Drama Casting & News
Monday-Tuesday ratings analysis: One hit, one cult following, one flop
by | July 9, 2008 | 23 Comments

When Night Comes, Strongest Chil Woo

This is interesting because I’m actually watching all three Monday-Tuesday dramas right now, and I agree with the general points made, and yet find the outcome curious. Gourmet is the undeniable winner, consistently earning more viewers than When Night Comes and Strongest Chil Woo combined — and based on what I’ve seen, rightly so.

But what strikes me as odd is that although Chil Woo manages every week to barely beat out Night, ratings-wise, their numbers have been fairly comparable. So why is one being called a mania drama (a cult hit), while the other is on the verge of being pegged a flop? To wit:

MBC’s ambitiously prepared Monday-Tuesday drama When Night Comes hasn’t been able to work free of its struggle. On top of that, its lead actors’ conditions have been aggravated by injury. These days, Night seems to be acting true to its title, slipping into trouble when night comes along.

And yet, by contrast:

The KBS2 MondayTuesday drama starring Eric (Moon Jung-hyuk), Strongest Chil Woo, seems set for mania drama status following Hong Gil Dong.

Although the ratings have come to a standstill after going up and down around the 10% mark following the premiere, it’s stirring up strong response within a faction of its viewership.


When Night Comes OST – “사랑 탐험” (Love exploration) by Buga Kingz [ Download ]

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Let me preface this by saying: Don’t shoot the messenger. Commenting on certain big-star-driven series tends to bring out offended fans. I have no vendetta against any drama — dude, they’re DRAMAS. It just means my opinion doesn’t jibe with yours.


June 17 Gourmet E1: 13.2%
Gourmet E2: 16.1%
Chil Woo E1: 9.1%
Chil Woo E2: 11.5%
Yi San Special
June 23 Gourmet E3: 16.4% Chil Woo E3: 10.5% Night E1: 11.6%
June 24 Gourmet E4: 16% Chil Woo E4: 11.3% Night E2: 9.9%
June 30 Gourmet E5: 16.4% Chil Woo E5: 9.9% Night E3: 9.2%
July 1 Gourmet E6: 18.3% Chil Woo E5: 10.5% Night E4: 9.2%
July 7 Gourmet E7: 18.1% Chil Woo E7: 9.4% Night E5: 8.1%
July 8 Gourmet E8: 20.2% Chil Woo E8: 10.6% Night E6: 9.1%

I think Gourmet has earned its first-place standing, because whether or not you like the drama, its production value is clear — directing, acting, location, cinematography, music, planning. Obvious care has been put into the planning and execution of the series.

Night and Chil Woo both have their strengths and weaknesses, but are on less firm ground — I think it all amounts each viewer deciding for him/herself whether the strengths outweigh the weaknesses. Plus, this viewer judgment may also be directly correlative to expectations. I can say I had higher hopes for Night (well, considering I had none at all for Chil Woo), so you’ll have to factor in an audience’s subsequent feelings of disappointment (or positive surprise).

Night‘s viewers had a high level of interest in the series, and the drama seemed set to cruise by. But after the first episode, viewers have been gradually dropping off, and as each day goes by, the drama is unable to command attention.

Night‘s relative late start is cited as one of the reasons for its lower numbers, and I agree that may have been a factor, but it can’t explain the situation entirely:

However, three weeks have passed after the series began, and excitement over Night is not warming. In fact, it’s lower now than at its first episode.

There was room for Night to grow — Gourmet‘s numbers remained constant for a few weeks, and didn’t jump till its sixth episode. It’s possible viewers gave Night a few episodes to improve, then made the switch.


“An unappealing Heo Cho-hee and story make for a boring 80 minutes”

Night‘s obstacle is that its female lead character, Heo Cho-hee, isn’t all that appealing. …

At Night‘s pre-broadcast press conference, Kim Sun-ah gave the assurance that “I will become Heo Cho-hee, not Sam-soon.” She was confident in the character of Cho-hee. However, there are many who feel that Sam-soon has merely taken up a new job in the Cultural Heritage Foundation. It’s proof that the character isn’t very different from Sam-soon.

In Night, Cho-hee does share many similarities with Sam-soon. The acting Kim Sun-ah shows brings to mind that character in many ways. But Cho-hee isn’t an evolution of Sam-soon, and is rather a character without development who lacks self-confidence, unlike Sam-soon. … Sam-soon’s large appeal lay in the fact that she was forthright and confident in herself. Furthermore, she didn’t hesitate in front of love. …

However, Cho-hee doesn’t show any of those traits. She’s skilled at her work, and the person she has feelings for also likes her [platonically], but all she does is watch from afar.

There’s more, but I think we get the point, and I’m only about half onboard with it. I do agree that Cho-hee’s a lot less interesting than Sam-soon, but I also think a series shouldn’t hold her up to Sam-soon-ish standards. I also think it’s the actor’s job to distinguish each of their characters as unique and compelling, so perhaps this is more of a Kim Sun-ah issue than a character issue.

Another problem is its predictable story. Actually, Night is moving along at a rather quick pace. July 7’s broadcast was only the fifth episode but already the loveline between the leads was set into motion.

However, compared with the speedy developments, the plot leaves much to be desired. Comic moments within scenes may work sometimes, but sometimes also serve to upset the balance. Furthermore, with the subject based on finding cultural treasures, the chase scenes should feel full of suspense — but not only are the scenes predictable, because they lack dramatic tension, they fizzle.

Despite all the criticism — and believe it or not, the article’s a lot harsher than the parts I’ve indicated — at least it doesn’t go out on a down note: “But the battle’s not over yet. It needs to counterattack now. … Night still has the chance to rally back.”

Its strengths are its cultural-heritage subject material and its veteran actors. Even without re-doing the story, these factors are enough to show potential for reviving Night. …

It’s time for Night to start over, and show us what they’ve got. It seems that many of the parts we’ve seen thus far could be cut. Now these people, who’ve been involved in quality projects in the past, must step up. Now is the time for Night to cast off its excess ornamentation and become a substantial, meaningful drama.

As for Strongest Chil Woo

The source of Chil Woo‘s mania drama popularity can be found it the way the drama is unfolding, its characters, and the story.

First, regarding the material: mixed in with comments that “It’s childish” are others who say, “It’s refreshing.”

I think this is key with Chil Woo — it’s stupidly funny, but not necessarily stupid.

A drama that tries to be dramatic and ends up immature has failed, but a drama that embraces its childish glee just adds to its charm. Chil Woo has managed to tap into a really goofy, wild side of itself, but it knows where it stands and what it is — and that somehow, crazily, works.

Others find that “the developments are flashy and the pacing speedy, appealing to younger viewers.”

Some netizen comments: “It’s more thrilling than a movie, it’s refreshing, and it’s a sageuk I can relax and de-stress to. It’s really fresh compared to previous sageuks or action dramas.”

In addition to its light touch and its satirical approach in its subject material, it’s not a biography following the full life and times of a heroic figure but follows a strong episodic structure, another of the drama’s fortes.

Its structure allows it to have an impact, the events unfold quickly, the plot is engrossing, and it has a feel-good quality. For that reason, its mania fans give it a thumbs-up for being “a drama that’s tongue-in-cheek and witty.”

That doesn’t mean Chil Woo is home-free either, though. Although I dig all the wild and silly moments, when it dips into seriousness it invites comparisons with other sageuks, and most of those were better. So I think this drama’s key is in striking its balance between dark and light, and never forgetting what makes it different from Hong Gil Dong or Iljimae or all the others that came before.

However, to follow those mania dramas that preceded it, Chil Woo has some homework to do. It must raise its production quality. The viewers are all in agreement that the details of the narrative structure and character relationships need to be strengthened.

In addition, for the actors to shine and give energetic performances, they need proper camera work with smooth editing. And the actors will also have to apply themselves even more to showing the more detailed points to their action scenes and, of course, emotional acting.

Via Newsen, Asia Economy, Newsen


23 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. belleza

    I haven’t started on either show yet, but my impression was that the expectations for When Night Comes was both elevated and also negative at the same time. (Kinda the same as East of Eden . . . there’s a lot of dread going into that show too.) In other words, people were waiting to see whether Kim Sun Ah’s drama comeback would fail rather than succeed. Also, Lee Dong Gun’s own personal tragedy must have also weighed into affecting the prehype of the show.

    Chil Woo is different. Eric pocketed a lot of money for the show, but the casting and the overall tone of the show (my impression from your recaps) was that it was strictly made for the teenage set. And there, it’s probably hit the mark. Also, this show will probably do well in China, since fusion sageuks are not that different from the lighter, more action oriented costume TW-dramas.

    I’m still trying to understand the Iljimae’s commercial (and apparently critical) popularity right now. It’s not about whether the show is good or bad to me personally. The whole approach (really like watching a live cartoon!) is just really different than what I expected from even the most fusion-y sageuks, and this approach has apparently really connected with an audience.

  2. Skangrrl

    Actually I kind of agree that Cho-hee is like a poor man’s version of Sam-soon. I kind of expected a real kick arse, Lara-Crofty type chick and got a slightly more beefed up Sam-soon with more angst and less charm. I admit that Sun-ah is a little disappointing in differentiating this character. But I must point out Lee Dong gun as the irritating, egoistical player with a glimmer of gold in his chest region (i.e. needs eons to develop into a heart of gold. He is surprisingly good in this and they have an odd chemistry that is very Hollywood, ole-school. Not sure at this point if it comes from the writing or actual chemistry between the two leads.

    Fortunately I did not have very high expectations of When Night Comes so I am rather enjoying it and I hope it will improve. I like the cultural heritage element but wish there was a bit more action and less contrived “I gotta arrest my own poppa” drama. The direction is a little awkward there.

    I can’t really seem to get into Chil Woo as with Iljimae at the moment, for some strange reason.

    Am craving Gourmet with subs. Been craving Korean food like crazy for the past few weeks.

    • 2.1 LoonyLizard

      I don’t believe what I’m reading. Cho-hee is SO much more mature than Sam-soon was. Cho-hee is smart, sassy, very realistic, and far too wise to the world to be taken in by a loser jerk the way Sam-soon was. It’s not so much a situation where she HAS to arrest her pops, but one where underneath her confident exterior she’s wondering how she will ever resolve the dual shame of being a thief’s daughter and the last words she said to him before he disappeared. While her charm may not be as obvious as that of Sam-soon, I think the subtlety and the duality of Cho-hee makes her an even more attractive character, certainly one who’s more well-rounded and mature. Once you get to know Cho-hee, you understand the heaviness she seems to carry with her, and like Bum-sang, you find yourself wanting to find ways to lighten the load for her, all the more so because she would never dream of burdening anybody by asking for help with it.

  3. yetti

    i’m the flop and proud of it.

  4. nileey

    I wanted to watch Gourmet, but heard it’s been licensed so can’t find anything available online for the moment 🙁

  5. Strongest Jo

    Wow, I’m glad that Gourmet beat up the other Monday-Tuesday dramas cause they need to be. Strongest Chil Woo is just…..how do I put this…….crap. I mean don’t get me wrong, I love Eric, which is the reason why you (Javabeans) are recapping the series, right? And the series with Kim Sun Ah (I love her), is so boring. I just couldn’t go through the first episode.

    I know that you don’t like Iljimae, but it kind of grown on me. You can never deny the poor weak hero turned buff and well heroic. But I’m not too excited about the whole magical propesct of the drama. I think when that kicks in, I’ll drop the drama, it just sounds ridiculous using magical Harry Potter junk, not that Harry P is junk.

    I don’t know why but Gourmet doesn’t appear to me…..so my Monday and Tuesday have be occupied by COD4 Live, kicking some ass.

  6. Bee

    Mmm… When Gourmet’s rating went up over the 20% mark, When it’s at night also gained a full precentage point… so how can Gourmet have stolen views from Night? Isn’t it more like viewers came back? (Though I have no idea from where, since Chil Woo also gained in ratings.)

    Episode 6 also fixed the “admiring from afar” thing, since Cho hee confesses her feelings to Kang. It was sweet to see how it was actually her interaction with Kim Bum Sang that forced her out of her standstill…

  7. bird

    actually, imma have to eat my earlier words on Night. the pacing got a lot better after episode 3! i watched eps 3-6 last night and um, dare i say it, i quite enjoyed myself :/ agree with skangrrl about the two leads having a kind of oddly captivating chemistry. it’s really sweet to watch.

    i do agree that kim sun-ah can’t seem to shake herself free from vestiges of samsooni, but i’d think that that’d attract KSS fans to the show, wouldn’t it? though it seems kinda shallow, hardcore fans of sam-soon will be more than happy to see more of KSS.

    i don’t think kim sun-ah can actually help that cho-hee’s similar to sam-soon, because the problem here is that kim sun-ah HERSELF is similar to sam-soon. if you watch section tv, you’ll see she’s funny and raucous in real life, so its just that she tends to personalise her characters by imputing her actual personality into the written character. i find that lee ha-na and nam sang-mi tend to do that as well. and i don’t see it as a problem, because they translate to a certain quirkiness only the particular actress can pull off. it’s all about being memorable, instead of a one-dimensional heroine that any lee da-hae/han ji-hye can play (which surely does not bode well for Eden. hmm)

    @ niley and strongest jo: i’m watching gourmet on a website that streams live with korean audio and chinese subs (works for me since i’m fluent in chinese and i don’t understand korean when it’s spoken quickly), but i don’t know if posting the link here’ll get me into trouble hehe

  8. Orchid

    Y’know that 4th pic of Kim Suna and Lee Dong-gun…at first i thought it was a screen cap from My Lovely Samsoon. The part where she was walking to Mt Namsan and Hyun Bin was going after her. That suit she wears is almost similar.

  9. mrs bariqikram


    Kim Suna and Lee Dong-gun r talented in holding thiers lead roles!
    both r doing fine, exciting , interesting , comedy 2 n fun….hahaaha

    They can werked together in team also cute couple in tis latest korean drama , i’m still follow up.

    Goes 2 eric moon and kim rae won also doing fine.
    all of them BEST OF LUCK!

    fighting 🙂

  10. 10 yeli

    @ orchid

    I thought the same exact thing…i was like, “wait, that’s not Hyun Bin” lol

  11. 11 Orangehaji

    I finally watched an episode of Gourmet..Everything is good..i mean everything…but the story is just TOO ORDINARY..(d foods are awsome tho)

  12. 12 Jeon

    Hate to be one of those people who ntipicks small crap, but isn’t the song of the day by Buga Kingz?

  13. 13 Sue

    typo: bugz kingz. LOL.

  14. 14 diana

    hi javabeans.. hehe, from what you say, Gourmet sounds like a good drama.. i like kdramas dat have a good script and strong plotline… some just tend to be all over the place..huhu, albeit the beautiful actor and actresses they put in the dramas…

    i would like your opinion.. i’ve downloaded one whole kdrama and i would like to burn it in dvd to watch on tv using a dvd player,,is dis possible? the dvds i’ve burn so far are data dvd, so i cant watch it on tv.. i installed the roxio creator home.. it doesnt seem to be able to edit the videos i’ve downloaded.. does the video need to be a certain format?

    i’ve asked other ppl too.. hope dat i will finally solve this dilemma..hehe..thx

  15. 15 phiphi

    I haven’t watched Gourmet, so can’t really comment on the plot, story line or acting. However I’ve seen the screen caps of Gourmet and they look amazing. I’m not surprised that Gourmet win you over with its production values in term of location, cinematography, music & planning. After all it had the biggest production cost out of the 3 dramas ($10 billion wons – over $10.5 million US)

    I agree with Belleza that Chil Woo will probably does better in China. This fusion sageuk drama style is similar to many HK/TW period dramas. I enjoy Chil Woo a lot as it light, amusing & witty.

  16. 16 Bunde

    To watch the episodes on dvd, you have to convert it from avi format to dvd format. I think dvd format is mpeg4 but you should check. The conversion process takes a long time. In my opinion, it’s not worth the time and effort. It may be for you, but for most people I know, it isn’t.

    You could just try to connect your computer to a large tv using s-video to s-video connection (or component to component) if both the computer and tv have them.

    • 16.1 LoonyLizard

      Also, the Slingbox lets you stream stuff from your computer to your TV, if you’re willing to invest $200 or so.

  17. 17 Bunde

    I am just happy that I have 3 reasonably watchable dramas to watch.

  18. 18 etee

    What is the difference between a superb piece of work (MNIKSS) and so-so piece of work (WIAN)? It’s all about teamwork. MNIKSS had all the right ingredients from superb acting, casting, directing and screenplay.

    For me, WIAN, up to ep 5 or 6 was still interesting enough….started to get draggy after that and was quite disappointed with this drama. I suppose the weakest link in the WIAN teamwork has to be the screenplay….story and content not the greatest unlike MNIKSS which had a realistic but simple content. I suppose the only thing that kept me watching right to the end was the odd chemistry (a few commented) between the 2 lead actors. This has always been KSA’s forte…the ability to link up with her leading man (no matter who).

    always a KSA fan!

  19. 19 Anonymous

    Hmmm…It’s quite interesting to read others’ arguments on WIAN. Personally, I enjoyed the drama. Both Lee Dong Gun and Kim Sun Ah handled their leading roles well. Besides, as someone has said, there is this odd chemistry between the 2 (but I dont think they are that close in real life, unlike the chemistry KSA had with her other male actors off screen).

    I agree that Heo Cho Hee is not as appealing as KSA (who is anyways), and does share lots of similar traits, but it doesnt pull me away from WIAN. I actually rather appreciate the fact that KSA brought her real personality into her characters. She makes her roles come alive and gives audience a light atmosphere. That”s why everyone loves KSA.

    At last, despite of criticisms or low rating, I still think WIAN is a great, unique movie (not as good as MNIKSS, of course but decent). It kept my interest until the end. I actually finished the series in less than a week (I think 3 or 4 days), and am re-watching it.

  20. 20 lover sunah tt

    i love you ms kim sun ah

  21. 21 LoonyLizard

    Blatantly disagreeing with javabeans, I think that Heo Cho-hee may very well be Kim Sun-ah’s finest performance of all. Of course, I have yet to see her in “Scent of a Woman,” so it’s possible she brings even more depth there. Far from being the heart-on-her-sleeve, used-by-jerks Sam-soon, Cho-hee is a much more mature and worldly wise woman than we’ve seen Sun-ah-shi play before. While the director does seem to drop a few things, the dialog is top-notch, being both witty and believable. I absolutely LOVE how Cho-hee is a woman who’s confident in her job, sassy and bold to almost everybody, yet secretly harbors the deep shame and regret of being the daughter of a legendary art thief. I love how Sun-ah-shi is FINALLY getting a role where her character is not some helpless lost lamb, but something more akin to a lioness on the prowl. She’s well-matched by Lee Dong-geon’s portrayal of Kim Bum-sang in a way that is incredibly rare amongst Korean romantic comedies. While it may have only received marginal ratings in its native region, it’s fast becoming a favorite with western audiences, being reminiscent of both “Scarecrow & Mrs King” and “Remington Steele,” due to the combination of danger, intrigue, and the clash of the VERY strong personalities of the central characters. If you haven’t watched it all through yet, you really ought to – it’s great fun with an ending that will leave you chuckling for the rest of the night.

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