Drama Reactions & Reviews
The Good, The Bad, and The Hmmm… of 2011 [Year In Review, Part 2]
by | December 15, 2011 | 257 Comments

 

First off, I have to deeply thank – and bow to – Javabeans and Girlfriday - it’s an honor to be included with the most respected K-drama writers for this year. Compared to these fine people, I am an utter noob.

Speaking of being such a noob, I shall now complain: It’s so hard to write a year-end review! It requires going back to all the dramas I have seen in the past year and then come up with something intelligent to say about them. Can’t I just say, “Me Likey!” “Me No Likey?” and be done with it? No? (I can feel the death glares coming from Javabeans and Girlfriday right now…*SQUEAK*)

OK – I’ll start in chronological order, because I have no other way to do it. This year, I became a truly picky watcher. I have not watched a lot of dramas this year because I don’t just consume everything and anything like I used to. This time, if I don’t like a drama, I stop watching it, rather than painfully suffer to the end. I was vicious with the chopping block – with Lie To Me, Queen of Reversals, A Thousand Days’ Promise, Greatest Love, Spy Myung Wol, and even The Princess’ Man suffering the sad fate. (Although I may resuscitate The Princess’ Man for the winter break, it won’t make it to this year-end review.)

Here goes!

Paradise Ranch

Omigod. Was it a train wreck or what? I absolutely despised this drama. If this drama was supposed to be Max Changmin’s debut vehicle, it just shows how terrible he is as a leading man. He redeemed himself only slightly in Athena, because his character was pretty straightforward; he didn’t “sell it” as a genius spy/computer whiz/bomb extraordinaire, but it’s OK – I wasn’t expecting him to. I feel terrible for Joo Sang Wook, who had to mar his resume with this drama, and I was unimpressed with Lee Yeon Hee considering this is the first drama I ever saw of her. Yoo Ha Na was also quite forgettable, though in hindsight I think her character reminds me a little of Lee Da Hee in Birdie Buddy. She was complicated and really wanted her love to work, but the writing of her character was too shallow. At least Lee Da Hee’s character was developed more fully.

In 16 episodes, we went through all the ups and downs of a “first love” romance – Changmin and Lee Yeon Hee were together; they divorced; they bickered; they dated other people while feeling jealous; they got together; they separated again; and they got together FINALLY. I mean, seriously?! And the most interesting part of their relationship was their divorce, but I never got a full understanding of why they had to divorce. It was always teased and referenced, and then when it was spelled out, I thought – “That’s it?” I don’t even remember what it was… *goes to look it up. pauses. turns back to post* Sorry – I don’t even care enough to find out.

The writing was off-kilter, and too expositional for me. I like it when stories are shown, not told, to me. Makes it more interesting. Throw me another flashback – as long as it tells me new information or adds a solid emotional beat.

Category: Bad. One of the worst dramas of the year – and a bad omen for pre-produced dramas. Even the bright horses couldn’t save the drama for me.

Athena

Technically, it began in December 2010, but I’ll review this one anyways. Honestly, I liked it initially. I definitely like(d) it more than IRIS, so that’s something. However, it was tedious to rewatch and recap it; my method is always watch the episode first, then watch it again for recap purposes. The first time around, I was invested, I was excited, and I was interested. The second time around, I was blah…

The nature of an action/spy drama is that it should always thrill you in some way. Once you figure out the mystery, then it’s no longer fun because you know exactly what is going to happen. For Athena, it felt like a rehash of IRIS except it was cobbled together so messily that you knew exactly what was going to happen. Someone in the Blue House is going to betray the president again. Someone is going to die. Of course, the main spy falls so deeply in love with the main girl, and you won’t understand why.

The side characters were more fun to watch (*cough*Kim Min Jong*cough*) because they could afford to be wacky, and less angsty than Jung Woo Sung. I feel bad for the main characters because they had to deal with a script below their acting potential. Jung, Cha Seung Won, and Su Ae could do so much more, and yet they were limited by the script. So not fun. The best episodes were the Italy mission (even though it was disappointingly a dream sequence) and Kim So Yeon‘s episodes. She brought a layer of mystery and complexity that was missing in the drama.

Someone – PLEASE give Kim So Yeon her own spy drama! And have Kim Min Jong as her sidekick!

Category: Hmm…. I would have given it a Bad rating, but it would mean ignoring my initial enjoyment of the drama.

Sign

This drama, hands down, is my pick for best drama of the year from what I’ve seen and completed. I have heard of how great The Duo is, the awesomeness of Dream High, the amazing crack of City Hunter (which by the way, for City Hunter, is TOTALLY true), etc. But this drama is A-MAZING. I think the only other drama that’s almost tied for this spot on my list (or creeping up there) is City Hunter.

Park Shin Yang was over the top in the beginning; Kim Ah Joong looked a little too perky as a forensic scientist; Uhm Ji Won was so severe as a prosecutor; Jung Gyu Woon was so lovable. But they all blended quite well and got comfortable in their characters as the series progressed. Plus, the creatives behind it were so strong! (They wrote Harvest Villa, which is another awesome drama.) Sign was a bit new for Korean dramas because it’s a procedural, but it worked quite well because each case helped develop the characters, raise the stakes and tensions, and culminated in a final showdown over the case that started it all: the death of an idol singer. I thought that that case was going to be dragged out for all 20 episodes, but thankfully it wasn’t. When it finally took up the final 4-6 episodes, I didn’t even think it was dragging down the drama. You just wanted Park Shin Yang’s Yoon Ji Hoon to succeed. You wanted to slap that frozen fake smile off Hwang Sun Hee’s face. (By the way – one of the best villain casting ever. And I like her in City Hunter too.) You wanted him to beat Jun Kwang Ryul and defeat all corrupt politicians. And most importantly - you wanted them to find one piece of evidence that wouldn’t be burned, lost, or destroyed!!! I mean – how frustrating was it that the good guys just couldn’t win!? Yoo Ji Hoon could have been a genius scientist, but it didn’t matter – his brain always lost out to sheer human manipulation and greed.

It was becoming ridiculous how in every single episode they lost the one piece of evidence that could possibly tie it all together, but intensely engaging because I had to know how it would end. And then when it ended with Ji Hoon’s death, it was like the world was playing an evil trick on you. I was shocked, depressed, felt like bawling at the sight of Jun Kwang Ryul bawling. I was so mad that the writers had to kill off the main character, especially when that in general is a risky move for any drama. But then – I was really happy. In a way, there was no other way for the drama to end. It was fitting for the series… and they finally solved the case!

This drama also had some of the best cameos. I love that procedural dramas allow amazing actors to guest star for 1-2 episodes; you can get these actors for such a short time and they can have a nice impact to your story. Case in point: Kim Sung Oh‘s episodes. Best maniacal, deranged son ever.

Category: GOOD!

49 Days

So you go from one melodramatic thriller to… a melodrama. It’s not really a drama I would have watched based on my interests this year, but it had an awesome cast, intricate plot, and interesting twists and turns. And – it was So! Hyun! Kyung! I’ll probably watch any drama written by that woman! This is a favorite, though not up there like Prosecutor Princess. Nevertheless, I like how she interweaves everything, even if it makes the world insanely small for her characters.

The one thing I will fault upon this drama is how the plot points unravel so quickly rather than being plotted out throughout the episodes. At times, it felt like everything culminates so quickly and is solved so quickly that each week we get another bombshell. I appreciate the fast pace, but I also wish So Hyun Kyung could pace out the hints a little better. For one thing – the twist about Lee Yo Won and Nam Gyu Ri being sisters was so sudden that I had a mental whiplash. Why drop all the evidence for that fact in the last two episodes, when you could have hinted at it all throughout, and made us eager in anticipation for everyone to figure it out? Admittedly, it was teased earlier with the mother’s outburst of “losing another child,” but then the topic was dropped for the next, oh, 10 episodes. I hate to compare, but the way the birth secret in City Hunter played out for Lee Yoon Sung was better; it may have happened suddenly at the end, but it was played out thoroughly and in a more effective way for the remaining 3-4 episodes.

I enjoyed the acting – particularly from Bae Soo Bin, Jung Il Woo, Lee Yo Won, and Bae Geu RinJo Hyun Jae was the straight-up nice guy, which can be a bit boring. I am so happy that there’s a hint he may end up with Ji Hyun, as I always thought Jo Hyun Jae had more chemistry with Lee Yo Won even though he was supposed to be in love with Nam Gyu Ri. Jung Il Woo was a hoot to watch; he made death cool, and I don’t think I’ll ever say that sentence again. Lee Yo Won was earnest in her role, and it hearkened back to the earlier episodes of Queen Seon Deok, when she’s still pretending to be a boy and hasn’t been discovered as a princess yet. I think in a weird way, she encapsulated the role of Ji Hyun better than Nam Gyu Ri. Bae Soo Bin was consistently great as usual, and Bae Geu Rin – I only wish there were more scenes of her bitching at Shin In Jung.

This drama was my melodrama-romance crack of the year. Solid, kind of forgettable, but poignant still. The ending though, doesn’t beat Sign‘s.

Category: Good.

Greatest Love

Pro: It had Cha Seung Won playing totally against type.

Cons: It had Cha Seung Won, playing totally against type. The story. The execution. The mind-numbing ridiculousness of it.

OK – you may argue, “How could you not like the Hong Sisters?! They’re so funny! And punny! And witty!” or “If you loved You’re Beautiful, how could you hate this one?” Two things – I think the Hong Sisters are becoming a bit overrated. Back in the day, they were funny, but without being overly saccharine and ridiculous. I look at My Girl as an example.

I could not sit through Greatest Love, and I dropped it after episode 10. To which you may then say, “How could you give a review for something you didn’t finish!?” But that’s exactly my point – it was so bad that I couldn’t finish it. This drama was an example of a cast that was all wrong for the script. If you’re going to change your characters to an older set just so you don’t get slapped with a plagiarism label, then change your script to accommodate the older characters! You want me to believe a 30+ year old man who looks 40 does not know love?! And it’s not like he’s a chaebol abandoned at birth with mommy/daddy issues. He just had a heart transplant!

Hmm… he forgot love because he had a heart transplant… his heart was transplanted somewhere else… har har… OK I’ll stop.

Cha Seung Won actually disappointed me. He was best during the quiet moments as he watched Gong Hyo Jin from afar, slowly falling in love with her. Whenever he saved her with his cool, movie star grace, he was great. The moment he was alone in his house, he just became insane.

Yes, the idea may be good on paper, but the actors are part of a drama too. And if I can’t believe in the actors, then I can’t believe the story. And then I can’t believe the drama. This drama is like the opposite of Athena - where Athena wasted good actors with a bad script, this drama had a potentially good script wasted on actors totally wrong for the part.

Category: Bad.

Spy Myung Wol

The hate parade continues with Spy Myung Wol. Admittedly the actors here were a better fit for their roles. Eric had an interesting character that didn’t get interesting for me fast enough, Jang Hee Jin was the most annoying, vacuous side character I had ever seen in my life, Han Ye Seul was bland and soulless, and Lee Jin Wook always looked pained. But they somehow made it work.

I think the behind-the-scenes controversies were FAR MORE intriguing than the actual storyline. I watched this drama a little out of order – episodes 3 and 4 first before going back to watch episode 1 and 2. Perhaps because I saw it out of order, it colored my view of the drama; I thought the first two episodes were more entertaining than the next two, but I had seen the “boring episodes” first. I usually get excited with makeover-story lines or someone pretending to be someone they’re not, but in Spy Myung Wol, I couldn’t really care. I want to blame both Han Ye Seul and the script for this, because neither made me interested in her or her mission.

And since I didn’t care for her mission or her character, I didn’t care about the drama. And since I didn’t care about the drama, I stopped watching after episode 5 or 6. After three weeks, it left me unimpressed – so much so that in between episodes, I would forget what happened.

Category: Bad. Ta-ta to the guillotine for you!

Romance Town

 

Starring my other sweetie-pie-honey-buns Jung Gyu Woon! I had very little expectations going into this drama, and it had the most low key first episode ever. Then again, the writer of this drama did Pasta. It had a similar tone going for it – slice of life, more about the dialogue than the action, the characters than the plot. Like I said before, a bumpy ride – but hey, what life isn’t?

To be frank, approximately the first 10 episodes were far more enjoyable for me. We had glimpses into everyone’s lives on First Street, and we dabbled in both the issues of money, social hierarchy, and romance. Then we got a heavy-handed dose of power, greed, and corruption – which totally sucked – but it wasn’t like it came out of nowhere. Rich people ending up poor, and therefore doing anything they can to be rich again? Of course. Maids with nothing and impoverished backgrounds wanting to keep the money to themselves? Understandable. Wanting to spend all the money herself out of revenge? I get it. Learning how to play fair? Such a bitter pill to swallow – but thankfully done.

We knew these characters were going to get greedy and dark. While it was painful to watch the money/lottery ticket trade hands a gazillion times (The money’s all mine! No it’s not! 50-50? Split it five ways! No, four ways! Whatever, I’m taking the money!), the best part about this series was how each character unfolded and showed his/her different sides. My favorite was the kind gangster Hwang Yong, played by the awesome Jo Sung Ha. How can you not like a loan shark who gives you candy and love advice?!

 

This was also my first Sung Yuri drama. I saw glimpses of her here and there, but this is the first drama I watched her fully in. I actually liked her here. She probably fit the character very well, and I’m really glad she wasn’t one of those silently-suffering types. When she got frustrated, she got really frustrated, and you could share her pain. Jung Gyu Woon has had more impressive roles than this one; as for Kim Min Joon? Friggin’ awesome. He just exudes “cool” – even if he acts idiotic sometimes.

The story was fairly straightforward, with little tangents, which made it easy to remember. (The grandmother-getting-sick storyline was soooo cliched and unnecessary, and it was the only tangent that made little sense in the drama.) The characters were unforgettable. But the number of episodes? A bit too long. It would have done better as a 16-18 episode drama.

Category: Hmm…

You’ve Fallen For Me

This was my cotton candy for the year. It was a shallow, mindless brain fluff, full of beautiful shots and pretty people to look at all day long. I actually enjoyed this drama (except for the last two episodes), so don’t take my words to be sarcastic. It was also directed by Pyo Min Soo, so what’s there not to like?! (He’s doing Flower Boy Ramen Shop too, and I like that one too.) I think after a heady first half of the year with more “serious” dramas, I was ready for a break when this drama came along.

First off, I loved the tone and the feel of the drama. It was marketed as a “fresh, youthful summer drama,” and it certainly was. I liked that it was laid back, and it wasn’t trying to stuff “STORY” down your throat. You knew there was going to be a musical. You knew that Park Shin Hye was the dark horse, and that Woori was the stuck up diva. You knew that Jung Yong Hwa was going to get over his crush on So Yi Hyun, and that she was going to end up with Song Chang Ui. So it was predictable. All you were watching really was how the romance developed, and how Lee Kyu Won grew a spine and decided that she wanted to try musicals and singing Western music rather than be stuck with traditional Korean folk music all her life. Secondly, I enjoyed the actors – especially Song Chang Ui. Who can forget the bromance between Ki Young and Soo Myung? Or what about little sister Jung Hyun and Grandpa? Or lovable Joon Hee? Just from watching the actors together, it was clear that they all had good chemistry off-screen, and were all good friends, and that helps make the drama feel more intimate and also fun. It’s like I wanted to join them in that green, sunny campus.

I was fairly disappointed with the drama by the latter half. First off, we were constantly teased at snippets of the musical’s songs, and so I was really expectant of the final performance. However, when they finally did perform, not only did Kyu Won gallantly give up her spot for Hee Joo, but those rehearsed songs were all we ever saw!!! They danced more numbers, but I wish they sang more songs too. And as much as Lee Hyun Jin‘s abs were salacious, I’ll never understand why he decided to rip his shirt off in the middle of the musical.

Perhaps, I should just not try to understand.

I do feel bad that this drama was the victim of the live-shooting system, with Park Shin Hye’s injury causing the drama to get postponed a day, and thus shortened by one episode. However, with less episodes, this series had the opportunity to provide a tighter, faster-paced narrative. And it did well… perhaps too well, because by the last episode, we went from “Wrist Injury Conflict” to “Noble Idiocy” to “Break Up and Unnecessary Angst” to “Skip Forward in Time” to “More Angst, with a Side of Comic Relief” (coming from the other characters), and then “Happy Ending.” Unnecessary emotional whiplash if I ever saw one. I look at the last two episodes as extra icing, of which I scrape off and keep to the side, while I would eat the rest of the cake over and over again.

Category: Hmm….

I Need Romance

Short version: Best. Romantic Comedy. Ever.

Long version: OK maybe I should explain why this drama is so great, and if you haven’t watched it already, get moving on your little tushy and start watching. I think this was a drama that most deserved to be compared to Sex and the City, and yet I’m also proud to say, it is not like Sex and the City. This drama was all about friendship and love, and growing up to understand what love is. For In Young (Jo Yeo Jung), she learned that love is both painful and sweet. She forgave Sung Soo (the ever charming Kim Jeong Hoon) for cheating on her and went back to him, and I can see why: the two of them have such a strong foundation that they’re constantly growing and learning about each other.

For innocent Hyun Joo, she learns that love isn’t like a fairy tale or like in the books; love is messy and imperfect, but real. You can’t choose who you love – you just do. (Just for the record though, Duk Soo is one damn fine tall drink of water, so despite his poor background and “unclean habits,” he’s pretty perfect for me.) And for the woman-on-the-prowl Seo Yeon, she learns the hard way that love isn’t something to be treated so carelessly. It’s about give and take, and she’s always “taking.” I’m glad she ends up with no one, because for someone who spouts so much wisdom about the dating habits of men and women, and has all this knowledge about sex, she is the most immature about it. She needs to appreciate herself and men before she can end up with anyone.

There could be comparisons to The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry, but I think I Need Romance is superior. In WWSWTM, what made things enjoyable was the storyline and intertwining relationships. Girl loves younger boy. Her ex loves her younger boy’s mother. Her best friend is innocent about love and ends up in a less-than-perfect marriage because she’s all about the ideal. Their situations are interesting; the characters aren’t as much. In I Need Romance, it’s the opposite. I think their situations are kind of banal: they’re either dating, flirting, or taking revenge on a cheater. Simple events – but what makes them unique is how each one responds to it. It’s their characters that make the situations unique. Hyun Joo and Uhm Ji Won‘s Jung Da Jung are quite similar in that they need to find the perfect man. However, Hyun Joo learns to trust her gut feelings, and from there becomes a woman who knows what she’s worth and that you can’t choose who you love. Da Jung simply realizes that marriage isn’t all that she thought it would be because of the circumstances surrounding her, and she is more inclined to run than to face her terrors. Similar situations, two different reactions to it – and the characters’ reactions are what counts. It’s how we learn more about the characters, and feel an affinity to (or hate) them; and I believe that if you can hold a certain emotion towards a character – whether it be positive or negative – it’s good for the drama and the actor involved. Here, I personally identify more with Hyun Joo.

Another thing I liked about this drama was that we got a good taste of how the men feel – most particularly Sung Soo and Sung Hyun. Both had their merits, and both had their flaws, and I think because they both weren’t really the right fit for In Young, that made the competition even more interesting. Don’t tell me that Sung Hyun was perfect in every way; I think that he was still a bit too selfish and possessive over In Young, and me no likey. For our female lead in WWSTWTM, Kim Bum was perfect, and Lee Pil Mo was incredibly flawed (though only he showed more depth and some change throughout the course of the series). Guess who was the better guy there?

Anyways, in conclusion: Watch It. Category: Good.

Birdie Buddy:

It’s a shame this drama was not picked up earlier. It was actually a good drama – one that focused on characters and had one plot that stayed consistent throughout. In a way it’s similar to Romance Town, but it was certainly easier to watch. I think the one benefit it had for going cable was that it had shorter episodes, but a longer series (with 24 episodes). The pace of the drama was fast (despite the weird episode endings at times), and the characters were given a chance to grow, to understand, and evolve. In one series you get all the K-drama cliches packaged into a neat box: the Cinderella Story, the Training Days of an Amateur, the Melodrama of Rivalry, the Separation of Lovers, the Falling in Love for the First Time, the Family Drama, and even Death!

I have to give major kudos to UEE - I think that she showed more of her acting range here than she did in You’re Beautiful. She was good in that drama too, but she’s better here. I think it’s because it’s a little easy to play someone so catty, whereas here, she plays a cheerful, diligent golfer, but with enough range to know that she can do melodrama. I mean – her scenes when she found out her mentor died? I felt sad, but she made me feel worse. (Speaking of her mentor Fabian – he was such a hoot. He was a rare non-Korean actor speaking in Korean who actually acted well in a drama.)

The other characters – Hae Ryung (Lee Da Hee) and Jung Woo (Lee Yong Woo) were well written as well. Hae Ryung had deep-seated issues, and I think she was one of the better developed characters. She was hateful, annoying, and bratty, but she grew up in stages. She first accepted her mother, then accepted her mother’s secretary as a possible stepfather, then accepted that her love with Jung Woo was not meant to be, and finally accepted her friendship with Mi Soo. As much as I hated her character by the end of the series, I grudgingly admit that she was a good second female lead character. The one thing I do not like was how she ended up with Jung Woo in the last episode. I wholeheartedly believe that Lee Yong Woo just has better chemistry with UEE and that the way the plot developed, it supported a Mi Soo-Jung Woo pairing more than a Hae Ryung-Jung Woo pairing. We see more of Jung Woo and Mi Soo growing to like each other and work together, and that for me is so much more substantial than a couple kisses here and there. Anyways – this romantic resolution is my one gripe with this drama.

Category: Hmm… I think the romantic pairings and the last few episodes killed my ardor for it, putting it just a notch below the “Good” category. But I enjoyed this drama overall, and if you want a series to check in every so often and watch leisurely, I think this is it.

The Musical:

[Note: at the writing of this review, I have only seen up to episode 13]

I didn’t expect to like this drama at all, mainly because I was more familiar with the fan wars about the actors rather than the actors themselves (“Gu Hye Sun is awesome!” “Gu Hye Sun can’t act!” “What do you know, hater?!”). I had seen glimpses of Daniel Choi in High Kick Through the Roof, Gu Hye Sun in Pure 19, and Park Ki Woong in Story of a Man. Also, I was more excited for What’s Up…but because that drama didn’t air soon enough, I watched The Musical instead.

The first episode had me hook, line, and sinker – and it was mainly because of the infusion of well-known Korean musical numbers, and actresses like Hong Ji Min and Ock Joo Hyun. Also, Gu Hye Sun was just such a bad singer - so I really wanted to know how she improved. Her journey for the first 8 episodes or so were quite fun to watch – she was in the middle of a tug-of-war between Jae Hee and Kang Hee that was riddled with so many deep-seated issues. She was also the object of Jae Hee’s undying love and enthusiasm. And she improved as a singer, gaining Yoo Jin’s respect along the way.

But somehow, I feel like the drama got lost in the middle. It had started out so strongly, focusing on a woman’s dream to be in a musical, and showing the process of rehearsing, overcoming financial obstacles, and putting the musical onstage. But now the drama is focusing so much on the angst – on Eun Bi falling apart because she can’t be with the man she loves due to her own fears of losing him at the end of the musical. On Jae Hee moping about Eun Bi, but respecting her wishes to stay away. Though this angst may be necessary for the characters, to me, I just yell at the screen and go, “Just get together already! You’re both being stupid!” But of course, no K-drama is that easy. The angst sounds good on paper, but frankly I think the execution is a little lacking, and dragging. The broadcast delays also don’t help since this drama airs only once a week; with each delay, you forget a little bit more about the last episode. With each delay, you also get a lot of repeat information and very few steps forward.

The only character – and reason – I am interested to watch each week is Yoo Jin. He started off as cold and calculating, but not completely inflexible. He’s become a warmer character with Eun Bi’s presence, and I think he didn’t mean to. I think he only became nicer towards her because she confronted him about his aloofness, and he was in denial that he could really be that mean – but being nice to her ended up paying off anyways. I do feel quite bad that he’s hurting his long-time girlfriend Ra Kyung in the process, and so I’m curious as to what will become of them. They’re not a bad couple to root for.

With only three episodes left to this series, I’m a little worried on how things are going to come together. You still have Yoo Jin dealing with his emotions between Ra Kyung and Eun Bi, the “Count of Monte Cristo” musical to go onstage, the “Chungdamdong Gumiho” musical getting its act together, Eun Bi going onstage for at least one of these musicals, and the fate of Jae Hee-Eun Bi relationship to be resolved. This is one series that will definitely need a time jump into the future – and I would welcome it when it comes. There’s plenty of loose ends for this drama, and these characters all need some time to heal, reflect, and grow before they can meet each other again.

Category: Hmm… and I’m afraid I may end up being nonchalant for the rest of the series if they don’t resolve these issues soon enough.

Vampire Prosecutor:

[Note: at the writing of this review, I have only seen up to episode 9]

Yeon Jung Hoon - you kill me with your wonderful guyliner! Seriously dude – what brand do you use? And how do you put it on? Is it pencil? or kohl? or cream? Do you use black or brown eyeliner on the bottom? And also, do you curl your lashes a bit, or leave it sticking out straight?

OK – aside from the pretty, I really enjoy this drama. It’s similar to Sign, and once again we have a procedural drama with an overarching mystery – who turned Min Tae Yeon into a vampire, and killed his sister? The thing is, the story is a little less connected than Sign, and a little more… shall I say, American, in its execution. The reason I say this is because in an American procedural drama, it’s all about the case at hand. You get glimpses of the character and some outside-of-the-case development that amount to maybe 15 minutes of total show time, unless the case has to do with a particular character. Case in point (har har): episode 9, where Yoo Jung In’s father becomes a suspect, and we find out all about her childhood. In Sign, there was more focus on character development and trying to solve the overarching case while solving the case at hand.

The plots for every episode are usually well done, and I particularly enjoy the little twist that occurs with each case. Not everything is what you think it is – and it’s the same for the characters involved. I love that Prosecutor Min and Detective Hwang have such a great bromance going on, and that there is at least one person on his team who knows Tae Yeon’s identity as a vampire. It allows for more jokes about it, and lends more gravity to the situation as there is someone who understands the great danger of having a vampire walk and work among humans. As for Jung In, she’s got quite a messed up and dark past, which goes against her righteous personality and go-for-it attitude. I sometimes think Lee Young Ah is a little miscast for her role, only because she looks like a little kid next to her costars, but I can’t deny that she acts “spunky” well.

As it nears its end, this drama only makes me feel sadder that there are so few episodes left, and all I want is moar! I want more bromance, more of Tae Yeon going out of control in front of his coworkers, more secrets revealed about his relationship with the Chief, more clues towards who turned him into a vampire – just more! I think it’s great that this drama doesn’t need cliffhangers to make me want to tune in every week, because it has set up solid characters that I just want to see clash every week. Plus, the cases are interesting.

Category: Good – so far!

Tree With Deep Roots:

[Note: at the writing of this review, I have only seen up to episode 20.]

love this drama. But I’m scared that if I extol its virtues, it will start sucking completely.

I rarely watch historical dramas. In fact, this is my first historical for the year. Perhaps you may say that I’m very biased towards this drama since I have nothing else to compare it to, but I really do like this drama. It has mystery, comedy, action (oh the fight sequences!), conspiracy, and Han Suk Gyu.

Yes – Han Suk Gyu is a category all on his own. He’s brilliant as King Sejong, being both fierce and timid, serious and comedic, all at the same time. He’s eager, and yet reticent – unwilling to share all of his secrets at once. He’s both wise and foolish, wanting to tread carefully and yet also being quite daring and risking his life for certain beliefs. I think Song Joong Ki helped establish the character, and Han Suk Gyu just let the character blossom. I love him.

Now as for the mystery. Once the mystery unraveled to be that Sejong was creating the alphabet, I thought I was going to think, “That’s it?” I mean, people killing each other over an alphabet?! But this drama helps emphasize that there are so many cultural and political repercussions to creating a new alphabet, and the opponents were threatening enough that you just wanted Team Sejong to win in the end. The noblemen are such elitists, and yet their logic is correct too. They have such a single-minded, narrow view of the world, unwilling to think that universal literacy might actually be better for all, and wanting to keep the power to themselves. It’s such a deep and resonating conflict: when everything you know is turned upside down, do you trust in the change to eventually make things better, or do you resist and do all your best to stop it?

You have your dash of comedy in Jang Hyuk‘s portrayal of jokey Kang Chae Yun in the beginning, in his friendship with his two officer buddies, and in Sejong’s friendship with Mu Hyul. However, when it turns melodramatic, you never feel bogged down because the characters aren’t all crying “Woe is me!” Even Sejong’s psychotic breakdowns as his scholars were getting killed had me entranced. With the dialogue, you feel like you are constantly discovering new things – whether it be about the history of Joseon Dynasty or something new about how the characters logically think. And that, for me, is what makes this particular drama adventure so fun.

Category: Good – so far!

Here’s to 2012!

 
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257 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. otchosais

    thanks for this! waaahh!!! I can’t believe I have watched so many dramas! :)

    • 1.1 iangmmm

      totally agree…I cant believe I watched so many dramas and still feel like I want more!

      I was jsut wondering though why isnt anyone doing the review for Protect the Boss? That one was a heck of a drama too…probably my favorite one after City Hunter!

      • 1.1.1 :)

        I hated most of the dramas that were listed INCLUDED Protect the Boss. What I did not like about Protect the Boss? The main guy was … the opposite of handsome, let me put it this way, and the girl was just so annoying. Especially when she chewed food with her mouth open and talked at the same time. It was disgusting. No, it was more than that.

        One drama that I totally disagree with is Spy Myung Wol. I loved it. Why? The most interesting stuff started happening after episode 11. They had so much chemistry between them and so much passion – it was very very sweet. I vote for it as the best drama of the year (even City Hunter did not have that passion).

        To kaedejun – you missed out so much not watching Spy Myung Wol till the end. Or you have a very bad taste. Either one, could be both. But since you were right on the money about the rest of them, I will go with missing out.

        • 1.1.1.1 :)

          After another, more careful read… No, I was wrong. You have a bad taste. No, like really really bad. I wonder what you studied in college. Have you study anything? Your reviews look more like a high-school dropout’s. I know, I am being mean and negative but you deserve it, every single word.
          Sorry.

    • 1.2 Lyvia

      I reaaally like this review. First, because it FINALLY puts the Hong Sisters somewhere other than “always great”. While I watched The Greatest Love manly because of Cha Seung Won, I do agree that he was best at his quiet moments. I can’t believe people actually laugh at the ridiculousness that they put up on this show. You’re Beautiful didn’t have 1/3 of the absurd of The Greatest Love and I do believe people are overlooking what the Hong Sisters do and just claiming it to be great without actually having a filter.

      I also liked the comment about You’ve Fallen For Me. I thought it was an enjoyable drama and don’t understand why most people hated it so much.

  2. t-berry

    totally agree with all your review!!!

    • 2.1 Jolyn

      Exactly me too!
      Thought that Best Love wasn’t as great as everyone is saying, and I stopped at around.. episode 10 too :P
      Haha the dramas which you stopped, me too!

      • 2.1.1 Birthday Girl

        kaedejun I usually don’t enjoy your recaps because they are objective and narrow on the actions, but this recap I really liked because I had the opportunity to hear your opinions and critiques. It’s funny because I stopped at similar junctions and will have to look at that romance drama. Thank you!

        • 2.1.1.1 Nahan

          I agree with you kaedejun 100% about Best love. I didn’t understand why ppl liked it so much and the overacting from Cha Seung Won was unbearable for me. Gah! I had to stop watching it also

    • 2.2 KAI

      Yeah me too, I couldn’t finished Best love so very boring sorry…but loved City Hall…haha

      • 2.2.1 Kgrl

        So agree. Didn’t get the hype over Best Love. And I absolutely adore Han Suk Kyu – best Kdrama actor of 2011.

        Hmm…may have to check out Sign if you think it’s better than TWDR. I would also give TPM a second try. MCW’s SR just rocks near the end.

        • 2.2.1.1 Azure

          I tried watching sign but immediately didn’t like it:

          1. Episode 1 happened to quickly for me. The minute the episode begins you see lots of different cuts that are a combination of the first and second episode. After all of these cuts, the episode begins with the story in sequential order. The story immediately jumps into the meat of things. I’m not a fan of that. I prefer at least to spend an episode understanding the lives of the characters and get a “feel for them” before I’m thrown into the action. I compared this to IRIS although they are very different and IRIS wasn’t all that great, at least after IRIS began with the series of cuts it gave you time after to catch a feel for the characters before throwing you into the action of things.

          2. The music is overly dramatic. I wish there were a way to turn off the ost but keep the character voices. It became annoying after a while.

          3. The main female lead, the rookie from the investigation unit. I couldn’t bring myself to like her character. Her character liked to yell a lot and act sort of “thuggish” throwing fist up, screaming back at people…etc. It became annoying after a while. She did do a great job of playing her character though!

          4. I gave up after episode 3. I’ve come to find that I personally don’t like dramas that always puts the good guys last. I was very frustrated when even the Chief of NFS betrayed Dr. Ji-Hoon. Granted I guess this had to happen for plot purposes, but it bothered me so I gave up watching.

          I hope that even though I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy this as much as I wanted to, I hope you enjoy it to it’s fullest!

      • 2.2.2 shurlee

        I loved City Hall too! Was not too fond of Great Love; but watched it for Cha Seung Won!

      • 2.2.3 Joani

        I’m happy that I’m not the only one who didn’t like Best love….
        I think that for me, it was because of the leads…I don’t really like Gong Hyo Jin’s acting

        And I didn’t understand the hype behind the couple lead…I don’t think that they are cute..so I had a really hard time liking the drama

        • 2.2.3.1 Jo

          I didn’t like it much because 1) I don’t understand the puns 2) Despite me loving Cha Seong Won & Gong Hyo Jin… they somehow don’t work TOGETHER for me. I can’t even explain why.

        • 2.2.3.2 jhone

          Me too…I’ve always considered actors as one of my criteria in selecting a drama. Even if the script or plot is good if I couldn’t even look at the actors…then it would be MEHHH for me. THAT’s WHY I AM WATCHING TV(to look at the faces)—If I only want a good script—then I should have gone to read magazines instead.lol. Just my opinion.

  3. Christy

    Best Love…
    Category: Bad.

    OMG, …. For me that drama is the best among others …. “Heartbreak” when i read it … My heart monitor is more than 90x/minute right now….. qiqiqi….

    • 3.1 Qd

      Same here! I couldnt agree with you more!!!

    • 3.2 Falconland

      Best Love is the best kdrama for me this year. funny and great acting skills.

    • 3.3 Christy

      Yeah… Looks like kae didn’t get “the point” of this drama. It’s ok…. BTW, this review inspire me to rewatch it tonight because i miss Dokko Jin – Ae Jung and cute DingDong …. LOL

    • 3.4 poo

      Best Love is the no doubt Best drama of 2011! Amazing story with amazing actors. I dont even remember hw many times i ve watched it! And i still laugh like a moron! Best Love is not a typical rom-com.
      Ppl who didn like it, i guess were just not meant for that drama, its a different kinda drama, not everyone can njoi it! But those who did njoi it…dey sure had a crazy fun ride with BEst Love! ^^

    • 3.5 hehe

      well, to each his own. but for me, best love is one of the greatest of its genre!!!

      • 3.5.1 aslinn

        Ditto…has to be one of the top 2 rom/coms of all time. Agree about the Very Good…I Need Romance…. Tree w/ DR, but I would include The Musical, Heartstrings, Romance Town w/ the bad. I liked Dream High and What’s up so far. Your goods were O.K.Thanks for the review, I did read it ^^.

  4. wiwi

    I dissagree with you about best luv…
    I think the actor and actress do the job very well…

  5. Minty V

    i loved the hilarity of Greatest Love… too bad you didn’t like it… but i feel the same way with most of the comments on the other dramas…

    i am so disappointed in The Musical… i love the cast… and i actually enjoyed the first few episodes but the story is losing focus…

    thanks for the review… now i’m interested in Sign, gonna check that out soon…

  6. 자라

    Finally someone who thinks that the Greatest Love sucks.

    • 6.1 Emeldy

      I do too. To be very blunt… i hated it. And the irony is, i am a big fan of the Cast (all the four main cast).

      • 6.1.1 jose

        sorry for the people who loved greatest love ,but i am in the side of people who disliked it :( ,i like the hong sisters and most of their former dramas (specially my girl and my girlfriend is a gumiho and you’re beautiful) ,this year i liked 4 dramas :-dream high-city hunter-49 days and-vampire prosecutor,if city hunter grow in me with each episode ,with best love was the opposite :( , to me best love first was brilliant ,the first 4 episodes,then it was so so ,then it lost me :( ,i don’t remenber the episode i stopped,the 10?

    • 6.2 Kaye

      +1
      I couldn’t get past episode 4. I wanted to like it so bad.

      • 6.2.1 vis

        Me too… I really wanted to like it because I’ve liked most of the Hong sisters’ works, but this was just a miss for me. I also thought it was way too over the top and just couldn’t get emotionally connected to the characters except the fabulous second male lead. He’s the only reason I continued to read the recaps.

        • 6.2.1.1 Starmoo

          omg sorry for butting in but i totally agree with you ;; yoon kye sang’s character was so adorable and more likeable.

        • 6.2.1.2 girlatsea

          Same here. This drama was all about Pil-joo for me. I think I watched up until about episode 11 or so. I never finished it and I don’t care enough to finish. It was disappointing because I really wanted to like it (considering MY GIRL is my favorite drama of all time.) It’s kind of how I feel about Flower Boy Ramyun Shop at the moment.

          • 6.2.1.2.1 Kgrl

            Ha! Exactly my sentiments about Best Love and Flower Ramyun. It has nothing to do with my feelings for the actors either since I’ve had a crush on JIW ever since Iljimae – it’s the….surrealism of it all. Perhaps if the context was more crazy instead of trying to mimic the real world I would get more involved with the ridiculousness of it all.

          • 6.2.1.2.2 JD

            OMG A PERSON WHO’S KINDA EH ABOUT FLOWER BOY RAMYUN SHOP? *highfive*

          • 6.2.1.2.3 Indi

            +1 in everything you said.

          • 6.2.1.2.4 diamonds

            I’m IN !!!
            i tried so hard to love Best Love and FBRS, but somehow they did not hit my feeling. it’s not because the story, actors or the comedy, i’m an admirer of Romantic-Comedy though, i also didn’t know why …
            i dropped best love and up till now hadn’t watch FBRS episode 9 T_T

          • 6.2.1.2.5 Autumn

            WORD.

            While I liked the characters of BL, Pil-joo was the only one I actually cared about. I also watched up to ep 11 and still don’t have the incentive to pick it up again.

    • 6.3 Starmoo

      +1

    • 6.4 shepo

      +1,,,i agree with ur opinion with hong sister,,they used to be so funny without being too ridiculous,,

    • 6.5 skelly

      I agree! I wanted to like this drama, I really tried, lasting through about 6 episodes – and I skimmed to the end, hoping to be drawn in, but – both CSW and I were trying too hard. He was too manic, too mannered, and the romance was just uncomfortable…he seemed a bit desperate, trying to get some sort of emotional response out of his co-star, while she literally and metaphorically stood there with the traditional kdrama arms-at-the-sides-lips-pressed-tight-together… sigh. If she would have been over-the-top, and they could have been manic together, it could have worked, but instead everyone just felt sorry for the nice doctor and CSW looked like a cartoon character.

    • 6.6 Joo

      Am so glad there’re still some people like me who thought Best Love was overrated.

      I do like Hong Sisters. I loved You’re Beautiful and Chun-Hyang and liked Gumiho, but Best Love was just soooo disappointing. Nothing against the cast though, I do really like Gong Hyo-jin. But I just couldn’t connect with Dokko Jin. I do love quirky characters but Dokko Jin was kind of TOO weird there’re plenty of times when I thought that someone should really send him to the mental hospital before it’s too late. Note I’m just criticizing the character, not the actor. I’ve not watched anything with Cha Seung-won so I was so looking forward to see him in Best Love (just because I’ve heard that he is a charismatic actor) but too bad I didn’t like the character and ended up not being able to bring myself to like CSW (as of now). Anyway I dropped Best Love in the episode 12 or 13(?) and can’t be bothered about where I’ve stopped because I don’t think I would want to pick it up again.

  7. mocha

    Totally agree about Best Love- have truly enjoyed the previous Hong sisters dramas (especially My Girl and Hong Gil Dong) but this one was just too wacky- couldn’t connect with the characters. Will still give their future work a try tho :)

    • 7.1 TC

      Same here. Just could not connect with the main leads and did not like the overacting and wackiness of CSW in this drama. Only drawn to the second male lead.

  8. shapby

    Loving your appreciation towards TWDR. Song Joong-ki was awesome, but Han Suk-gyu really is a totally different level of awesomeness. Episode 19 was simply brilliant and full of heart. (Shattered hearts?! Had me bawling like mad.)

    Team Sejong FTW!

  9. Gee

    -…..Yes, the idea may be good on paper, but the actors are part of a drama too. And if I can’t believe in the actors, then I can’t believe the story. And then I can’t believe the drama. This drama is like the opposite of Athena – where Athena wasted good actors with a bad script, this drama had a potentially good script wasted on actors totally wrong for the part……-

    Are you talking about Cha seung won and Gong Hyo Jin?…
    So sad. I cann’t believe Dramabeans write this…
    Totally… totally… disagree …..

    • 9.1 Dea

      Simple answer, Gee:

      “The Greatest Love” and “Athena” both played by Cha Seung Won …. Looks like, Kaedejun compare those drama because she cann’t believe “him” …. *smile*

    • 9.2 PL

      What do you mean you can’t believe Dramabeans wrote this? It’s one person’s opinion. Not everyone has the same tastes in dramas.

    • 9.3 Carrie

      This is not Javabeans of Dramabeans who wrote this review, it’s another guest writer who occasionally recaps on Dramabeans. I’m guessing the mixup is why you’re surprised at the reviews.

      I tend to sway more towards the sentiment of that of Girlfriday and Javabeans but it’s still nice hearing other views.

      Thanks, kaedejun for contributing to the reviews. :D

    • 9.4 mardie

      everybody is entitled for their own opinion. that’s what make everything interesting!

    • 9.5 gaga

      I must say that I agree with kaedejun on TBL. The cast was so-ooooo wrong for the script! The story might have worked with a younger cast…

      Anyway, I watched it for CSW but just couldn’t get over his overacting here. It was so painful to watch. Till today I can’t get over it. I need to watch City Hall again to see why I fell in love with his acting…

  10. 10 leslielei

    As much as I love the ensemble of Best Love the lulzy-ness of the story made me drop it. I still love Hong Sisters and will look forward to their new drama ^^

  11. 11 Usi

    For me Best Love was the best Drama of the year. So different opinions can be. I loved exactly what you disliked.

    And never beeing in love at his age is very believable. He always was secluded because of his illness and surely totally spoiled to since parents who have a sick child often do. He grew up to a totally celf centered adult who always had people around who praised him or were alike him. AJ was an anomaly in his world and he got curious. After that his falling was very understandable too since inside he still was the little boy who wanted to be loved and part of the warm world of the others.

    • 11.1 Falconland

      i felt the same about your comment:)

    • 11.2 Kgrl

      This is exactly what I don’t get. The children I know who have incurable illnesses are very much ‘grown-up’ at an early age – despite parents/relatives best efforts. True, deep down they are still children and innocent, but they tend to have a deeper understanding of their situation a certain enlightenment.

      That doesn’t mean all very sick children are mature, but given his age, the fact that he was succeeding in a very competitive and complex entertainment world should signal at least a little more understanding of the ppl and world around him.

      • 11.2.1 Usi

        Nope. I was a very sick child my own and spending much time with equal sick children I can say, we may had to mature early in mind but emotionally we were left behind since all are for other bodies but no one truly cares for our souls.

        Before I fell in love at the age of 26 I was a very singular person and did not really liked other people. I found my own AJ. I know I’m not exceptional since people like me regonize each other. It is like people who nursed cancer patients can see it in the eyes of people when they have cancer and be aware of it.

        And why he should notice people below him. Did you never meet a person who thought the entire world spin around them? They even think the don’t have to care for law. If you want an example South Korean entertainment industry is full of them.

        • 11.2.1.1 Kgrl

          I understand that being severely ill as a child is likely to make people lonely and separated from the world. But it is precisely b/c of your knowledge of what you are missing and situation that makes you more aware, is it not?

          My experience with severely sick and terminally ill children has never been about seeing people below them and the world to spin around them. They know the world does not spin around them, they know they may not get the “normal” treatment that others may get. It is one of the reasons I believe they are more aware of their environment and situation.

          In short, I could not relate to some of the character premise or development, which affected the “stickiness” of the drama. Lols.

          • 11.2.1.1.1 Usi

            No. I and all those children in hospitals with me (single rooms only are in movies ;)) hardly noticed something except the sickness. We were treated physically but stayed emotionally the same we were before falling ill.
            At least we lived in our own little world and the reality we hardly understood. You have to do what doctors and nurses say to you and don’t make your mother cry since the treatment is expensive and it is hard enough for them. That becomes your entire day beside school.

            Yes, we never have seen the world below us and also not spinning around us. But when you are secluded from the normal children world, you don’t learn the basics of human relationsships. I do not know why people think we would be more aware of the world. Maybe too many movies?

            To say it short: A secluded human always will live a secluded life. If you never learned different you will not grow a thoughtfull and aware adult. So Dokko is really a believable outcome.

            And if you ever want to understand a child sick like that you have to invade their world with care for their soul and treat them equal to any healthy child. I only know one person who did this in my childhood and it was the only person -my mother told me- I would let take care of me except my parents.

    • 11.3 Birdie

      You’ve restored my faith in humanity (well Drama watchers anyway) I am so shocked that so many people didn’t like Greatest Love. But then again we all have different tastes, I hate some of the ones that Kaedejun classes as ‘good’.

  12. 12 9to5

    i had similar thoughts about Romance Town, it started out interesting, but the conflicts later on a little unbelievable so i gave up on it.

    Tree with Deep Roots! love love love

    i loved Best Love’s funny factor and quirkiness, but i agree that the romance was unrealistic to be portrayed as a first real love for a guy over 30. i kind of ignored my urge to think logically regarding their ages so that i could enjoy the romance.

    • 12.1 Birdie

      Agree 100% :)

  13. 13 ahjummabunny

    Err sign? I tried to watch that drama and I enjoyed most of the intrigue but the acting was terrible and once, when I watched it on mute, it wasn’t as thrilling.

    • 13.1 Jomo

      Just curious, how would muting it help?

      The idea of you watching a show you don’t like is funny (to me).
      The picture of AB watching a show she doesn’t like with the sound off is downright hilarious!!

      • 13.1.1 ahjummabunny

        That show had very intense music and very dark scenes and kim ah joong’s weird bangs and ponytail.It was very disturbing music so I watched it on mute.

        • 13.1.1.1 Azure

          I agree. The music was overly dramatic. In my opinion it took away from the drama. I tried watching it on mute too with subs.

  14. 14 djes

    oh kaedejun, you have ‘different’ taste in dramas!
    hope this won’t offend you, but really, when I read this, I feel like, “oh? why she liked it? oh? she hated that?”
    I feel you a bit…random in choosing dramas :D

    nevertheless, thanks for giving new perspectives!

    I thought you watched City Hunter, but you didn’t included it to this post?

    ( i believe it’s hard to make a year end’s review! )

  15. 15 Arhazivory

    Its so nice reading different opinions on similar dramas. Lol. Thanks for the review kaedejun. I’ve been considering Birdie Buddy and I think I’ll give it a shot next year.

  16. 16 Raine

    BEST LOVE – So already controversy over the Best Love review. As soon as I read it I KNEW this would happen.

    I can see how the absurdity might not appeal to some. But it is exactly that absurdity that made the drama for me. It’s not going for realism. It’s going for the commentary, and the heart, and the character development.

    Ok, that hold time jump killed me. (As time jumps tend to do) It sort of broke the stride for me a bit, but it was most definitely a wonderful watch.

    I liked how CSW really went for his role. I thought he fit it will. But again, I can see how he wouldn’t fit for others because of his previous AMAZINGNESS in more serious roles.

    YOU’VE FALLEN FOR ME – I liked it at first, and it spiraled. I couldn’t finish it. The conflict was so ridiculous and it wasn’t compensated by anything else. At least the ridiculousness of Best Love had the clever lines, the pretty, solid character development, addressing issues. This just…seemed more high school than college. And, I always have a pet peeve with the inaccuracies of music school portrayals. I had the same problem with Dream High (although I LOVED DREAM HIGH). But I’ve been through music programs my entire life so it just baffles me that they can’t go interview a music student for accuracy…ANYWAY.

    Thanks Kaedejun for writing this. Your input is greatly appreciated and your ranks amongst DB guest writers is well-deserved! (Plus, I regularly haunt your page too…)

    • 16.1 LimaKid

      um, there’s no controversy lol.

      • 16.1.1 Raine

        Wrong word perhaps, I just meant lots of people would react to it. And they did. Immediately!

  17. 17 bestlove

    Don’t worry, it’s not Javabeans who wrote this.
    S/he (I don’t know him/her though) is just one of thousands of Best Love fans who really connected and impressed by their acting.
    Anyway, we’re all entitled to our own opinions.
    Nice try.

    • 17.1 Mei

      his/her “nice try” isn’t enough though. try harder next year. Besides, a fish swimming against the current is also OVERRATED. Not all are salmons or….trouts :)

  18. 18 bestlove

    Don’t worry, it’s not Javabeans who wrote this.
    S/he (I don’t know him/her though) is just one versus thousands of Best Love fans who really connected and impressed by their acting.
    Anyway, we’re all entitled to our own opinions.
    Nice try.

  19. 19 Alixana

    I agree about Best Love and Hong sisters being a bit overrated. I loved My Girl, I love Delightful girl ChunHyang and I was quite fond of MGIAG, but Best Love just didn’t do it for me. Everyone went crazy over extended metaphors – they just made me roll my eyes.

    I disagree about You’ve fallen for me though. It was such a boring, boring, BORING drama. I can handle slow-paced and cliche, but this was just mind-numbingly boring.

  20. 20 lingergem

    actually all your drama review is not bad at all @_@

  21. 21 xiaoSxin

    Yay for another review! Thanks Kae!

    Really Romance Town was your first Sung Yuri drama? It’s ok bec Snow Queen was where her infamous ‘Bora must die!’ debate of all time came from.. But then she was good for the most part in. Hong Gil Dong.

    Best Love is my least favorite drama of the Hong Sisters, sadly. I love their brand of crack. I remember I enjoyed watching it while it was airing back then. But as time pass by, it didn’t stay with me that long. Like cotton candy, sweet and delicious, but vanishes quickly.

    2011 was the year of great sagueks though. Maybe because the sageuk fare was the shorter ones, not the uber long 50 or so eps like Queen Seondok or Jumong. The Duo was amazing. I am hoping somebody will recap it (hint hint^^) Next on my list would be The Princess’ Man as this somtimes turns to a debate on which is better. DUO vs. TPM. Hmmmm…? Better watch TPM so I can jump in to the discussion! Then there is of course, TWDR. I will watch this and marvel at Song Joong Ki. Call me shallow, but for me to watch a saguek, there must be an incentive. And SJK’s is definitely a bonus. But it is really his stellar acting and high praises of my respected peers why I want to watch this.

    • 21.1 shepo

      the duo is very good,,but the ending is not good enough for me,,seemed that the producer rush it,,it didn’t end smoothly,,everything looks in rush..while the princess’s man is good even though (for me) it’s too sadistic,,

      • 21.1.1 Arhazivory

        Agreed. I love The Duo but the ending was a bit meh to me.

  22. 22 Mei

    Yeah…I have to agree with you…..it is surprising that they let you write a review.

  23. 23 Alvina

    kaedejun, while you might be speaking the unpopular opinion, I totally agree with your points!

    Everything that you said was something that I had thought, and upon rewatch, continue to think.

    Example, Best Love was okay for me and I didnt really get the hype. I only watch The Musical for Yoo Jin. Tree With Deep Roots is amazing, so far…best I am scared for the ending.

    Thank you for voicing your opinions, because that way, I know that I’m not the only one :D

  24. 24 jojo

    Kaedejun…thanks for your reviews. Agree with you about Best Love, thought the actors were miscast and gave up halfway….I thought Sign was good, but going to such lengths to prove you’re right? Kim Sung Oh was really creepy! Loved I Need Romance but, of course, didn’t like the ending. Going to save Tree With Deep Roots and Vampire Prosecutor (how do they grow those fangs?) for the snowy days of January. Was surprised about how many hours I wasted watching bad dramas…plan to be more discriminating from now on…LOL

  25. 25 WooHigh

    I LOVED Greatest Love. For me it was a shinning light through the angst of 49 Days. As I sat in my room crying following what I think is the worst ending a drama, GL was what picked me up again. Hong sisters rule!

  26. 26 Jules

    I’m glad someone liked Sign as much as I did!

  27. 27 stee

    I like how honest and straightforward you were with your opinions and that you didn’t make the reviews too long. I got some new thoughts about what to watch, thanks!

    Agree about Best Love and The Musical. I did like BL and I finished it, but due to the exaggerated wackiness and overkill of metaphores, I couldn’t connect with it fully. I was totally obsessed with the Musical at first, but I daresay it has lost its charm recently. Not enough plot movement – it gets old watching the same conflict being repeated every episode. The romantic entanglements are interesting enough but what happened to all the musical business? I’m getting sick of the YJ-RK-EB thing, as well — as cute as Yoo-jin is, what he is doing to his girlfriend is not cool. Maybe he didn’t realise what he was doing at first but by now he’s going too far. And man, the one episode a week system really isn’t doing the drama any favors.

  28. 28 Devin

    I’m quite picky with dramas myself, and I found best love to be just that- if not the best, one of the best. The characters felt real, having more than one dimension, one flaw, one desire within the story. The drama was constructed to purposely feel more exaggerated, contrasting with the outward appearance of show business versus more vulnerable interactions between people. We should be able to relate to putting up a facade, wether it’s for our own protection or for others. There were believable compromises, making them relatable, as well as sincere emotions protrayed by the wonderful cast. I strongly disagree with you, but nonetheless, I enjoyed reading some of your review. Thus is not meant to be a debate. Rather, I’m offering my opinion. Take it or leave it.

    • 28.1 msty

      You wrote exactly what i have in mind!

  29. 29 Eeefu

    I like Sign too. Since Sign is Park Shin Yang’s first TV drama after being unfairly banned, I value it even more as for its significance. Park Shin Yang’s gusty and tailored performance nailed the really love-or-hate socially handicapped forensic science prodigy character perfectly. Why gusty? Coz it has drawn so much controversy on why he’s always yelling at people. Park risked ticking people off / criticizing his acting ability but to me, this is how the character would be behaving. Hwang Sun Hee is totally a delight to watch in City Hunter after watching her in Sign.

  30. 30 mlkim

    I used to do what you did…I had to stick to a drama and finish watching it, even thought it sucked royally (just with my hand on the ff button). But this year, I either lost my patience or felt real life was too important and stopped watching bad dramas altogether.

    I’m glad someone thinks that Best Love was bad. Usually, I agree mostly with Javabean’s taste and reviews of a drama. However, I thought Best Love was overhyped and not one of of the Hong Sisters best work. I loved You’re Beautiful but this drama’s Cha Seung Won threw me off. He obviously has the looks and the talent. But when he was overacting and being loud and childish, I couldn’t take it. and I love Yoon Kye Sang, but his role as the 2nd lead had no suspense. At least with You’re Beautiful’s 2nd lead, you wanted to root for Jung Yong Hwa. Every time Great Love is mentioned, there’s such a strong love for it, I’m just glad to see I wasn’t the only one who felt this way

  31. 31 lenrasoon

    As someone mentions in the comment before, you have a different taste for dramas, maybe that’s why i love reading your recaps and the now the review. Opinions that only echoes the consensus aren’t that interesting i think.

    After reading your opinion on “Sign” i think i’ll give a try before the year ends.

    Oh and i’m happy about your thoughts on “Tree with deep roots” i’m loving this drama so very much.

    Thank you so much kaedejun, i hope you continue to write recaps in 2012 as well.

  32. 32 -K

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who didn’t care for Greatest Love. What can I say… it just wasn’t the greatest.

  33. 33 huiting

    I finished Best Love but I have to agree with you on this – ‘You want me to believe a 30+ year old man who looks 40 does not know love?!’ I still love the cast though. Their chemistry are pretty amazing too.

    And YEAP, imho, Hong Sisters are actually.. quite overrated. I thought You’re Beautiful was bad enough, but they actually came up with another drama.. that is not the worst, but still sucks. Quite badly.

  34. 34 bishbash

    i couldn’t survive past 4 episodes of I Need Romance. i seriously can’t connect to any of the ladies in it.

    but hey, just like you don’t like BL, there’re some like me who can’t stand INR (hopefully there are others like me! :p)

  35. 35 Kezia

    Thank for your review Kaedejun …..
    Controversy!!! At least it prove that “Best Love” is the best /ok…. one of the best drama of the year according to DB readers.
    9:1 scale… 9 like, 1 dislike.

    • 35.1 Falconland

      haha. thumbs up for Best Love! the drama gave me many fun moments. the little boy was so adorable.

  36. 36 Jenna

    Sorry but I strongly disagree with your reviews about the Best Love & Myung Wol the Spy. I just like the plots, the characters & the actors. In my opinion, they’re one of the best! By the way, I don’t like the vampire prosecutor. I don’t know, maybe not my taste. =)

  37. 37 dany

    thank you! “Vampire prosecutor”- I didn’t start watching and I don’t intend to (I don’t know why, it’s just one of those feelings). Birdie buddy- you are totally right- the ending (/pairing) completely confused me. I also couldn’t finish Best Love ( as I couldn’t finish “I need Romance”, “Scent of a woman”, Can you hear my heart”, Secret garden, My princess and others)
    “I’ve fallen for you”- definitely not an hmm, a big BAD. “Lie to me” enters this BAD category also, along with “Dream High”
    What I like(d) this year: 49 days, Shitty Hunter, Ojakgyo Brothers, Warrior Baek Dong Soo.

    • 37.1 Jenna

      we have the same bizarre thoughts/feelings about vampire prosecutors. hehe..

  38. 38 Eeefu

    Re: 49 Days: I think in a weird way, she (Lee Yo Won) encapsulated the role of Ji Hyun better than Nam Gyu Ri

    You put my thoughts out right. Nam Gyu Ri’s best performance was when she was in school uniform playing her student days. That come out very naturally.

    About Lee Yo Won, her performance here is very close to her role in Bad Love (purposelessly killing remaining time in a loveless life filled with anger and pain). I don’t understand how some hailed her in 49 Days but bashed her in Bad Love… but may be it’s the story of Bad Love that’s too tough to love, and people have mistaken that and vented out on her performance?

  39. 39 ria

    same with you…I also didn’t like the greatest love :) didn;t feel any chemistry between cha seung won and gong hyo jin (though i loved almost every hong sisters’ drama : YAB, Hong Gil Dong (Jang Keun Suk rules!!) and MGIAG as my 1-2-3).. but I have to admit, I didn’t really watch too many dramas this year (already had TPM in mind, after reading your reviews made me want to see it asap)
    thanx to Heartstrings..now I fell deeply in love with Yong Hwa ssi (gosh, just let him stand with his guitar and his voice, my knees just melt into the ground)
    too bad comeback drama for the ‘so damn fine’ Kang Ji Hwan was not as bright as his chem with YEH (aaaahhhhh….totally melted my screen)
    can;t wait for 2012 though ;D

  40. 40 YxoR

    Kaedejun, thank you for the review, I bet you spent days writing it :) . Just one question, the word ‘hmm’, is it a good ‘hmm’ or.. can’t decide if it’s good or not?

    • 40.1 msim

      I think that’s exactly what the “Hmmm” of our lovely kaedejun stands for: when you can’t decide if it was good or bad.
      It’s in the middle/ too close to call.

  41. 41 cv

    Thanks for your review. =)

    I agree with some of your points: Musical–started off good but went downhill after the first few episodes. It got boring…I wish the story was more about the two main characters…instead…the second lead–story got more air time/storyline then the main characters. It’s called musical–shouldn’t it be more about the music?

    twdr: awsome! yup.

    birdiebuddy: who’s the main lead in here? Misoo or the other girl? I’ve always thought it was Misoo. IF so, she didn’t get the guy. I thought she had more chemistry with the lead man then the second girl. I liked it, but didn’t like how it ended.

  42. 42 jane

    I can’t believe you said Best Love was bad.. lol there’s actually someone who dislike best love ._.
    anyway, I wanna know what do u think of City Hunter? :D

  43. 43 LimaKid

    What I love about this review is that it’s honest. I absolutely didn’t agree with everything, but you stuck to your guns with your opinion on Best Love, even though a lot of people on this blog (including me) loved it.

    Thanks for being honest–it allows readers to see a different side of a drama they might have hated or loved.

  44. 44 July

    Kaedejun,…. Honestly, when i read your review, i want to rewatch “Best Love” full episode. I just thought that… “Uh,…he/she really have a different taste… “. It is unfair and confuse to review a negative opinion about a whole drama coz the cast personally? … *shaking head*.

  45. 45 kaedejun

    Thanks for all the comments! Just to answer some points:

    - I’m sticking to my review of Best Love. I still love Cha Seung Won.

    - “Hmmm” means “good enough, but will be forgettable after a while”

    - Mi Soo is the lead in Birdie Buddy

    - City Hunter <3 – I could not fit it into this review as I did not think I would have finished it by the time I wrote this. It'll be covered by plenty others I'm sure…

    - I'm a 'she'

    • 45.1 skelly

      Great job with this review, kaedejun! You’ve got people thinking, and considering dramas they may have overlooked, and perhaps reconsidering opinions. Thanks for braving the slings and arrows and sharing with us.

    • 45.2 angle2mx

      “I am a ‘she” haha made me laugh Thank you. Going through finals.

    • 45.3 diorama

      I have to say, you write very well, and I admire you for being honest about your opinions – that’s what a review is all about! Thanks so much for your recaps and this review :)

      I liked your review of Best Love, which was spot on in many of the flaws. Personally, I enjoyed it, but I know it had definite cracks in it. Hmm, and now you have me psyched for TWDR.

    • 45.4 cingdoc

      …and a smart cutie pie too,,,(^.^)…*no comments from me,K, since I’ve *sniff* not watched 99% of them…*real life is definitely killing my kdrama watching (>.<)

      Thanks for the well written review, K :)

      • 45.4.1 msim

        I’ll be watching Sign because of your review…but no amount of alcohol or sweets could ever tempt me to watch Birdie Buddy.

        I didn’t get Greatest Love – but returned to it because of my sister and a bottle of Proseco. Both of which were necessary for my enjoyment.

        Thank you for your efforts and willingness to be brave enough to state unpopular opinions.
        An opinion’s popularity doesn’t prove or disprove its validity.

        • 45.4.1.1 Linda165

          I LOVE that your drama watching decisions are base on alcohol.

    • 45.5 wanne

      oh, so you wrote this review before the city hunter one at your blog? its too bad, that review is one of the best i’ve read about city hunter. but thats fine, thanks for the reviews anyway!

      i dont think i read any recommendation on Sign before. makes me curious. maybe i’ll try to check it out one day.

  46. 46 kaynn

    Yay! kaedejun thinks the same as I do when it comes to Best Love. I just never connected to the drama… basically the characters were just annoying. :D CSW was so over the top all the time, with his crazy outbursts and gestures. He killed the show for me…
    I’m still stuck on ep 11 I think, and I’m not going to continue watch anytime soon.

    Also, no need to be rude to the guest blogger. She is completely entitled to her opinions.

  47. 47 srkambbs

    Awesome review!! I was just hoping for Protect the Boss to be included lol

    • 47.1 Falconland

      hey, yes, i also LIKE Protect The Boss. but i love Best Love more:)

  48. 48 Ashley

    Wooooow, I disagree on so many levels. It’s totally cool you hate Greatest Love but I think you missed the point of the show.

  49. 49 kaleido

    thanks for the review.. I am actually with you on INR.. I love it and i love it better than WSWTM…. there is something about it…

    about Best Love.. I like it.. but I don’t have the urge to re-watch it.. unlike other Hong sister’s drama… i will rewatch MGFIG or HGD or My Girls.. but not this one… but i did enjoy it…..

    I have never thought that I will enjoyed TWDR as much as I do now… it is exceeding my expectation and make the rather boring plot to be interesting…

    and about the musical… i am watching it and enjoying it… but like u said…. my attention is really on Jin instead of the main OTP… sounds kind of wrong…

    and VP.. totally rocks… am excited about season 2 already.

  50. 50 Thatgirl

    Wait, so you didn’t finish City Hunter?! I loved that Drama.

    The Musical started out so strong!!!! Then it flopped. Had I not already stayed with this drama for 13 weeks, I would have abandoned it by now. I’m really annoyed at how much screen time this drama has given their Second male lead and their female lead, building their relationship instead of the 2 main leads. I really can’t buy that they can put Yoo Jin and Eun Bi together so much and go through so much shit together and then still have her end up with Jae Yi…..
    It use to be so fun with all the music and singing, and rivalry, now Baek Kyung Hee and Sang Woo aren’t even in this drama very much anymore. I was much more fun when Jae Yi was happier.
    I think what the Musical’s problem is is that they’ve had this drama going for so long, and still never got a spot on a broadcasting network that the producers kinda gave up on it…

    • 50.1 wanne

      she wrote an awesome recap of City Hunter at her blog here:

      http://www.kaedejun.com/2011/12/city-hunter-a-review/

      i wish she include it here.

      anyway, thanks for this review!

      i dropped Best Love for the same reason, CSW is too maniac for my taste. the same goes to Flower Boy Ramyun. i for one cannot stand overacting. its fine for the initial two episodes, but when they keep for 10 episodes, it gets on my nerve and i cant connect with the characters and the story at all. thats why i think my favourite Hong sisters remain My Girl and Gumiho. they were ridiculous initially, but they grew in heart and the characters started to behave normal as the drama went on.

      i stopped watching I Need Romance after i read about its ending. whats wrong with the writers?! i despise that drama forever!

      i think i will check out Vampire Prosecutor & TWDR when i have time someday (i’m watching Padam..padam and liking it so far. only 1 episode in actually haha but the story is intriguing).

      looking forward to next review! though my legs tremble at the thought of Dahee’s one XD

      • 50.1.1 bd

        CSW did not overact – the character of DJ was just “out there” and basically was a front.

        In all of the of the moments where it called for DJ to act “normal” and show his real emotions, CSW did one bang of a job.

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