Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching
by DB Staff
So many interesting new shows to catch, and barely enough time to fit them all in! It was a struggle to keep up this week with three new shows to catch, but I was too interested in all of them to consider letting any fall by the wayside. Was your week chock-full of shows, or are you waiting for the next wave to bring in new offerings? –javabeans
Man to Man: The alternately slapstick and deadpan humor is really working for me, particularly as Park Hae-jin bounces back and forth between acting the swoony lover and feeling cringey inside over it. I love this kind of cheeky action fun, with its True Lies-esque comic touches and usage of double identities. I’ve liked Park Hae-jin before this, but he’s taken it up a notch here; this show has him essentially running a wacky obstacle course of mixed genres and emotions, and it’s wholly entertaining to watch.
Father, I’ll Take Care of You: Aw, you know, this show has been kind of stupid for a while, but I have to say, I was pretty content with how it wrapped up and said goodbye. I still feel a little like I got suckered in by the adorable romance and then they used that to keep me dangling for months, but in the end it was satisfying to see how the Han clan came around and embraced both Sung-joon and Hyun-woo, and how Hyun-woo was finally able to move on past his all-consuming anger and revenge. Serious issues definitely got glossed over with a simple happy brush, but people learned from their mistakes (mostly) and found ways to make their lives better than they’d been before, so I feel fine with where the show took us and am, ultimately, glad I stuck it through with this show.
Father Is Strange: My favorite moment was when Lee Joon was asked if he had anything going on with Jung So-min, and he protested entirely too hard that she was “just like a sister” to him. They’re taking their time building up this relationship, and while I actually enjoy that they’re gradually becoming friends first, I’m also impatient to have the romance start, and that outburst was the first sign to me that it might begin… sometime… soonish… or maybe eventually. (They make me so impatient!)
The Liar and His Lover: I’m sorry to say goodbye to this show, which has been a bright spot for the past two months and which bowed out with a sweet, poignant, and fully satisfying resolution. It wasn’t perfectly solved problems everywhere and triple-knotted bows, but there was a strong sense of leaving these people in a place that was better, more secure, and happier than they’d started out in, and that they would still face challenges but now be better equipped to deal with them. I’m glad that the show really made a point to give us closure for all of our friends and their various relationships, not just the romantic ones, and I really appreciated the lovely touch in the finale that reprised all of the big songs of the show in emotionally and lyrically appropriate moments, and the effect was elevated by often showcasing those songs in re-arranged, more contemplative versions. This show made me happy, and I leave it feeling happy, so I can’t really ask for more than that.
Individualist Ji-young: This is one of my favorite genres of movies (as a 2-episode mini-drama, it’s essentially a movie): low-key indie vibe, character-driven, charming sensibility, and realistic in a way that’s both lovely and a little painful. I was afraid the show might overdo the diametric-opposites-attract romance, that they’d make them too perfectly different and magically bring them together, but the show was more thoughtful than that; I loved the steady development of these two characters whose growth trajectories were fairly drastic but felt entirely natural. I really appreciate the stark, sharp edges the show started out with, and the way that they were smoothed out without losing shape of who these characters were at the heart of things.
Ruler–Master of the Mask: It’s not the perfectly seamless and gorgeously packaged sageuk experience that, for example, Moonlight Drawn By Clouds was for me, but it’s got a lot of appealing things going for it and I was glad to have had the chance to weigh in on the first episode recap. Yoo Seung-ho is for sure hard-carrying this show, and whenever he’s onscreen I find myself getting sucked deep into the scenes without even realizing it consciously. Kim So-hyun is promising so far, and even L isn’t terrible! (I mean, he’s not great, but he doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb or make me angry for being cast. Which is more than I can say for Yoon So-hee, who is legit terrible and whose casting I cannot comprehend.)
Suspicious Partner: I think I’ve met my next dramaland crack. The first episode had me cackling out loud at its hairpin turns of hilarity and rapid-fire repartee, and the light, breezy rom-com tone had me hooked. Then the murder case came crashing in and I found myself suddenly emotionally invested in deeper throughlines, like Nam Ji-hyun’s vulnerability and Ji Chang-wook’s inner battle over doing the right thing. The show reminds me of I Remember You in its mixing of comedy with murder, mystery, and introspection, with touches of I Hear Your Voice in its engaging presentation of courtroom drama. I love these characters already, the actors’ performances are convincing, and I’m eager to see where this show takes us.
Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Nicely done. I’m feeling really gratified lately for sticking with this show all the way through, because no matter how long it took us to get to the final battle, the really important emotional beats—the people rising up for their freedom, the hero becoming a symbol of their strength—are all done so well. The battle didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me spatially, but when you put our lovers at the center of it all and then have Yoon Kyun-sang turn on the waterworks, I use up all my tears on Monday and then have no more to give for the rest of the week.
The Liar and His Lover: I was surprised to realize at a certain point that the love story and the heroine had taken a backseat to Han-gyul and Crude Play, but once the band drama came to the forefront, it became a more interesting conflict because of all the tenuous relationships and the history between the boys. I have to admit that I was disappointed when Lee Jung-jin didn’t take both bands under his new indie label, because I felt a little sad about the boys having to make compromises with the devil to keep their name. The show carried a great low-key, feel-good vibe from beginning to end and left me feeling like I’d gotten a pretty realistic snapshot of the music business, but one that was still rose-tinted, and wanting to believe that pure music and passion would always find a way.
Whisper: At this point I’m just in this to see the villains get their comeuppance. I suppose that’s not negligible in a drama about corruption, but I just wish there were more keeping me emotionally invested in the whole thing.
Ruler–Master of the Mask: I remember being so disappointed in Hwarang’s execution of Jinheung’s story as the faceless king, because it was such a compelling setup with so much dramatic potential. I see hope in Ruler getting the faceless king motif right (fingers crossed), because from the start I see why the prince should wear the mask, and why he finds it suffocating, and I find his loneliness palpable. Obviously Yoo Seung-ho has everything to do with this. I’m skeptical of all this poison business, but as soon as Yoo Seung-ho and Kim So-hyun were onscreen together, I found my happy place and realized that I didn’t want to leave.
Suspicious Partner: I didn’t really care for the mountain of coincidences that started things off, but I liked that Ji Chang-wook had this obvious soft spot for Nam Ji-hyun, which showed their romantic potential from the start. The romance-legal-mystery mashup turned out to be a good mix, though I’m really really hoping this one will be more heavily weighted in the romance department. It’s funny, the story moves quickly, and I already love that exasperated face that Ji Chang-wook makes every time Nam Ji-hyun does anything.
Mystery Queen: I was a bit bored when the focus shifted away from Ajumma this week, and the cases turned into nothing but a battle between the fancy cops and our underdog cops. I know that the point is that our ragtag team is better than fancy equipment and profilers with Ph.D.s, but maybe we could make that point with less screen time for Team Fancy?
Man to Man: This plot sure does zip along. It’s a good thing in general, although I’m going to miss the undercover romance days. I wouldn’t have minded a few more weeks of faux boyfriend hijinks—I get that it would cause everyone more pain down the line, but isn’t that kind of the point, to make the ghost agent form attachments when he shouldn’t form attachments?
Chicago Typewriter: *whistle* Now this is the way to come back after a week off. I feel like the relationships are finally at a place where I want them: The bromance is starting to seem genuine, the romance has stopped giving me whiplash, and the 1930s story is giving me butterflies. (Although sometimes I wonder if most of this show’s oomph comes from that SALTNPAPER song “Satellite.”) I got all choked up when Yoo Ah-in thanked Go Kyung-pyo for sacrificing his youth for their country’s independence—it was just a lovely moment that went beyond the drama and into real history, and it really struck a chord with me.
Currently recapping: Chicago Typewriter
Whisper: Oh man, people are out for blood. I thought along the same lines as Jung-il when Soo-yeon tried to entrap him with a bloodied white shirt, since it never seems like Soo-yeon puts a great deal of thought into her plans. But it was a nice twist that she had a backup plan that made the hair on the back of his neck stand on edge. I find it mildly hilarious that Young-joo and Dong-joon hash out their most badassery plans inside a Subway, but honestly, I love them so much that I don’t care where they meet, as long as they’re together.
Man to Man: I had a few hours on hand thanks to last week’s pre-emption, so I finally tuned into this show. There are definite tonal shifts — from Serious to Silly — but the characters are equally ridiculous and somehow make it work. Agent K gives the best WTF reactions, and I love how much the Hallyu star loves him.
Perfect Wife: I’m not exactly sure why I picked this one up, but now that it’s on my watchlist, I’m tuned in. Eun-hee definitely gives me The Stepford Wives vibes, and I honestly fear for Jae-bok’s life whenever they’re in the same room together. I’m only a few episodes in, but I’ve got my fingers crossed.
Currently recapping: Whisper
Super Family 2017: All the pre-emptions have worked in my favor since this week has been full of real-life family adventures that have left me with less free time than usual, but I still managed to sneak away for an hour to see what’s going on with my favorite drama family. While I wish Ik-hee had a few more scenes (she’s part of this family, too!), I really loved that Ra-yeon and Chun-il got to act as a couple (even when they were going against each other during the election). Their marriage is somehow simultaneously weird and mundane and delightfully relatable.
Radiant Office: Short and sweet, felt complete, full of heart, and what a treat… it was to tune in every week. Ho-won’s courage filled my heart with pride, the unwavering love Ki-taek had for Ji-na was incredibly touching, and his sudden terminal illness diagnosis devastated me. I saw it coming, but even still, I sniffled whenever Ki-taek faced his looming mortality. Who knew guaranteed laugh-inducer Lee Dong-hwi could just as easily elicit tears of sadness? Drama gods, pretty please with a cherry on top, give Lee Dong-hwi a leading role. He is inexplicably underrated, and continues to always turn in assured, memorable performances.
Currently recapping: Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People
Man to Man: It’s growing on me. I really like Park Sung-woong’s big brother-like relationship with Kim Min-jung, and I can see why she’s starting to fall for a new mysterious guy in her life, especially if he’s the only one who has expressed interest in her since she started her fangirling her oppa-for-life, Yeo Woon-kwang. It’s just not blow-me-out-of-the-water fantastic, which is a little bit of a let-down after the long wait and impressive-looking promos. I feel like most of the dramas I’ve seen in the couple past months have been all right… but not cracktastic, which is something I would like to have in my life right now. A heart-pounding drama crush.
Whisper: You know what would have been awesome? If Ji Sung had played Dong-joon instead. I like Lee Sang-yoon a lot, and I think the chemistry between the two leads is cute, if not sizzling hot. But think about it, the plots have very similar arcs: Defendant and Whisper both have an unjustly framed and cornered man of the law, and only one woman believes in them. But Whisper has the vastly more kickass heroine, and Defendant has a hero who is capable of unfurrowing his eyebrows once in a while. Thus, this is me wishing a real life couple would go inhabit dramaworld together.
Currently recapping: Mystery Queen
Father Is Strange: Aw, I’m glad that Mi-young has apologized for being so churlish towards Joong-hee—he definitely didn’t deserve all the vitriol she was heaping on him, and I can respect the fact that she’s recognized that her emotions were clouding her judgment. Yay for these two being buddies again! I do hope the misunderstanding that they’re siblings gets cleared up soon though, because that ew-no-she’s-my-little-sister reaction is totally warranted right now, and if Joong-hee gets used to thinking of her that way, we’ll only ever have an adorable oppa-dongsaeng relationship from these two (still cute, but not what I came for). As for Hye-young, now that her big secret has been revealed, I hope she can finally tell Jung-hwan what his mom did to her eight years ago, because that woman is in dire need of a comeuppance.
Man to Man: I was looking for a new show to watch now that Radiant Office is over, and this one fits the bill—I ended up watching all six episodes in a couple of days! The spy stuff is cheesy beyond belief, and the female lead’s creepy sasaeng ways were off-putting to me at first, but a couple of episodes in I was sold on this wacky rom-com with unexpected moments of real heart. Do-ha and Woon-kwang’s familial bond is so much sweeter and more touching than the weird superfan and star dynamic it appeared to be at fist. Watching Park Hae-jin as a robot secret agent discovering his feelings for the first time is a hoot, and hating him for deceiving Do-ha while rooting for their romance gives me the most deliciously conflicted feelings. I couldn’t care less about the wood carvings, but I am dying to find out how Seol-woo is going to save her, and if his mission has to be compromised and he has to quit secret agent-ing to be with her, I won’t complain.
Suspicious Partner: I only had time to watch the first hour of this, and it’s even better than I had hoped! It’s hilarious but has moments of moving pathos, the characters are quirky but in a way that feels authentic, and the chemistry between our leads is off the charts. This is the weirdest and funniest meet-cute I’ve seen in a long time, and I love how it gave our leads an instantly antagonistic relationship, but with an underlying layer of painful empathy. I’ve watched a lot of prosecutor dramas, but certainly not where the leads meet as prosecutor and murder suspect at the end of the first episode, so I can’t wait to see where this leads.
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (May 6, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (April 29, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (April 22, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (April 15, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (April 7, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (April 1, 2017)
Tags: Chicago Typewriter, Father I'll Take Care of You, Father Is Strange, Individualist Ji-young, Man to Man, Mystery Queen, Perfect Wife, Radiant Office, Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People, Ruler–Master of the Mask, Suspicious Partner, The Liar and His Lover, What We're Watching, Whisper