Drama Reactions & Reviews
The DramaMeter: highly scientific and foolproof [Year in Review, Part 4]
by | December 21, 2011 | 181 Comments

Wow, another year of dramas, come and gone. Where does the sanity go? I decided that for this year’s review, I would learn to be impartial and precise, and give systematic mathematical ratings for every show. Because numbers are fun. But then, I found that trying to rate a year’s worth of dramas was a lot like comparing apples and oranges and giraffes. It made my brain hurt and then I was all sleepy. So I did what anyone would do. I built a machine to do it for me.

Meet… the DramaMeter (patent pending): a highly scientific, totally foolproof system of computation, fine-tuned to measure any drama in any circumstance. It uses complex algorithms, longitudinal matrices, and other mathy things, to calculate a drama’s rating with exact precision, every time, without fail. I know. It’s likely to blow your mind. So without further ado, the dramas of 2011:


Kim Bo-kyung – “Suddenly” from the City Hunter OST [ Download ]

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Dream High

Dream High surprised me, and came through with one of the sweetest stories of the year. It’s basically a sports drama—think about it—replace dancing with baseball and you’ve got yourself a tried and true underdog tale, complete with inspiring coaches and teammates who each have their Achilles heel to overcome, so that united, the team is stronger than its parts. That narrative backbone is what made this show work for me, because otherwise idols singing and dancing is just… idols singing and dancing, and I can watch Inkigayo for that… They still have Inkigayo, right?

But I did love the sing-offs and dance-offs, the guerilla concerts and battles, and series of musical midterms they had to take, because they were written as climactic narrative moments, and had the added benefit of being really fun to watch, so that we were as invested as the characters when someone hit that perfect note or finally got that dance down. And the show did a fun series of updates on old songs, taking a cue from shows like Glee, which worked to secure musical references for a broad audience.

It was the first drama of the year, but even by the end of 2011, it still stands as one of the prettiest. It was shot gorgeously and directed with an eye for dramatic musical flair. Dancers captured in mid-stride looked like works of art, and the performance sequences conveyed all the sensation, the angst, and the thrill of each movement. Even the best dancer filmed badly looks mediocre, but here every sequence conveyed that crucial emotional beat that resonated with each performance, which is why this drama worked, where so many other musical-themed dramas failed this year.

Though it’s not a really complex story with the most riveting characters, everything about the earnest go-for-your-dream message of this drama just gets me in the heart. Watching the misfit mafia sing and dance was really fun, but what hooked me was when they banded together as outcasts, shielded each other from being pelted with eggs, or put together their own renegade showcase to perform, even if it was just for an audience of one.

DramaMeter Rating: Mix-tape. Memories of your first crush, and your embarrassing love of electropop.

My Princess

My Princess is as frothy a confection as they come. It’s mounds of cuteness built on top of a plot that I’m pretty sure a six-year old could reconstruct, without even cutting corners. But Kim Tae-hee and Song Seung-heon are winning as a pair, and this drama went a long way in making me like them again, after years spent in meloville where their acting ranges were always stretched way too thin.

Granted, no one was expecting the modern monarchy setting of this drama to be politically riveting, or even a rival for a drama like Goong that sells the universe as much as anything. We knew going in that My Princess was going to be the stick-figure version of that picture. But I still wanted better dramatic conflict within that world, to make us care whether the heroine was royalty, or just a girl with a really big shoe collection.

So it’s no surprise that the drama was best early on, when the heroine was still just an ordinary grad student before she suddenly got her life turned into headline news. Her run-ins with the chaebol diplomat prince charming (sigh) were hilarious when all she cared about was making her next rent payment or making a good impression on the other guy.

The early palace stuff was adorable too, but then when everybody and their mother started moving into the place and making her life hell, it drove me a little nuts. She had to escape so many times that after awhile, I thought she should just stay out, since the drama never once made me believe that she had to be the princess, or that the country ever needed one.

But where this drama won me over was in its sweet romantic chemistry and the lack of any really infuriating behavior between them. The villain is another story, but the leads always managed to clear up misunderstandings and kiss and makeup, replete with flirty banter and midnight cocoa runs. I liked the heroine’s refreshingly straightforward approach to everything—her gumption—and found it fun and easy to root for her, despite never really caring about the stakes involved. Sometimes whatever a princess wants is whatever a princess should get.

DramaMeter Rating: Third scotch. A little hazy on the details, but feels warm and fuzzy.

49 Days

There was something about the premise of this show and the way it was plotted that sank its claws into me and made me have to have the next installment RIGHT NOW, despite some major flaws in the drama as a whole. There was something refreshingly different about a heroine who lands in a coma the day before her wedding and spends the drama stuck between this life and the next, guided by a sassypants reaper. I love the dramatic potential of a universe like that, and the drama proved to be both suspenseful and contemplative at the same time.

The story was constructed very neatly with two parallel heroines — the spirit one and the person whose body she ends up borrowing, setting us up for lots of thematic mirroring between an almost dead girl who desperately wants to live and a living girl who desperately wants to die. It takes sharing a body for them to each evolve to be more like the other, and learn to appreciate what it means not to waste the time you’re given. I very much enjoyed the thematic resonance between the heroines, standing on opposite sides of that cosmic divide.

The addictive element of the story came from the mysteries: Who is this reaper guiding her soul? What nefarious plot was her fiancé scheming before she threw a big wrench in his plans by getting herself almost dead? The mysteries coupled with the ticking clock of a 49-day window to gain a second chance at life made for a plot that zoomed by and left us itching for more.

49 Days had its share of faults too though, for as many upsides it had. Other than Jung Il-woo‘s turn as the smartass Scheduler, most of the cast seemed to be sedated. And then on the total opposite end of the spectrum was the villain, played by Bae Soo-bin, who overacted so hard I thought his eyeballs would pop out of their sockets. Everyone played their roles serviceably, but I feel like the drama would have been on another level entirely if it had been cast with stronger leads.

Now that lots of time has passed since this show first aired, I find myself hard-pressed to remember much about 49 Days other than the Scheduler (and perhaps some collective squealing over Jo Hyun-jae‘s post-army abs). I would’ve loved it if the drama we got was the B-side, where we just followed the Scheduler around wherever it was he always ran off to, trying to keep his reaping appointments in between his jam sessions and his weekly perms. Now if the drama gods could give me that show, I’d be in heaven.

DramaMeter Rating: ∑ 49 √ 7 ≈ 3 ∆ ☺

Best Love

I love it when a rom-com is done right. You would think it’s an easy formula, but the sea of bad ones is a testament to how hard it is to get just right. (See: Lie to Me, below.) Best Love is whip-smart and incisive, but also absurd and childish at the same time. It’s potty humor laced with social commentary, which sounds totally insane, but somehow it all works. In true Hong Sisters fashion, it had one of the best couples of the year – zany, larger-than-life characters who made us believe wholeheartedly that a wayward pair of sneakers or a sprouting potato were the height of romantic gestures.

With writing so deftly plugged into popular culture, it’s no wonder that Best Love features some of the Hong Sisters’ wittiest work, using the showbiz world as a platform for their particularly hilarious brand of meta humor. Even their usual wordplay and metaphor-love seemed to be on steroids this year, making me wonder how they’ll outdo themselves in 2012. The plotting wasn’t as strong as the moment-by-moment dialogue, but sometimes a really good joke goes a long way to smooth those seams.

Gong Hyo-jin is one of my favorite actresses and I love her naturalistic acting style in everything, so it was no surprise that she was fantastic here. But Cha Seung-won was the revelation. His Dokko Jin was the equivalent of last year’s gumiho—that one memorable character that stands out against a year’s worth of dramas, a Hong Sisters specialty for at least three years running. He managed to turn a 40-something man into a giant silly man-baby, who could go from slapstick to heartbreaking to sexy beast, all at the drop of a hat.

There were problems with the story, at the end of the day: things that didn’t quite pan out in the third act, like the heart surgery that was all buildup and no dramatic follow-through, or the recycling of similar conflicts, window-dressed to be slightly varied. But the characters managed to be emotionally engaging throughout, leaving us clutching our hearts along with the hero or rolling on the ground in peals of laughter. Best Love certainly isn’t the perfect rom-com, or even my favorite of the Hong Sisters dramas. But it is definitely a contender for the funniest of their shows, and certainly one of the smartest and best-crafted of the lot.

DramaMeter Rating: Spare panties. For when you laugh so hard you pee through the first pair.

City Hunter

City Hunter was my drama of the year, bar none. It was comic book crack brought to life with flash and heart, filled with idealistic heroes and gripping moral conflicts. It hooked me so hard that I still get withdrawal pangs now and again. This show had the trifecta of good writing, directing, and acting, which meant that every moment was played to its fullest extent, and I was never left feeling like something was missing or wasted, which is amazingly rare. I loved the sharp directorial style that showed as much of the story in visuals as it did in dialogue, the cracktastic pace of the plot, and the committed performances by the cast, ranging from action to humor to heartbreaking drama.

This show had perhaps one of the best ensemble casts of the year, because despite being a hero-centric story, it really was filled to the brim with great secondary characters, all of them so wonderfully played. Bad Daddy Kim Sang-joong was the best of them, making a ruthless villain feel lived in and whole, like he relived his tragedy every day, until he stopped fighting it and chose to let it fuel him. The father-son dynamic grounded everything in a central emotional journey, giving every minor arc in the drama a backbone to rely on. It was, oddly enough, one of my favorite love stories of the year—the twisted and highly dysfunctional love between a hero and his villainous father. It’s an unconventional choice among Favorite Couples to say the least, but it was the love story that shot me through the heart.

Of course I love Nana Bear and Ajusshi and the stick-in-the-mud Prosecutor who was a hero in his own right, and could watch City Hunter fight crimes with his Scooby gang till the cows came home. Park Min-young played such a kickass girl friday who risked her life to protect the hero, and I was happy to root for such a strong heroine. Lee Min-ho carried the burden of the hero with an earnest vulnerability all the way through, making City Hunter so much more than just a cool, slick action hero.

I’ll always be a fan of great superhero fiction that takes me away to another world, where heroes fight social injustice and right wins out over wrong. When City Hunter was firing on all cylinders it was the best of all things — exhilarating, heartfelt, and totally badass.

DramaMeter Rating: A bullet to the heart. It’ll kill you dead and take your soul with it.

Lie to Me

You tell yourself that there’s such a thing as a bad rom-com, and really, it happens all the time. And yet, every time I encounter one, I think, how could you possibly have screwed this up? This drama managed to take two actors who can actually handle both comedy and heart, and waste them on characters who were illogical, and worst of all, supremely unfunny. And that? Is the biggest travesty of all.

The premise was simple: an ordinary woman lies about being married to a prince charming. But you get the sense that the writer forgot to ask: “And then what?” Because I watched the whole drama, but couldn’t tell you the answer. Because there isn’t one.

I never understood the motivation behind anything the characters did, especially the heroine, which is kind of the death knell for me when I’m watching a drama. So she lies once to her frenemy that she’s married to the rich guy in the magazine. Sure. Brief moment of satisfaction, which I don’t begrudge. I even understand it. But then when she goes to all those lengths to keep the lie going and going and going, all for a friend she hates, you have to wonder why the supposed smart and plucky girl doesn’t just stop hanging out with her.

If I can poke a hole in your story logic with the question—What if the heroine just stops answering the villain’s calls?—then you’ve got nothing but an uphill battle to convince me to care. [Spoiler Alert: ending discussion ahead.] An entire third act was devoted to the heroine’s sudden decision not to marry the man she had wanted to marry for the entire run of the drama, and then, just as strangely as she decided to say no, she came around to say yes, for reasons still unclear to me.

The couple had its moments of cuteness, but everything about their relationship felt maneuvered there by such clunky writing that it showed at the seams. It’s a lot like going to see the great and powerful wizard of Oz, only to make awkward eye contact with the tiny man behind the curtain. I didn’t come to dramaland to see the man behind the curtain. Show me the wizard. Show me the magic.

DramaMeter Rating: Two crooked-necked giraffes. They’re an eyesore, but at least they have each other.

I Need Romance

This was the first of this year’s cable offerings that made me stand up and take notice. I Need Romance is a beautifully shot, frank and sexy look at the lives of three single women and their search for a little romance. It drew a lot of comparisons to Sex and the City, and it was, for all intents and purposes a version of that familiar setup, but it had enough of its own legs to stand on.

I really took to the heroine, played by Jo Yeo-jung, and her two wacky friends who represent the two extremes of the dating spectrum—a virgin and a serial dater. The friends’ stories are a little zanier, but they’re a fun pair, and a good foil to the more realistic heroine.

The love triangle is one of the most compelling ones of the year, between a ten-year relationship with her first love, plagued by cheating and dwindling sexual attraction, and a new relationship with a younger man, half puppy-crush, half prince-charming-dreamboat. At first you think good riddance, old boyfriend, but then the more time you spend with the heroine, you realize how much he’s a part of her, and how hard it is to cut him out of her life. The relationships are realistically messy, and not cut-and-dry, which I really appreciated.

[Spoiler Alert: ending discussion from here on out.] It seems that the majority of viewers hated her final choice, having fallen for Choi Jin-hyuk‘s prince charming. Not that I could blame anyone – he’s great, and definitely the swoon-worthy guy in the drama. But I understand her choice to stay with Kim Jung-hoon, and found his apology (and admission of fault) to her parents to be stirring, and more sincere than any apology he threw out when he was trying to hold onto her.

I liked that dating the noona-killer reawakened a sense of romance in her life and made her realize what she was sacrificing in her comfy-old-shoe relationship with the boyfriend who had become basically a piece of furniture in her life, or her in his. But I didn’t think she was meant to be with the chaebol prince who wanted her to change her whole identity to be with him. I would’ve been disappointed in her if she had given in to his requests, because sure, romance is great, but staying true to yourself is more important. Despite all the odds stacked against them, it was brave and honest of her to follow her heart and give the ex another chance, which the drama points out is as open-ended as anything in life. Maybe they live happily ever after, or maybe they don’t, but what matters is that she’ll always choose to follow her heart.

DramaMeter Rating: Makgulli. Bubbly and sweet, with a kick.

Miss Ripley

Miss Ripley was an interesting attempt to tell the story of an anti-heroine who lies and manipulates her way through life, and cheats the system because she feels the system cheated her. It’s a fresh idea and one that’s based on a wave of real-life scandals involving diploma forgery. I just wish the drama went all the way with its own premise, and made the heroine actually an anti-heroine. She ended up being mostly sympathetic and just really maladjusted, which took a little tooth out of her bite.

As a melodrama it was a fascinating character study that did a good job of making us feel for the heroine despite her arsenal of lies. Our hearts lurched in fear whenever she was in danger of being caught in another lie, and despite knowing that it was all wrong, we wanted her to get away with it. I found that to be a curious effect, and well-played by the drama. It also had a swiftly moving plot for a melo, making each conflict move by at a brisk pace that kept my interest all the way through.

But I was sorely dissatisfied with the way the love triangle was handled, only because I wanted it to be more evenly matched, but Kim Seung-woo‘s character got tossed aside in the latter half of the drama, which was a crying shame. I liked Park Yoochun‘s character as a foil for him, but the conflict was more compelling in the relationship that got dropped, which only served to further sap conflict out of the surviving one. There was a moment when it appeared that the chaebol good guy would be the one to turn to the dark side because of the heroine’s choices, but alas, that fizzled out as so many storylines did. Other threads like single-white-femaling her roommate got dropped like a hot potato, leaving entire sets of characters just dangling there.

So in the end the idea was better than the execution ever lived up to. But the performance from Lee Da-hae was believable and she made an unlikable heroine strangely sympathetic and really engrossing. If the story had held it together in the second half and stuck to the original complexity of the characters and the setup, it would have been a much more solid drama, and left a bigger impression overall.

DramaMeter Rating: Fortune cookie. Lies wrapped in a crispy wafer shell.

Myung-wol the Spy

Oh, Myung-wol. What you could have been. This drama started out darkly funny and offbeat, promising farcical North Korean war room scenes and silly physical comedy, all with a satirical bent… and then it went on a crack bender, and not the good kind. You’d wonder, how could anyone mess up a screwball comedy with a North Korean spy assassin sent to marry a Hallyu star? (Because the joke’s in the premise!) But lo and behold, you can totally mess it up, and you can mess it up but good.

The downward spiral was fast and furious, each time slinging the characters into some new storyline that made even less sense than the one that came before. It was kind of like watching a really public nervous breakdown… except… it was actually like watching a really public nervous breakdown. Life started imitating art and back again, and suddenly the drama was without a lead actress, who walked off set from over-exhaustion. Or perhaps she was just tired of being confused by each new script? It turned out that the behind-the-scenes drama upstaged the actual drama, which is never a good thing.

So many things about the story confused me, like why a badass assassin spy let herself get dragged around like a rag doll all the time, or why the biggest star in Korea was still beholden to his original financial backer, or why the villain did… anything that he did. It was all so tenuously held together, like a web of logic held together by icicles on a hot summer day.

When it was fun, this show had an absurd sense of humor with lots of promise, but sadly the drama I wanted to watch never saw the light of day. Maybe the Anti-Hallyu squad ran off with it and sabotaged the production by replacing the crew with evil doppelgangers. ‘Cause that would explain a lot.

DramaMeter Rating: Expired milk. Was once good, now stinks up your fridge.

Scent of a Woman

Frankly I thought this drama would leave a bigger impact on me, but it never fully swept me up in that magical way. I can feel that it wanted to, and it tried, but it just doesn’t stand out once I step back and think about the dramas I watched this year. It was shot with that gorgeous camera, filled with a great cast, was an uplifting story about a woman’s second chance at life, but I think it was missing that ineffable quality that just gets me in the gut makes me love a drama, faults and all.

What I did love about it was the heroine’s central conflict – a woman who’s spent her whole life repressing her desires and living a humdrum existence gets diagnosed with terminal cancer, and instead of moping about it, she decides to start living. It’s so satisfying to watch her talk back to her horrible boss, take herself on a shopping spree, or take up tango lessons just because she’s always wanted to. Kim Sun-ah takes her from timid, mousy wallflower to vibrant, outspoken heroine, and we cheer her on with excitement.

But the drama gets bogged down with a lot of needless conflict that gets in the way—chaebol heroes and their attendant issues and screechy family members, ex-fiancées and their screechy family members, work conflicts that no one cares about—so that somehow the cancer and the living each day to the fullest gets a little lost in the other drama. A really long bout of noble idiocy didn’t do much to curry favor either.

I ended up liking the second lead more than the hero, not necessarily as a romantic rival, but just as a character. Eom Ki-joon played Dr. Poopypants with quiet humor and hidden depth, and I found myself more interested in his growth as a person than the main romance happening on the other side.

But this drama did get a few things right, like the heroine’s resolve to make her mother laugh once a day, or teaching Dr. Poopy how to dance, or letting herself be happy in the arms of the one she loves. Her bucket list was a challenge not to prepare for the end, but to turn the page and keep living for the future. The message was worth it; I just wish we could’ve waded through the crap a lot faster to get there.

DramaMeter Rating: Roller rink. You go around in circles but it seems fun at the time.

Can’t Lose

Can’t Lose was certainly an underdog drama, as it came and went without a big splash, but it was engaging and satisfying from beginning to end. It was a simple story about a couple on the rocks that needs to go through divorce in order to figure out just how much they love each other.

But it’s played for endearing humor and slice-of-life realism rather than high drama, which is always a welcome thing in my book. It may not have been the flashiest drama or even the most memorable one, but I laughed with all the characters down to every wacky sidekick, as they took sides on the battlefield with Team Husband or Team Wife.

This was the first time I’ve liked Choi Ji-woo in years, since she’s taken on the mantle of melodrama queen, and it was so refreshing to see her be so light and bubbly and fun. Her chemistry with Yoon Sang-hyun was ridiculously adorable, and no matter how much they bickered like schoolchildren, you always wanted them to kiss and make up.

I really enjoyed the smallness of the stories – how tiny arguments and differences can escalate into all-out war, and then suddenly the way she brushes her teeth or the amount of butt space he takes up on the bed becomes a catalyst for conflict. They were delightfully petty, managing to turn everything into a competition, until well, you know what they say about the straw and the camel’s back. Though it took losing each other to figure it out, eventually they learned that at the end of the day, winning or losing isn’t really all that important when it comes to love.

DramaMeter Rating: Three-legged kitty. Equal parts cute and pitiful.

Girl K

I loved Girl K more for the story that it hinted at than it gave. Because at three short episodes, it’s juuuust long enough to whet your appetite and leave you screaming for more. This drama felt like a comic book in every frame and every line of dialogue, and had an impressive mix of blood-splattering action and suspense, with a strong central character that I took to right away. I mean, a teenage assassin girl who kills with guns, knives, and chains, all while going to high school? Who doesn’t want to see that?

It’s a premise that begs for a longer season, because the three-episode version actually tried a little too hard to cram too much story in there, to the point that it almost falls apart under the weight of it all. The revenge plot alone, Kill Bill -style, could have been one drama. The sci-fi evil scientist lab run by the Big Bad, another drama. The high school student who moonlights as a gun-for-hire, yet another drama (which I would watch for a hundred episodes). They’re all great, all badass, but all together a bit much, especially for three episodes.

Newbie actress Han Groo was stellar as the lead. She hit all the right notes – badass, sassy, vulnerable, enraged – she was believable as both the killer and the girl, which is kind of incredible for someone so new. Altogether, between the actress and the awesome display of badassery in the action/thriller genre, this drama makes me excited for what lies in the future, both for Han Groo and for cable.

DramaMeter Rating: Virgin on prom night. Over before you know it.

You’ve Fallen For Me

This drama makes me a little sad, because I wanted it to be better than it was. Basically, I wanted it to be another Dream High, but it just wasn’t, by a long shot. You’ve Fallen For Me (or Heartstrings) actually began with a breezy youthful vibe and had some promising characters. But it plodded along at a snail’s pace and did little to nothing with its cast.

The romance between Park Shin-hye and Jung Yong-hwa was certainly cute – one thing that strangely sticks with me is when he shows up to give her a ride, and he’s tied a frog cushion on the backseat of his bicycle for her as a sign that he likes her – but cute is pretty much the extent of their relationship. They never really pulled me into their world or made me care, because I never got the overwhelming feeling that they cared.

Every single time the heroine gave up being the lead in the musical or didn’t assert herself, it let the air out of my tires, and by the end, I was like, who am I rooting for and why? I get that not everyone can be the lead in the school play. Sure. But I want the heroine of THIS DRAMA to be the lead in the musical, to have the underdog success story and be the winner, not the snobby stick girl! A lot of the so-called conflicts in this drama felt rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, which isn’t because it’s about a campus musical, but because there just wasn’t a whole lot at stake for them, ever. So rather than get taken along on the heroine’s journey, we’re left behind to watch passively.

I wanted more of the fusion between rock and traditional Korean music, and would’ve loved if the drama had stayed on course with the rock battles and the campus wars. I feel like Song Chang-eui was tragically wasted as the director, though I did love his rapport with Park Shin-hye, especially early on. It’s too bad he got paired with the downer dance instructor, because it would’ve been great if he were an actual leg in the main love triangle. Hell, I would’ve loved it if the main couple had any real conflict to speak of, because this drama? Could’ve used some drama.

DramaMeter Rating: 404 File Not Found. Abort, Retry, Fail?

Warrior Baek Dong-soo

This actually ended up being one of my favorite dramas of the year to watch, just as a viewer. Now if I were recapping every episode (and thus forced to measure the boring against the awesome at each turn) it might have been a different story. This drama basically has really high highs and really low lows – when it’s awesome, it’s so kickass it makes me pump my fist in ever-living glory, and when it’s boring, I kind of want to tear my hair out or be sedated. But I suppose what really matters is that it got me in the heart.

The political intrigue in this drama is the simplistic cartoon version, but that’s hardly the point of the show. It’s the bloody, badass action sequences that matter, and they’re reason enough to tune in. I love the way the operatic action sequences are handled. They’re set to modern music and choreographed like a beautiful dance, turning battle into ballet. Yunno, if ballet were bloody and violent.

At its core it’s a story of brotherhood, spanning the divide between good and evil on an epic scale, but in an honorable world where warriors abide by the same code despite the side they’ve chosen. This is why it struck me right away, because anyone can do two-dimensional evil villains and perfect heroes. But a universe where both sides are heroes, and they honor each other as warriors and brothers before all else, is a world that I want to know. Besides, a drama whose main love story is two generations of back-to-back bromance? You know I’m there.

The two central relationships are mirror images of each other: Jeon Gwang-ryul and Choi Min-soo (who were both phenomenal throughout) play the two best swordsmen of the land, old friends who stand on opposite sides. One serves the king and the other leads an army of mercenary killers. They each train one disciple who carries on their legend, played by Ji Chang-wook and Yoo Seung-ho, the latter of whom spends his youth being a double agent among the good guys. Thus the boys grow up friends, who are fated to live out the same tragic battle on opposite sides.

[Spoiler Alert: ending discussion ahead.] This is why the ending didn’t bother me too much, though I gather that it enraged a lot of people. Was I happy about the ending? No. But was it the ending I expected? Yes. Yeo-woon’s death changes their fate, and ends the cycle with them. It’s his way of finally making the choice to buck Fate, as Dong-soo has always urged him to do. It’s important that he chooses to die by Dong-soo’s sword rather than dying some heroic death in his place, because it’s his final gesture of faith that Dong-soo was right all along about making your own destiny. This is the payoff for the hero’s refusal to give up on their friendship, no matter how dark Yeo-woon went: the world is set back on the side of Good, left in Dong-soo’s care. Now that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have been happier if Yeo-woon had just put down his sword and took up knitting sweaters instead, but that’s generally not how heroes like to go out. Stupid heroes.

DramaMeter Rating: Two swords up.

High Kick 3: Counterattack of the Short Legs

I had low expectations for this daily family sitcom because High Kick isn’t really a comedy franchise so much as a short-format family drama. But I quickly became invested in the wacky characters that inhabit this world, and soon I was laughing out loud at all the antics of two neighboring families, connected by one happy accident in the form of a secret underground tunnel.

We’re just about halfway through the series, but I feel like there’s still so much story to tell. I love the parents, Jong-seok’s growing crush on Ji-won (and his vast ineptness at showing his feelings), and Yoon Kye-sang’s utterly ridiculous Dr. Get-a-Clue. Basically, everyone’s so cute you just want to squish them.

In a cast full of great characters it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’ve actually come to love Park Ha-sun‘s character the most, which surprised me. She plays a meek, unassuming teacher, who’s so nice that you find her pretty frustrating at first. But she owns her character’s transformation from sheltered girl to adventurous young woman with sometimes side-splitting hilarity, and often sensitive realism. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s the object of the show’s best romantic storyline – Seo Ji-seok‘s undying secret love for her that just about kills me with its sweetness. When they’re onscreen together my heart just melts.

What this show manages to do so well is draw you in with the daily adventures, and then sneak-attack you with sudden burst of heart. I can earnestly say I’ve shed more tears for the High Kick family than for most of the melodramas I’ve seen this year, because they’re not tragedy-tears, but heartwarming ones. When Dad hit rock bottom and then his family rallied behind him? When Mom stepped up to be silent and strong? *waaaah*

It’s enough to make you wonder how they got under your skin, at a measly twenty minutes a day. But I guess this show is like real family that way – you don’t really notice them in the everyday, but they just become a part of you, and before you know it, you cry when they cry and laugh when they laugh.

DramaMeter Rating: Daily serving of rice. You don’t really notice its value until you try living without it.

Vampire Prosecutor

Vampire Prosecutor is one slick puppy. Though it’s a genre mashup, it’s primarily a stab at the American crime procedural, and the first that I’ve seen done just as well. It takes a stand-alone murder of the week as the primary story of each episode and sends our prosecutor team out to the field to solve the grisly murder, using more old school powers of deduction rather than the supernatural ones endowed to our law-upholding vampire hero.

It’s polished, beautifully lit and shot, and edited assuming that the audience is smart, (sometimes too smart, as my frequent rewinding suggests). I love a show that stays ahead of its viewers, though admittedly some twists are more effective than others. But what the show really got right was its ragtag prosecutor team – the vampire, hot, broody, and cheeky to boot; the cop and bestie, keeper of secrets and drinker of juice boxes; the young upstart female prosecutor with a chip on her shoulder and a growing crush; and the doofy intern everybody likes to push around. They’re just the right amount of dry, smart, and badass, and you just want to watch them solve crimes forever.

The show does lack a certain balancing act between the murder of the week and the overarching Big Bad of the season, choosing to dole out the long-term mystery one tiny droplet at a time. It’s almost enough to make you forget or stop caring, with such little attention paid to the bigger picture. I prefer a show that gets more twisty with its season-arc than its one-offs, and with a such an important mystery to the main character (the murder of his sister and his being turned into a vampire), you’d think they’d skimp a little on the murder of the week so we could sink our teeth into the death we really care about.

But as the show went on, it got better and better at integrating the main characters into the weekly murder mysteries. A standout episode was the murder of the mafia boss that brought the heroine face to face with her mobster father as the prime suspect, and dragged her personal backstory into the case. The two-part finale was as epic as promised, sending the prosecutor on the run from the law to solve the case and clear his name, in a nice reversal filled with tension and gripping action.

With the production in talks to do a second season next year, I’m excited to see the effects of the trail this show has blazed on the cable landscape, as a ratings heavy-hitter, a successful genre mashup, and a slick crime procedural primed for multi-season storytelling. More cheeky, badass vampire prosecutor equally skilled at applying guyliner as he is at catching the bad guys? Consider me there, with bells on.

DramaMeter Rating: O-Negative. Dry, full-bodied vintage.

Man of Honor

Man of Honor is a drama that I watched solely for the leads, Park Min-young and Chun Jung-myung, despite my reservations about the writer (who penned last year’s makjang king, Baker King Kim Takgu). I like Park Min-young in just about everything, and here she’s as plucky and winning as ever. The problem is, she and Chun have the chemistry of a pair of siblings. Not the kind they’re supposed to be – faux siblings who fall in love with each other – but real siblings who ought not to be touching.

It’s rather unfortunate, because that’s really the only thing that would’ve saved this ship from sinking. Sadly, the best parts of this drama were when they thought he was her oppa and their biggest worry was how to convince Mom to accept her. The family dynamic was cute and fun, despite the melodramatic turn looming ahead.

Park has better chemistry with the second lead played by Lee Jang-woo, who isn’t really a more effective romantic rival, so much as an interesting take on the usual chaebol heir. He suffers from a psychological disorder, like Tourette’s, but specifically as a reaction to his overbearing father, which goes a long way in making him sympathetic and layered. But he’s pretty much the only character with that level of characterization, making everyone else just your standard hero, heroine, villain, brash mom with a heart of gold, etc.

This is hands-down the most predictable by-the-book drama of the year. It’s the perfect example of what happens when you follow the decades-long blueprint of all the dramas that came before it, with no spin, no creative turn of its own. Cinderella loses her parents in a tragic accident, grows up an orphan with no memory of her former life, comes to think the hero is her brother, then learns who she really is and sets her sights on righting all wrongs. It has a mustache-twirling evil villain who’s so over-the-top that he’s unintentionally comical, and every plot point feels maneuvered into position by the hand of Fate, making each character feel like nothing but a chess piece.

Sometimes you have to learn your lessons the hard way. I know now after two whole dramas that I do not like this writer and her single-entendre-I-will-say-exactly-what-I-mean dialogue. There are still four episodes left (though why this drama is 24 episodes long, I couldn’t tell you), so things could change, but I don’t expect them to. There’s at least one upside to being the most predictable drama ever – you know what kind of ending Cinderella always gets.

DramaMeter Rating: Your sister’s diary. You wish you hadn’t read it, but now you can’t un-see what you saw.

Thousand Day Promise

This drama had the performances of the year — watching the decline of a young, intelligent woman into the recesses of her own mind is terrifying, but the main character is nothing short of magnetic, and played to perfection. But goddamn is it the bleakest of stories. It’s gripping, but in the end you’re not sure if you’re emotionally drained, or if Show just bitch-slapped you.

For most of the series’ run, it was an intense, compelling melodrama powered by pure raw emotion rather than plot maneuvering. There are definite downsides though, in that while it’s nice not to rely on plot for the melodrama, it’s nice to have some. You know, to move things along and have all the characters change and grow, rather than just emote according to the situation at hand. I feel like at the expense of one central character who has all the growth / downward spiral, the peripheral characters all remain in place. So while Seo-yeon’s journey is always in flux, it feels as if the world around her has no movement.

The character owes everything to the actress – Su Ae‘s tour de force performance is by far the best of the year. She plays everything from denial to despair to hope to anger with astounding depth, each time peeling new layers away as Seo-yeon faces the loss of her memory, and more importantly, her identity. I’ve always loved her, but she’s never been as raw and unnerving as she is here.

One of the biggest things that went to waste was the fluidity of time and memory in the storytelling. In the beginning of the show we began with a loose sense of time, telling parts of story in flashback and moving between the main characters’ collective memories. I expected that element to be more prominent as Seo-yeon’s memory begins to fade, and was excited to see how experimental they could be with narrative time. But alas, it’s a device that fell by the wayside, underutilized and sadly forgotten.

Writer Kim Soo-hyun is actually the most palatable to me of her class of A-list writers, most of whose work I find cold by virtue of their overwritten nature. But despite that, Kim’s characters have a warmth to them that I connect with. This drama had one of the most moving displays of familial love I’ve seen this year. And what really kills me is the heroine’s struggle not to lose herself or her fear of leaving this world without any trace that she was here. That feels like it comes straight from a writer’s heart, and makes her extraordinary circumstance feel universal, and ordinary, and endlessly compelling.

[Spoiler Alert: ending discussion ahead.] So then why, WHY, choose to undermine all that with a listless ending that’s as bleak as night? It’s not even what happened to the characters, but the emotional payoff that was so utterly lacking. It never gave me final moments with family members, or one moment of connection between Seo-yeon and her child, and worst of all, nothing left of Seo-yeon’s writing to be passed on. I felt robbed, and it was drastic enough to make me wonder if the rest of the journey had been worth it. ‘Cause if I had known Emotional Deflate-o-land was the destination, I might not have gotten on this train.

DramaMeter Rating: A box full of puppies. Abandoned in the street. On Christmas Eve.

Flower Boy Ramyun Shop

I love this drama. So. Much. It’s far from perfect, but it hits my sweet spot. I will always have an affinity for dramas set in high school that manage to juggle that perfect mix of the absurd and the earnest. It’s why I love Freaks and Geeks, Buffy, Veronica Mars, why I talk incessantly about Biscuit Teacher Star Candy. Because they’re heightened reality, and stripped of all the lame adult stuff you have to deal with later in life, and simply focused on the feelings and the crazy of being young. And when you’re young, there’s just so much crazy. When a drama can capture the essence of what it is to be youthful and hopelessly confused in love, with wit to spare? Then it captures my heart.

Flower Boy Ramyun Shop is cleverly written with an eye for the meta, hiding insightful character moments under layers and layers of jokes, puns, and metaphors, all drawn from dramaland or popular culture. It takes after the Hong Sisters style of buildup: joke, callback, punch to the gut with earnest meaning, rinse, repeat. It’s the kind of reversal that feels satisfying and well-earned, and gives the characters an added sense of wit, since they’re the ones spouting wordplay at each other. The story moves along at a speedy pace, clearing up conflicts with swift resolutions and saucy skinship, all the while introducing a new theme in each episode, about the universality of a shared song, what a person’s scent can tell you, or how all the ways to make ramyun can teach you a lot about love.

Cha Chi-soo is hands-down one of my favorite characters of the year. His literal interpretation of love as a series of physical ailments never ceases to amuse me. I love his tantrums, his cheeky comebacks, and his newness to… everything. And I’d be lying if I said it’s not because he’s played by Jung Il-woo. He imbues Chi-soo with such a range, from the absurd and impetuous, to the honest and vulnerable, to the young man utterly captivated by love.

I love that he loves with the intensity and the recklessness of someone his age, and that our heroine Eun-bi, who’s closer to adulthood and facing responsibility, is a little more guarded and fearful of what it means to let her heart boil over. It’s an instance where we see youth’s advantage: that maybe being young and so clear about your desires is more honest in the face of love. Chi-soo takes a while to know what love is, but it’s Eun-bi who knows and fears it. That difference feels spot-on to me, and makes their conflict organic and real, despite the absurd sense of comedy and endless stream of toilet humor on the surface.

[Spoiler Alert: ending discussion ahead.] What I enjoyed most about this show was its ability to balance the ridiculous and the heartfelt — the fairytale-reversing rescue where the heroine storms the castle to save her prince (hell yeah), countered with the real-life choices you make to follow your heart and grab love in the here and now, not knowing the outcome. Ramyun Shop may be a familiar setup, but it’s populated by fresh and colorful characters, smart zippy dialogue, hilarious situational comedy, and so much heart it boileth over.

DramaMeter Rating: Un-ripened kimchi. You spicy little tart.

And that’s it for my drama year! Thanks for tuning in, and thanks to our guest recappers for joining us in the yearly round-up. Coming up next: Editors’ Picks, where you’ll find out how our votes shook out for the best of the best, and who went home with a black eye. Hint: it wasn’t me.


181 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. am

    I’ve been waiting for your year-end review! asdfghjkl!

    • 1.1 am

      I agree with most of the drama-meter ratings (besides those I haven’t seen yet).

      I think the most I’ll remember about City Hunter was the hot pink skinny jeans.

      Lie to Me Frustrated the heck out of me. There was such an abundance of “WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?” moments.

      Oh, Spy Myung Wol…

      and of course, Flower Boy Ramyun Shop takes home the cake for me this year.

      • 1.1.1 Llamaesque

        “I think the most I’ll remember about City Hunter was the hot pink skinny jeans.”

        I completely agree. When I’m trying to explain the difference between American and Korean television to my untutored friends, I always come back to the fact that one of the year’s most kick-ass Korean superheroes exclusively wears raspberry jeggings. 😉

        And I kind of liked Lie to Me, embarrassing as it is to admit. I think it’s the Yoon Eun Hye effect: she could give a dramatic reading of the Seoul phone book and make it work for me.

        • am

          I know people who are really put off with Korean men fashion particularly those who are just getting into Korean dramas/movies/kpop. And honestly, it sorta takes some getting used to. I mean, if you’re gonna be an assassin wouldn’t you want to be as discreet/unnoticeable as possible?

          I gave Lie to Me a chance until ep 9 because of Yoon Eun Hye but I just couldn’t.

          • Llamaesque

            I don’t mind a man in Lilly Pulitzer now and again, but shudder whenever I see a Kdrama actor in a shirt so low cut it would be considered a wardrobe malfunction in America. It would be grosser with hairy Western chests, but still.

            You’re hot, Lee Min Ho, but feel free to keep your nipples to yourself.

        • Cruelsummer

          Raspberry jeggings! Hahaha 🙂

        • Verónica

          LOL at the raspberry jeggins, hahahaha!!!! 🙂

        • Ahjumma

          To each his own. I LOVED Lie to Me and didn’t care for Best Love. My choice. You either enjoy something or not and you don’t have to analyze it to death. Just enjoy the ride!

          • Kgrl

            So true. Whatever floats your drama-viewing boat.

            GF, adore your DramaMeter. Brilliant. I may not always agree with your reviews, but I love your fun-loving writing style and sense of humor. I’m surprised you’re the last reviewer this year…was hoping for more insightful reviews since there were just so many dramas released this year. With the addition of cable dramas in the race, you may need more reviewers to get through the spread – or just don’t sleep. ^-^

        • Laya

          Okay, now I want my own pair of raspberry jeggings! 😀

        • malta

          ahahahahaha…. jeggings….raspberry. 🙂

          • jose

            i am happy because her review about my favorites were positive ! yeah ,hooray for city hunter ! vampire prosecutor ! dream high ! 49 days ! and i started to watch the first half of the first episode of the princess’s man,i liked it,but i had problems with the pages when i wanted to watch more :/ ,why “epdrama”?

    • 1.2 Brainy

      No review for KBS’s Brain? The chemistry between the leads were superb. The plot, screen play and actings are above average!!

  2. donits

    why you didn’t include brain?

    • 2.1 Nadia

      Because she’s not watching it.

      • 2.1.1 Emelita

        But why? Hope JB will consider doing 2- to 3-part reviews of Brain. Thanks in advance.
        Happy holidays!

        • Emelita

          Oops, I mean GF!

  3. Nadia

    Thank You GirlFriday!!
    Yay for City Hunter.It was drama of the year for me too.As Javabeans said, its not a perfect drama but it gives all you want from a drama.

  4. alua

    With the ones I have watched, I am pretty much in agreement with you.

    You’ve Fallen for Me —- I’d go for abort!

    Haven’t seen Warrior Baek Dong-soo but might give it a try now (after ‘Moon Embracing the Sun’ of course).

    Thanks for all the recaps all year long by the way! (I keep forgetting to say that!)

    • 4.1 Alexis

      Oooh, you will try to watch this amaaaaazing drama ‘Warrior Baek Dong Soo’ & you will fascinating these unbelievable martial arts!!! 😀 (I had watch that drama till the end, ofc.) 😀 I am sure that you will enjoy this anytime if you can.

      • 4.1.1 Kushi


        Please, please, please go and watch Warrior Baek Dong Soooooooooo. 😀

        Like GF said, there were boring moments where you just wanted to tear out your hair in frustration, buuuuut, when the show nails it, you can’t help but want to pump your fist in the air in victory. (or in my case, giggle and beam at my computer screen like some crazed fangirl…XD)

        The only thing I didn’t like about the show was how quickly they wrapped things up…it was as if after the fight, death…and they forgot all about HIM! (fellow WBDS fans know who I am talking about since they probably raved about the ending as much as I have. Not to say that I didn’t expect it, but I did wish that they didn’t end with the OTHER TWO who promptly forgot all about HIM and rode off in the sunset. Ugh. *shakes fist*)

        Really, WBDS is a worthwhile watch. The OST was awesome. And the swordplayyyyyy. :3 It’s so pretty pretty pretttttttty~~~~~~~

        @Alexis *shake hands excitedly!*

  5. byul

    tq tq tq tq.. Off to read the reviews now!

    • 5.1 KAI

      I loved family drama Shining @ Sparkling Kim Hyun Joo and Kim Suk Hoon are the best the two actors are so naturally beautifully acting full stop.

  6. sophie k

    Thanks for the review.

    Just noticed that the the male leads of Flower Boy Ramyun Shop and Best Love are kinda written along similar lines, in that they mistake love for physical ailments.

    • 6.1 Verónica

      I have been saying to my other kdrama fan friend from the beginning that FBRS is like a high school version of Best Love but in a different setting. It’s obvious the writers have been studying Hong Sisters’ writing style, which is great, the more we have zany, ridiculous dramas that are backed up with excellent writing and acting, all the better for me! 😀

    • 6.2 CoffeeWithCinnamon

      IMO, the idea works so much better in FBRS. I get a high-schooler not understanding love and being confused, because, who wasn’t at the time? I don’t get a thirty-something being so emotionally stunted and unaware that he can’t recognize what’s happening. It makes for good comedy. but the characters are not written in a zany or witty way, rather, illogical. Too much suspense of belief required.

  7. fie

    your DramaMeter rating system=AWESOME!!!!!!

    • 7.1 marisa

      They truly are!
      They should be widely adopted throughout the world like the metric system.

      I’m vaguely unsettled about how much I enjoyed Dream High. 3 interesting roles for girls – in a world of Flower Boy Ramyun Shop dramas (4 guys/1 girl) it’s a rare thing.

  8. bim2

    Another review without The Empress review. Little sad about it >.<

    But I agree with your opinion on Vampire Prosecutor. I some episode, the story become lackey with the groove. But they success to lift up this series again, in last 4 episodes (exclude episode 10~).

    The ending really great ^^

  9. Ace

    Oh, yeah! I love you girlfriday!

    • 9.1 Ace

      Completely agree except for WBDS which I haven’t watched yet. If not for City Hunter, my top pick would be The Princess’ Man. The rom-coms which I love are relegated to 3rd place this year (BL & FBRS are tied). I’m also watching MOH and agree about PMY’s chemistry w/ Lee Jang-woo (maybe that’s why WGM wifey Eunjung visited the set, hmm?).

      Anyway, so does this mean that no more part 5? I wanted at least a review of PTB or OB too…

  10. 10 Cruelsummer

    Oh yay! Loved your review. I agreed on most of your points.

    What I love about Flower Boy (because I use any and every opportunity to wax poetic about this drama) is that it truly is a rom-com. A lot of dramas are labeled rom-com and then mid-way through become this big unbearable ball of angst with very little romance or comedy (I’m looking at you Me Too, Flower). I’ve got enough angst in my life, thank you. Bring on the hot kisses and fun times.

    • 10.1 malta

      I don’t think Me Too Flower! was ever a rom-com. I think it got that label cause it has a similar name to FBRS and came out around the same time. I think of it as more of a straight romantic drama.

  11. 11 9to5

    “Spare panties. For when you laugh so hard you pee through the first pair” … LMAOOO

  12. 12 Lordj

    I just love your Dramameter. Especially on Killer Girl K.
    It always amazes me how you never fail to make me smile with the wit and humor in your wordings. Thanks for the review gf!!!

  13. 13 Mei

    Now this is a review. The first two are like really really looonnnngggg rant-filled comments from soompi. Anyhoo…I have to agree with Thousand Day Promise..she just died like that..no nothing about moon kwon, jihyung or even the baby..it’s like the drama focused only on the effects of the alzheimer’s. But Su Ae is a goddess, that I’m sure.

    • 13.1 Lizzie

      Aigooo just because they didn’t enjoy the dramas that the others enjoyed you say they were rants… oh well YOUR comment is a rant.

      • 13.1.1 Mei


    • 13.2 Laeah

      Do you not understand the meaning of review? It’s a critique. If you don’t like something, you don’t like it. Different critics always have their own style. So don’t read it if you don’t like it, but don’t complain.

      • 13.2.1 Mei


  14. 14 swui

    I think I agree with gf’s taste the most..haha

  15. 15 evebay

    It’s an odd combo with this one – where I agree I really agree and it’s been put across so much better than I could ever think to – particularly with Best Love, Girl K, Scent of a Woman. And the recaps of the first were absolutely invaluable as it really brought across all the subtext that a non-Korean speaker relying on Eng subs just wouldn’t pick up. Again, thank you for all the great work to all of the writers.

    But where I disagree? Wow! 🙂

    Although I think I’m pretty much a loner here – I thought 1000 Day Promise was pretty awful. It struck me as if it was written by someone who’d vaguely heard about Alzheimer’s, had seen a short summary of it, then hadn’t bothered to look any further – and just created a central character with lots of over-acting, scenery chewing opportunities based on the odd story they might have heard, without any idea of context or real-world progress of the illness which was borderline offensive (in fairness, I’ve not seen the last bit yet but have struggled through the rest).

    The poor female lead certainly enjoyed the unrealistic opportunities the writing gave – even her blank stares were very ‘look at me – I’m BEING BLANK!!!!!!!. I’ve got a feeling the only time I’ve seen her was the equally awful performance in Sword with no Name. I was very unimpressed at what seemed overly showy and it gave me no emotional engagement. Male lead did little better.

    City Hunter I enjoy reading the comments on. I enjoyed it for the most part, but it was one of those where you if you stopped and thought about what passed for the plot you could only laugh at the inconsistencies all over the place. But it succeeded in being fun even with that, which is pretty impressive inandofitself.

    • 15.1 Hamster428

      I kinda have the same thoughts on 1000 Days. My grandma had Alzheimer’s and the memory loss worked backward in a more gradual straightforward way. She wasn’t snapping back and forth from memory lapses. It was more like she doesn’t remember recent things at first and gradually it ate away older memories. Like travelling backward in time and she increasingly lived in the past, asking after people who have passed away, thinking she’s still in 1950 for example. So I thought the movie Eraser in My Head was more accurate in the portrayal of Alzheimer’s ( where she forgets her husband whom she met later but remembers her ex bf whom she met first). It’s odd to see in 1000 Days how she loses random pieces of her mind with no regards to how long she’s held those particular knowledges. That’s why her difficulties seemed fake to me, written for dramatic effects only.
      Ditto on City Hunter lolz. So flawed but so fun

      • 15.1.1 evebay

        That’s a great way to put it. And it means the writing comes across as so careless. It’s not that I think it should be strictly medically defined by the manual and think dramatic licence shouldn’t be taken – but this was all seemed so focussed ‘let’s make another scene for them to chew on’, that you wondered why they bothered giving the disease an existing name.

        I didn’t think I knew the one you meant, but I’ve seen it under the name A Moment to Remember. Far more coherent (and well-played I thought).

        • hgpig

          i won’t watch 1000 days cuz it’s completely obvious the writers did not understand the disease that was central to the story line. i can forgive a bit of creativity, but not ignoring what is known. let them find some other disease to serve their purpose. it does not need to be like watching an american tv doctor drama where we know there are real doctors consulting on the symptoms and fancy terminology, but don’t make it conflict with reality.

          and yes. gf, loved your dramameter…and i too wonder why a secretive assasin would where raspberry jeggings….it’s something only kdrama fans could accept…after that first omg reaction. 😎

      • 15.1.2 Venus

        I agree with you Hamster428 the whole “erasing memory” was not very well excuted, I think the writers lacked the in depth research on regards to the whole Alzheimer disease.

    • 15.2 malta

      I think it was the author’s way of dramatizing the illness for the story, however successful it was or wasn’t…. Yeon Jae’s cancer was not very realistic in Scent of a Woman either. The coma from 49Days? Downright laughable. The list goes on and on. Illness is almost never realistic in kdramas. The drama isn’t really about Alzheimer’s anymore than Scent of a Woman is about cancer. Scent of a Woman is about someone who’s run out of time and must immediately deal with their mortality. And 1000 Days Promise is about someone who must live without a full handle on their mind or memories.

      The most realistic portrayal I’ve seen of an illness is in a kdrama called December Fever. The haunting scenes of the reality of severe illness and death are still with me. I think most people would be put off by it, but it’s a kdrama that’s left a very lasting impression on me.

      I enjoyed Su Ae’s performance, but I love her period, so I’m completely biased. I admit it. 🙂 What I felt she did well was portray someone trapped and somewhat on exhibition. Someone whose illness would be apparent to everyone around her in the future even though she would have no clue of it at the time… what a desperate feeling.

      The drama itself is pretty heady, but I loved listening to the words because they were so beautifully put together. It’s very much a serious melodrama and doesn’t try to be anything else, which I appreciate given all the fusion genre dramas out there (umm…City Hunter, which I did enjoy for the record)
      1000 Day’s promise is definitely a writer’s drama and if you’re not into that it’s hard to enjoy. Although the writer’s portrayal of Alzheimer’s was not very realistic, the writer is anything, but careless. It’s actually the opposite that may be a problem. Every word, action and event is carefully weighed to the point where it may be too much even, hence the feeling that the drama is too constructed.

  16. 16 me

    Love the review and your ratings…I was cracking up so hard!!

  17. 17 observantzani

    I was waiting for your review! I kept checking for it each day. Thank you, it was very enlightening. I love the depth and detail you put in each one. Your perspective on dramas is the closest to mine compared to other bloggers. Not that I hate reading different opinions but when it comes to show recommendations, it’s best when it’s someone you know is like you. Thank you again 🙂

  18. 18 Ani

    Ah yes, I Need Romance. I really did think the heroine made the perfect choice of not sacrificing her sense of self just for the sake of love. In love you do that ultimately – you give up the I’s and Me’s for the We and the Us – but what her chaebol noona-killer lover was asking was for her to give up all that she was and to deny it for a whole new identity. Not cool. Yeah, people have commented on how it was a out of left field addition to his character, but in the context of the drama? I think she chose right. She chose what her heart asked. And her ex really did make me believe his sincerity when he came to seek forgiveness from her parents. As for her serial dating friend, people have said they were glad she ended up with no one to love, but I think that was essentially her choice: to love at the spur of the moment and not be tied down by one man. She chose that lonely road for herself, but one she is happy with and accompanied with a great career and good friends, I think she has a lot of time ahead of her to find that one true love that can tie her down and make her feel whole. I still don’t like the man that the innocent virgin friend married because he let his anger get the best of him, but I can only hope that from here on out he treasures his wife and never get lay his hands on her aside from when he is loving her (HAHAHAHA).

    • 18.1 malta

      I was one of the people annoyed by the ending of I Need Romance, but it wasn’t really because our heroine chose her old comfy boyfriend over noona-killer, but because of how it was executed. I think if they had less time rehashing their relationship in the beginning they could have given more time for them to reunite at the end. They spent so much time making her old boyfriend into kind of a loser and didn’t give him enough time to redeem himself, not to our heroine, whose loved him for 10 years, but to the audience whose been annoyed at his stupidity for 15 episodes. They also didn’t really show us her life not working as a Cinderella story with her new boyfriend. Did she even really try or even talk about trying to make it work?

      Even if her decision was the more sane one, it just felt out of nowhere for me since the show didn’t bring the audience in on her thought process when she decided to forgive him and take him back. In basically 1 episode, she rejected noona killer, cried cause her old boyfriend apologized to her parents, and took him back… what? It was a bit whiplash for me. They also showed him apologizing in a flashback (if I remember correctly) and storytelling wise I think it would have been better it they showed him apologizing in the present when noona-killer was proposing. Then we could feel like it was a real decision between these two happening at the same time.

      I thoroughly enjoyed the drama though and I can’t wait till Season 2! Woot Woot!…sorry for the word vomit.

  19. 19 Jomo

    I also want to say I love you, Girl Friday.
    Each dramameter rating made me laugh louder than the previous one. (Although, please tell me where the puppy is! I will go find him and make sure he has a happy home!)

    I seemed to like the same things you like with a few exceptions, believeitornotIdidntlikeMGIAG.

    For me, if the lead actor is good (may or may not mean HOT, looks good in his slacks, or has a nice voice), I am willing to start the show.
    If the lead girl and he have chemistry, then I will continue.
    If the secondary characters are annoying, however, I stop or with a couple shows, continue with less passion and some skipping.

    Good writers understand that the background enhances what the leads bring, but the leads, no matter how good, cannot make cardboard cut-outs come to life.
    It seems that if the creative team should take as much time with all aspects of the story before beginning it. Am I out of my mind here? Does this sound like a new idea? Should I be working over there as a script consultant, or what?

    I am not a soothsayer. (I just googled sooth:truth, reality, or fact.) but I said that PIE and PMY would come off as bro and sis, and not the good kind. Too much sweet and not enough salt between them. I said that when they first cast it. Me, I was right. Not that that is important to me as one of seven children who was constantly being challenged to being first and right with everthing ever. I’m just saying.

    My couple of the year, swords up, is Dongsu and Una. The ending as much as I hated it, made the show more memorable than if they didn’t do that thing to the most beautiful assassin ever. My heart will forever ache for the pair, and I know I will revisit the good parts in the future.

    I thought 2011 was a good year all told – not perfect but very entertaining.

    I am actually twitchy with excitement looking into 2012. It’ll be fun just hanging here no matter what is on.

    • 19.1 Witches&Warlocks

      I adore:
      My Girl
      You’re Beautiful
      Hong Gil Dong

      i kinda dropped MGIAG after like 10 episodes
      BL after 12
      For me Hong Sisters havent been on their A game for a while and their characters are starting to resemble caricatures of the characters their supposed to portray

      I realise this is a REALLY unpopular opinion to express in this forum

      but i regret NOTHING XD those two dramas just werent worth my time

      Thanks GF for the recap
      Enjoyed reading it 🙂

      • 19.1.1 Ani

        Actually, sometime around episode 8-12 of You’re Beautiful I, uh, dropped it and opted for the recaps instead. I felt a little iffy about it after a while and I think the only character I really cared about was Jeremy. I liked the fantasy/mystical aspect of MGIAG and that’s why I willingly kept one foot in the door and took forever to finish it. My Girl was a pain, especially right after watching Delightful Girl Chunhyang. It felt like the same thing except Chunhyang was a better version (in my opinion of course). So I fast forward and skipped most of My Girl. I have a soft spot for Gong Hyo-Jin because of Thank You so I admit to liking Best Love despite haven’t finishing it. It is fun to watch, even if I don’t find it as addicting as Fantasy Couple.

        I Adore: Fantasy Couple & Delightful Girl Chunhyang
        So-so: MGIAG – Miho was too cute for me to completely check out and like I said, the fantasy aspect of it
        Bleh-ish, Meh-ish: YAB
        Haven’t Seen and Not Planning to See: Hong Gil Dong
        Hated: My Girl

        So fear not friend. My opinion is just as unpopular. X/

        • Ani

          *Oops. Italics fail. XD

        • Witches&Warlocks

          YAB was something i watched with my friends
          Which was probably the reason i enjoyed it so much
          but i agree that YAB is overrated but it was still a thoroughly enjoyable experience for me

          “I have a soft spot for Gong Hyo-Jin because of Thank You”

          ME TOO. 😀

          Yay, because i found someone else who loves Thank You

          Thank You was perfect and so under exposed

          Gong Hyo Jin and Jang Hyuk will forever be on my list of actors i love because of that drama

          Speaking of Jang Hyuk Tree With Deep Roots is the best drama of 2011 imo

          • Ani

            Hahaha. I actually watched a decent amount of Tree With Deep Roots raw because that drama had a good amount of raw emotion that words didn’t need to be said. Of course HeadsNo2’s recaps were a great way to help wait out the arrival of the subs and make sense of what was being said. I wouldn’t say it was perfect because there was a point when I was mad that all we ever see Hidden Root do was go around and around the table instead of actually doing something. But I forget who it was that pointed out how Jung Kijoon’s scenes of him sitting seemed like a way to portray how the way he thinks prevents him from moving forward and is in this constant state of unmitigated stasis. It’s like a visual of how he is literally bound to remain in one spot, imprisoned by his beliefs and such. That take on JKJ made me view things a little differently, even if I also feel that it’s quite a stretch. But I am enjoying Tree With Deep Roots and hope the last 2 episodes do not disappoint. X)

        • mardie

          i agree with all ur opinion on the dramas. im kinda surprised when i realized that fantasy couple are seldom mentioned when discussing about hongs sisters drama. coz i like it.
          i still cant bring myself to watch my girl, not that i plan to, despite the rage.

      • 19.1.2 malta

        haha! 🙂 No use having regrets in Kdrama land. So many dramas, so little time!

    • 19.2 Belle

      Agree 100%!

      “My couple of the year, swords up, is Dongsu and Una. The ending as much as I hated it, made the show more memorable than if they didn’t do that thing to the most beautiful assassin ever. My heart will forever ache for the pair, and I know I will revisit the good parts in the future.”

  20. 20 meltedd

    my favourite of all the reviews so far! 🙂 perhaps because i agree with most of it, and it came off positive and as objective as you could get. i like how you managed to take the good parts of each drama, and balance it with things you felt could have been better instead of becoming disillusioned and framing everything in negative terms. also liked how you didn’t come off as making obvious comparisons or ranking this year’s dramas. what was also nice was that each drama that you reviewed above felt like a possible recommendation to the reader looking for something to watch. thanks girlfriday!

  21. 21 Trina

    Why is there a picture of scent of woman under vampire prosecutor?

    • 21.1 Jomo

      A Twilight reference? I bet GF secretly is Team Jacob…

  22. 22 rjyuggy

    I totally agree with you on Thousand Day’s Promise. Where did the flashbacks go? If only they continue to use those flashbacks, I bet it will add awesomeness to the show

  23. 23 Cynthia

    Thanks for the reviews, GF!

    As usual, your critic’s knife flays to the bone for your Kdrama dissections, helped along with big doses of wit, snark and humor.

    I totally **squee’d** over seeing that you watched Warrior Baek Dong-soo! Frankly, the absolute quietness from your side of the fence had me a bit concerned – sadly enough, it’s like I need your written confirmation to validate my own reaction to what I’m watching. **sigh** Happy to see you liked it as much as many of us did!

    Favorite DramaMeter Rating? “Your sister’s diary. You wish you hadn’t read it, but now you can’t un-see what you saw.”

    Now on to Editor’s Picks!! 🙂

    • 23.1 aurora

      lol…you just voiced my thinking…^_^

    • 23.2 Belle

      WBDS …exciting to watch!

  24. 24 Dorotka

    I enjoyed reading your review, especially your dramameter 🙂 Thank you.

  25. 25 girlatsea

    Thanks for the review GF! I agree with most of your thoughts. Except, for the Flower Boy Ramyun Shop fangirling. I couldn’t seem to get on that train but I’ll give it another try in the future.

    I’m on winter break and I’m trying to find new dramas to watch and dramas to rewatch. But it seems like I’ve either watched or read recaps for most of the dramas you reviewed.

    I might give Girl K and Warrior Baek Dong-soo a try.

  26. 26 Gb

    What’s the drama on the rightmost picture in middle?

    • 26.1 Cynthia

      I think that’s “I Need Romance”.

  27. 27 sunflowery

    girlfriday, you are honestly a sister from another mother. I always find myself nodding, and saying “exactly!” when I read your ratings. Always a wonderful job!

  28. 28 LimaKid

    I’m sad that not many people liked Scent of a Woman. I thought it was an AMAZING drama and it’s one of my most memorable this year! I don’t think I’ve ever cried so hard or rooted so hard for a group of characters to achieve what they wanted.

    • 28.1 Cynthia

      MANY of us here LOVED SoaW!!
      Don’t be sad… 🙂

      • 28.1.1 LimaKid

        Aww thank you! I’m glad I’m not the only one 🙂

    • 28.2 True Love Always Comes

      OMG~ I thought I was the only one who didn’t think SoaW was a bad drama…

      Granted, the middle bit (I always hate the middle anyways) dragged on for far too long..but it’s still an amazing drama~

      I felt more connected to her than 1000 day promise…

  29. 29 PennyRoyalTea

    thanks!! its always fun reading your reviews… 🙂

  30. 30 koreandramalover / kdl / kay

    Thank you for the review, Girlfriday! I echo your every word on the dramas that I managed to find the time to watch, especially about CITY HUNTER!!! Still suffering from withdrawal symptoms even now but helped somewhat ater buying the DVD! I KNEW you would say City Hunter IS THE DRAMA OF THE YEAR FOR YOU!! Because it is mine too!! Yay!! 😉

    But I was wondering, why did you not review Princess’ Man? Is it because you did not get to watch it? It is riveting and has more unforgettable parts than forgettable ones and to me it is the best period drama of the year for me, next to Warrior Baek Dong Soo. 😉

  31. 31 1aco

    I find it strange that no one yet to mention Deep rooted tree… That drama is one of best drama I have seen all year..

    • 31.1 dramabliss

      Javabeans included TwDR in her review. I agree with your rating. For me, TwDR is the best drama of the year.

      If HeadsNo2 writes a review (has she?) TwDR will most likely be in it.

  32. 32 Jas

    First of all I love your year reviews!! But second I love how you mentioned Veronica Mars in the Flower Boy Ramyun Shop review because that is my FAVORITE American show ever!!! I also happen to love FBRS so that just made my day 🙂

  33. 33 aurora

    Love it…fantastic review on WBDS. Sorry I just read it coz all that matter was/is this drama, about which i wanted to talk about or boast of for my excellent selection or praise to the point of exaggeration. Hats off for your good work. Really appreciated.

    • 33.1 Belle

      LOL…same here!

  34. 34 dany

    Warrior Baek Dong soo is one of my favorite series ever! Thanks for your comments.

    • 34.1 Alexx

      YEA YEA !!! I agree with you too!!

      I really really LOOOOVE Warrior Baek Dong Soo ~~ it’s super cool!

    • 34.2 Belle

      Completely agree! The Skylords were AWESOME! Yoo Seung Ho & Choi Min-soo Fighting!!

  35. 35 more

    It was an okay review although i must admit some of ur reviews seem to FAN GIRLY CUTE THIS AND CUTE THAT BUT okay job

    • 35.1 more

      MOsI ment to say MST OF UR REIVEWS are to FAN GIRLY FOR MY TASTE

  36. 36 DMKO

    Thank you Girl friday for your reviews and recaps. They always enlighten me and heighten the joys of watching my favorite K-dramas.

    • 36.1 DMKO

      Also, while reading your review of “I need romance” it reminded me of something Kim Sam-soon said, “a cheater, is always a cheater.”.

  37. 37 misso

    i would watch a 12-16 episodes of girl k. i wish they made it into a full drama… i have a sweet spot for teenage spies/assassins

    as much as I liked city hunter, the princess man is the drama of 2011 for me..

  38. 38 bluelime

    i’ve been waiting for your review!!=D thanks for the year-end review!!

  39. 39 cherkell

    “Now that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have been happier if Yeo-woon had just put down his sword and took up knitting sweaters instead, but that’s generally not how heroes like to go out. Stupid heroes.”

    Now *I’M* the one that needs to run out for another set of panties… that image totally conjures up a whole ‘nother line of DongxWoon fanfiction. ::snort::

    I normally don’t comment on “Best Of” lists, because everything is in the eye of the beholder. The whole “one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor” syndrome — someone may hatehatehate one drama, while another loveslovesloves that drama, and then the level of rational discourse goes flying out the window. Lather, rinse, repeat. Nuh uh — I’ve got enough on my plate these days.

    BUT THANK GOODNESS I’m not the only one shouting in the wilderness about the goodness of WBDS. Biases aside (and I’ve watched about 15 sageuks in my lifetime), I think it did quite well for a stylized version stretching the history truth. Was it perfect? Hell to the no. Was it a fun ride full of The Pretty? Ohhhh yeah.

    Granted, the SBS 2011 Drama Awards dropped the ball big time by nominating Dong Soo and Emo Nun for their “Best Couple” award this year. Phfffffffffft. Shoulda been the boys. Mmmmm, the boys….. 🙂

    • 39.1 Mystisith

      I agree with you cherkell. I feel like the girl was there because, well, boys are supposed to love girls. But if you talk about soulmates AND chemistry, Dong Soo and Unah were meant for each other. I didn’t recover yet from the Un ” snake bite rescue “. Even their mind and body characteristics point to that, at the same time alike ( will and skills ) and complementary ( strong body guy for the day vs slick feline killer for the night ). Best couple of the year ? Hell yes !!

    • 39.2 momosan

      Waves at cherkell!

      Hey, 25 episodes of Choi Min Soo being badass. What more can a girl ask for really? 😎 Well, I could have asked for a more logical ending, but I’ll TAKE 25 episodes of Choi Min Soo.

      Anyway, I loved the review girlfriday! Especially sadmac for You’ve fallen for me. I haven’t seen sadmac for a while, but he is a pretty good summary for that.

      Now, fingers crossed for the last few episodes of Tree. 😎

      • 39.2.1 cherkell

        Ohayou momosan!! *waves back* I’m hoping that in the 2012 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, next to the entry for “Badass” is a picture of Cheon, sitting on top of his horse with the hawk perched on his arm (per Episode 1). Mercy. ::fanning self::

        • momosan

          LOL! The Chun and hawk are my screensaver on one computer and the butterfly is the wallpaper. 😎 Episode 1 is particularly pretty for screen capping.

          Yeah, WBDS had me at the hawk. I’m such a sucker for long haired men in black. Add a hawk and a horse, and I’m done for. And the poor hawk. He met an untimely end.

      • 39.2.2 Jomo

        By the way, people, I am shocked that in ALL of the WBDS discussions, NOBODY mentioned The Legend?
        I had to find out by WATCHING it that Chun was in it?
        With his crazy face and everything?

        It was sooo nice to see him hanging out with his buddy from Sandglass again, too.

        • cherkell

          D’OH!! Jomo-chan, sorry sorry sorry!! Since I watched that soooo long ago, I completely forgot who was in the cast!! I should have remembered when momochan mentioned in her recap about The Legend’s epic fight scene and its comparison to WBDS’s epic fight scene. You now have permission to beat me over the head with Dae Ung’s fake metal arm… 🙂

          • Jomo

            LOL! and Ouch! I wouldn’t do that to anyone…maybe Dae Ung.

        • Cynthia

          Are you kidding?! Where were you on all those OT Friday discussions when we were RAVING about the bad-ass CHOI, week after thrilling week?!?!

          Dude rules. Period.

          • cherkell

            Amen, my sistah. The man is Badness with a Capital BUH, in both dramas!

            Mea culpa… I missed pretty much all of the summer’s OTs due to travelling for work. I was happy to re-join the chorus as soon as I returned. Funny thing is that I brought my “Legend” DVDs with me for some extra-curricular viewing on the flights. You think I ever broke them out? HA. Watching the insides of my eyelids seemed more important to me at that time… 🙂

          • Cynthia

            Heh – now I’m just laughing at myself after reading your comment – cause my first thought was “Why in the heck did she bring “Legend” dvds with her? She’s a big Yonsamma/BYJ fan?!?”

            And then the light bulb went on in my head.
            (not that liking BYJ is a BAD thing…)

          • Jomo

            I read the raving, but not the Legend mention is all I’m saying.

    • 39.3 Belle

      Agree…Top Bromance of the Year Award should’ve gone to them…lol!

      Bromance aside, the character developments were great! YSH really created an atmosphere where his angst & desire for redemption became essential elements in the plot…viewers wanted/ wished for some consolation…his stares made us believe him and had us follow him along his journey. (You really need to be a very good actor to accomplish that.)

      …add that to the Manes of Glory Awards… & you have an exciting Action Drama.

  40. 40 crazedlu

    i find my tastes in dramas aligns with yours most. besides appreciating nothing in city hunter, i’m with you on the rest of the reviews. =D

    while i loved the series as a whole, the only thing that could’ve saved warrior baek dong soo’s ending for me was if he had ridden off into the sunset BY HIMSELF. wooden samini and him could’ve gotten together, i don’t care, but he should’ve ridden off by himself. the drama officially ends at dong soo thinking of yeo woon while drinking for me. ha.

    skimmed through most of the vampire prosecutor recaps and tuned in and out of eps all through its run. but yesterday, i actually tuned into the entire final episode and LOVED it. so, i went back to read all the recaps for the previous eps and loved the entire series. it got better as it went so i can’t wait for a season two (please, please, please!). i would’ve gone back to watch ALL eps but was too spooked since i was home alone. heh.

    it was an alright year of dramas. i hope to be blown away next year.

  41. 41 Cam

    Yayay! Thanks for this review about these drama !!!

    Woooaahh……I am surprised that you say that Warrior Baek Dong Soo is your favorite drama of this 2011 year, so I am happy to read what you’re reviewing your opinion view about this drama, and I really agreed with you, of course! I really enjoy watching that hot-sizzling drama till the end.

    Anyway, it’s very interesting about these other dramas that you reviewed….ah, right, I enjoyed Scent of a Woman, Dream High, City Hunter, and 49 Days. ^_^

    Right……Haven’t you watched that drama “Protect the Boss” ? IF not, it was so GOOOOD and fun to watch this to made you so laugh, yups.

    WBDS is my mooost favorite of this year ~ ~ ~ <3 <3

    • 41.1 J

      I keep thinking it’s so weird that no one has reviewed or I guess even watched Protect the Boss yet.

  42. 42 sephia

    girlfriday, I agree with all of the movies you said in the review, apart from the ones I haven’t seen. City Hunter is by far the best for me this year. I didn’t know a drama can be THAT good. Lie to Me was probably the worst I saw, although I love KJH so much, I still think I wasted my time watching that!

    However, if I am to include drama outside kdramaland, my favourite drama this year is Bu Bu Jing Xin. It was so good, watching it 3 times still gives me withdrawals!

    Thank you for all your entertaining recaps, dramabeans people! I felt like I wasn’t alone watching this drama (as I really was). I feel like you were there holding my hands and laughing with me while I watch. I always have your recap window open while watching drama! You’re the best! If it wasn’t for you, Flower Boy Ramyun Shop wouldn’t be as funny for non-speaking Korean like me!

    Have a very Merry Christmas, a happy New Year, and I look forward to watching more dramas with you next year!

  43. 43 come2noona

    You know what I got out of You’ve Fallen for Me/Heartstrings?


    Love them! If nothing else, the boys from CNBlue are getting some more Noona love! I could squeeze the stuffin’ out of Kang Min hyuk.

    • 43.1 Laya

      😀 Me too. Min Hyuk is so adorable. I went back and watched all the Youtube vids of CNBlue I could find after watching YFFM, and now I can’t get I’m A Loner and LOVEGirl out of my head, as well as the YFFM title song.

      Also, did you notice that The Stupid is half CNBlue, half FTIsland (at least indirectly)? Yong Hwa and Min Hyuk for CNBlue, while the other two guitarists are Oh Won Bin and Song Se Hyun, former FT Island member and younger brother of an FT Island member, respectively.

      • 43.1.1 come2noona

        I am especially fond of Love Light and I’m a Loner. The vids from the SuperPlex (I think it is called) are a lot of fun.

        I am not that familiar with the boys of FTIsland. But I do dig the song Hello Hello.

        • Laya

          I’m a Loner is LSS (last song syndrome) inducing, apparently. I inflicted it on my officemates once and we all ended up suddenly singing it at the same time. 😀

          I’m not very familiar with FT Island myself (except for Hong Ki, whose voice I really really love), but I did some digging because I thought the other two members of the Stupid also looked familiar. Se Hyun looks a lot like his brother, the guy who’s rapping in Hello Hello.

  44. 44 ivy

    girlfriday, I love reading your reviews as usual!

    Also I have to say, I liked City Hunter, and more so for the first half of the drama especially. But I felt a lot let down by the second half. I’m not sure why the drama was that great to everyone. Or perhaps I was more so frustrated because it was touted to be “brilliant” and when it didn’t reach that level of greatness I felt really cheated. The plot got so predictable, I felt it was kinda crawling towards the finale. Soda that lost its fizzle for me.

    And also I haven’t watched either Baker Kim Tak Gu nor Man of Honor but it’s sad to hear that the writer has gotten that terrible with the screenwriting. I enjoyed Dal Ja’s Spring immensely and certainly expected better dramas to come from these hands thereafter.

    +OMG mention of Freaks and Geeks, Veronica Mars. Good ol’ days. I was a total sucker for high school dramas. And who am I kidding, I certainly still am. Know that for certain since I’m waiting on Season 2 of MTV’s Awkward in 2012.

  45. 45 Sun

    Thank you for your review! I was looking forward to it 🙂

    I would’ve loved it if the drama we got was the B-side, where we just followed the Scheduler around wherever it was he always ran off to, trying to keep his reaping appointments in between his jam sessions and his weekly perms.

    Yes, EXACTLY. I admit I didn’t finish this drama because I found it boring (watched up to episode 13 or so), but to me, the Scheduler was the best part of it. I loved the Scheduler/Dead girl whose name I forget pair, they were funny. The drama should have been about them.

    About Best Love, I just didn’t see the romantic chemistry between the leads. They were fun to watch when they were being funny. When they were serious it was like… blech. Also, the angst was too draggy lol I liked the first half the best.

    City Hunter was awesome, although I recall not liking the last 4-5 episodes as much. I can’t seem to remember why though haha I’m totally up for a second season but I know getting the same cast together is almost impossible.

    Oh lord I couldn’t finish watching Lie to Me. Episode 3… or was it 4? gave me hope but that drama was just hopeless. I feel like Yoon Eun Hye overacted way too much. I liked the second lead but ehh… I don’t know. That drama was just so boring and badly written.

    I Need Romance was almost perfect for me, but I hated the ending with a burning passion. I have said this like a thousand times already but I’ll say it again: I don’t really mind her not ending up with the prince charming chaebol although yes, I was rooting for them. But going back to that loser? In, like, the last 10 minutes of the drama? After she admitted herself that she didn’t feel for him the way she used to? Yeah, no. Seems to me like she choose what was familiar and comfortable. She was too in love, not with him, but with her memories, and she couldn’t want to let go and move on, no matter what he did. And oh, her parents approved so they couldn’t break up. How will you explain to the parents!!!11! Blargh. I mean, WHY? She could have had a badass ending being independent and moving on.

    I agree with the Miss Ripley review, I hate what they did to the second lead. I thought he had better chemistry with Miri. The young guy… was too young and nice, and naive, and Miri deceived him the whole time. I don’t buy her falling in love with him. I don’t know, I felt the couple with the older guy was waaay more compelling. Also, the second lead girl. What a waste of characters. Overall the drama was ok, but it could have been so much better.

    The My Princess couple was my favorite of the year, they were so funny.

  46. 46 jusash

    LOVED your creative Dramameter, from Spare Panties => ∑ 49 √ 7 ≈ 3 ∆ ☺ => 404 File Not Found. Abort, Retry, Fail?

    Review Rating – akin to getting puppies on Christmas Day.

    THANKS for giving us a fun (but substantial) ride, and have a cosy season!

    • 46.1 jusash

      add-on edit:

      I skimmed through this one, and missed this rating first time around:
      O-Negative. Dry, full-bodied vintage.

      gf – effortlessly brilliant! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  47. 47 pauper

    “Virgin on prom night. Over before you know it.”

    By far, the most hilarious DramaMeter Rating. An apt description too. Girl K definitely feels a bit like touch-and-go.

  48. 48 Suzi Q

    I’ve watched so many Kdramas that it takes a lot for me to get find something novel in them. This year, Girl K and Vampire Prosecutor surprised me.Same with Flower Boys Ramen Shop.Loved the wonderful writers, directors, and the actors! Well done! Never felt boring, and fast paced. Lie to Me was a major disappointment. Loved the actors, but the plot was terribly boring and totally confused. It doesn’t help when a new writer was called in the later half of the drama. It’s like the authors fell into a well and couldn’t climb out of it.
    WBDS was a drag. The sword fighting was excellent, but when it switched to the characters storyline, BIG BORE…Everybody raving about City Hunter, but I lost interest even though I love Lee Min Ho. I saw a few episodes and left it.Maybe I will try to finish it.

  49. 49 all4movies


    I love your creative ratings system. I’m glad you included most of the my 2011 favourites.

    JB and your reviews are my favs of the bunch.

    Looking forward to 2012 with you guys,

  50. 50 anotheraddict

    DramaReviewMeter Rating: A particularly yummy kimchi stew. Hearty, but not too heavy, and with just the right spicing. You may not care for all of the ingredients, but you can pick around those that don’t agree with you, knowing that someone else will enjoy them. When you’ve finished eating, you’re left with a warm feeling of satisfaction in your belly.

    I loved the DramaMeter Ratings, not just because they’re funny and clever, but also because they elicit a response on an experiential level rather than an analytical one. Also loved the screencaps– the FBRS one cracked me up (as did the fact that GF managed to sneak in that other JIW screencap).

    Thank you ever so much, GF~ I don’t know what we’d do without you and JB!

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