80

The new Monday-Tuesday lineup: First impressions

As I’ve been saying recently (I sound like a broken record, I know), today saw the rare circumstance of four new drama series all premiering on the same night. There’s a lot of interest to see which one(s) will emerge victorious, but so far there’s no clear winner, as the numbers came out more or less even.

I usually use TNS Media numbers, which put God of Study on top with a 15.1%, followed closely by Jejoongwon with 14.9%, then Pasta with 12.2%. However, AGB Nielsen numbers (which are usually pretty similar) flip the top two, giving Jejoongwon the edge with 15.1%, then God of Study and Pasta almost even at 13.4% and 13.3%, respectively. In the earlier hour, Wish Upon a Star brought in 11%, which was a 1% increase from the premiere of its predecessor, Angel’s Temptation.

I had a hard time deciding which drama to see (and possibly recap) first, and I know I won’t be able to recap them all even if I wanted to. So rather than pick one arbitrarily, I managed to watch all four premiere episodes, and have come up with my first impressions on each.

 

GOD OF STUDY (KBS)

I fired up God of Study first, thinking it would be the easiest to watch and recap. I wasn’t necessarily excited about this drama, but I was curious to see how it would handle the high school setting and obvious Boys Before Flowers comparisons.

Kim Su-ro is a lawyer who is brought in to Byungmun High School to consult with its board chair. The school is affiliated with the Byungmun corporation, whose future is shaky at present, meaning that the school may be shut down. Kim Su-ro’s lawyer character has painful memories of being a student at the school and would like nothing more than to help that happen. Bae Doo-na is a well-meaning English teacher who fears that closing the school would be disaster for these kids, who are already faring so poorly.

Surprisingly, my first thought was that I was bored. The setup wasn’t particularly striking, with the rowdy kids sleeping through classes and showing a general disinterest in learning. I thought Bae Doo-na — acknowledged as one of the top actresses of her generation — overacted. And I was disappointed to have been told Yoo Seung-ho would be this badass rebel, only to see that his goodness is pretty apparent on the surface. (Not that I wanted him to be a horrible person, but it seemed like the character wasn’t at all what we’d been told to expect. I did like his acting and he has a lot of presence — and it’s nice to see him playing something other than a king! — so there is that.)

However, this drama grew on me a lot over the hour, and perhaps I have my own expectations to blame for the initial surprise. Nobody said this was going to be Boys Before Flowers Redux — it was my assumption based on the descriptions, the casting of Kim Su-ro (who does comedy so well), the hip teen cast, and the KBS ties. But this is nothing at all like Boys Before Flowers — it’s not even a comedy. I was expecting light trendy stuff, and instead what we get is much more serious in tone. It actually reminded me a lot of American teen dramas — not over-the-top Gossip Girl or campy One Tree Hill but more toned-down, straight drama fare. I’ve thought that it’s too bad there weren’t more shows like those lower-budget youth dramas (such as those produced by EBS or aired outside of prime time), but upgraded with higher production values. So this fulfills that wish.

The narrative heaviness turned me off at first, but as we got to know more of the characters, I warmed to it. I do think they’re laying on the serious drama vibe too thick (especially with Kim Su-ro) and there are scenes that drag. Part of the slowness of the episode is because it takes some time to establish each of the characters, and we’ve got a good number of them — five students, plus the adults. What I hope this drama does is take realistic characters and bring them together with good chemistry, because the story itself is low-key and simple. We aren’t going to get exciting location shoots, super-dramatic plot twists, or over-the-top villains like in Boys Before Flowers, so the fate of the show rests on the relationship dynamics. Thankfully, most of the cast can act pretty well.

I’m not hooked on God of Study and I think it’s the slowest of the four to settle into its groove, but there’s something interesting about the vibe that has me intrigued.

 

PASTA (MBC)

Pasta surprised me by being better than I’d expected. (Granted, I didn’t really know what to expect.) The restaurant setting has drawn a lot of pre-show comparisons to other food-themed series like My Name Is Kim Sam-soon, Gourmet, and Coffee Prince, but that’s pretty flimsy basis for comparison.

Gong Hyo-jin is exceedingly cute as an assistant in the kitchen, but what’s even better is that she has great chemistry with Lee Seon-kyun. They have one of the more adorable meet-cutes I’ve seen in a while, and I won’t ruin the fun by giving it away, but let’s just say that the situation is amusing but it’s their banter that makes the scene sizzle. The credit for that has got to go to Lee Seon-kyun (as he does most of the bantering), and GODDAMN he has never been so sexy. Y’all know that I have loved this man for a while now, but even so, this is the most charismatic I’ve ever seen him. Wow.

Even before the premiere, he was drawing a lot of comparisons to “Kang-mae,” aka Kim Myung-min in Beethoven Virus. But I’ll beg to differ. Kang-mae was entertainingly caustic, but Lee Seon-kyun’s character isn’t mean 100% of the time. He can change from volatile and scary to very suave. He knows how to be charming — he just doesn’t use that charm while he’s working in the kitchen. The dismay when he realizes that the girl he’s been flirting with is his employee is hilarious, and it affords us the chance to see him go hot-and-cold with her.

Pasta has a brisk, refreshing pace and a light tone that is amusing without being jokey. There’s humor, but it’s not a drama that hinges on comedy like a Hong Sisters piece.

The two leads are fabulous together, and the music is also great; the soundtrack sounds somewhat Coffee Prince-like, but less twee. Maybe more indie-rock than indie-pop. Of all the shows, Pasta is the one that won me over most. I’ll be watching the next episode for sure.

 

JEJOONGWON (SBS)

Jejoongwon is a very competent, well-produced, beautiful-to-look-at historical drama that will probably do well. It stars Park Yong-woo as a young man from a dirt-poor background who works as a butcher. One day, he is delivering beef to a fancy party, where one of the partygoers collapses. A famed Japanese doctor is in attendance and brings out his medical kit to sew up the guest’s open wound, and Park Yong-woo is transfixed. He has heard of this growing Western medicine movement and thinks it’s exciting.

His beloved mother is ailing (of consumption, it looks like), and his uneducated father spends their hard-earned money on a shaman to chase away the ghosts. He, however, insists on taking her to the hospital for modern treatment, but doesn’t have enough to pay the bills and is forced to take desperate measures to find enough money. Throughout the episode, we see him coming up against societal prejudices because of his low status, which will likely become a major theme.

Meanwhile, Yeon Jung-hoon is a nobleman’s son with a growing interest in Western medicine, who spends study time poring over anatomy texts. He has a flirtatious relationship with Han Hye-jin, the daughter of a powerful nobleman who cultivates relationships with Westerners.

Jejoongwon has a nice, pleasantly airy feel in its lighter moments and the acting is solid from both leading men. (Unfortunately, I have a bit of a mental block with Han Hye-jin, who bothers me here. It’s nothing to do with her acting; it’s her vibe that sometimes irks me.) The scenes with the aristocracy feel lighter than what we’d expect of the writer of White Tower, but we’re still only in the first episode.

I enjoyed this premiere and found it easy to watch, but rather unchallenging on the whole. There are aspects about this drama that really appeal to me, such as the juxtaposition of Western and classical Korean elements in this time of rapid change (we start in 1884). However, I sorta feel like I’ve seen this conflict played out dozens of times before — Park Yong-woo will end up being the medical genius with a gift for surgery, despite his humble beginnings. Yeon Jung-hoon has everything going for him — education, wealth, background — and he is skilled, but not brilliant. Naturally, the two will both fall for Han Hye-jin.

Jejoongwon will probably be a solid choice to watch, but I’m not diving in yet because there are so many offerings coming to us at once. I’m in the mood for something fresh, or challenging — hopefully both. Jejoongwon may have to wait until the schedule clears…

 

WISH UPON A STAR (SBS)

Frankly, Wish Upon a Star was my least-anticipated of the bunch because nothing really stood out about it. It’s built on a standard romantic conflict (klutzy girl melts icy heart of mean, hottie professional man) and the actors, while likable, are known more for their looks than their talent.

I was surprised the most, then, with Wish Upon a Star‘s bright, cheerful tone and particularly with leading lady Choi Jung-won. She has gotten criticism in the past for being just another pretty face, but she’s cute in this — maybe she should have done more romantic comedies.

Choi’s Pal-gang character is the eldest of a brood of adopted kids that her soft-hearted parents, who are still ridiculously in love, have taken in. She is frivolous and silly, and harbors a crush on the company’s lawyer (Kim Ji-hoon). She’s determined to make him fall for her, and then she’ll marry him and live happily ever after! She doesn’t care that he’s known to be a heartless bastard, as his younger brother (Shin Dong-wook) cheerfully warns.

I suspect that Pal-gang character may be a love-her-or-hate-her type; she can be pretty foolish and selfish. I happen to find her appealing — plus, you know she’s going to be in for a rude awakening soon — but as with many romantic comedies, if you don’t like the lead couple, you probably won’t like the drama as a whole. As for Kim Ji-hoon, I like that he’s actually cold rather than misunderstood, and he’s pretty sexy here.

One the things I’m wary about is that there’s a subplot that I suspect will take up more time than it should and drag down the breeziness of Pal-gang’s plotlines. It features a power struggle to claim a company’s ruling rights — an elderly chaebol chairman intends to use all his money to build a large free hospital, and asks Pal-gang’s good-hearted father to run it. However, the chairman’s long-suffering son feels like he deserves to run the company, and may have something to do with the car crash that kills Pal-gang’s parents.

This is also not going to be a challenging drama, and because I have seen this plot done so many times before, this drama’s appeal will rest on the characters’ charm. This is the most aggressively comedic drama of the four, and also probably the most conventional. It feels like a good-natured family show, but with a faster pace. It could go either way, in my book, so I’ll keep an eye on it to see if it stays fun or gets bogged down with the nefarious plot.

 
RELATED POSTS

Tags: , , ,

80

Required fields are marked *

JB thankkkkkkkkkkk youuuuuuuuu for your insight on all 4 new dramas....wow u really watched 4 dramas in one day....awsome!!!!!......well here are my first impressions....
God of Study......I don't know if i'll have the time to watch it but is definetly no CRAZY BOF..that for sure....I watched Dragon Zakura...and its more tone dow, slice of life kind of drama..with some hit to comedy but not really.... to me the teacher is the main lead and kids are second also and there is not much of a love story between the kids going on....hopefully they don't destroy this remake....like BOF....
PASTA...I WANT to see just cause like you I LOVE Lee Seon Kyun he is such a great actor......and if you said this something worth to watch I'll watch..lol.......
Wish upon a Star.......its a maybe....its feels like the beginning is all about the comedy side..but then the drama might turn too serious torwards the end....
JEJOONGWON ---- I just don't digg the historical dramas too much....sorry......

I'm still is YAB withdrawal so maybe PASTA can help me with my ailment..lol....

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

WOOO GO PASTA! i'm kinda disappointed with god of study based on your first impressions recap - i would rather have seen it go more for the comedy than the drama. hopefully there will be more comedic moments later on, especially since the writer has so much material to use - 5 rowdy students + 1 not-so-real-teacher = awkward, comedic moments!!!

for the first time i'm really interested in four dramas! but i usually go with your choice, so i guess pasta up first =P

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

im so excited for Pasta now with all this raving. gaaaaaaaaaaaah but im watcing autmn's concerto atm so I must wait

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Can I just add a really big SIGHHHH for LSK in Pasta here? I was afraid Pasta would fall flat of expectations but it definitely lives up to the praise I've heard for it. LSK just shines here, especially when he's doing that smirk of his. I think GHJ is usual reliable in delilvering her role well. Can't wait to see more interaction between the two characters.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

OMG! I was terrified before reading this post since I'm an avid follower of your site (especially the recaps) and after I too watched the 4 new dramas yesterday I feared you might have had a veeeeery different opinion! However we seem to have agreed this time since I too fell in LOVE with Pasta (I mean...come on!Lee Seon Kyun in SMOLDERING hot in this.I'm a fan but hell, he just reached a whole new level of sexy kekeke). Loved the premise (Im a bit of a food fan tbh and an amateur chef ;P),was pleasantly surprised at the main couple's chem and enjoyed the supporting cast. I'll def follow this show!

As for the rest...I'm torn between "God of Study" and "Wish upon a Star" for the 2nd spot. I actually got to watching kdrama because I watch Jdrama (so thankfull I do speak Japanese, this not knowing korean is killing me!) so Im very familiar with the original jdrama that inspired GOS (Dragon Zakura was amazing!). I like that they have not gone down the BOF route and turned this into another teen-comedy-kdrama fluff piece and stayed true to the original's tone which is more drama than haha. Not crazy about all the acting though, seems uneven imo. However I will watch ep.2 and then decide wether to watch or drop it.
WuaS on the other hand was a surprise since I too felt unimpressed by the premise/promo info. I admit the main couple might not appeal to everyone but I found it somewhat refreshing (they don't start off with the usual bickering-which-inevitably-turns-into-the-love-story-of-the-decade. Instead, our main lady is head over heels about the cold -and not just misunderstood saint!Yes!- main guy, and she's in for a rude, and I bet entertaining, rude awakening!) Again I will catch ep.2 and then see.

As for Jejoongwon...Truth be told, I watch a bunch of american med shows (anything from Scrubs to House) and I just did not like it. Let it be said that the drama is actually very good, well scripted and executed, good acting etc. However it's not for me. First of 4 to be dropped.

I'm not sure if I'll manage to diligently watch all the remaining 3 dramas, since there are still a couple of interesting projects still to hit the screens (Chuno!!!!!!!) but I'm very happy with the way 2010 has begun. This might be the year kdrama quality finally skyrockets! *fingers crossed*

Will look forward to what you have to say ;P

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I agree with what you said about Pasta. Pasta I had almost zero expectations for and watched it last night because I didn't want to sleep - and I'm already half in love with it. Lee Seon-gyun the jerk in the kitchen is absolutely fabulous. I'm definitely keeping up with this one.

As for God of Study, the other one I managed to catch last night, I liked it from the start. I didn't expect it to be very comedic because I don't remember Dragon Zakura being overly funny (at least not like Gokusen). I did expect some comedics from Kim Suro and was surprised to see him serious all through-out, but the kids did a bang-up job (I was pleasantly surprised with Jiyeon). I'm gonna keep my eye on this one.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I just finished watching god of study. These are my thoughts.

1. The lead actor, the lawyer, he didnt catch my attention as much as Abe Hiroshi in Dragon Zakura. I guess this will take some time after seeing how he teaches the students and support them through the process.

2. lead student, I was a bit surprised, he acts pretty well. I haven't seen him in other dramas, but it seems like he's more than just the cute face.

3. Principal, a hot/Sexy female? I was wondering why they did that, I know they were maybe trying to spice it up a bit, but I was a little annoyed with how she just screamed and yelled..

I was a big fan of Dragon Zakura, so this isn't catching onto me yet,(maybe its because I'm not a korean speaker so I'm not understanding it fully) but I'm sure its going to get better. I'm actually kind of getting some motivation after watching god of study .. I think i'm going to get some things done and then maybe rewatching Dragon Zakura in hopes to get in Study mode! :)

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

okay, i had managed to watch Pasta and skim through Wish Upon a Star yesterday night. Pasta was definitely cute and I agree with everyone on the chemistry between the two leads! it's weird to see LSK as this character because I remember him being a warm, supportive type of guy in Coffee Prince...not that he isn't nice sometimes in this drama... The drama's pacing is really nice and it has some of the most interesting opening 10-minutes in korean dramas. I was riveted by all the cooking and by how adept Gong Hyo Jin's character is at working a fast-paced restaurant environment. It felt like i was there standing in the kitchen.

I skimmed Wish Upon a Star's first episode because usually when the drama synopsis begins with something like "after her parents' sudden deaths" and then the series begins with the daughter and the parents alive and doing normal family things like squabbling...it's way too sad to really watch the episode cuz I know what must happen by the end of it. i'm such a wimp. but from what i've seen and the ep.2 preview, it also looks pretty good....though i'm a bit on the fence with both the male leads's hair. The female lead can be a bit grating in the first episode, but after her parents' deaths, it looks like she will turn around and be more responsible.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Hi, JB
thanks for the heads up...
I've seen three of the 4 mentioned, namely, WUAS,GOS and Pasta...
I must say that Pasta is leading in my estimation...
[this is based on my watching the pilots raw even when I'm pretty
much VERY dependent on subs]
I liked LSK a lot here.. I loved him in Coffee Prince and since then
was looking forward to seeing him as a lead in a drama... I know
he was in 'My Sweet Seoul' , but for some reason I never really got
interested enough in that drama to go beyond episode 2... maybe
after posting this I will go and watch it...

but definitely PASTA ! I love GHJ in 'Thank You' and so I'm really
looking forward to her performance in this one..

so many dramas, so little time...lol

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

thanks for the summaries of your 1st impressions. i am now pretty sure that i want to follow Pasta. i thought God Of Study would be BOF like, but i guess not. the other dramas besides Pasta sound boring or have leads i am not excited about.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Sounds like Pasta will be the one to watch for me.

JB, thanks for your lightning speed recaps. It was such a treat to read and just when I thought I was going to really bored because I was running out of dramas, this makes me so excited for the new year.

Now I've got to go search for them and take a boo.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

JB, you're simply amazing. I can't even keep up with all the updates. I think I'm going to check all of them out and judge myself - lols - see, and they say we take your words like the Bible. ^_^

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

aw i was hoping you'd go for god of study, but at least this way i can keep up with both if you recap pasta :)

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thanks for the recaps! I'm going to have to find time to watch "Pasta" soon, because I am a huge fan of Alex's music...lets hope that he does as well in the acting area!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Great round up!

I don't know if I've hit that period where you've watched enough dramas that you just grow tired of the same thing over and over. It feels like it right about now......I think all I look for now is the execution of a drama nowadays because the setups tend to be similar enough.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I didn't get around to watching Pick the Stars or Jaejoongwon yet but I did watch God of Study and Pasta.
I agree with you on that Lee Seon Kyun's transformation is amazing.
His hairstyle changed too and it makes him go from sexy to super sexy.
Pasta was surprisingly good and I really like it so far.
Same with God of Study. I think the first episode wasn't too exciting but the second episode I really liked.
I really like God of Study but that's probably because I'm a teenage girl and I have a super big crush on Lee Hyun Woo and Yoo Seung Ho.
Oh I love Mondays and Tuesdays!
I can't wait till Will it Snow on Christmas tomorrow!
Man. So many good dramas already and 2010 just started!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

This is my first time posting a comment on here. ^^ hehe
I think I'll watch Pasta and Jejoongwon! Ah! And not to sound creepy, but Lee Seon Gyun is like my ahjusshi-crush. So smexy. lol
I've got too many dramas on my list now!
Thanks for the review/post though.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Started on God of Study, because I enjoyed Dragon Zakura so much, but right about 10 minutes into the first episode, I tuned out. Not too sure why, but the reason Dragon Zakura worked so well was due to Abe Hiroshi (not to mention I strongly agree with all the 'methods of study' they came up with, especially the teaching English bit. Used it myself with some tuition kids and they loved it). I think I may give the drama a bit more time to develop before I try hitting it again.

Looking forward to Pasta, but I have my misgivings about Wishing Upon A Star and Jaejoongwon. Guess I'll check back here and see how it goes. If nothing else, I know there'll be drama recaps sitting around somewhere for me to follow!

Also, random, but I'm enjoying the leftover runs of 2009 dramas like Smile, You.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

My order of choice:
1. Jejoongwon
2. Pasta
3. Wish upon a star
4. God of study

So many good dramas to watch ('You smile' has not yet finished, plus many recommended dramas in the past year which I haven't seen, plus new "Wed-Thu" series, such as Chuno), just don't know how I can sqeeze out enough time to watch all of them.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

i curious about JEJOONGWON just because at the 1st i saw the poster of this drama i found the dress that the leading actress wear is cute. Want to see more dress like this...
And about God of drama, here come Yoo Seung-ho as the reason to watch it. I started to like him in Sad Love Song, and then got more like him as prince chuncu in QSD. His face is surely cute, but i think it suit well for antagonist role, badass, troublemaker boy. And as u said JB, i want to see him playing something other than a king, too. hee...

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thanks for the review! The drama that I've looked forward the most after Chuno was Pasta so am glad that you enjoyed it! I love both the leads and wanted to watch something fun so I'll be watching this soon! I'll probably wait for subs though since I'm still in the middle of catching up with certain dramas from last year (:

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

but...I don't really understand...are u gonna do recaps of God of study?because me..I'm really looking for it!so..please^^

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

♥_♥ Pasta! I am instantly attracted to any drama that takes place in a restaurant. Aside from that I'm taken with Lee Seon-kyun and that is surprising. I was pretty "meh" on him in Coffee Prince! Then in Triple he got more appealing and now in Pasta .... I'm officially smitten? He's really good! And totally adorable. I'm definitely going to tune in.

God of Study looks intriguing *but* I'm tuning in on a trial basis. Thanks JB! I can't fathom the amount of work it took to collect your thoughts!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

same for me. wish upon a star has the least to offer me. the leads don't attract me either.

I'd be going with

1. Pasta
I'm a foodie, so any show with food catches my eyes
2. Jejoongwon
3. God of Study
am pretty apprehensive about this teen show, but will KIV and look out for word-of-mouth reviews and impressions before i pick it up. i liked Dragon Zakura's treatment. Pretty similar to GTO and Gokuzen but with some preachy moral elements meant to be educational and inspiring.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

ill definitely be following your GOS and Pasta recaps updates! these are in my opinion the 2 more appealing shows out of the 4 ^^ too many to keep watch already! hahaha thanks JB!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I guess everybody' taste is different , i like Jaejoongwon , solid casts , meaningful
story .
HHJ is one of the few K actresses whom i like , K actors are so many of them ,
talened . good looking comparing to K actresses .
I also like The reputable family , smile you , god of study .I haven't watched pasta,
and other drama yet .
thanks .

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

WAW!! i 've just discovered your site and i love it !! While reading your comments i totally sence your passion!! thanks for your hard work and i will be looking forward for your futur recaps ,especially pasta's recapps. i like pasta the best !!!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

My rating : Jejoongwon and Chuno, god of study smile you .

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

God of study is the best for me , Jejoongwon is getting boring ,dragging , leading actor as Mr Hwang is so plain in acting , so boring to the point i wonder why the lead actress able to love this character ,no chemistry what so ever , i'm very disappointed.
Chuno is still good , getting more interesting , in acting , script and directing .
Pasta is only funny in the beginning , later so dragging , i can not tolerate the chef
with long hair , you feel like you might have a chance to find hair in your pasta .
Obstetrics and gynecology doctors , the lead actress is acting good but too old for two young male doctors , not romantic at all . In new heart , the casts are more
compatible , all the residents are so cute . In surgeon Bong , the script is too
unrealistic , unbelievable .
in Smile you , again is interesting from the beginning but dragging later on .

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Currently Airing

Prime-Time Shows This Week
Monday-Tuesday (June 1-2) Wednesday-Thursday (June 3-4) Weekend (June 5-7)