Drama Recaps
Bachelor’s Vegetable Store: Series review
by | March 18, 2012 | 79 Comments

Bachelor’s Vegetable Store finished up its twenty-four episode run last week, and served as an exercise in patience with a mixed bag of results. What it could have been was evident from the premise – heartwarming, uplifting, ideally addicting. Instead it seemed to suffer an identity crisis ten chaebols wide, torn between makjang shenanigans and a potentially winning tale of a man fighting against all odds to become one with his vegetables. There were some odds to fight, there were some vegetables, there was a lot of crazy, and there were some verbs. Whether it was really about a vegetable store or switched identities, I’m still not quite sure.

 
SERIES REVIEW

I wondered if the day would come that I could use Baker King Kim Tak-gu as a serious point of comparison, but more so than that, I never thought the day would come where I could say that Baker King just did it better (in terms of blending makjang elements with an underdog tale). In that regard, it was as if Bachelor’s Vegetable Store tried to take a page from Kim Tak-gu’s secret recipe book, only without knowing how to read.

This was one of those instances where the premise seemed so cute that you’re willing to take the bad with light sprinklings of promise, except that promise eventually fizzled out into the mediocre, trite, and frustrating. This downward trend could be seen as a possibility from the first few episodes (recaps of which can be found here, here, and here), but with a hope in my head and a song in my heart, I stayed the course. And I was rewarded by the show doing exactly what I hoped it wouldn’t do, by spending a great deal of unnecessary time on the makjang, and less on the story line we all came for – the bachelors. But even if you came to Bachelor’s Vegetable Store for the makjang, then you’d still be disappointed.

I don’t know what I was expecting by watching more of Bachelor’s Vegetable Store, and by the time I realized it wasn’t going to get better I’d already invested so many hours that I thought, why not? I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt for twenty-four full hours. So this review, which happens to be my first series review, is an attempt to glean something from that experience, a way to reconcile the conflicting thoughts I had about this drama into something that loosely resembles cohesiveness by splitting it into what worked and what didn’t. Here goes.

Note: There are spoilers in this review, but the ending and the majority of plot points are left untouched for your viewing pleasure(?).

There’s something to be said about the climate surrounding Bachelor’s Vegetable Store, in that it was broadcast on Channel A, one of the fledgling cable networks that began in only December of last year. Cable networks seem to be a great place for fostering talent in new and exciting ways, where ratings inevitably matter less than on the bigger broadcasting networks in order to ideally afford the drama team more creative freedom. That’s the part of the new cable channels I enjoy the most, because those channels gave us great shows like Vampire Prosecutor, Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, Padam Padam, etc.

However, I feel like this drama displayed the darker side of cable, evident in its seemingly unwarranted twenty-four episode run. When I thought about the fact that I’ve never sat through so many episodes of a drama that didn’t seem all that great, I also thought about the fact that it’s normally because shows finish their run at sixteen episodes or less if they’re of lower quality. But with Channel A being too new to have a slew of other shows to run, putting the twenty-four episodes in that context makes a bit more sense.

As for the story itself, we’ve got our hero, HAN TAE-YANG (Ji Chang-wook), on his journey to become a successful vegetable store owner. If only the story remained focused on his journey and the Six Pack of bachelors, then this series could have been so much more. As it was, the flashes we got of the Six Pack were promising and fun, but tended to play such a second fiddle to the Crazy Mom Drama that I began to wonder if the entire series premise was a marketing mishap.

 
WHAT WORKED

The bachelors, to varying degrees. I admit that I enjoyed the idea of the bachelors more than the execution, which suffered on a writing and directing level. We’ve got the basic premise of a group of lost boys, handled with aplomb in shows like Shut Up: Flower Boy Band and Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, where each character has a backstory that seems well thought-out even if they’re not prominently featured. A true synergy among characters is the basis for any great ensemble cast, and Bachelor’s Vegetable Store had all the makings of a good bromantic escapade, with six fresh-faced bachelors on the hard road to success, and hopefully finding friendship along the way.

When we were able to spend time with the Six Pack, they were adorable. Headlined by Tae-yang, the boys find themselves drawn together by chance when they all end up viciously drunk and in the same police station, only to go drinking the moment they’re released. It’s the first in a series of cute moments this ragtag team gets, and it’s a huge tease.

They’ve each got their respective problems that landed them in a bottle of soju in the first place, and it’s their initial drunken meeting that serves as the beginning of their friendship. NAM YOO-BONG (Lee Kwang-soo) functions as the den mother of the group, being the most responsible and most easily guilt-tripped. Outside of the Six Pack he’s a successful young farmer who leads a lonely life, and one who finds himself socially inept with women. I love that it’s clear he’s turned to bromance as a replacement for his spectacular fail of a love life, always the one to be jealous when he’s not treated with more love than the others (because Tae-yang loves all bachelors equally).

My favorite bachelor of the bunch (besides Ultimate Bachelor Tae-yang) was probably LEE CHAN-SOL (Shin Won-ho), an idol trainee who suddenly finds himself thrown out from his company after nine years and no debut due to a hushed scandal. He doesn’t know a lifestyle outside of singing and dancing, and without real world skills he ends up working in a host club before joining Tae-yang. In Chan-sol’s case we had a great instance of the acting elevating the writing. (He has this great moment after working one awful night wherein he looks at the money he made and can barely hold back his tears. I could literally hear his hopes and dreams being crushed in that scene.) So I was happily on board with him for the rest of the drama, and was sad to see less and less of him as time went on.

So with Yoo-bong as the hyung, Chan-sol the petulant newbie, and Tae-yang the glue, we’ve still got YOON HO-JAE (Ji-hyuk), a certifiable genius with a lack of social skills and/or qualities that would make him preferable to big employers. See the running theme here? The only employable one out of the bunch is Yoo-bong, but the time we get to spend with him as a farmer living alone on acres of land goes to prove that his lifestyle wasn’t ideal, either.

Finally, there’s JUNG KI-YOUNG (Sung Ha), who I frankly still don’t know much about. He’s the most random bachelor of the bunch, starting out homeless (all the long hair and facial hair can’t hide the supermodel underneath) before he’s brought under Tae-yang’s wing, given no backstory, and no lines. Quite literally, he’s around for a good number of episodes without saying one word. And when he does have words (and a shave, and a haircut, and some gorgeous) with a light sprinkling of Stock Dark Past #563, no one acknowledges that he never said anything before. It’s sort of like the scriptwriter just decided to give him lines one day, and so it was.

One of the cast members billed as part of the Six Pack is LEE SEUL-WOO (Kim Young-kwang), who I don’t necessarily count because he comes and goes – and unlike the other guys, he probably never considered himself a bachelor in his heart. (Cheesy, but true.) His character was one of the more frustrating excesses of the show, never really adding much and serving when needed as a point of conflict that felt half-baked at best.

In Seul-woo’s case it was probably a writing issue as much as an acting one, since I found him neither endearing (due to how immoral he could be, no matter the supposedly noble reason) or relatable. It was hard to get on board with his first world problems, handled with a severe lack of subtlety needed to make this sort of inherently selfish character likable. It’s as if this actor didn’t know how to reconcile the spoiled man-boy image he presented at the start with this spoiled man-boy image he kept for the remainder of the series. I suppose he should be filed under “what didn’t work,” but since we’re covering the bachelors in this section, it would be a little remiss to keep him out.

And then there’s Maude And then there’s Tae-yang, the shining beacon of the group, the consistently chipper captain leading his vegetable-loving comrades to a war soaked in tomato juice and high on passion fruit. He’s willing to dress in drag if it will sell vegetables, and though we never quite know where he gets all the money he uses for cute costumes, or paint for a vegetable truck, or most of the vegetables, he remains one of the better points of the series.

Unfortunately he’s not given a whole lot to work with, and is forced to remain oblivious to some glaring facts for frustrating lengths of time. He’s also just not given enough time in general as the series goes on, which leaves him as prime fodder for victimhood against Crazy Mom Kang-sun. Unsurprisingly, Tae-yang ends up as too nice of a guy to take a proactive role against the people seeking to unfairly ruin him, and though he could sometimes be a little too textbook perfect, it was nice to have such an honest guy around.

So with a group of characters like that, you’d think that putting them together would be instant comedic and heartfelt gold, right? That’s sort of true for some of the scenes, only sort of not, because that initial sense of character development that tells us about our Six Pack (sans Ki-young, who comes later in the game) stays in the early episodes and never makes a reappearance. The bachelors were plenty cute when they were on screen, but the time allotted to them was short compared to all the time spent on Crazy Mom – so instead of getting tons of shenanigans, oodles of bromantic moments, and a sense of real camaraderie we were left with a skeleton of all those things that could have been, but simply weren’t developed to their full potential.

It’s a shame, all things considered. Sometimes you can only feel so cheated by marketing, although I do feel like we were marketed a much cheerier, much more intense underdog story than the one we were served here. As it stands, the underdog-ness of it all really didn’t feel like that much of a struggle – partially because I couldn’t get that emotionally invested when the bachelors took up such small real estate, and partially because most of the problems relating to our bachelors were surmounted fairly easily. There wasn’t a real sense of drama here, or stakes – there was fun and cute, and in higher doses that could have been enough to save the show.

Along with the bachelors we had a few winning side characters, but once again, the level of underdevelopment was near criminal. I think the characters that were able to shine were those whose actors were able to transcend the material, which is the case with Chan-sol and his supposed older sister, HONG JUNG-AH (Lee Eun) who spends most of the series just being pregnant and adorable. Her role was small, but she made such an impact every time she was on screen as this effervescent and endlessly caring sister/mom to all the boys. If her story, along with theirs, had remained the central focus we could have gotten many more cute moments instead of a teasing of What Could Have Been with all their relationships during the final episode.

And finally, in the list of likable side characters comes JUNG DAN-BI (Park Su-jin), who was an unexpected surprise during the series. I had mostly-negative-skewing preconceptions of her just based on the roles I’d seen Park Su-jin in previously, but perhaps being one of the only honest and nice people in a drama full of liars and schemers helped her out. She didn’t contribute all that much, but she wins points just for being a good gal with a big heart.

 
WHAT DIDN’T WORK

Everything else, including but not limited to the characters inhabiting the makjang half of the story, and mostly consisting of CHOI KANG-SUN (Hwang Shin-hye). It will forever elude me as to why the powers that be took such a potentially winning premise and used it as a tack-on to an uninventive makjang story that wasn’t even good. When you have an evil character who’s built a card house made of lies, it’s either a given that she’s smart enough to maintain that complex web of deception, or that everyone else is blind. In this case, we had the latter.

I’m normally all for villains, I enjoy having them around, and I love it when they’re multifaceted and complex. Good villains will get you to like hating them, great villains will show you flashes of humanity, and epic villains let us see ourselves in them, in what we could be given those same circumstances. Kang-sun falls into none of these categories, and is a character I actually hated to hate, one that was not enjoyable in any form, even as pure check-your-brain-at-the-door entertainment.

As a point of comparison on letting Crazy work for a drama, take the character of Yoon Na-young in Flames of Desire. Her actions could be deplorable, her frame of mind bordering on insanity, her past mired with terrible choices, and her present built on lies – but I loved to hate her, and couldn’t help admiring her sheer resourcefulness. Her complexity led to her entertainment factor, because however extreme she was, I believed in the power of her will and her ability to fool those around her. Here, with Kang-sun, we’re dealing with a severely one-note villain who remained a complete black hole for the story I thought this show was trying to tell. You know, about the bachelor and the vegetables.

There are inevitably going to be depressing moments in a drama, but there’s a difference between being depressed because of a character’s actions and being depressed simply because a character exists. Kang-sun was incredibly frustrating because she couldn’t even be interesting – she had only the same lies to recycle time and time again, and the same tactics to do so. She reeked of desperation from a mile away and in hindsight I see why she had so few scenes with anyone outside of her husband and her daughter, because she was a poor liar and could only fool so many people before we’d call shenanigans. And it seems like it was all just because the drama didn’t trust itself to deliver a winning product based on an winning true story.

I think there also exists a limit of extremes a character needs in order to be taken seriously, and Kang-sun seemed like a melting pot for every villainous thing the drama could think of without excelling at any one in particular. She’s a certifiable lunatic who aids herself in becoming pregnant via dangerous drug injections, and only because she knows her daughter is a sham and wants a real child to cement herself within her husband’s invisible chaebol family. So, pregnant crazy lady with no sense of morality, check.

When she later becomes suicidal as a means of threatening and controlling her daughter, holding a bottle of pills that she’s supposedly ready to take at any moment so her husband doesn’t find out the truth, then we’ve got a suicidal pregnant amoral crazy lady. Check.

When she loses the baby and chooses not to get the surgery to remove the dead fetus so her husband doesn’t find out she’s lost the child, then we’ve got a suicidal pregnant amoral crazy lady walking around with a dead baby rotting in her womb. Check? No thanks. You’ve exceeded my gross-out limit with dead rotting babies inside crazy women, Bachelor’s Vegetable Store. And whoever thought I’d be saying ‘dead rotting babies’ in the same sentence as Bachelor’s Vegetable Store? It’s even weird to type that out. Rest assured that it was weirder, and even more unsettling, to watch. Here’s some happy to break it up:

I feel like that last paragraph pretty much encapsulates why this drama failed on the non-bachelors side of the story, and how that inevitably carried over to whatever good tried to happen in the rest of the show. The simple fact of the matter is that for a show like this, a villain like Kang-sun was unnecessary and no fun. If you’re going to be awful, at least be entertaining – that’s all I ask.

And in the face of that potential lack of relevancy, it’s like the show wanted to make sure she had things to do by just making her crazier and more depraved. But why was any of that necessary when you had Han Tae-yang and his group of merry bachelors? And why, for the love of dramas, was she awarded more screen time than Ji Chang-wook?

After twenty-four episodes, I’m still not sure how I feel about Jin-shim/Ga-on (Wang Ji-hye), who I’ll just call Jin-shim for ease of use. I can understand how a child could make the decisions she did in order to have a family, but as a grown up woman she serves as not only a hypocrite who constantly gives advice about honesty that she wouldn’t ever take herself, and just a big ol’ question mark.

Sure, there’s the fact that she always wants to tell the truth, and intent normally means a great deal. But there comes a point where she can only beg her mother so long to be allowed to tell the truth while still choosing to lie, no matter the reasoning behind it. If there’s anything to appreciate from this mother/daughter relationship it’s that blood is not necessary for family love, something that’s only displayed from Jin-shim’s side (and her father’s), since Kang-sun is incapable of love. Jin-shim’s level of devotion to her mother can be frustrating, but on some level I tried to understand it, simply because her life was one huge lie and that’s worth pity.

This was the first project I’d seen Wang Ji-hye in, and so it makes it difficult to tell if the error lied in the acting, or writing, or both. Unfortunately Jin-shim isn’t written as a winning character, and while I appreciate that we saw this new kind of anti-heroine on the drama landscape, there’s probably a reason as to why characters like her aren’t the norm. She was hard to enjoy, being a consummate liar and all (however much she didn’t want to be), because even when she knew that her lies were making Tae-yang die a little inside, she never really stepped up to the Plate Of Truth until she had no options left. Liking her wasn’t impossible, but it was certainly hard. And I’m not sure if I ever did like her on a fundamental level, but I made peace, if only for her suffering.

Reconciling her love story with Tae-yang was difficult, even knowing the heartbreaking/heartwarming past they possessed, because she brought endless heartache with her. It’s a given that the lead couple will endure hardships on their road to true love, but being invested in both sides of the relationship is the key to caring about the outcome. I never felt that tug of attachment, and strictly speaking, thought she wasn’t worth all the trouble she caused – but you can’t surmount the power of first loves in dramas. Especially not when that love was established with a two-episode backstory.

I’m almost loathe to put Tae-yang’s sister on this list, but it’s less a character fault and more a writing one, since Tae-in was simply given nothing to do. She spent a good deal of her time lying and scheming to try and net herself a chaebol husband, Seul-woo, which is already a hard flag to get behind. She makes herself more useful as she begins to serve as the one great Truth Holder for the drama, but she’s used sparingly and fades into oblivion the rest of the time. She could be fun to have around when she was there, but most of the time she wasn’t. We lost sight of what her goals were by the middle of the series, and a character without goals just tends to float around in obscurity.

Then we had the whole storyline with the chaebol parents, which includes Seul-woo’s mom along with Dan-bi’s dad and his wife. Unnecessary at best and uninteresting at worst, I couldn’t help feeling like these underdeveloped extraneous story lines were taking away from the precious little time our bachelors could have really used.

That’s really the running theme here, as to whether the show would have improved if it paired down some of the excess and focused on what really mattered, instead of trying to sew all the winning formulas of other dramas into this Frankenstein quilt of drama sadness, all the more sad because of the high levels of unexplored potential.

In the end we had some good performances that elevated their source material (the source material being the script in this instance, and not the actual true story on which the drama was based on), but all things considered… It wasn’t really about the bachelor’s vegetable store, was it? And if the best answer I can come up with is “Sometimes, maybe,” then what we have here is a failure to communicate. That failure cost hours that will never be returned, but hopefully I can learn from this time mismanagement and take my bachelors without a secret chaebol swap next time.

 
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79 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. JoAnne

    Great synopsis! I watched the series faithfully, but only really enjoyed the parts where the bachelors were together. I hated Psycho Mom and then got tired of her, by the end. Enough, already. Go away.

    Jin Shim…I felt sorry for her. She got caught up in this web and then – haven’t you ever been in a situation and been afraid of what it would take to extricate yourself? Not just afraid for yourself, but afraid of hurting or harming other people who are important to you. If I had felt like she was staying there to maintain something for herself (beyond the relationship with her parents) then I would have hated her happily – but I never felt like she was in it for material gain. She just didn’t want to lose a mother or hurt a father she adored. So that earned her some sympathy votes from me.

    • 1.1 Moll

      How did it actually end? Could someone post a spoiler in white text or something? I’m curious. :)

    • 1.2 alove

      Both Jin Shim and Tae Yang annoyed me throughout the series. Now that it’s done, all I can remember is both of them crying (over and over and over and over and over….). I so desperately missed the Wang Ji Hye from Protect the Boss.

      I’m surprised I watched this one to the end because there were a lot of episodes where I just felt angry that I wasted my time watching it. I couldn’t help it though, I believed it’d get better. Lol.

  2. Llamaesque

    Well, there’s one less show on my to-watch list. Excellent and instructive recap of a sinking ship!. ;)

  3. Mystisith

    I agree with you Heads. That show has the key to let you with undefined feelings. They could have done clever makjang, using the professional environment and the life of the bachelors. In fact, i think we didn’t need crazy mom and pinocchio daughter (but i suppose they need to give parts to actresses, so they come with those lame recycled characters). There was enough angsty and sad material to explore with the boys’s lives. Well, there should have been. The idol kid, the silent justicier, even the “giraffe”. I wanted so much to see them more on my screen, to learn about their past. And it’s frustrating, because we could only use our imagination to do so.
    Now, everyone needs to know: cherkell and i are the new owners of the veggie store which looks like an English greenhouse. Seriously, if i ever go to SK one day, i want to see that building (architecture porn??). That store and the wooden truck are really like fantasy objects coming from Disneyworld. In the end, i suppose i will stay with a warm feeling, i will erase the bad memories.
    One thing is sure, i want to see those boys on my screen again. :)

  4. cv

    Well said. They really did misrepresent what this drama was all about. I was pissed but stayed with it just for the lead bachelor. ^^

  5. Ani

    Aaaaaaaaw, Kwangvatar! He was the den mother? Too cute. Too bad this is one ride I just can’t get on, even for him. Makjang is just not me cup of tea.

    • 5.1 JoAnne

      He has a cute little side romance that turns bad but ends up well, but even with that he didn’t have much screen time.

      • 5.1.1 Ani

        Really? Now I’m at a loss. Do I watch it or not? I wouldn’t mind seeing Kwangvatar romancing it up, at the same time, is it worth it with the small screen time he gets and with the drama being the wreck that it seems to be? Hmmmm….

        • 5.1.1.1 Ani

          JoAnne,

          So I watched the last episode for BVS just for shits and giggles… and Kwangvatar of course. He was all around adorable and in some ways very manly. I luff him. I hope he will be in another drama soon where I’m interested enough in the drama so I can watch him grow as an actor.

        • 5.1.1.2 JoAnne

          He was sweet AND manly, I agree. I liked Silent Bob a lot, too, but the whole Noona-Idol baby thing was kind of icky, only because to me he looked about 16.

          • 5.1.1.2.1 Ani

            That one actually surprised me. Spoilers for final episode ahead – so funny since it’s the only episode I’ve seen. I was wondering who the father was when the rushed the “noona” to the hospital, and then this little kid shows up and this is me “Huh? He’s the dad?” My guess is his age was in the 20s, but he still looked like a High School kid t me. But it’s fine with me as long as (1) he’s legal and (2) it’s a mutual/consensual relationship. Noona power for the win? I don’t know. But seeing Kwangvatar not always getting picked on and being a hyung was fun. His relationship with the lady seemed open ended in the end, especially since it seems like they were saying their good byes. My hope is that, in the world of untold stories out there, Kwangvatar does get the girl. ^^

  6. gummimochi

    Awesome awesome series review! Sorry that ut turned out to be everything that ut wasn’t *imagines the possibility of bromance* what a shame. Ew, I think dead rotting baby fetus earned itself a badge of Most Disgusting Makjang Plot Point. -.-

    Anyway, thought this review was great! :)

    • 6.1 PrissyPoo

      Ditto gummimochi… This review is like a mindreader plugging a typewriter in my head! Well said…

      Yeah, ‘dead rotting baby fetus’ definitely earned itself a badge of Most Disgusting Mekjang Plot Point. It’s sickening but so funny and to the point!

      Such a waste with those bachelors… Too bad!

  7. Karen

    I was actually gonna watch this show but now I’m glad I didn’t go there thank you!

  8. Sunshine

    kinda hesitating now that i read this review, i mean i had a gut feeling that it wouldnt be what i will expect! o well i only wanted to see this because of wang ji hye, love her in protect the boss! and ji chang wook and lee kwang soo

  9. Sabah

    Excellent review. Excellent positive criticism. I had wanted to stick with this one, for it had so much potential (I had intended it for it to be my ‘rebound’ drama after I had become disappointed whilst ‘romancing’ moon,) but I just couldn’t see past the forest for the green leaves on beautiful trees. I guess it might be my own loss, though.

    This has to be one of my favourite quotes ever, “Good villains will get you to like hating them, great villains will show you flashes of humanity, and epic villains let us see ourselves in them, in what we could be given those same circumstances.” So profound and insightful. Thank you.

  10. 10 cherkell

    There be spoilers ahead… :)

    Awesome piece of work, my dear! Emphasis on the “work” part, because if time goes on and I have to treat recapping a drama like working on a graduate dissertation instead, it becomes no fun anymore. This Show definitely fell under the category of “What Might Have Been If Not Screwed With Too Much.” Kang-sun’s ‘screaming harpy’ character has been done sooo much better in other dramas, and I still could not get behind the casting of Wang Ji-hye (although I was much happier to see this OTP with a little bit more emotional substance than JCW’s last one ::coughWoodenLogcough:: ) I chalked up the Jin-shim character to a classic case of Stockholm Syndrome, but down the stretch, even I was slamming down my mouse in frustration. I too wanted more interaction between Our Absworthy Bachelors, but as time went on, their relationship took a backseat to way more makjang than is humanely possibly to absorb.

    Saying all that, my friends in Korea that did watch were eating it up!! I asked them why a show with such star power as this one only averaged a .525% rating (with it actually slipping over 1% for a brief time during Episode 19), and they surmised it was because of its cable broadcasting. When you’ve got the Big Three in virtually every home in Korea and an unemployment rate of over 5% (which is high for such a small country), no one has the money to pay for the extras like cable. They were watching the Show on their phones because it was cheaper to purchase a one-time VOD subscription, fer chrissakes!! Not a recipe for success, ne?

    On the technical side, you could definitely tell this was a show that Channel A invested heavily in the cinematography, sets and props. 4M Won A DAY just to stock the store with veggies for those shoots? Yowza! And there were several times watching the beautiful Yangpyeong scenery made my mind check out just long enough… only to be jolted back into Shrieking Mom Theatre Time again. What they *didn’t* invest in was promotion — talk about my having to pull teeth just to gather up any publicity/news/photos/etc. on this production. It’s almost like the PD-nim wanted to keep it his own little secret!

    But I digress. The hyungs!! MY BABIES!!! Those scenes of them together (especially the pojangmacha escapade in Episode 4) will be what I most remember from this Show. That’s why the finale left such a bitter taste — nothing was really wrapped up to anyone’s satisfaction. Whatever happened to Yoo-bong and Seo-young’s budding relationship? Did Chan-sol ever make it to the Big Time Idol World? How did Tae-yang get the store back in a little over year (did they really sell enough gogumas to make enough money to buy it outright)? (Although that four-seasons timeline was a novel way of handling the standard KDR time-jump — kudos to the writers for that at least.) Did Fake Dad ever give his approval to allow Tae-yang and Jin-shim to produce their own little set of veggies, if you catch my drift? DAMMIT DAMMIT DAMMIT!! I’ll just make up my own ending in my mind and live with that instead…

    And my Wookiekins brought it, going through so much pain and suffering on his part. Is it getting to be so commonplace that almost every drama shot these days has to go through a car accident or someone going to the hospital (or in his case, both)? Sheesh. But I’m happy to see that he’s taking a self-imposed drama hiatus to rest up and heal his face… and carefully consider the bunches of scripts being thrown his way now. Granted, I’d watch him read the phone book, but he took a major chance with BVS that could have derailed his career. Choose wisely next time, Young Wookstalker… ;)

    P.S. Yeah, what Mysti says… the deed to the Store has already been transferred into our names. I’ve got my bags packed and passport ready — I’ll see you at the airport, sweetie. :)

    • 10.1 HeadsNo2

      Heal his face? Did something happen to his beautiful visage?

      • 10.1.1 Mystisith

        Hopefully reversible damages, a few stitches and bruises. But what a scare!
        http://www.soompi.com/news/bachelors-vegetable-store-ji-chang-wook-involved-in-a-car-accident.

        • 10.1.1.1 cherkell

          LOL I thought you guys knew!! Didn’t you hear my screams all over the world when I found out?!? :D

          • 10.1.1.1.1 Linda165

            I found out because of your Tumblr.

        • 10.1.1.2 Jjoo

          @mystisith i found this out from you posting at star koreandrama.org & i was surprised that JB or DB didn’t cover that news at that time!

  11. 11 ruky

    I was disappointed that Ji Chang wook took this role. His character in Beak dong soo has been my favorite so far. I was hoping he will take more challenging role.

  12. 12 myra

    is there a new drama after this one? this week..?

    • 12.1 cherkell

      Channel A is running something called “PD X-File” at the old BVS timeslot, which is not a drama (and I really can’t find much on this show in order to expound upon it). The only other non-talk-show offerings are all on the weekends (“Ultimate K-Pop Challenge,” and a new drama that started last night (17 March) called “Immortal Classic” (불후의 명작 / Boolhooui Myeongjak), which sounds like a total ripoff of “Fermentation Family” (“A kimchi-themed drama where two families battle for pride and prestige in a cooking competition. One family runs a restaurant, while the other contains a line of respected chefs.”). Hmpf.

  13. 13 loool

    i actually really loved this drama. The concept of similar to Baker Kim Tak Gu. I think it’s just the whole “Vegetable” thing was off putting it off to everybody. theres so much more to this drama.

    • 13.1 Crystal

      Same here, I really did enjoy this drama and thought it wasn’t as bad as everyone thought it was. But the Crazy Mom plot was annoying and was getting old, but in the ending, I wish they made it more clear on there time skip (?) and what happened everyone.

  14. 14 Suzi Q

    I watched it because of Ji Chang Wook whom I liked in Smile Donghae. His Baek Dong Soo was so so, and this one I watched fora few episodes.
    I agree with your recap. This one lost me after a couple of episodes, and I threw in the towel. His career is going down hill with his choice of bad dramas. I hope he can pick a role next time which is better than this dull mess. Didn’t like the characters nor the stupid plot.
    Switched and watched BRAIN instead which was well worth my time spent.

    • 14.1 cherkell

      (Sitting at computer… getting up, pacing in front of computer… taking a sip of tea… sitting down in front of computer again… doing deep breathing calming exercises… taking another sip of tea… holding fingers over keyboard, and…)

      I respect your opinion, but “career going down hill’ is really a poor choice of words. So what JCW picked a dud this time around? They could have said the same thing about his role in “Hero” too. If you look back, did Hyun Bin or Rain or Kim Soo Hyun (to use a more recent example) always score a home run with each and every drama they were cast in? And WBDS is *still* being watched and actively talked about to this day, even five months after the last episode aired last October — far from “bad” in my eyes!

      All the praise the Korean critics are giving him for being the shining star in this series, and several other drama and endorsement offers piling up on his consideration plate, leads far away from the suggestion that Changwook-ssi’s headed to a Home Shopping Network Host role next because BVS (allegedly) didn’t do well. If anything, I have even more respect for such a young talent having the balls to take a chance on an untested cable network, because he could have gone the safe route and stuck to one of the Big Three Networks instead.

      I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. ;)

  15. 15 kbap

    Wish there were less (best if none) makjang elements, more bachelor boys. Sort of like FBB. That’s what I wanted. Couldn’t you give me that much, Drama Gods? (oh wait. Did I ask for too much, after writing a letter to Santa? About FBB? sorry…I’ll be a good girl next year. I meant this year. I promise.)

  16. 16 WM

    You took my scrambled thoughts and put them into coherent order…thank you. I found myself fast forwarding through this show more than I have ever done. It was disappointing to see that the show wasn’t about the struggle of a group of young men trying to live a dream, but about a crazy mom story that could have easily been scrapped, and not been missed. So much potential with the bachelor’s, their possible struggles, their funny schemes, their supporters and detractors (sans nutty momma), yet that potential was never met, and was in fact tossed onto the cutting room floor. I was very disappointed, and even found myself skipping full episodes because I just couldn’t take it. I watched for the bachelors and their shop, and for nothing else.

  17. 17 dramafever

    Going into this with Ji Chang Wook and Wang Ji Hye (supposedly) leading the cast, I had high hopes simply because of how immensely popular and awesome both of their previous works were(Ji with Warrior Baek Dong Soo and Wang with Protect The Boss), but I was greatly disappointed after only the 2nd episode because I saw the actual direction this drama was heading towards.

    Sadly, I couldn’t quite connect with the series and half the time I was just frustrated with the amount of fast-forwarding that I had to do to get pass the Makjang-from-hell plot to see our adorable boys. I agree with Heads on the frustrating amount of could-have-beens that this drama deprived us of and for that, it is hard to forgive(even if you flash me somemore of delicious Tae Yang which you did not).

    I guess if both the leads haven’t came from two seriously great dramas, I would have given the drama the benefit of blaming the actors a little but it has been proven that both of them are some of the finer up and comers to have wasted these talents(especially Wang with that frustratingly unlikable character) is really sad.

  18. 18 bjharm

    hmm sounds i did a good job in skipping it..lol

  19. 19 Ris

    Thanks for the review! Like WM said, you put coherence, and humor, to my thoughts.

    *slight spoilers* It killed me when they wrote off Chan-sol; he was my favorite bachelor. I gave the drama waaaay too much credit when he left. I thought for sure the writing would have him him deal with his demons before he came back, like they did with Ho-jae…but alas. I liked Spunky Little Sister when she was sticking up for herself and others, and not so much when the writers got confused about her. My takeaway is that Park Su-jin was surprisingly (at least to me) likable, Gwang-soo may never leave his sad-sack variety image behind (but it’s fun and funny), and Ji Chang-wook is cute. In fact, Ji Chang-wook may be the only thing that kept me around, along with the promise of delivery room hijinks.

  20. 20 Stacey

    I seriously can’t believe I wasted a total of pretty much a day of my life watching this drama. I agree with you on pretty much everything. Dam Bi and Ki Young were my two favourite characters and I liked the pregnant noona too. The other bachelors had their moments and we definitely didn’t see enough of Chan Sol and we definitely saw way too much of Crazy Non-Pregnant Mum. Jin Shim was incredibly infuriatingly annoying beyond belief.

  21. 21 malta

    “You’ve exceeded my gross-out limit with dead rotting babies inside crazy women, Bachelor’s Vegetable Store.”

    OMG…I’m glad I stopped at episode 4.

    speechless.

  22. 22 alua

    You just reminded me that tomorrow is Monday and Shut Up Flower Boy Band time! Last two episodes.

    Of course, that doesn’t have anything to do with Bachelors’ Vegetable Store.

    … which sounds so-so. 24 episodes is a bit long, so I’m not sure if I’m willing to invest that much time with your lukewarm overall review.

    Wang Ji-hye, by the way, rocked in Protect the Boss. Apparently she also starred in 1% of Anything (which I never finished watching and I can’t remember much about) and Personal Preference (can’t remember her in it). Neither of which means anything, just that her character in Protect the Boss very much endeared herself to me and that’s why I remember her from there.

    • 22.1 JoAnne

      In Personal Preference she was the Evil Friend.

  23. 23 Elle

    I also was one of the few faithful that stuck it out every week on Drama Fever until the end. What hooked me in were the child actors in the first few episodes. JCW did a great job considering what the story line ended up being as did the other bachelors. Jin Shim character was so spineless and “deer in the headlights” looks were just too many to count. I just sighed each time I saw it. Crazy Mom exhausted me as well. Too bad, so sad… it wasn’t better. There were some good moments. I thought the scenery and technical aspects of the series were great. Too bad the story fell short, darn it!

  24. 24 John

    The wife and I stopped watching this at Ep 5 or 6 , The persimmon festival ep. The crazy mom was just a a little too crazy and creepy.

  25. 25 Jimbo

    That moment in the 2nd episode where the crazy mom hijacks an orphan girl into being her fake daughter made me do a 360 and moonwalk my way out, fast.

    So I’d been wondering if it would be worth picking up again, and reading this review makes me happy that I didn’t really stick with it. Makjang isn’t to my taste to begin with but wow, bad makjang? Good riddance.

    Shame about such a wasted concept.

  26. 26 Robin

    Thank you so much for watching the entire series and giving a wrap up. I checked out at episode 9 and couldn’t go back. I wanted to but there was just too much crazy and that Jin-shim was pissing me off. I couldn’t bear sacrificing another hour.

  27. 27 Bamsa

    I also watched the whole series despite loosing the grip somewhere during the middle of the series. The show could have been much more but just revolved around one crazy ajhumma… :(

    • 27.1 Jjoo

      that’s exactly what i’ve been thinking, if they didn’t have too much of the crazy ajumma and more of the romance dept. with Ji chang & Jin shim or whatever her name is this drama would probably be more interesting! if i recall tae yang wasn’t directly to be blamed for this ajumma’s daughter’s death anyway but she was determined to ruin him one way or the other!

  28. 28 Cynthia

    Well, if BVS has taught me anything, it’s to never judge a book by its cover. All that pre-production fairy dust swirling around those healthy, shiny batchelor abs, abs that lived in Happy Vegetable Land, was beyond deceptive. They did it to lure us in, never revealing that CrazyCakes Mommy was hiding in her dark corner just waiting to destroy our joy over and over with her makjang hammer.

    JCW’s character really was a male ‘Candi’ – why he didn’t just toss CrazyCakes off the wharf I’ll never know, and yes, HeadsNo2, how DID he get the money all those times?! Urk – I hate sloppy writing!

    My biggest disappoint really was Wang Ji-hye – first because I didn’t like her being cast opposite JCW (she just skews older than him) and secondly, because she had just come off her sparkling turn as IceCream Girl in PtB. She was wonderful there – sweet, bitchy, vulnerable & contrite.
    All of that was gone in BVS – it was just lies and tears. And more tears. And stares. Lots of silent staring.

    Oh, well. The BVS writer(s) screwed all of us over – viewers and cast alike. I know I’ll never look at vegetables in the same way again – especially cucumbers.

    R.I.P., BVS. I’ll think of what you could have been. Rock-hard abs cavorting in a sunny, grassy field, water hose going wild and joyous laughter floating in the wind……
    :)

    • 28.1 Linda165

      “Male candy” is a spot on description!

    • 28.2 Shiku

      Why cucumbers?

      • 28.2.1 JoAnne

        OH, Shiku…we were very, very naughty while waiting for this drama to start.

        • 28.2.1.1 cherkell

          Ah, those were such good times… let’s just jump into our Time Machines and go back to those days, ne?

          • 28.2.1.1.1 Cynthia

            **sigh**

            Our Happy Place….

            :)

          • 28.2.1.1.2 Linda165

            With Idol Bachelors with guyliner instead of ponies and rainbows… How cute!!
            What? No? Wrong happy place?

          • 28.2.1.1.3 Mystisith

            @ Linda165: Not the same Happy Place, but yours seems nice too… In dramaland time and space don’t work in the usual way… We can enjoy both at the same time! :)

          • 28.2.1.1.4 cherkell

            It definitely was a much more simpler time back then… http://tinyurl.com/6naw4dq

          • 28.2.1.1.5 Linda165

            Pow! That link… works every. single. time.

          • 28.2.1.1.6 JoAnne

            Maybe we’ll find naughtiness with the Teletubby Josean Rangers.

            And hopefully heat with King 2 Hearts because they look like a baking powder volcano’s worth of chemistry, to me.

  29. 29 asianromance

    Thanks for for the wonderful review! I was curious about this drama though I dropped it when the mom turned out to be a psycho and the real daughter was killed. I’m sad that it ended up focusing on the crazy mom for so much of the series. Looking at your screencaps here, the bachelors are hot! Maybe I should just find out when all their scenes occur and just watch them.

    I’ve watched Wang Ji-hye in a few things (one drama in which she was a hateful second lead and another drama in which she was probably the most endearing second female lead in all of kdrama history) and I found her to be a decent actress. And I heard she was really good in “Friend, Our Legend”. Sad that she didn’t do so well in this drama. But then again, her character here doesn’t seem so likable anyways.

  30. 30 crazedlu

    my dear ji chang wook. :’( please choose a better project next. i shall be waiting.

  31. 31 Linda165

    Thanks for the review Heads! I pretty much agree with you on everything. I watched the whole thing, but I think this one could have been a 16 episodes drama.
    As much as I loved the Bachelors, I just couldn’t bring myself to relate to Jin Shim. I think she was just an awful person. Sorry.
    Question: As a regular contributor to this blog, when are we going to see your drama ratings?? Please add them to JB and GF’s. I’d love to see how you rate my favorite and and my no favorite dramas :)

  32. 32 Arishia

    BVS is the worst k-drama I’ve seen so far, and I’ve seen hundreds. If I had to write about this drama I wouldn’t even know where to start, so much doesn’t work. Someone could write their doctoral thesis on everything that was wrong with this one. That said, the kids episodes went along smoothly up until the moment when Jin Shim decides to abandon Tae Yang and adopt herself to the screeching suicidal woman with slit wrists in the bathtub full of blood. (I actually looked at the tags to see if it was listed as Horror.) After that incomprehensible choice (within the context of the story) it was impossible for me to look back at the leads’ early life nostalgically, and hope it could be recovered.
    Anyway… good job politely recapping this patchwork big budget train wreck.

  33. 33 Sami

    i followed this drama to the end coz i was waiting for the fulfillment of seeing the bachelors store succeed, and how. i suffered through all of the illogical shenanigans of crazy mom to see it but i was so sadly disappointed. i maybe able to forgive so much screentime to crazy mom if i had gotten it, but now i want my 24-hours back.

    and much as i hated crazy mom and her multi-colored nail polish (which really distracted me…), i hate Jin-shim’s character the most. coz mom is crazy but JS should have been the sympathetic one. can’t understand how she can profess love for our hero yet betray him each and every time until the end. the only time she turned to him was at the end but by then, she didn’t really have much choice. i was rooting for him to go with the other girl coz JS sure didn’t deserve Tae-Yang’s devotion.

    this review was at-point at its accessment. there is a lot of other stories within this drama that should have gotten emphasis and had a lot of potential but went down the drain. and there is a lot of loose thread that never really got tied down simply because they focused so much on the least-entertaining to watch — crazy mom! ugh… such a waste of potential.

  34. 34 colleen

    After viewing some recent dramas with real initial & exciting promise and subsequently falling short –staggering…dragging themselves to the finish line, I’ve concluded that there ARE indeed good story lines out there to be mined, however the failings are with the screenplay /writers who somehow manage to fall far short in realizing the promised fruit to be gleaned. This drama could have been salvaged beyond the trite formula path it fell into, but it’s as though the writers tuned out and hit the ‘been there done that’ auto button. I thought the actors did a yeoman’s job in spite of what was given to them to perform. In my opinion, ..screenwriters bailed out mid-stream. Big Yawn…

  35. 35 Patty K.

    I did watch the entire series and I was very disappointed that the story did not stay focused of how he became successful with multiple stores. I wanted to watch this series to learn about a “success” story and what I felt I got was a story about the evil mom getting away with everything…

  36. 36 ninji

    Oh, I feel so bad for you, Heads. It probably took a lot of energy watching this and then some extra patience and energy to write this review. Thank you so much – I read the whole thing, even the dead baby thing. Glad I decided not to watch this.

  37. 37 daniela

    Me tooo!!!!! I was so dissapointed about this drama. For many episodes I just kept on waiting the action, but there was only crazy mom (now I read about a dead baby still inside her – wow, wow! so glad I didn’t finished.)

    Ga On or JS – the actresses was in Protect the boss, not to important role there, to big here, she acts the same on happy / sad moments (looks like crying all the time).

    JCW’s character? they lost it somewhere in Never-land.
    I hope I’ll see him in another drama or movie soon (but in a good drama, like WBDS, please!)

  38. 38 seattlebabe

    I agree that the drama about the bachelor’s vegetable story is merely the icing on the cake . The cake is mostly about ambitions,hunger for power or a piece of it and to use whatever it takes to get there (deception mainly and crudely executed manipulation).You have several layers of these.

    I was waiting for the drama to exploit the aspect of the small time entrepreneurial business expanding outside of the tentacles of big business as was kind of promised at the beginning .It did not happen.

    Though I like the side stories of the bachelors outside of the lead and I was okay with the idea of not having tight ending of their personal lives, but I wanted to see how else they contributed outside of the everyday retail side.

  39. 39 Jjoo

    “As for the story itself, we’ve got our hero, HAN TAE-YANG (Ji Chang-wook), on his journey to become a successful vegetable store owner. If only the story remained focused on his journey and the Six Pack of bachelors, then this series could have been so much more. As it was, the flashes we got of the Six Pack were promising and fun, but tended to play such a second fiddle to the Crazy Mom Drama that I began to wonder if the entire series premise was a marketing mishap.”

    I do agree with DB on comment above, i was enjoying this drama until that crazy mother got so much into this & i almost lost interest in continuing if not for the bachelors esp JCW! the ending wasn’t what i expected either! oh well there we go for spending 24 hrs but i must admit it was addictive!

  40. 40 Jomo

    I skipped the kid episodes and went right with the adult ones. It seemed cute for a while; I got to the part where they had to sell ugly but delicious apples.

    LEE SEUL-WOO (Kim Young-kwang) character was the deal breaker for me. WHY WAS HE SCREAMING ALL THE TIME? Why didn’t the director reel that one in?

  41. 41 Laica

    This drama might have been full of crap, but your review is full of WIN. You had me laughing out loud with your hilarious descriptions of its various failures.

    Also, thank you for watching a bad drama so the rest of us didn’t have to. (At least you got some fun snark out of it?)

    Always love to read your writing. :)

  42. 42 WhatHasBecomeOfUs

    I don’t think a rotting dead baby in the womb is a bad thing in and of itself. I think a defter writer could make a cool story from that.

  43. 43 Nikki

    Can anyone please tell me the song that plays during the opening credits of BVS? Who sings the song? Any help would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks:)

  44. 44 matz

    which is why i always fastforward every scene that includes crazy mom. gah. i hate her.

  45. 45 TaDah.

    I disagree with all the bad reviews. Have a cupful of patience and you’ll see that BVS is really a great drama. The first two episodes were captivating, and until you reach 8 or 9 it is boring, but after you reach that checkpoint you keep wanting to go.

    The show actually flowed very nicely, and although Jin Shim pissed me off by being so spineless, she really does pull through. The soundtrack to this drama is amazing, the mom’s acting was downright stunning. Don’t let dead babies scare you away, it really isn’t weird how it’s used in the drama. EVERYBODY hates the crazy mom.

    Forgive me for anybody that I offend, but I think a big issue with this drama wasn’t the drama itself but the demeanor of the people watching it. It is a frustrating drama, but that’s the good of it. If you have an open mind and an ounce of patience, this is easily one of the best dramas you will ever see. So what if it isn’t ALL about a vegetable store? The insane mother gets you riled up, but that’s why you KEEP watching it, to see her get put down. All the characters besides Jin Shim/Ga On and Kang Sun are adorable and lovable in their own way, so please, watch this drama! Be patient with things and use your anger at people to keep you going, haha. The ending is to die for, and I promise you it will leave you with happy things inside your tummy!

  46. 46 Cbullydogs

    i’m on ep 7.. So frustrating how Han Tae Yang and Jin Shim works together, flirt, and do stuff together.. AND STILL manages to not even ask for each others names. way too many cons, bout to call it quits.

    first 2 episodes was the only thing worth it for me..

    • 46.1 Wendilynn

      yeah, I couldn’t get past that either. After everything they’ve done together, you’d think names would have been exchanged. Especially after the persimmons festival. Who doesn’t tell their names in that situations?!!

  47. 47 Wendilynn

    Thanks for the heads up. I’m 9 episodes in and just can’t stick with it. I love the bachelor storyline. The rest makes no sense as to why they are there.

    I just don’t have enough interest in crazy mom to keep watching if its sacrificing the six pack story. Which is sad because the initial 4 that I’m hooked to really have some excellent chemistry. Its a shame to know its not used more.

    Speaking of epic villains, I want to point out two that qualify. One you hate which is our nut from King 2 hearts. Talk about twisted. And then one you love which is our nut from I Miss You. Whose story makes your heart break. Both get satisfying endings for their characters as far as the audience is concerned.

  48. 48 kimchi pop

    I agree, thanks for the heads up (no pun intended). I started to watch it and came here for recaps because I needed to know if it was going to pan out. Thanks for saving me hours that I can spend watching something else. I used to not be able to quit a show early on always hoping that the tide would turn for the better but I have no qualms now about just quitting a show and starting something else. I love DB because I can just come here and quickly read recaps of shows I just can’t bear to sit and watch. What would I do without DB??!!!

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