Marriage Contract – 결혼계약

It’s not the most unique drama, nor is it the most unpredictable.  However, I’ve been watching Uee grow as an actress and playing a young, widowed mom seems to add another layer to her growing résumé.  I’m not really sure why it’s taken me so long to see Lee Seo Jin in a drama.  Actually, I take that back.  It’s been years since I’ve seen him in a drama, in which he played a vampire.  Yes, you read that right.  I honestly feel he’s pretty much playing himself, or at least the personality we’ve seen on his various variety shows.  However, it’s clear, even in this role as Han Ji Hoon, that he’s a great actor because he’s emotionally compelling.  Marriage Contract is your typical weekend drama and the plot isn’t complicated but I find the leads enjoyable.

Vampire Detective – 뱀파이어 탐정

As I’ve said before, I can’t resist passing up on a vampire drama.  OCN is no stranger to the drama but this is one that I decided to let go after the 3rd episode.  Unlike previous OCN mysteries/thrillers, I find the cases predictable and boring.  There are just other shows that have done it better than Vampire Detective.  Unless you’re a mega fan of Lee Joon, I recommend watching Vampire Prosecutor Season 1 instead as I think the stories were more interesting.  If you’re drawn to the gritty crime aspect, then I’d recommend Ten Season 1 and even Missing Noir M, which are both OCN programs.  And then, of course there’s Signal which ended recently on TVN.

Memory – 기억

I have to admit that I was reluctant to start this drama because of the depressing subject matter (I’m so ready for a light and fluffy romcom).  However, I couldn’t resist being pulled in by Lee Sung Min, who is flawed but heartbreakingly relatable.  I have to admit that you have to be in the mood to watch this emotional heavy drama but the drama is full of great performances and the story is multi-layered with various plotlines covering themes of corruption, loss and betrayal.

Entertainer/Ddanddara – 딴따라

I wasn’t expecting to write about this drama so soon but alas, after 2 episodes, it looks like we’re gonna have to part ways.  Sadness.  The first episode was slow and terrible.  I just started getting flashes of Trot Lovers in terms of the themes I was seeing in the drama and I was immediately turned off by it.  Am I seeing a pattern here with the Answer Me series actresses and their follow up projects?  Hmm, You’re All Surrounded with Go Ah Ra was okay even if her character was mediocre.  While the second episode is an improvement, I don’t think there’s enough anticipation in the drama to warrant me to keep watching this one.

K-Variety

Youth Over Flowers (Iceland/Africa) (꽃보다 청춘: 아이슬랜드/아프리카)

Unfortunately, the last two trips weren’t as exciting for me as the previous ones.  I gushed about the show upon the first airing but as the episodes went on, I just didn’t feel obsessed about it as I did the previous year.  Iceland was actually pretty funny but watching them in the freezing cold while it was freezing cold this past winter just didn’t make me appreciate the landscape.  I think if these episodes aired in the summer I would have enjoyed it more.  As for Africa, apart from the first episode, I didn’t laugh as much as I thought I would.  Both locations were certainly beautiful but we watch this show for something more than just seeing a bunch of guys going on a bromance backpacking trip.  Maybe it’s time to change up the format a bit.  Perhaps a co-ed one?  Thinking out loud here.

Abnormal Summit (비정상 회담)

My interest has been waning for some time now.  The most interesting about the show these days is that they invite a guest foreigner to come and talk about their country.  Through that segment, a lot of other countries get to be featured.  However, I haven’t really been interested in the debate topics for quite some time now.  I also think the show’s problem is that women aren’t represented enough.  I bet that even if you got a female foreigner from one of the G12 countries, they will have a very different opinion than the current members and that could bring a whole new insight to that country as well.

Our Neighborhood Variety Sports (우리동네 예체능)

I have been waiting for the Volleyball edition and finally, it’s here!  Woo!! But I’m still episodes behind.  Boo…  I love that Jota and Lee Jae Yoon came back.  I vaguely remember seeing Kim Se Jin in the sports section of the Korean newspaper back in the day and he still looks good.  I also hear that Sleepy joined the show and already I’m kinda chuckling to myself as I’m imagining him wincing in pain.  While the show’s interest overall is waning, if you enjoy the sport that they’re playing, it’s quite an enjoyable show.  It definitely something that’s very different from all the other variety shows out there.

Two Yoo Project Sugar Man (투유 프로젝트 슈가맨)

Every week, I get so excited for this show that I have to admit that I don’t even wait until I get home from work.  Shhh…  I try very hard to guess the Sugar Man but I realize there is a gap in my K-Pop or K-Music history.  I stopped listening and watching all Korean entertainment from 2000 to 2007 so there’s a great big black hole there.  However, I love that the show is able to bring back some of my favorite artists from the 90’s, some of which I could help but feature for my Jive Monkey Playlist posts.

New Journey to the West 2 (신서유기2)

I have yet to see how the broadcast version will differ from the disjointed web version.  However, S2 is still pretty hilarious.  I love that it feels like we get to see a side of their true selves.  For example, even though it still gets bleeped, we see more occasions where they are cursing.  Or occasions where they’re inebriated.  Instead of Seung Gi (due to his military service), they now have Ahn Jae Hyun joining them.  Seung Gi sent them a “get-out-of-jail-free” card in case they come across any hardship.  Of course, the group had already failed their first mission and opened up Seung Gi’s care package… only to find a letter to cheer them on.  I love how Seung Gi’s letter spelled out their doom and desperation.

Update: Just finished watching the broadcast version and confirmed that there is more content in the broadcast version so perhaps it’s worth the wait.

Actor School (배우학교)

I honestly thought this was a drama and was pretty intrigued about it when I first saw the posters and teaser.  Then, I saw the trailer.  The show features Park Shin Yang as the teacher who teaches a group of people how to act.  Of course, I was expecting to see people like Jang Su Won, who has been criticized in the past for his robotic acting, but I wasn’t expecting to see people like Lee Won Jong.  I thought it was interesting that he decided to join the show because he had lost his zeal for it.  It’s a mixed bunch and while the show occasionally made me laugh, I can’t say that the show was very entertaining.

Infinite Challenge (무한도전)

I understand why this show continues to be a ratings winner after all these years.  Although I was a bit scared for the members during the Perfect Sense challenge, I won’t lie.  It made me laugh.  I am totally looking forward to the Wedding Singer challenge and the Sechkies reunion.  I would also love it if Kim Tae Ho PD was able to bring Solid back together.  I know they’re trying but they’re the only 90’s group that I love that has yet gotten back together.  (I know, I know.  There’s Roo’ra too but beyond the fact that I don’t ever want to see a certain member ever again, it would be hard to get back together without it being awkward.)

We Got Married (우리 결혼했어요)

I was actually sad to see the So-Si couple go.  However, I’m excited to see Eric Nam and Solji.  As for the other couples, they are just okay.  The pro to having Yook Sung Jae and Joy on the show is that they’re young so they’re a lot they get to explore in their “relationship”.  As for Cao Lu and Comedian Jo Se Ho, their mismatched pairing is somewhat amusing.

SNL Korea (SNL 코리아)

The show has its ups and downs but I feel like it has more ups than downs.  The cast keeps growing and changing but they still manage to keep me laughing.  I’m quite partial to Shin Dong Yup’s corny jokes and I loved all the Descendants of the Sun parodies.  Lee Se Young is so good at imitating Ryu Seung Bum that I really want him to guest on the show.  I’m also glad to see Ye Won back in the spotlight following her scandal.  I hope her hard work pays off and that people would get to embrace her again.  Even Chloe Moretz making a cameo appearance on the show was awesome.

Running Man (런닝맨)

Running Man has been struggling for some time now.  It’s just doesn’t have the same zippy appeal that it did 2 years ago.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m gonna keep watching it but it’s purely out of loyalty for the members.  We also recently had to deal with a change in the supervising producer and I feel that the show hasn’t improved much.  I recommend that it might be time to get back to Running Man basics and perhaps bring some of the great vintage games that we saw in early episodes.

Superman Returns (슈퍼맨이 돌아왔다)

Daebak has stolen all of our hearts.  If you thought I squealed a lot while watching Song Joong Ki in Descendants of the Sun, I squealed for Daebak more.  Now I hear that we’re going to be getting even more celebrity dads who are going to raise their newly-born infant daughters in a community environment.  I’m intrigued.  Bring it on.

Real Men (진짜 사나이)

Real Men is all about casting, casting, casting.  Despite the fact that Lee Sang Yeob was absolutely adorable as the show’s narrator during the latest Female Soldier Special, I was underwhelmed by the female cast itself.  Right now, the show is running a Middle-Aged Special featuring celebrities in their 40’s.  I have to admit that I laughed-out-loud when Jo Min Ki found out that his platoon commander was his friend’s son.  Can’t make that stuff up.

King of Masked Singers (복면가왕)

The current King, Music Captain, has been breaking all records.  I mean, I loved almost all his performances.  Big Bang’s “Fantastic Baby” was so energetic and fun but I was blown away again recently when he did Seotaiji and the Boys’ “하여가 (Anyhow)”.  I wonder how long he will go.  As for the other competitors, they need to step up their game.  It’s not only enough to sing well but to think about the performance as a whole, as evidenced by the performance of previous winners.

Bonus – What Should I Watch?
Duet Song Festival vs. Fantastic Duo – 듀엣가요제 vs. 판타스틱 듀오

I started watching a bit of Duet Song Festival but I have to admit that I lost interest in the first episode and stopped watching.  However, maybe I just didn’t give it enough of a chance.  So I’m putting it out there.  Should I watch this show?  There’s also another show called Fantastic Duo which many not be exactly the same in format but relatively similar.  Thoughts?

American TVI am really behind on American TV so there is very little that I’ve seen watching live.  However, there were a few shows that I have kept up with and wanted to comment on.

The X-Files

So much exposition.  I wholeheartedly love The X-Files.  I have all 9 seasons on DVD and I have seen both movies in the movie theater.  There were only 2 other people in the movie theater opening weekend when the 2nd movie came out.  That, my friends, is what makes me an X-Phile.  Sometimes I just go pull a DVD off the shelf to watch and old episode if I’ve had a bad day.  Season 6 is one of my favorite seasons.  However, I think Season 10 (?) tried to do too much in such little time.  If you were a big fan of the original series, and I’m not just talking about the fact that you watched all 9 seasons, but you follow the cast and the crew to their project post-The X-Files, then I think you can watch this season with a feeling a nostalgia.  Otherwise, I think it’ll just go over most people’s heads.

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

I didn’t know what to expect of this miniseries.  I am actually old enough to remember the trial but I didn’t think I would actually remember so much of the drama behind-the-scenes.  Despite a few poor performances, some of the main players seemed to resemble their real life counterparts.  I also found that rehashing this case seems very timely with what has been going on in the news today.  Perhaps, it’s a sad reminder that not much has changed in the 20 years since this trial but more importantly, it reopens the dialogue about race.

Marvel’s Agent Carter

As much as the series is a fun, action-packed caper, what I really love most about the show is how strong the female characters come across.  Especially Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), who despite the era that the show takes place in, she doesn’t let any naysayers dictate what she should or should not do.  I even love that this season we got to see what Rose Roberts (Lesley Boone) could offer the team besides just being the front door secretary.  The villains are equally strong characters as Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett) and Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan) are intelligent as well as being deadly.  The icing on the cake was watching the adorable back and forth between Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy) and his wife, Ana (Lotte Verbeek).

The Catch

I’m a bit undecided about this new series.  I was excited to see Mireille Enos back on television because I enjoyed her in The Killing, even though I didn’t make it all the way through the series.  And I loved Peter Krause since his Sports Night days.  The first episode was exciting and zippy.  It felt like watching a more grown-up version of How to Steal a Million with Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole.  Strangely though, the 2nd episode felt like your average crime drama procedural.  I have yet to catch up on the 3rd episode but I’m hoping that the show maintains that heist caper genre and stays away from murder mystery.  I mean, I think Shonda Rhimes has murder mystery covered with How to Get Away with Murder anyways.

iZombie

The 2nd season started off on a drag with all the angst but the season starts get better once everyone is in on Liv’s (Rose McIver) secret.  Fiiinally.  I’m kinda loving the new Blaine (David Anders) for now but also somewhat missing the bad boy side.  I wouldn’t mind him joining the team as long as he keeps cracking those witty jokes.  Plus, Singer Rob Thomas makes a cameo in the season finale which is not to be missed.

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