Drama Reactions & Reviews
The current drama landscape: An overview
by | September 28, 2008 | 54 Comments

It seems we suddenly have a ton of new dramas out, and I was starting to feel a bit lost. So here’s a brief overview of the dramas currently airing, some of which I’m following regularly and some that I haven’t committed to sticking with yet.

For the series I plan to keep watching, I’ll probably follow up with more in-depth posts, but for now I’m taking a general, overall look at the current lineup. (The two dramas pictured above, Kingdom of Wind and The Painter of Wind, are probably the two best series airing currently, but for different reasons.)

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But let’s do this chronologically, shall we?

MONDAY-TUESDAY DRAMAS

Ratings-wise, East of Eden is winning Mondays and Tuesdays, clobbering the romance Love & Marriage and taking a comfortable lead over Tazza (although it had a considerable advantage over Tazza in starting several weeks earlier).

East of Eden (MBC)

When I watched the first episode of East of Eden, I thought it sucked. It was alternately melodramatic and interminably boring. (The boring/melodramatic dichotomy continues in following episodes, but while it’s to a lesser degree in latter installments, Episode 1 was almost painfully dull.) But now that I’ve seen the first six episodes, I find that I don’t hate East of Eden. In fact, there are some parts I find downright compelling.

Audiences are enjoying the grand melodrama that characterizes Eden, and being able to watch the gorgeous sculpted features of Song Seung-heon after such a long time away from television can’t hurt, either. But imo, while Song certainly has a pretty face, his presence is not the draw; the early success of Eden owes a huuuuge debt to the young Kim Bum, establishing the character of young Dong-chul (later played by Song).

The first five episodes take place in Dong-chul’s childhood and adolescence, and Kim Bum positively carries the entire show on his young, untried shoulders. He’s fierce, vulnerable, loving, desperate, and scrappy all at once. He emotes with his whole body, and conveys the character so thoroughly that it’s hard not to feel for him. What a long way he’s come from being the goofy little kid on High Kick to being so dynamic here, on the cusp of manhood. And then Song Seung-heon showed up and I got bored. (Issues of acting talent aside, Song just doesn’t embody the same intensity as Kim Bum; he doesn’t dig deep and invest himself as wholly. I always feel like he starts his work on top of a base veneer of vanity.)

Unfortunately, despite having some heart-tugging moments, the biggest irritant for me is that Eden gets damn repetitive. The scene that brings you to tears the first time might wring out a tear or two the second time around, but the third, fourth, fifth… When you’re basically putting forth slightly altered iterations of the same scene over and over and over, it gets tiring. And since most of these scenes are the tearjerker scenes, it also starts feeling emotionally manipulative. The acting is good, but there are only so many ways you can say the same thing. And there is So. Much. Damn. Crying. To be fair, I cried along with the characters — to a point. After a while, you’re like, “This again?”

Verdict: This is a show I might have continued to follow if it were on TV every day and I left the program on in the background while I did the dishes. Or I might have continued it if it were a short, concise miniseries wrapping up at 16 episodes. I might’ve also continued had Kim Bum somehow stayed longer. But I find that despite the aspects I did like, I don’t have it in me to stick out this kind of overwrought, tearjerking, grandiose drama for 50 episodes, especially when I find Song Seung-heon’s Dong-chul only a fraction as compelling as Kim Bum’s.

 

Love & Marriage (KBS)

Since I’m recapping Love & Marriage, I won’t go into too much detail now. Suffice to say that this drama rides on the charm of Kim Min-hee, the looks of Kim Ji-hoon, and the hilarious, offbeat scenarios engineered by Goong scriptwriter In Eun-ah.

Love & Marriage isn’t reinventing the romantic-comedy wheel, and thus far there’s not a lot to get emotional about — but it’s a sleeper surprise (at least for me), displaying an effervescent, flirty charm that appeals to those of us who like our dramas speedy, fun, and laugh-inducing.

Verdict: Oh, you know I dig it.

 

Tazza (SBS)

Tazza is less intense than I’d thought it would be, showing off a glib slickness exemplified by Jang Hyuk‘s freewheeling character. I think Jang is perfect for these rascally guys he is starting to get typecast playing, but since he fits the bill, it’s for good enough reason.

Han Ye-seul does better with extreme or exaggerated characters; she’s not exactly a nuanced actress. But she’s been gradually improving (she was almost unwatchable in the Nonstop series), and although I don’t think her rise in visibility after Fantasy Couple was because of skilled acting, it was because she carried off the outrageous character with an endearing panache. Here, her Nan-sook is a feisty character with a heavy rural accent, which lends itself to better to Han’s strengths because I find her most watchable when she’s being a little left of center (I tend to cringe when she’s playing a scene “straight”).

There’s also something really cute about the way the childhood love between Nan-sook and Jang Hyuk’s Go-ni is expressed. They’ve done a fair job of establishing them as friends as children, and the years spent apart until their reunion in their late teens have only made their hearts grow fonder. Their relationship dynamic fits every first-love cliché — as well as the good-girl, bad-boy cliché — but it still makes me smile.

Plus, in its first few episodes, Tazza also showcases some early-’90s fashions, MC Hammer and New Kids On the Block, and a nightclub dance-off. Kitsch city!

Oh yeah, and there’s also that “my best friend tried to save his family and ended up ruining mine” angle they’ve got going, too.

Verdict: Still not convinced either way. Will keep a tentative eye on the series, enjoying it while I can and dropping it if my interest wanes.

 
WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY DRAMAS

But Wednesday-Thursday is when things really get good.

I think Beethoven Virus is at a slight handicap (quality-wise), because it’s up against two excellent series. This doesn’t mean Beethoven is bad; it’s just that the two others are superior to everything else right now.

But on the upside, Beethoven Virus is winning the ratings battle, even if it’s not by a huge stretch. Beethoven is creeping up in the mid- to upper teens, Kingdom of the Wind is in mid-teen territory, and The Painter of Wind — which premiered the latest and has aired the fewest episodes — got off to a 12% start.

Beethoven Virus (MBC)

I’ve been behind on this series, and based on early reports of hate from some people, I was pre-emptively feeling disappointed. But I’m glad I watched the series for myself, because I’m really enjoying this drama. At least, I’ve really liked the first three episodes. Perhaps it helped that I didn’t have many expectations going in.

Like Sevenses said, Beethoven Virus can get a little predictable, but there’s enough about the series that feels fresh that I don’t mind a little plot predictability. And by “fresh” I don’t mean wildly ingenious — that’s rare for broadcast television in any form — but rather that it incorporates a stylish flair that I appreciate. Kind of how My Sweet Seoul wasn’t exactly a breakthrough novelty, but set itself apart with its atmosphere. The director makes occasional use of jump cuts and composite shots that I dig — they add a stylized feel and a jolt of energy to the scenes. And I love the classical music featured, although I wish they’d actually do more with the classical-music theme.

Kim Myung-min, coming off a career high with White Tower, is again the intense, commanding actor we’ve come to expect of him. What I LOVE about his portrayal of Maestro Kang is in how he makes him rude — borderline socially defunct — but also relatable. His character says some truly boorish things sometimes — not necessarily false, but cruel in spirit and in tone — but Kim’s genius is in making his extreme snobbery and contempt for people stem from a place of wild, nearly debilitating insecurity. The instant we connect with his Salieri complex — Maestro Kang hates geniuses, because he was overshadowed by one — his character opens up to all these wonderful, lovely and ugly complex shades. Vintage Kim Myung-min.

Y’all may know how I was sorely disappointed with Jang Geun-seok since his performance in Hong Gil Dong, but I’m so pleased that I like him 100% more as trumpeter genius Gun-woo. Maybe even more than 100% better. He is the Mozart to Maestro’s Salieri (the second Mozart in his life, actually), and Gun-woo’s own initial detachment and disinterest also mask an inner longing. But since he’s the genius, the natural who doesn’t have to try as hard as Kang, Gun-woo is the perfect foil for Maestro Kang, his complete antithesis.

Lee Jia‘s acting — yes, a little exaggeratey — doesn’t bother me (yet?). Note: what DOES bother me is how her fake violin playing is atrocious. Really, really fake. To be fair, the other “musicians” are also pretty fakey, but string instruments are particularly difficult — more so than wind instruments, for instance — to feign skill in faux-playing.

Verdict: Me likey so far. Now I’ve got to catch up on all the great recaps!

 

Kingdom of the Wind (KBS)

Gorgeous and epic.

Although Kingdom of the Wind and The Painter of Wind share some similarities (both are Wed.-Thurs. dramas, both are sageuks, and both titles bear the word “wind”), they’re not really similar at all, content-wise. While both are shot in a beautifully cinematic way, Kingdom is a war epic/conspiracy thriller, while Painter is period romance. It’s almost too bad they share the same timeslot, even if audiences these days can easily partake of dramas via the internet.

Kingdom of the Wind is characterized by a beautiful score, sprawling battle scenes, and lots of political intrigue, for those of you who like your historical dramas chock-full of conspiracies and assassination plots. It’s well-acted, beautifully lit, and well-directed. There are hints of a dark fantasy-like element, but from what I’ve seen, it doesn’t take it far enough to call the series fantasy — unlike, say, Legend, which was much more a hybrid fantasy-historical.

Verdict: I am duly impressed, but I won’t be recapping this. It’s a series that deserves attention, though, so if anybody feels a desire to recap the series, I hereby offer up my webspace here. Takers?

 

The Painter of Wind (SBS)

On the other hand, The Painter of Wind shows off an entirely different artistic sensibility in its delicacy. While Kingdom of the Wind is dark, Painter is picturesque, and finds itself in its details — the close shots of the moving paintbrush, the lingering look in a character’s eyes. It also boasts a lovely background score and a director who uses it to its best effect.

I wouldn’t be too quick to call Moon Geun-young revelatory in her performance as a woman masquerading as a man in order to receive art training — not yet — but I think we can expect good things from her as this series progresses. Like Yoon Eun-hye before her, she is almost too pretty to pass off as male, but actually does a credible job with mannerisms, line delivery, and deepened voice (especially considering how much more high-pitched her normal speaking voice is).

The thing that sets The Painter of Wind apart from most sageuks is that it doesn’t (appear to) have a political focus. While the court and politics are featured, the main plot of Painter isn’t dictated by power (comma, the acquisition of). It’s a character and relationship study.

Based on the first two episodes, it looks like the series is going to start off lighthearted — Episode 1 was surprisingly upbeat and funnier than I’d expected. I am guessing the series will progress into more emotionally fraught territory as we delve into these characters. Park Shin-yang lays out the development of the relationship that will flower between master and student in the opening voiceover, saying, “She was my student… my teacher… my friend… and my beloved.”

Verdict: Same deal as Kingdom. I plan to watch, but won’t be recapping. But if you feel up to the task, I’d be happy to give someone else a stab at it.

 
…AND THE REST

Scale of Providence is SBS’s new Friday drama. Centered around the world of lawyers and judges (the “scales” in the title refer to the scales of justice), it looks to be shaping up into a legal thriller and relationship drama. It may require more watching to get into, but I found the first episode on the boring side.

As for weekend fare, MBC offers Moon Sori‘s (Legend) fifty-episode drama Golden Years of My Life along with My Woman as its Saturday-Sunday shows.

KBS has two long-running successes with Angry Mom and the historical Great King Sejong (well, Sejong isn’t a ratings bonanza, but it’s holding steady, while Mom continues to do extremely well in the 30%-40% range).

And SBS, in addition to its long-running hit First Wives Club, brings Yoon So-yi (Goodbye Solo) and Lee Jin-wook (Rivals) together in another fifty-episoder that unfolds around romance, career, and marriage.

 
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54 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Anonimosity

    OK, I’ll admit it. I’m disappointed you’re not planning on recapping Painter, but I understand it’s a lot of work, etc, etc, and as a non-Korean speaker I’ll have to resign myself to waiting patiently for a team to start subbing it. (Must be patient, must be patient. Must not be pushy and demanding.)

    I WILL say, though, that I absolutely loved what I saw of the first two episodes, the basic plot of which was pretty well covered by some generous souls over at soompi, and that if anybody else does decide to recap it they’d have my eternal (or at least heartfelt) appreciation.

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  2. NJ

    i dont agree with your analysis of east of eden. i m addicted to this drama.

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  3. asianromance

    whoa! thanks for summarizing all the dramas on right now. I remember I used to pay attention to dramas that have different timeslots, but nowadays I keep hearing about dramas sharing the same timeslot and ratings being split among 2 or 3 dramas. Not that this is anything new, but it’s just something I’ve only become aware of this year. I’ve been curious about the other dramas playing and if they are good. And i love that beethoven virus pic you have.

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  4. A.N.

    I agree with your analysis of East of Eden. I’m still watching it, but I am not as enthralled as I was before Kim Bum left. He did a really good job (all of the child actors did) and Song just falls short in comparison. It’s really a pity. The crying scenes do not affect me at all, sadly enough. In fact, I cannot really understand it when Song keeps yelling “Dong-wook!” over and over again via the phone. Over done much?

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  5. cc

    I’m currently following East of Eden, Beethoven virus and Painter of the wind!

    Aaww, I thought you’ll do a recap of Painter of the wind. Anyway, I agree with on, the first 2 episodes of Painter of the wind were awesome. I really enjoyed Moon Geun-young and I thought she acted way better than Yoon Eun-hye ! I hated Coffee Prince =.=.
    I’m not that hooked to Beethoven Virus like East of Eden and Painter of the wind , but it’s still enjoyable to watch. Haha I’m like really addicted to East of Eden and Painter of the wind!

    Yeah, so many good dramas these days. ^_^

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  6. choram

    I think you are spot on! Of course preferences differ, but yours are aligned with mine. I’m a little sageuk-ed out, so I won’t be watching the two although I agree they deserve attention. For the time being, I’m just watching LM (I’m shallow and like things quick and funny). And I just realized how many dramas are out right now. Amazing really.

    Btw, I really did this drama landscape feature! It saves me a lot of time digging for info and such. Thank you!

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  7. chimmy

    Hope there will be takers for Kingdom and Painters…
    Among the modern dramas, I was initially looking forward to Beethoven but am not hearing good reviews about it. So guess I’ll have to wait for the subs…
    Am not sure if I could endure 50 episodes of East of Eden as a modern drama.
    I’d rather watch historical dramas :)

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  8. Anonymous

    I’m currently watchin eden and kingdom of wind! But i’m kinda givin up on eden now, i think wat drew me 2 the drama in the first place is off all the a listers but the plot is nothin of the originary (2 be truthful i find it kinda borin at some parts) It’s one of those drama that like skip….skip…. oh good part…..skip….
    Kingdom of the wind on the other hand drew me in! At first i thought i’ve had enough of all the sageuks but then i hav 2 at less give it a try and i waz hooked right away!! I don’t understand y the ratin stayed the same, this is a reallyy good drama!

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  9. Jennifer

    I have to say I find Love Marriage incredibly tedious and had to force myself to watch the first three episodes (I wanted to give it a real chance before kicking it out of my car and high tailing it out of there).
    I can’t help but think “I’ve seen all this before…more than once”. I think you succeed when you can birth something new out of an old plot and this drama didn’t do that for me.

    Kingdom of the Wind really appeals to me so I will be checking that out as soon as possible. Something about it reminds me of “Legend”, whose story I absolutely loved but whose main characters I found uninteresting and one toned.
    I have a feeling i’m going to love it.

    Thanks for the reviews!

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  10. 10 belleza

    “nowadays I keep hearing about dramas sharing the same timeslot and ratings being split among 2 or 3 dramas”

    It’s especially frustrating this year because it seems like NOW the Really Good Stuff are airing now. Both KotW and PotW deserve 20+ ratings, and I think both shows probably would earn them were they aired at different times in the year.

    In 1-2 months, we’re going to get Binnie/Song Hye Kyo’s World That They Live In and So Ji Sub’s Dr. Stop competing in the Eden time slot, aka “Song Seung Heun, you will always be oppa/hyun #1 to me, but MY show is going to take you down!!”

    “There are hints of a dark fantasy-like element, but from what I’ve seen, it doesn’t take it far enough to call the series fantasy — unlike, say, Legend, which was much more a hybrid fantasy-historical. ”

    I wonder if KotW will pick up more on the fantasy element, though. The original comic has magical animals and folklore gods and all that other good stuff.

    A lot of what makes KotW seem fresh is how it movingly uses political machinations to tell a story about multiple familial or patrilineal relations, real and feinted. The whole story is suffused with ever present sentiments between father and son, older and younger brothers, and uncles and nephews that never feels overwrought yet. And in doing so, it established a path whereby directionless, restless, decent but confused adolescent Moo Hyul believably gropes in the caves and unknown plains for identity, love, and purpose. KotW is both sequel and marked improvement on Jumong as well, managing the same thrill-ride plot but holding the characters to the fire of moral consequences. People in KotW really, really screw up, and in turn they cause people they love to pay dearly. .

    Episode 7 (or 8) looks absolutely heartbreaking BTW.

    “He did a really good job (all of the child actors did) and Song just falls short in comparison.”

    I think one problem is that Dong Chul’s characterization heavily changes between his teenager and full adult versions. Adult Dong Wook is a young man whose serious, morose personality is believably formed from his past. Whereas, Adult Dong Chul is a happy go-lucky Everyman who can’t utter the words “Dong Wook” without screaming his brains out. If it wasn’t for the “HYUN! DONG WOOK! HYUN! DONG WOOK!” scenes, it would be hard to connect this character with Kim Bum’s absolutely searing incarnation (he’s going to get win an award this year at the MBC show for this performance) as the tragic older brother seemingly hunted from all shadows. The adult Dong Chul actually seems happy and secure, if not for his recent run of bad luck. THAT said, as the episodes progress through episode 10 (essentially as the memory of tragic, young Dong Chul fades), SSH really adds a wiry charm to Dong Chul. When you start accepting him as Korean Jack Bauer, his action-oriented scenes bring a lightness to the heavy-handed (and repetitive) bits about his brother’s struggle. SSH is born to play “Best Hyun Ever” roles, and the assuredness of his performance brings some needed balance to the story.

    East of Eden is an example of a show where the PD seems burdened by telling a good story rather than telling this story well. It could be a marvelous gangsters-and-international thriller. It could have been a pretty good slice-of-history revolving around the energy industry. It’s still fun watching because it has elements of both in there. Still it seems like the real intent of the early EofE episodes is to sell Park Hae Jin/Han Ji Hye as “Most Emotionally Unstable Couple Ever!!” And they’re doing an amazing job here.

    Lee Dae Hae is really good here BTW. She’s in complete possession of her progressive character, and her presence is consistently powerful.

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  11. 11 simi

    I’m hoping Dahnee Fanel might consider re-capping Painter of the Wind since I really like her writing style. And thanks for the overview Dramabeans! I wasn’t planning on watching Kingdom of the Wind. But it sounds really interesting from your description, am giving it a try.

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  12. 12 Kobe

    I have read many different opinions on East of Eden to help me decide whether I should undergo the arduous 50 episode marathon, but it has ultimately been your thoughts Javabeans, that has been the decisive factor for me. Six episode of non-stop crying is certainly not my cup of tea and even though I have heard it does get better, I prefer not to utilize the fast forward button just to make it through the rain (full of tears!). Thank you.

    Also, good to know you have relatively positive thoughts regarding Tazza, BV, KotW and PotW, all of which I intend to watch.

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  13. 13 ndegeocello

    belleza, sorry I didn’t respond to your last comment. I do like reading your thoughts. Going by your words, I’ll have to start watching KotW sooner than I planned on. ;)

    One of the main problems I have in giving East of Eden another chance is Dennis Oh. Sorry, but I vow to never, ever give serious consideration to any production dumb enough to let him act. It’s harsh of me to say, but nothing will ever change my stance on that matter.

    Great overview dramabeans!

    I was looking forward to Beethoven Virus solely for Kim Myung Min, but talk about a letdown. Maybe he set the bar too high for the rest of his career with White Tower, but it’s not like I can’t enjoy lighter, fluffier work from him. I loved his drama Bad Family. In BV, Kim Myung Min is the only saving grace in an otherwise, boring drama for me. OTOH, I guess it leads me to give my undivided attention to Painter of the Wind. It’s the only must see drama for me. All the rest I can wait to watch the next day, or not even worth the download.

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  14. 14 nozomi05

    i am really loving your site.

    i don’t have time to really watch all the k-dramas that are available to me and your reviews are really spot on.

    i watch the ones i like based on your reviews. there are times that you might not like the series but since you do tell us what the good and the bad points are, it’s easier for me to decide for myself if i should try it or not…

    thanks a lot.

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  15. 15 all4movies

    Your opinions about the current crop of shows pretty much mirror mine, except for Love and Marriage which doesn’t interest me because none of the actors appeal to me.

    Your comments about Painter of the Wind sound intriguing though, so I’ll definitely check it out.

    Thanks a bunch.

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  16. 16 Dahee Fanel

    Great write-up! :D

    I am currently in drama heaven. This year’s been rather abysmal in terms of quality (at least for me), so it’s awesome to get so many I like all at the same time. Scales of Providence (LOVE the heavy themes), Kingdom of the Wind (mucho fun), Painter of the Wind (LOVED the absolutely gorgeous first two episodes)…*happy sigh* Does this signify a change for the better this year, I wonder?

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  17. 17 Thirst

    I agree with your analysis of East of Eden that it sort of gets out of a gripping turn when Kim Bum left, the kid just really portrayed chaos and intensity so well, without being overbearing with it. He’s one great actor, and I hope to see more of his performances.
    I do like the flashes of what EoE is trying to be, with the story of injustice and everyone being used/playing their roles in this world.

    To Song’s credit he improves later on especially when he comes back as a dark man again and channels the old Dong Chul.

    If there’s one thing that can redeem this piece, watch it for Lee Da Hae who, I think at this early stage is giving the performance of her career.

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  18. 18 shaz

    East of eden just keeps getting better and better.

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  19. 19 belleza

    “One of the main problems I have in giving East of Eden another chance is Dennis Oh. .”

    Dennis’s problem is that he gets very, very little actual direction for his line readings on K-dramas. It’s just really obvious, because most models who do soaps, won’t miss on tone as much as much as he does. BUT, for a Korean audience, they may not be able to tell. Maybe. ;) It’s the same with all the English spoken in Macao.

    “the kid just really portrayed mayhem and intensity so well, without being overbearing with it.”

    Also, at that point in the drama, the story seriously tightens up into a strong thriller-style story. It’s the only part so far where episode goes way to wall with stuff that engages the audience.

    Really, East of Eden is at its best when conveying hatred. The more hate, the more the director seems assured at what he wants to do.

    @Kobe,

    “I prefer not to utilize the fast forward button just to make it through the rain (full of tears!). Thank you.”

    I’ll say one thing, though. If you’re a big fan of Lee Dae Hae, she’s delivering one hell of a performance. Even in a casual scene where she’s drinking soju with Dong Wook, she’s showing how good she’s become as an actress. It’s a shame actually, because the presence she shows here would have made her a viable candidate to lead in a serious daeha.

    “Also, good to know you have relatively positive thoughts regarding Tazza, BV, KotW and PotW, all of which I intend to watch.”

    I think the problem for me is that there’s too much good stuff to watch right now. I’m actually glad the PotW subs haven’t come out yet, and Beethoven Virus’s subs are not coming out that quickly. It’s just easier to manage everything.

    And the fall 2008 J-drama (aka where all Realy Good Stuff gets aired) season is nigh!!

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  20. 20 bethany

    thank you! quick overviews help me catch a glimpse of whats going on.

    random question: do you know if clubbox is reported to have problems with vista?

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  21. 21 haezi

    no!!! i really enjoy your recaps and was so hoping you could do painter of the wind. hopefully, there is someone who volunteers since i really enjoyed the first episode but didn’t quite understand a few things in the plot.

    i totally agree with your assessment of the above dramas (apparently mom’s angry just ended, and lee tae ran is coming out in its replacement with kim sung soo, ji hyun woo, etc…the cast is good, but i usually can’t follow these dramas).
    everyone calls east of eden a mix between sandglass and all in, which i totally see. even with the huge scale and beautiful cast, the whole thing just seems awkward, though, because the little details are overlooked in each scene. it seems like the director isn’t giving enough “direction” to the actors. song seung hun isn’t bad, but you’re right, he doesn’t throw himself into his characters. lee da hae is okay but pales in comparison to go hyun jung’s portrayal of a similar character in sandglass. everyone else is just too dramatic.

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  22. 22 Muffin

    I don’t watch any of them, subbed or otherwise. I just enjoy reading your recaps. You should write screen plays!

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  23. 23 shinhyesungluv

    East of Eden wasn’t that interesting to begin with, but the later episodes have now gotten really interesting! Esp. ep 10. There’s a lot of drama between Ji Hyun and Myun Hoon.

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  24. 24 jo

    Kim Bum did a great job, but the child actors are the ones that left really good impression on me. They’re simply amazing considering how young they are.

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  25. 25 Movall

    Thank you Javabeans, great reviews.

    So many good dramas this time, why didn’t they come out earlier?
    I dont have time to follow them all, right now I just enjoy light-hearted LoveMarriage. I’m not fond of EOE, 50 Ep. of modern drama, such a pain. But for the rest, I’ll manage to watch them later, esp. PotW, look so beautiful.
    Btw, I always follow your comments to spot on good dramas, and you’ve never failed me. Really appreciate, esp. Soulmate and Flowers for my life (which is also a reason why I watch LoveMarriage, because of Eun-Tak sshi).

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  26. 26 Jill4675

    Tazza: I like it very much based on the first three episodes. Great camera work, excellent musical score, good performances so far from Jang Hyuk and Kim Min Joon (yes, I am a huge Jang Hyuk fan; I admit that!! ;))

    EOE: Watched 6 episodes. Didn’t feel involved. Everyone is overacting. Nonstop screaming and crying is not good acting. It made me feel very uninvolved. Also they took WAAAAAAY too long to set up the story. Come on: 5 episodes and we are still in flashbacks and none of the principal leads has shown his or her face???

    SSH has a nice bod, but his acting is only so-so…so far. But I have to disagree on the “younger” Dong-chul. He didn’t draw me in; I think I can blame part of that on the direction because he was way too overwrought most of the time. As to Dennis Oh, all I can say is, “Oh, Dennis, you can’t act!!!” Seriously, he needs acting lessons. I really don’t even find his looks that special, but they’re way ahead of his acting ability. He needs some acting lessons AND better direction.

    I’m waiting for Lee Da Hae to save it for me?!?! I figure things have got to get better. So far I rate it as mediocre at best.

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  27. 27 Tricia

    Yes, these dramas do seem to be looking up. I agree with many, and I actually like Love and Marriage, and Beethoven Virus as well, more so Beethoven Virus, because Kang is hilarious (as is Kang from Love & Marriage). Those two characters are awesome. Anyway, I am looking forward to Painter and the Wind. I had totally forgot it premiers this month. ~BOING~ I am so going to watch it, if only, if only a team can sub it. If not I might still just watch it.

    ~*Tricia*~

    P.S. MC hammer pants rock, lol.

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  28. 28 Gigi

    I recommended to another blogger I read that she recap Kingdom of the Wind here and it brought up couple of questions. I don’t know if she’s really interested, but I’m still curious, so I thought I’d ask… Are you only looking for someone who understands Korean or would you consider someone who had to wait for subs to recap? As a reader, I wouldn’t mind waiting for recaps. This whole thing has also made me curious about how many Dramabeans readers understand Korean vs how many don’t, and other demographics, like nationality and age.

    @Muffin: I do that too! I really enjoyed reading the recaps for Hong Gil Dong and Love & Marraige, but I don’t think I’m going to actually watch them.

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  29. 29 Thirst

    PotW, I only watched one episode and I think it is WORTH THE HYPE. Mr.X gets this one right. I like it, just wish PSY wasn’t so… same old, same old. no pun intended.

    bellaza- agree on the soju scene, just the way she drinks and the way she talks, she was in character. she is a scene stealer too. I thought to myself, “was she always a capable actress?” Because I do not remember her that way. I did not like her comedies. She was also too “acty” in everything.
    I always thought she was overrated. however, here, she just is different. I cannot compare her to the original portrayal in “Sandglass”, because she gives Hye-rin a different approach. It’s apples and oranges to me. She also gives justice to it so far. I don’t know how she’ll handle the character’s angst later on.

    Maybe you are right, more hate… is better for this drama. Same that more hatred in the charcacter is better for this actress.
    As for the rest of them, I think the rest of the younger cast are either too uniform or too melodramatic. Song shows potential just that he pales in comparison to the original Dong Chul.

    I blame most of EoE’s faults in the confused direction but it got better in the last episode. More hatred is good for EoE. LOL.

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  30. 30 javabeans

    Are you only looking for someone who understands Korean or would you consider someone who had to wait for subs to recap? As a reader, I wouldn’t mind waiting for recaps. –Gigi

    To answer your question, Sevenses operates off Chinese subs. To me, good writing and strong recaps are more important than working off the Korean raw videos. It’s always nice to have some added insight into the drama’s world or background, which may be more readily found in someone with Korean language fluency, but it’s definitely not exclusive to native speakers. (Because, for instance, you could have a fluent Korean speaker summarize something in poor English and then where would we be, right? ;) ) If you think your friend is interested, let’s talk!

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  31. 31 Jo

    I completley agree with you on Kim Bum.
    At first when they transitioned to him (from a five year old to fifteen) I was really not expecting much.
    But MY GOD he had so much intensity. I loved him.
    Then seung hoon came and just killed it.
    Right now, Im not even watching because of him, mostly because of the brother

    I also love Kingdom of the winds.
    I didnt think you were in sagueks, lol. But yeah, kingdom of the winds is worth getting into. So fun.

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  32. 32 ripgal

    Thanx a lot for the brief review on the current dramas. It seems like I’m missing out on the better dramas, eg. KoTW and POTW… I’ve only been focusing on BV, EOE and Tazza..=P

    I agree with your take on EOE. The first 5 episodes did seem a bit repetitive…but Kim Bum was so good, that I just could not bring myself to disregard the storyline just like that. I’ve seen up to Ep 10, and I have to say, the relationships between the characters aren’t really solid and polished enough. I find myself rooting more for the brothers’ reunion than any of the couples, despite breakthru performances from the cast..esp Park Hae Jin. YJH, like somebody said before, always dwells in his mopey expressions and doesn’t really connect with his female co-stars.. dunno if it’s him or how he’s character’s written.

    Thirst: I’m glad you noticed improvement in LDH’s acting. I’m an avid fan of LDH.. so I was really looking forward to her portrayal of HR. All I can is that I’m impressed right now.. looking at how she’s trying to carve out a character of her own, different from the original HR. I loved how she’s able to show subtlety and nuance in her emotions despite being feisty and commanding at the same time (scene with her mother and father). Of course, I can’t say that she’s flawless.. Some of us LDH fans have always had qualms with her taking on new roles. Because after My Girl, she did seem to sink into TOO MUCH comfort with her cutesy image. I’m glad she’s taking a step further in her acting skills in EOE right now.. and yes, I’m looking forward to seeing how she’ll handle the angst in HR. ^^

    So far, I can say I’m enjoying all 3 dramas. But I have to say that Tazza’s on top of my list right now. Ep 1 wasn’t really GREAT or anything, but at least it managed to convey most of the characters’ childhood background in a single episode. However, Tazza totally stepped up its game from Ep 2 and 3 onwards. Pace was perfect, with a combination of a great OST.. Flow was not bad either.. and what more, there was super GOOD chemistry between JH, HYS and KMJ. Can’t imagine a better duo than JH and KMJ playing out Goni and Young Min right now..

    BV on the other hand, is just on the border of being good and mediocre right now. KMM’s great as always. And I agree on your take of his character Maestro Kang. I love his arrogance, his subtle portrayal of softness at times.. and some more, KKM’s charisma when carrying the character. An actor who doesn’t need to try to impress.. His arch nemesis, Gun Woo, played by JGS is impressive as well… just love the angst in his eyes when he goes into deep thoughts. His scenes with KMM/Maestro were the best.. Too bad I’m not feeling LJA’s portrayal of Rumi right now.. she’s just tooo er.. I don’t know.. plain? Sometimes I just feel that she’s trying too hard to work Rumi’s naive yet determined character.. don’t feel it..

    Aiks.. I think I rambled a bit too much in mah post..>.<

    But thanx anyway for the review, I might check out KoTW and PoTW..

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  33. 33 mzpakipot

    awwww…i was actually waiting for you to do recaps for Painter of the Wind. I hope someone will volunteer and post it here.
    But anywho, I do love reading your verdicts on each of these dramas. Still, I’m sticking with one for now..Thanks javabeans! ^^

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  34. 34 Kobe

    - belleza: “I think the problem for me is that there’s too much good stuff to watch right now. I’m actually glad the PotW subs haven’t come out yet, and Beethoven Virus’s subs are not coming out that quickly. It’s just easier to manage everything.”

    I like it when there’s a lot of good dramas at the same time because I almost never watch them when they first air anyway. I usually only begin a drama once the subs have been completed (to prevent myself nagging for subs :)), and keep a note of them on my “To-Watch” list for later on. I’m still watching some dramas from 2006.

    “I’ll say one thing, though. If you’re a big fan of Lee Dae Hae, she’s delivering one hell of a performance.”

    Lee Da Hae was probably the only reason that kept my interest in EoE, but too many negative comments surrounding the earlier episodes and the fact that there’s gonna 50 of them, is enough to cross EoE off my list.

    - Thirst: “I thought to myself, “was she always a capable actress?” Because I do not remember her that way. I did not like her comedies. She was also too “acty” in everything.”

    I feel that the negativity towards LDH’s acting ability has always been unjustified. Yeah, sure she was very “acty” in both ‘My Girl’ and ‘Hello Miss!”, but that’s the name of the game for those type of dramas. It’s almost as if the director WANTS her to act like that. You should see her in ‘Green Rose’ in which she totally stole the show. I hope she chooses a movie as her next project, especially a crime thriller taking on the role of a hot-shot detective or psychiatrist, or even the ‘damsel in distress’. She’d do a great job.

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  35. 35 shyblue

    I already watch the three episodes of KOTW and i find interesting as i go on watching it. I’m quite excited what will be the next episodes in the near months coming. I want to watch it with one sitting only bec it makes me sick of waiting thenext episodes to come.

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  36. 36 belleza

    @kobe,

    “I like it when there’s a lot of good dramas at the same time because I almost never watch them when they first air anyway. ”

    Kind of a shame, given the gratuitous nudity in the first episode of Hometown Legends. Just kidding. Maybe? ;)

    Lemme tell ya, if you get MBC America, your life will end. Who knew Park Shin Hye had her own game show?!?

    @triple,

    “bellaza- agree on the soju scene, just the way she drinks and the way she talks, she was in character. she is a scene stealer too. I thought to myself, “was she always a capable actress?” Because I do not remember her that way. I did not like her comedies. She was also too “acty” in everything.”

    It’s weird, because I really have a love/hate thing with the director. If you’ve seen Ireland, he can so good at enabling his actors to work more freely (and more honestly) to get a real moment . . . . and then the next scene could be so cheesy and just so . . . off. Like, WHO, screams AT the phone ?!? Seriously, WHO? Is it some kind of brotherly thing brothers do. ARGGHH!!! I miss you! ARRGGHH!! I’m sorry! ARRRGGHHH!!!! Do well at school! ARRRGGHH!!! Don’t hate me, the director says I gotta scream like HYUNNN!!! I mean, cocaine was big in the 80s but dang Macao too?!?

    One thing I like about her performance — thus far- — is how she’s conveyed her character’s awareness; that awareness is crucial in establishing the necessary class distance to dispense moral judgement with weight . . . and to provide some sanity into their mess. Her scenes against Ji Hye are nice, not because it’s a territorial pissings match between Queen Bees (as would usually be the case in triangles), but that what she says is actually important and meaningful, without bias or jealous intention, and reinforces the context that informs the melodramatic situation, rather than the other way around. A good daeha checks the emotional integrity of its characters against the circumstances of history (otherwise we feel little connection with the actual history.) For the most part, this story walks all over that. Instead we have lots of chaebols in different time zones and lots of cinderellas/new-money-princess and cycles of rival-popsong-weep-popsong to plow through. But Lee Dae Hae’s character is different from that; her difference is a stark contrast in East of Eden.

    If nothing else, her performance relies less on hysterical-yet-rote reactions than the other younger leads. She does nice bit of pacing with her scenes, prodding her partners on to match the tenor of her deliveries.

    “Same that more hatred in the charcacter is better for this actress.”

    The hatred is the force of the plot. When there’s a lot of hating, there’s a lot of story. Without the hate to sustain these characters, the story turns inert with more weeping. And without a proper daeha intent to reflect their mutual despair against the real exploitation of the Company upon the entire mining town, it feels like whining after awhile. In spite of the misery, the characters don’t develop or evolve.

    The Dong Chul storyline with Ki Bum works because the situation is a classic “out comes the wolves” storyline (also the acting direction of the gang and their leaders was very well done <– his hyun/gang leader was really good here); unfortunately, that tone is not really mantained through episode 10. Even if Ki Bum (who also well conveyed both strong disdain and fascination with the powerful men) were to play the adult Dong Chul, adult Dong Chul is not in the same trouble; he does not convey the same dramatic tension.

    I like how Macao is shot BTW (albeit it’s obvious this ain’t 1981. HELLO Airport scene! :D ) There’s a lot of eye candy in this show.

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  37. 37 Felicity

    Good overview, javabeans. I don’t watch most of the dramas you recap but it’s always entertaining to read your recaps.

    Finally, some promising kdramas to look forward to after a year with slim pickings…..I don’t consider myself a kdrama fan per se, as in, I don’t feel a *need* to watch kdramas because they’re kdramas. Have seen too many kdramas in the past and it’s all gotten very stale to me. So your blog is a very useful site to keep up-to-date with the kdrama world without having to actually watch any kdramas, lol.

    The only new kdrama on my must-watch list this year is Painter in the Wind. Am really looking forward to see Moon Guen Yang in her first adult role. The drama sounds like just the type of artistic adaptation of a novel that I really dig.

    I’m semi-interested in Tazza. May watch later. Sounds like fun, and Han Ye Sul is always a hoot when she plays exaggerated characters. Jang Hyuk has that sly smile that is perfect for a swindler. heh.

    Beethoven Virus, I think I’ll skip. So far the recaps and word of mouth hasn’t pulled me in. KMM is great a Kang, I’m sure. But the whole thing seems headed to melodrama city…ehh. The main thing that made Nodame Cantabile so good was that (aside from the slapstick jokes and wild, crazy characters) it was really about the music. The music was the main focus – not about the protagonists’ love triangle, or personal tragedy or whatever. Sure, the leads each had a hurdle to overcome, but it never overtook the main point of the story, which is about the love for classical music and how it can inspire people to reach higher. I loved all the musical pieces played in Nodame and the narration of the composer’s history.

    Fighter in the Wind – will watch later IF I can finish Legend first. Lol, I’m still stuck on episode 12 of Legend.

    East of Eden. Another one I’ll pass. 50 eps is enough to drive me away. o_O

    SSH has always been a meh actor, imo he’s only good for eye candy, so the fact that he’d leading EOE doesn’t help to convince that the drama is worth watching. I already get my dose of constant scheming, fighting and back-stabbing from HK dramas. And I can watch those high tension HK dramas without subs with my mom on cable TV. EOE has to offer something extra special to make me want to spend all the hours needed to download 50 eps.

    belleza@”Lee Dae Hae is really good here BTW. She’s in complete possession of her progressive character, and her presence is consistently powerful.”

    This might be the only reason for me to catch this drama. Becoz I’ve never liked Lee Da Hae (not from My Girl or Hello Miss, never saw her ‘serious’ roles), and I’m semi-curious to see how she does here with a more substantial role.

    “I think the problem for me is that there’s too much good stuff to watch right now. I’m actually glad the PotW subs haven’t come out yet, and Beethoven Virus’s subs are not coming out that quickly. It’s just easier to manage everything. ”

    Do you need subs to watch kdramas, belleza? I though you are korean. If you aren’t korean, you sure are very knowledgeable about the older korean actors. ;)

    “And the fall 2008 J-drama (aka where all Realy Good Stuff gets aired) season is nigh!!”

    *nods enthusiastically* Definitely looking forward to Fall season doramas. Let it roll! :)

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  38. 38 Elaine

    Currently watching Beethoven Virus and Painter of The Wind, and loving both :D
    I was hoping you would be recapping POTW ):
    It’s always fun to read your recaps!

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  39. 39 marz

    above all else, gah to many good stuff to watch.
    my HD is going nuts soon.

    but, im catching BV, Tazza, L & M more intently than of others..

    im watching EoE also. but not as intently.
    somehow, Song’s acting can turn my interest 180
    but LDH is really good and PHJ too i was impressed.
    there’s something with YJH like everyone is saying.
    i know he can be better but hmmm i dont know.. if the role is hard for him or what.

    KoTw is awesome must say. the special wow.
    plus seeing the ep 1 and 2. wow. but yeah such a full plate its hard.

    PoW hmmm..
    well its pretty, beautiful also those nice things..
    but the age gap man. O_O im having a hard time.
    honestly, i cant really grasp that part yet and it makes me uncomfortable sometimes. but i do overlook it when those beautiful scenes are there.
    its good so far.

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  40. 40 kirara43

    All of these dramas.. they have good looking cast members and to me they all look really good to watch, but i think its hard to start watching something that’s hard to catch on to without like a good backbone or framework. (basically I’d like to read a good synopsis or plot before watching the drama )

    I started watching East of Eden because it had great looking actors but I agree with you Javabeans that episode 1 was just boring and wasn’t intereting. I think I’ve skimmed through the first 5 episodes to understand the background of the story, but haven’t quite gotten myself to continue watching it again. I may pick it up again after the english subs come out for the rest of the episodes, but until then i’m still debating about it.

    I’ve watched the first episode of the Kingdom of the Wind and I was totally Hooked. I really thought it was going to be hard to understand and watch since I don’t know too much about korean history but I dont think you need that to enjoy this drama. It’s really too bad that you won’t recapp it, but its ok, i’ll somewhat survive.

    I’ve been wanting to watch the other dramas that look promising like Tazza and Beethoven Virus but I’ve been busy trying to keep up with my other dramas so hopefully i’ll get to these when all of the episodes come out. Plus I’ve not watched the movie version or read the comic for Tazza so if there’s possibly a Chinese/English/Japanese version of it, then it’d be super helpful. \

    You’ve done a great job recapping Love and Marriage. I don’t even need to watch the drama to enjoy how great this series. Thank you for taking time and effort to do them! I will have to watch the full series when I have the chance.

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  41. 41 Sere

    I’m currently watching 3 dramas, all complete dramas, + various US shows. I was going to watch East of Eden, and Beethoven. Maybe even Kingdom. And Tazza. And Painter. AHHHHH, too many dramas, and too little time. BUT I might consider ditching EoE since I’ve read mixed reviews, but mostly tend to be on the negative side. Hmm, watch me ditch them *all* until they’re completed and then decide which one to try.

    *sighs*

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  42. 42 Kobe

    - belleza “Kind of a shame, given the gratuitous nudity in the first episode of Hometown Legends. Just kidding. Maybe? ;)”

    There are exceptions of course. Park Min Young drama = Watch on the same day subs are out :D I was kinda shocked when that elder woman told those girls to “lift up those skirts, hurry lift them up!”. I mean really, was that entirely necessary? It’s not like there are people out there who take gratification from the slender legs of pretty Korean actresses. Shallow people like that simply do not exist in the K-drama community!

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  43. 43 Heejae

    The Painter of the Wind is great; MGY does a great job with it, I look forward to seeing what’s going to happen next. The … interesting age-difference seems a lot less prominent here, and PSY is supposed to be a lot younger than he looks in this series.

    I would take a stab at re-caps, but like most people…sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s going on with the Noble’s JoSeon Era vernacular and whatnot.

    Do you have any idea how many episodes this series will stretch out?

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  44. 44 ed

    this is really helpful; just what i needed. so far i’m half hour into Painter – will catch the rest tonight. lots of “exotic” culture on show, “drama de qualite” direction, jury’s still out on MGY (acting talent & interpretation aren’t one and the same i think), PSY @ intro is as bleak as his Kilimanjaro movie, but…thanks javabeans!

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  45. 45 belleza

    @Kobe,

    “It’s not like there are people out there who take gratification from the slender legs of pretty Korean actresses. Shallow people like that simply do not exist in the K-drama community!”

    Nope, they don’t exist at all. All male Song Hye Kyo fans are just compensating for their attraction to Won Bin anyway. They’re waiting for the wrong Hallyu star. ;)

    @Felicity,

    “The main thing that made Nodame Cantabile so good was that (aside from the slapstick jokes and wild, crazy characters) it was really about the music”

    Yeah, that’s the inherent problem with doing a K-drama that compares with Nodame. The Nodame comic itself was an award-winning josei that beautifully expressed why we love music. The romance is there (and memorable), but it’s really about how hearing a certain piece transforms your world. The comedy is slapsticky and the drama is wonderfully ethereal. Above all, it taps into the Otherness arrived when the music not only takes over you, but binds you in the beautiful Oneness, conductor-pianist-orchestra unit. Beethoven Virus couldn’t hope to attempt that. It wouldn’t be a Korean trendy drama if it were.

    For one thing, the writer is cynical. The writer of Beethoven Virus also did “Over the Rainbow” which, acting aside, was a black-hearted spin on the K-pop machine. You watch that, you woud seriously wonder what is the point of joining SM or YG. Both Beethoven Virus and Over the Rainbow has a Arrogant Artist, whose “arrogance” reveals a necessary to be Alpha Male to survive. Both are rivals against Jewels in the Rough, who are our rooting interest. And of course, there’s the Girl, but the real plot is in watching how the sausage grinder works. The Process. The Egos. The endless rounds of criticism and self-doubt. It is much less about the love of music, dance, or performance, and more about the blood shed in order to realize dreams (or failure.) But I think I enjoy that kind of story too. Nodame Cantabile is a young woman’s story, about chasing your dream; Beethoven Virus seems dedicated to all of us working cranks, about coming back to an old dream while supporting/living your normal life.

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  46. 46 lovin it

    if possible, i would love to watch kingdom of the winds because ive heard people raving about how good it is..
    but since its a sageuk drama, its a bit harder to understand than other dramas.. wish my korean was better..
    if someone recapped the drama, that would be awesome!

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  47. 47 belleza

    “but since its a sageuk drama, its a bit harder to understand than other dramas.. wish my korean was better..”

    Just to let you know, X is subbing KotW and he’s been churning them out like a champion (through episode 5 today.) The subs are rich with historical annotations, and the language has great ear. Really a cut above.

    @Felicity,

    Oh I forgot. J-drama talk!!!

    “Ryusei no Kizuna”

    I think this season, the one I’m most interested in. It looks like a edgy, complex revenge drama (like East of Eden, but meaningful), and it has Nino. I like that Nikishisho Ryo better when he takes on edgier, darker roles, even if his fanbase can be kinda . . . blind (see Last Friends.) :D But the hook for me is that Nakashima Mika will also have a part in this story.

    “Innocent Love”

    Let’s add up this fall’s Gestu-9. Horokita Maki (not a big fan, but I recognize.) LAST FRIENDS PD team. Hikki theme song. Uchida Yuki. NARIMIYA HIROKI. Tragic backstory.

    I didn’t have high expectations after reading the synopsis on Bara, and so I was completely shocked at the return to form of J-drama’s most treasured time slot. The synopsis for Innocent Love doesn’t grab me either, but the combination of talent looks like another sure winner.

    “Kaze no Garden”

    If this gets subtitled, I might watch this one. It looks extremely sad.

    “Team Batista”

    In a season saturated with medical and medical-related dramas (Yamapi as a 29-year old head surgeon? REALLY Johnny?!?), this synopsis looks like the most interesting one.

    “Bloody Monday”

    I think Miura Haruma is the most talented of the current Johnny Jr crop. But this J-drama looks like the new Liar Game. It’s in the Saturday night 10:00pm slot, where directors (Trick, Trick 3) get to REALLY have fun, and uhh the story looks like it’s tailored made for geeks and geek girls.

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  48. 48 pacchi

    I love watching East of Eden right now but the lead guy (whatever his name is that I don’t care to know) is not so great in his role here. Kim Bum was amazing ’cause he made me cry in many scenes. I guess I have to wait for a few more eps before I decide to continue or drop it. This drama is nothing new from the Hong Kong dramas that I’ve seen.

    As for Painter of the Wind. I’m so excited even though I’ve only seen the raw eps. The score and cinematography are great but we’ll see how that will play out. I’m always skeptical of dramas that people say are good just ’cause some actors are in it. It’s rather the script, music, and scenery that draws me in.

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  49. 49 belleza

    (oops wrong post. disregard!)

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  50. 50 Felicity

    @belleza

    Cool, more jdrama talk! :)

    Yeah, me too! Looking forward to Ryusei no Kizuna the most, followed by Bloody Monday, Innocent Love, Kaze no Garden, and Oh! My Girl!

    re: “Ryusei no Kizuna”

    “It looks like a edgy, complex revenge drama (like East of Eden, but meaningful), and it has Nino”

    Yep, Nino should really act more. He’s the most sensitive actor in Arashi but I’ve never seen him play this type of ‘greyish’ character before. I wonder if Mika Nakashima can act? It really seems gimmicky to cast her (it’s like casting Boa in EoE). Ryo and Toda Erika suit their roles though. Higashino Keigo’s Byakubyaku was morbidly good, and Ryusei’s premise seems equally intriguing. Also with Kudo Kankuro as the scriptwriter, I think we can expect to see some dark humour. heh.

    Narimiya Hiroki is a busy man this Fall season eh? :) Looking forward to seeing his performance in both Innocent Love and Bloody Monday. I’ve always liked Narimiya since Orange Days. Glad he’s getting more work these days, I was a bit sorry for him getting left behind by Tsumabuki and Eita.

    “The synopsis for Innocent Love doesn’t grab me either, but the combination of talent looks like another sure winner.”

    I think the key element to Last Friends’ success was the excellent casting and great performances by the cast (read: Juri and Eita), not so much the script by Asano Taeko. That said, they are really pulling out all the stops for this drama to recreate the ‘magic formula’, even getting Hikki to sing the OP song again. Maki is a hit and miss actress to me. She was lovable in Nobuta wo Produce but really disappointing in Hana Kimi. ‘Innocent Love’ is Maki’s chance to show that she can be more than an idol actress. Most of the time she depends on her leading men to carry her through.

    re: “Kaze no Garden”

    “If this gets subtitled, I might watch this one. It looks extremely sad. ”

    Well, parent-child estrangement and forgiveness stories always are. If this is as well made as Yasashi Jikan, I know I’m gonna bawl.

    With so many “heavy” hitting dramas coming this fall, I need to watch some lighthearted ones to balance things out. Mokomichi really grew on me after Zettai Kareshi, hehe. So I’m looking forward to some sweet loving between him and Kato Rosa in Oh! My Girl! :)

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