Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching
by DB Staff
It’s a new year, although we haven’t been hit with any brand-new shows yet. (That’ll be for later this month—everybody brace yourselves for a sudden influx of material!) After last week’s year-end pre-emptions resulted in a paltry drama airing schedule, it was a bit of a relief to get a full slate this week, though maybe even a little overwhelming. Not that it’s a challenge I’m not up to accepting! –javabeans
Currently recapping: Legend of the Blue Sea, The Lonely Shining Goblin
Hwarang: I’m loving this love triangle, and I’m going to enjoy it for as long as I can (which is to say, until it gets painful for the odd man out). It’s not a love triangle where both guys have an equal shot at the leading lady’s heart, because it’s pretty clear where her feelings are heading, but because of the setup—the boys being Hwarang-mates, the hero having to act like he’s her brother—it keeps us in that fun realm of petty jealousy and budding romance. I love Park Seo-joon and Park Hyung-shik together, which reminds me a bit of the reluctant bonding between Goblin and Reaper, which is always super entertaining.
Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: While I wouldn’t say that the medicine is what keeps me glued to this show (not when there are such interesting characters and satisfyingly hateable antagonists), I have to say that this show does a remarkable job of making the medical cases compelling. I don’t necessarily care about the surgeries or illnesses on their own merits, but they’re very well-utilized in playing up a character beat or plot conflict, and the way the surgeries are filmed reminds me of fight scene choreography—just as you can have a clunky fight scene with zero impact and ineffective editing, you can also have them elevated with skillful cuts and directing, and this drama feels like the latter. There’s a narrative rhythm to the surgery scenes, and I’m surprised with how engaging I’m finding them.
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: I have never minded that Joon-hyung was the sweet, mature emotional support system for Bok-ju, and that he was the one always providing help, but it was so gratifying to see that when Joon-hyung was the one to need the support, Bok-ju became his rock. I loved that she offered him unconditional love and support, and once she’d seen that he was fine, she also gently pointed out where he’d also gone wrong and made sure he wouldn’t act in ways he’d regret later. There’s a real art to knowing just how much to guide someone without pushing or having that advice backfire, and she struck that note perfectly—and with such a natural ease that it only made extra-clear how awesome they work together.
Father, I’ll Take Care of You: I managed—barely!—with that one measly episode we got last weekend, and was watching it both excitedly and with anxious glances at the clock, worried about time running out. I rarely want episodes to be longer, but there are so many characters in this show that every episode feels like such a tease. At least we did get plenty of gratifying moments between Sung-joon and Dong-hee, and I absolutely love his reaction to her gentle refusal to pursue their relationship: He respects her stance, but that doesn’t mean he’ll stop being nice to her or looking after her or buying her coffee. I totally understand where she’s coming from, because while he’s very cute and they both acknowledge their feelings, it makes sense for her to need to focus on her life right now, which requires her full attention. And there he is, being sweet and accepting, all, Okay, I won’t push. I’ll just be standing riiiiight over here… hanging out… in case you need me.
Oh My Geum-bi: This show has a heart of pure gold. All of its messages are so positive without dipping into the saccharine, which makes it the single most heartfelt drama I’ve ever watched. While terminal illness stories aren’t anything new, there was always something that rang kind of manipulative when the show would be about romance and death, as though impending doom was just a tool used to make the romance seem sweeter. But Oh My Geum-bi is doing something completely different in focusing its story around one little girl and all the adults who love her, and each side character—even the doctor, for pete’s sake—feels fully fleshed out, with abundant stories to tell. It’s a show that confronts insanely difficult questions about mortality, especially with children, and deals with real issues like the resentment that can come from caring for a sick person, no matter how much you love them. I just love every single thing about it, but I’m not sure I’m ready for what the end will bring.
Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim: Everything in this show has led to One Surgery, and even though that surgery is now over, everything seems to be revolving around the repercussions of that One Surgery. I’m liking the show week to week fine enough, but the overarching story is still lost on me, and I’m beginning to wonder if one even exists. If it doesn’t, that won’t be the biggest crime ever committed—at least the show is entertaining, even if the constant influx of medical disasters can get a bit repetitive.
Hwarang: Well, if there ever was a lesson on not judging a drama by its promo posters, this is it. I feel a little sheepish since I was one of those people who thought Hwarang would be worse than Moon Lovers, but that just goes to show how a director can really tank a show if left to his own devices. Hwarang succeeds where Moon Lovers failed not by being more profound, but just by virtue of having narrative focus. It knows the story it wants to tell and is telling it, which is one of those essential pieces of the puzzle Moon Lovers seemed to be missing. It’s not an especially new story or even a very engaging one, but at least it’s picking up, and is a fun enough diversion every week.
The Lonely Shining Goblin: I’ve always had the attention span of a tweaking gnat (and the memory of a goldfish to go along with it), but I don’t think it’s just a matter of me dragging my feet to watch almost three hours of a single show each week that’s got me thinking twice about hitting the play button. If we filled all that time with nonstop content, then I think we wouldn’t keep having this discussion about length—after all, I don’t remember feeling put upon when Signal ran extra long episodes. And it’s not that Goblin is at all unenjoyable, but that it meanders just a little too long on every beat when it could be zipping right along through its fun, fantastical world. The whole ski lodge sequence was kind of bizarre, and paired with the gratuitous Subway that week, I sometimes get the feeling that this show keeps padding its time to sell us more products. But even so, Reaper is still adorable, which makes me think that Lee Dong-wook works best when he’s not having to carry an entire show on his shoulders.
Legend of the Blue Sea: I’m enjoying this show, even if some aspects of the reincarnation storyline confuse me. While watching this show with my mom over the holidays, the highest form of discussion we had was about Lee Min-ho’s handsomeness or me wanting all the pajamas Jeon Ji-hyun wears. And you know what? That’s okay.
Night Light: I feel like I’m supposed to be disappointed that Yi-kyung is unrepentantly marching down the eeeeeeevil path of diabolical revenge, but honestly I just want her to knock even more heads together and become the boss of everything, everyone, everywhere. And for her and Se-jin to kiss already.
The Lonely Shining Goblin: I’ve renamed this show The Adorably Fastidious Reaper because that’s literally the only reason I’m watching (well, it’s really 92% for Reaper, 8% for those few seconds of Lee El each week). Who cares about a moody Goblin’s sword when there’s a pouty-faced Reaper desperately needing business cards?
Solomon’s Perjury: This is my favorite show airing right now, so thank goodness there are more episodes this week because that preemption hiatus nearly killed me. Er, maybe that was a bad choice of words, but even if it did nearly kill me, I’d trust Seo-yeon to find out who was truly responsible for my drama near-death.
Hwarang: If this was a straight-up modern-day high school drama I probably would have bowed out after the first episode. Instead, I’m utterly delighted by the historical setting (hilarious anachronisms and all). While I was expecting it to be goofy (and I’m glad it is!), I’m also pleasantly surprised to see that there’s a thread of depth and potential for serious (and earned) character growth. All the boys are predictably pretty eye-candy, but I’m more excited to have Go Ara back on my screen, especially since I’m convinced Ah Ro is just Silla’s version of Answer Me 1994’s Na-jung.
Currently recapping: Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim
Hwarang: The whole Park Seo-joon/Go Ara/Park Hyung-sik faux-incest love triangle reminds me so much of Autumn in My Heart’s Song Seung-heon/Song Hye-kyo/Won Bin relationship that I get deja vu chills every two seconds. And the chorus of the OST song, “Dream,” has that old school-style melody that takes me years back to my early drama-watching days. Well, I know one thing hasn’t changed — then, like now, I boarded the doomed second lead ship. All there’s left to do is wait for the delicious but painful sinking.
The Lonely Shining Goblin: Nooo! I’m having a W–Two Worlds dilemma: I loved this show so much at the beginning that I don’t want to give up on it, but now I’m getting bored by its draggy pace that I don’t know if it’s worth the time anymore. Last week, I confess I committed the cardinal drama sin of only watching the last ten minutes. And when I went back to read the recap, I realized that nothing of importance actually happened. Why show why!?
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju: You know those days when the whole world seems to be conspiring against you: you fail your exam, your supervisor yells at you, and to top it all off, your coffee arrives cold and grainy? I swear Weightlifting Fairy is the cure to most, if not all your troubles. In just a few minutes, your bleak mood will be lifted by the cute chemistry of the OTP, and soon, the trivial day-to-day annoyances will fade from your mind as you cheer and root for Bok-ju on her quest for both love and weightlifting success. ♥ Bok-ju/Joon-young forever, everyone hwaiting!
Signal: After all the Year End Reviews praising this drama to high heaven and back, I decided to sit myself down and watch it. And boy, was I blown away: Jo Jin-woong went from somewhere on the outskirts of my drama-watching radar to dead center. Errrmigawwd. Is there going to be a second season? There has to be a second season with that cliffhanger ending. But when is it going to happen? The writer Kim Eun-hee has already committed to another sageuk project, so will we get to see Signal 2 this year? Maybe within the next three years? Five years? But I need it now…
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (December 31, 2016)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (December 24, 2016)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (December 17, 2016)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (December 10, 2016)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (December 3, 2016)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (November 26, 2016)
Tags: 1 show to rule them all, Father I'll Take Care of You, Hwarang, Legend of the Blue Sea, Night Light, Oh My Geum-bi, Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim, Signal, Solomon's Perjury, The Lonely Shining Goblin, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju, What We're Watching