Beethoven Virus: Episode 1
I expected it to be slightly more ominous and serious, but it’s really quite full of slapstick – mainly due to Lee Jia’s rather comic portrayals. It’s certainly dramatic, just not quite in the direction I was expecting…
Also, many thanks to Luv for allowing me to mooch off her screencaps. Again. As you can see, JGS’s Kang Gun Woo is very much the messy bachelor. 😀
SONG OF THE DAY
Eco Bridge – “Poor Love” [ Download ]
We begin with KANG GUN WOO the super tough conductor, played by Kim Myung Min, refusing to conduct in a full house. His reason is that the orchestra has not practiced enough and that nothing would make him go in front of that crowd.
The manager dude looks like his face is going to screw off, he’s grimacing so hard. He begs, threatens, but Kang Gun Woo refuses to be moved. He tells the manager that the concerto was written by Brahms, and that he hopes to see the composer when he goes to heaven – therefore he cannot conduct an orchestra that is not fully prepared.
Lol. That’s supposing he gets to heaven in the first place – which the manager brings up. Kang Gun Woo leaves.
However much of an asshat he seems, conductor Kang is quite the genius and is the foremost conductor in the world. (Atm, anyway.)
Then we switch to a shot of the other KANG GUN WOO, the policeman, played by the currently scruffy Jang Geun Suk. He’s asleep in the patrol car, having covered for various buddies for three days in a row. It must not be his week, because his patrol leader tells him to head over to a traffic accident before he can go home. (Um, wiping sweat with gloves is not generally considered the … cleanest thing.)
The two drivers argue endlessly, neither wanting to claim responsibility for the damages – then an enraged expectant father demands that officer Kang clear the roads – his wife is in labour (and the other direction of the road just happens to be blocked by a delivery van.)
Poor officer Kang gathers up what energy that remains to him and tries to persuade the two men (now locking horns) to stop arguing and move their cars… and the noise in the little alleyway reaches a crescendo.
Officer Kang looks heavenwise and arranges the noises around him into something that harmonizes with something much more pleasing – an orchestral piece. Adding to the mix is a modern element.
Back to the real world… His patience with the arguing men wears thin as both decide to wait it out. He gets into the second car and drives both cars into parallel position, clearing the street as well as incurring some secondary damage. Go officer Kang!
He meekly apologizes to the two asshats and urges the expectant father to go to the hospital.
(Captions read: Future conductor, Kang Gun Woo.)
Oh wow! DU RU MI, played by the lovely Lee Jia, manages to knock down the leaning tower of soju just by knocking her forehead on the table. She leaves the work party early to go to orchestra, and is heckled into playing one piece. She has a really hard head, if she can just break glass with it and not… sustain cuts.
The saga of Du Ru Mi (aka rough resume of her life thus far): ten years of musical background, graduated from music school, but couldn’t find a job so she spends all day proofreading and photocopying at her day job (city council) so she can support her violin-playing, which has been delegated to hobby status. (I think if my English teacher read that she’d kill me.)
She’s still terribly passionate. During her rant, I keep getting flashes of Sujini on caffeine.
All her colleagues start clapping for her, and she thinks to herself, ‘If I don’t play, I’ll probably get fired… right?‘ Her violin case has personality. I like. Anyway, she plays something short and energetic for her colleagues.
(It says in captions that in 63 days she will become the leader of an orchestra.)
The next day she brings in a veritable mountainload of paper for her boss, who suddenly likes classical music. He comments on a schoolmate of her’s, who seems to have many concerts and is considered Korea’s ‘Tchaikovsky’. She comments that her friend pays for the concert herself, and gets full houses using her relatives.
She’s actually just covering up for her own sore pride, and listens to the girl play on her work computer. Du Ru Mi grudgingly admits that the other girl isn’t so bad.
Then she gets the idea to suggest a concert for the city’s upcoming cultural festival.
Later she’s accompanying an older schoolmate to the nascent music hall. She helps out in setting up and playfully picks at the piano strings. The music hall even comes with an attached office, with plush furniture, but more importantly, books.
Du Ru Mi leaps around like a kid who just discovered Christmas and flips through various scores happily. Ahh, she’s super glad to be in charge of a city-funded orchestra.
Aww. Everyone gets ready for practicing, but Du Ru Mi looks unexpectedly down. As it happens, the conductor they trusted with all their funds has embezzled the money, and thus none of the instrumentalists will get paid.
Du Ru Mi gets down on her knees and tells everyone a touching story of how she learned violin after falling in love with Beethoven’s Romanza. However, the members of the orchestra are packing up and going. She continues on with how music helps her through her daily drudgery as an office worker. Alas, everyone still leaves.
The mayor doesn’t know. Yet.
Ooooh. Cliff! Rushing water! Dramatic music!
In despair, Du Ru Mi jumps off the cliff. As she travels through the water, she thinks to herself that escaping via death won’t help the money troubles.
Interesting use of background music here.
And… a cellphone rings, showing us that Du Ru Mi is actually doing this in her bathtub (not less deadly, just less dramatic).
It’s from the mayor. She reassures him that he has no need to come see the orchestra at work. The mayor has a happy nature. He blithely praises her and anticipates the selling value of the newly found orchestra. She promises him that the orchestra will be able to play at the concert with no problems. She gets tenser with every reassurance.
However, Du Ru Mi isn’t a quitter, and posts up notices asking for musicians to donate a bit of their time. Later, a cranky high school student comes to take off all the notices on the walls and posts. She jeers at the fact that someone would even think to look for volunteers. At home, the cranky student bugs her mother into looking for her school skirt, whereupon the mother sees Du Ru Mi’s notice requesting volunteer orchestra members.
Anyway, Du Ru Mi has almost finished assembling her orchestra, but she’s missing a trumpeter. She screams in rage at a neighbour playing the trumpet – and rather skillfully. Then she realizes that it’s a trumpeter! So she runs all the way to the next district in hopes of finding the person in question.
Wow, Kang Gun Woo lives in a pretty large house for a policeman – it actually belongs to someone who’s gone to San Francisco, and he’s just house-sitting. (Wow, he just lives at the beck and call of his friends.) He’s also her landlady’s nephew (the landlady being the mother of that cranky high schooler).
Officer Kang no longer has a job, as he probably got a complaint. He’s kind of down right now, so it’s hard to say if he’ll accept to play, and in addition, he doesn’t like playing in front of people. His aunt tells Du Ru Mi to ask nicely, since he’s got a soft heart under that stubborn exterior of his.
And thus, Su Ru Mi stalks ex-officer Kang on the metro, and plays something particularly sad while handing out little slips of paper with a neatly arranged sob story, including the original embezzling, and some fiction about her losing her hearing and so this would be her last concert. As if to drive the point home, she underlines “Trumpeter urgently needed” on the sheet of paper.
However, attempt #1 fails. She curses him, then flops dramatically down on her violin case. Lol. When she discovers that he got off, she chases him up the stairs, only to discover that she’s lost him in the crowd of people.
This time she screams in frustration. Then Kang surprises her from behind. He tells her that he’s willing to play if it’s just the once, and if she doesn’t mind that he’s self-learned. She requests to listen to him play, which rather pokes holes in her excuse that she’s deaf, but Du Ru Mi rallies with the idea that she can tell if it’s right just by the vibrations in the trumpet horn.
And violinists becoming deaf is unfortunately an actual phenomenon.
He plays a short line for her in the metro, and is surprisingly good. Kang’s all nervous in public, and stops immediately when people show up. Then she gets a call from the mayor and the whole thing falls apart because he sees through her deception. (Just as well that he doesn’t continue to be a policeman, dude, he phails at spotting lies.)
Huh. Kang gets angry, and uses his policeman powerz of dispersion on her. (First time I’ve seen JGS shout. Impressive. But he’s really a softie. I think.) And since the mayor wants to see the orchestra in practice next week, she has to hurry up and get a trumpeter, gradually lowering her standards to anyone who can play. Poor thing.
The new crew she’s gotten is an amateur group – they’re nervous about performing in public but are quite happy at the same time. Meanwhile, Project Get Kang Gun Woo Onboard continues.
Once Du Ru Mi has something in sight, dudes, she just never lets go. She discovers, through diligent stalking and bothering of Kang Gun Woo, that he’s being honest when he says that he didn’t receive any training for the trumpet. In fact, he doesn’t even know what pieces he was playing (rather like me in that respect, I’m afraid) and ‘hates’ classical music.
Kang totally dislikes anything to do with classical music. Let the courtship begin!
Erm. Back at city hall, things are getting heated with a group of protesters. It’s so serious that it requires a team of crack riot police and a wall of suit-clad bureaucrats. The protests are about the presence of certain businessmen, considered to be traitorous.
Ru Mi’s elder schoolmate, PARK HYUK KWON, is one of the ‘suits’. His wife finds him with egg in his hair, as she’s delivering his lunch with their daughter, who is scared at the ruckus. He decides to join Ru Mi in her venture and gather orchestra members. Yay! They have a contra bass (also called double bass) now.
Needless to say, Du Ru Mi is ecstatic.
However, the interviews for the new members start off on an interesting foot (if by interesting you mean callused and covered in hair). The landlady herself, JUN HEE YUN, shows up, shyly admitting that she does play cello in her spare time. However, she doesn’t have an instrument, and goes home dejected when they tell her they don’t have one to spare.
The trumpeter they have is short-winded and confused. Thankfully, the oboeist, KIM GAB YONG, is quite skilled. The flautist, HA YI DEUN, is rather confrontational about her wages but does want to play. The best performance of the day so far comes from two sisters, KIM JOO YEON and KIM JOO HEE, who play the electric violin, and with such energy – it’s almost like a choreographed dance. Plus, they wear sparkly short costumes that leave very little to the imagination. Recognize!
At night, Ru Mi’s landlady talks to the portrait of her mother-in-law, trying to persuade her to allow the purchase of a cello. The portrait’s animated at moments, which brings in the cute factor. A distant motorcycle honks its horns and Jun Hee Yun takes this as agreement.
That night, Jun Hee Yun sneaks into the practice hall happily. (Omg, three/four cellos in one section?)
The trumpeter is going to be temporary, a) because we know Kang Gun Woo will come at some point to claim the spot, b) because he’s being an irritating ass who has managed to turn the universally loved onomatopoeic ‘hmph’ into a weird kind of grunt and c) because there’s no way the conductor Kang dude is going to be able to work with him.
Lol. Flautist Yi Deun is glaring at Mr. Kim (oboe), as a while ago he kept her from her job by rambling about how he cannot drink strawberry milk. She holds the grudge, he doesn’t remember.
The practice starts off well enough, but the trumpet dude plays louder than everyone else, and he’s off rhythm too. (I mean, no ear training here, but such is his suckitude.) His attitude gets him in trouble with Mr. Park, who, despite being all the way in the back with his double bass, is still the second-in-command.
Crisis of the week: finding a first/second trumpet who won’t enrage the rest of the orchestra.
Oy vey. Ru Mi breaks in to (well, she asks Kang’s aunt for the passcode) the house and pesters Kang about joining the orchestra. After wresting his cellphone out of his hands, she demands the secret of his abhorrence for classical music. (Please don’t let it be a childhood trauma. So. Overused.)
Lol. He doesn’t like the ‘penguin suits’ and the excessive use of ‘English’ (I think he means Italian). Kang’s logic: Why be so fancy?
OH. THE DARK SECRET:
When he was younger, he asked Kang Gun Woo (the other one) for help with his music homework (however improbably this is) while the conductor was off being high and mighty about not conducting inferior orchestras. Basically the older man humiliated him about not knowing enough and being dense into the bargain. (Um, that’s why he’s a student, you know, and not the Lord God Ruler of the Universe.)
When he left that night, he had a deep and abiding hatred for all things classical.
Back to the present, Ru Mi muses that there really can’t be people like that. Kang refuses to tell her the name of the guy (he’s probably not too happy at sharing a name with Mr. Ultimate A-hat). To Kang, however, Du Ru Mi is the same type of person, being totally preoccupied with herself and bothering people so she can get the things she wants.
He must get a lot of practice scolding people as a policeman, as he’s good enough to reduce the verbose and bouncy Ru Mi to remorseful apology.
Ru Mi looks downcast and leaves after saying sorry. Aww. She can’t even open the door.
Before she leaves, there’s more of the sob story about just wanting to perform in public, if only once – and this time it’s not just her, it’s the rest of the orchestra too, who really want this.
(This shot of the teary Ru Mi had me screaming ‘Sujini’ in all caps. Oops.)
Aww! She just wanted him to have the experience of playing in front of a receptive audience.
The only other trumpeter available is taking advantage of her situation and asking for the sky in return for performing.
But, oh! Miracle of miracles, Kang Gun Woo shows up the next practice. Hmm, there appears to be a dearth of trumpeters of good personality in this show. One harrumphs like he has a never-ending Everest of phlegm, the other charges a ton only to cellphone his way through practice – and let’s not talk about the third…
YAY! Kang Gun Woo maintains a poker face as he picks up for the first trumpet (who stomps off with everyone ignoring him). Ru Mi happily sits down in her place as first violin. 😀
And he’s put the violin-shaped patch on his somewhat scratched trumpet case. They exchange smiles.
The mayor is muchos gratified and happy to see the progress. When Ru Mi reassures the mayor that she’s invited maestro Kang Gun Woo to conduct, trumpeter Kang looks unhappy, and the elderly oboeist, Mr. Kim, does the same.
Later, at an orchestra party, Mr. Kim tells the enthralled (and somewhat horrified) members that Kang is also known as an ‘orchestra killer’. Trumpeter Kang looks like he’s having indigestion, he’s so angry.
It’s the same concert that the younger Kang got shot down at – in front of four presidents (past and present) and an astonished audience, the conductor stops the orchestra and proclaims that the music sounds truly awful, and recommends that they all get refunds on their tickets. In fact, getting a CD of Brahm’s works would be better than listening to this ‘trash’.
And now Ru Mi sinks even lower in her seat when Gun Woo tells her that the man who ripped him apart for asking ‘What is classical music?’ is the very same conductor. Oooooh.
Damn, it’s the first time Kang’s been back in Korea. So he’s going to be even more uptight. And he arrives, with a cute collie dog in tow. (Does he think that people are going to like him better with a dog attached, or did he go blind?)
Still the same old arrogant dude.
– Lee Jia suffers a bit from being too act-y, but that’s probably how the character is written. JGS will hopefully break out of his sullen teen shell, or this series could become very boring very quickly. They still need a bit of work on the cause-and-effect train, because I had a bit of trouble following the rapid shifts. They don’t have to make it all transitions, but throw one to the hungry masses, yeah? My brain’s been used up by neuropsych already.
– In the future, I will refer to JGS’s character as Gun Woo and Kim Myung Min’s character as Kang, or conductor Kang. Hopefully that clears up confusion and repetition.
– I love the arrangement in the beginning when the classical music overlays the noise people are making. Interesting use of soundtrack, certainly. By the way, my musical education is very minimal, so if I don’t get the name of a particular piece, do forgive me and let me know. 😀