New midweek shows “On Air,” “Who Are You?”
Last week saw the finales of both of Hong Gil Dong‘s competitors — New Heart crescendoed to its end with a whopping 33% rating, while Bulhandang [Con Man] limped to the finish line with a paltry 5%. (Hong Gil Dong has dropped a point or two, but is holding relatively stable in the 13%-15% range. We’ll see if the numbers pick up this week, since it’s going up against two newbies now.)
Speaking of which, let’s take a preliminary look at the two shows filling in the empty time slots for the foreseeable future: SBS’s anticipated On Air, and MBC’s Who Are You?, which looks like a family drama but is described more interestingly as a human drama mixing fantasy elements.
Of the two, I’d say SBS has the edge with its high-profile cast, well-publicized cameos by famous stars playing themselves (Jeon Do Yeon, Lee Hyori), and production muscle. I’ve also been hearing about it for, like, ever. At one point I wondered if it had already aired and I’d just somehow missed it, for all the news there was swirling around. But actually, I think I’m looking more forward to Who Are You?, once I actually looked into its story.
SONG OF THE DAY
On Air OST – “한가지말” by FT Island [ zShare download ]
What On Air‘s got going for it, I think, is that it’s timely. The intro given to us about its four leads, all of whom are involved in the high-profile entertainment industry in varying capacities, echoes real-world elements that we can see even as spectators. The publicity machine, the gossip, the fans and anti-fans, fame and its backlash, pressure, etc. No doubt the producers will have something to say about the crazy world they inhabit — or at least I hope they do, since what greater opportunity is there to simultaneously poke fun at the madness of celebrity and also show us common folk the ugly downside to fame that’s hardly seen from outside the shiny exterior?
Take for instance Kim Haneul‘s character (she of 90 Days’ Time to Love, My Tutor Friend), an A-list actress who’s got it all — looks, money, fame, designer clothing, awards — who refuses an acting award and suddenly finds herself at the maelstrom of negative press and rapidly multiplying anti-fans. Still, as the top star commanding box office power, she’s in a strange position of vulnerability and power.
Park Yong Ha (Loving You, Winter Sonata), meanwhile, plays a drama PD at fictional channel “SBC” — SBS isn’t even trying to be clever about the pseudonym, is it? — who’s the station’s “dark horse” but also been frustratingly kept in the associate director slot (rather than moving on to lead director) because his taciturn, reserved demeanor gets mistaken for rudeness. He lives and dies by the audience ratings, and in order to score success, he needs a fantastic writer. Someone like the writer played by Song Yoon Ah (My Sister, Arang, Hotelier). He sets off to persuade her to work on his next project.
As a writer, she’s hugely successful, known for fantastic ratings, wonderful dialogue, and splendid dramas. But as a result of Kim Haneul’s actress character refusing an award, she becomes more famous for the gossip than for her writing. Having fashioned her career from 95% convention, 5% originality, she starts to have doubts about all the dramas revolving around adultery, terminal diseases, and the Cinderella syndrome. (Like I said, it’s verité!)
Rounding out the main four, Lee Beom Soo (most recently of Surgeon Bong Dal Hee) plays the head of a management company who’s built his career cultivating stars and relationships. He’s gone above and beyond to be at the beck and call of his actors, always there when needed, but has found himself easily cast aside when the actors hit it big. He’s at the point where he wonders if this is all there is when he’s approached by Kim Haneul’s top-star-in-trouble character.
On Air is written by Kim Eun Sook, who wrote the Lovers trio (Paris, Prague, and plain Lovers), and directed by Shin Woo Chul, who also worked on the above-mentioned three series.
Meanwhile, MBC is premiering Who Are You?, which also happens to be 18-year-old Go Ara‘s first role playing an adult; she got her start in the high school comedy series Sharp and went on to supporting teenager roles in dramas like Snowflake. In Who Are You? her character loses her father in a sudden accident and works to manage life on her own, while dreaming of becoming a manhwa writer-artist.
(By the way, MBC’s official website is rather unfortunately abbreviated (intending to be cute, I suppose) “Who R U,” but that just ends up looking like http://www.imbc.com/broad/tv/drama/whoru/.)
Initially, the series looked pretty ordinary, but the more I read about it, the more interesting it seems. Apparently Ara’s father — a delivery man who dies in an accident — is given 49 days in this world in which he gets to do things before moving on to the afterlife. (You may recognize him, Kang Nam Gil, from Bad Family, Goong, Pure 19 — if anything, he’s got the goofy but lovable father role down pat.) He’ll get to make up for all the things he didn’t do for his daughter, although it seems Ara’s character won’t know it’s him (thus the “Who Are You?” of the title). Luckily, the body he’ll be inhabiting for his brief stay (actor Yoon Kye Sang) belongs to a young, smart — and rich! — man. Jackpot!
The Body, on the other hand, isn’t quite so happy about it. First off, he doesn’t even want to believe there are such things as spirits — but the proof is incontrovertible. And to think the spirit dares even to take momentary control over his own body without permission! And he’s the father of the girl he loves! Talk about conjuring a new twist on the term “love triangle,” eh?
Okay, I admit that a weird romance thingy with Ara and Yoon Kye Sang might be a little squicky — Oedipal (or Electra complex-y) connotations and all that. But it could be sweet.