Dream High concert and final thoughts
Yesterday saw the end to Dream High, so Tuesday’s episode was a(n edited) broadcast of the concert, which was the drama’s way of putting a spin on the familiar special broadcast format of behind-the-scenes clips, NGs, and stories from the drama shoots.
It also gives me a chance to weigh in on the ending, since I didn’t get a chance to do that with the finale, and send off this unexpected gem of a show, which didn’t inspire too much confidence pre-premiere but somehow showed us all it had the humor, heart, and wit to become a keeper.
SONG OF THE DAY
“어떤이의 꿈” (Someone’s Dream), from the concert. [ Download ]
The concert also gave the stars a chance to take the stage and show their live-performance skills, which, admittedly, left a little to be desired but were no less appreciated for the effort. The special started off with “어떤이의 꿈” (Someone’s Dream), the song that started it all for Jin-gook and Baek-hee at the first showcase, which is posted above.
(I didn’t rip all the songs from the special because a number of them have studio versions. This one’s on the soundtrack, but not sung by the cast members.)
A few clips from the drama remind us of the almost-showdown between Jason and Jin-man, though the latter backed off from a dance-off out of timidity. How much do I love that the special gives us that showdown, with the bonus of seeing both Taecyeon and Wooyoung donning the hilarious red suits from the Jin-man flashback, joining Park Jin-young in a dance… to MC Hammer’s “Too Legit To Quit.” Oh man. I’m getting childhood flashbacks already, back to the days of sky-high bangs, hi-top sneakers, and parachute pants.
The concert’s talky portion segued the event into more standard special segments, in the guise of “special awards.” It’s a clever way to incorporate the usual behind-the-scenes bits into a larger theme, and Taecyeon beat out his castmates as the on-set jokester, with the penchant for busting out into cute, silly dance steps when he thought the cameras weren’t rolling. (He joked that seeing the compilation of his behind-the-scenes moments, he felt “betrayed” by the cameras, since he had thought they were off.) Wooyoung and Kim Soo-hyun had their share of goofing off, but they both ceded that the win belonged to Taec.
The second “award” was really just an excuse to segue into the NG portion, and Park Jin-young reportedly was the worst at flubbing takes (it was his acting debut — though really, he was pretty fantastic in the clips that made it to air), although he had some competition from the rest, particularly Suzy, whose fatal flaw was dissolving into laughter at inappropriate moments. JYP even earned the nickname of “Hollywood actor,” which he explained came from his many NGs, which came as a result of him not being familiar with lighting and technicalities while acting. So he’d joke when he messed up that, “This is really different from how they do things in Hollywood.”
Fans of the Milk Couple — Wooyoung and IU, aka Jason and Pil-sook — will probably thrill to hear the story of how the two actors slipped away alone for a dinner away from the rest of the cast (earning mock outrage from Taecyeon at being left behind). He’d paid for the dinner (she said things were so awkward that all they did was eat), which he said was because he was her elder, and then asked her to buy him dinner next time. So the second time, they went to a barbecue restaurant — with their respective staffs in tow — and IU said he’d eaten so much (expensive) beef that frankly she’d been a bit worried about the cost, only to discover that he’d paid that time, too.
The MCs teased that he seemed to be inventing excuses to hang out, and while personally I think the story’s a little weak to be launching any big romance theories, it’s better than nothing, eh?
A gentle question about Suzy’s difficulties while filming were a roundabout reference to the slew of criticism she received for her acting earlier in the drama’s run. The staff presented her with the third award — for being hardworking — and she laugh-cried as she tried to explain how touched she was.
Truth be told, I don’t think the criticisms were too far off-base, since acting really is Dream High‘s biggest flaw, in my opinion. I came to love Hye-mi’s character — non-emotive facial expressions and all — and found her really endearing, but I can’t help but think that had Suzy and Taecyeon been better actors, Dream High would have been a better drama. I say that as an enthusiastic fan already, but one who can’t quite give it full marks because there were too many scenes where I saw what I ought to be feeling rather than felt those emotions from the acting outright.
More performing was followed by a segment where aspiring music-lovers/students were brought out as real-life versions of the Dream High counterparts, such as the girl who’d lost a great deal of weight and has begun to be taken seriously by her peers. The students were given two gifts each, both of which are pretty sweet: a musical instrument (a keyboard for one, a guitar for another), and their own versions of the drama’s K pendant to remind them to keep dreamin’ on.
As far as fandom paraphernalia goes, it doesn’t get much better than that pendant, does it? You could practically hear the envy emanating from the audience. Oh, okay, maybe from me too.
And with that, the special ended with two of its most recognizable tunes: “Dream High” and “거위의 꿈” (A Goose’s Dream), the latter of which is posted below and was kicked off by Hye-mi’s li’l sis. [ Download ]
And there you have it.
Though I’ll still say that the drama could easily turn a Season 2 into a success, as far as this season’s concerned I’m pleased with the way things wrapped, and glad that an extension wasn’t ultimately granted, if having more episodes means that the rhythm of the finale would have been tripped up. It had just the right mix of giving fans what they wanted…but not so much that it became an exercise in fanservice that provided cute and fuzzy scenes at the expense of continuity or story strength.
That’s really the thing I hate when I’m talking about the perils of fanservice, because pleasing fans, in and of itself, is hardly a bad thing. As a fan I wouldn’t have minded a few more scenes of my favorite couple(s), but not if that compromises the flow of the story. It’s when you have finale episodes that are purely about giving up that Cute that they don’t even bother attempting narrative logic that I get grumpy.
Perhaps the drama’s awesome flashes of meta awareness were enough to satisfy the fanservice quotient, and who doesn’t love a good pop-culture reference? (The “Tell Me” reference in the finale CRACKED. MY. SHIT. UP. Trust JYP to manage a promo op for the Wonder Girls while giving us a clever plot point AND a self-referential joke.)
I liked that the kiddos stuck together rather than split up their group, but that after some time had passed, they’d all moved on to their individual successes. It makes sense that at that moment in time, in 2011, their dreams were all in sync and the group was at its strongest with everyone onboard, each member a key part of the whole. But dreams are, if anything, a launching pad to further dreams, so the years naturally take them on their own paths, but thanks to the fact that they started in the same place, they’ll always have those shared moments rooting them together. Not that they couldn’t have remained friends if they hadn’t done that, but I just love the way it ended up working out. Sam-dong’s journey has taken him to the highest heights, replete with the greatest loneliness, because he’d had the greatest dreams. The drama may have finished with each person in a successful position, but it almost seems to say that success is just the (happy) byproduct of living a life in pursuit of those dreams, that lifeblood of souls. More than achievement of romantic love, or even the expression of friendship, that’s a message I can get behind.
For me, Dream High was a happy surprise, and a prime example of why expectations and reality don’t always line up. In fact, it’s usually the opposite, given how many fantastic-sounding dramas ended up flopping — or, more likely, merely boring. And I won’t argue that Dream High is some genius work of art, because sure, it had its flaws and its obvious plot twists and its (sadly) lapses in acting from the cast. But where it succeeded was in melding commerce and art, making the most of what it was and keeping the energy pumping and the jokes free-flying, while never losing sight of the emotion and warmth at the center.
- Dream High: Episode 16 (Final)
- Dream High: Episode 15
- Dream High: Episode 14
- Dream High: Episode 13
- Dream High: Episode 12
- Dream High: Episode 11
- Dream High: Episode 10
- Cuteness abounds on the set of Dream High
- Will Pil-sook’s doll be the next Pig-Rabbit?
- Dream High: Episode 8
- Dream High gets a special, no extension
- Dream High: Episode 7
- Dream High: Episode 6
- Dream High: Episode 5
- Dream High: Episode 4
- Dream High: Episode 3
- Dream High: Episode 2
- Dream High: Episode 1