Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching
by DB Staff
Oh my goodness, so many new shows to sample, so many old shows to keep up with, so many tired nights of binge-watching episodes lest I fall behind at the starting line. I’m in the throes of a happy but exhausting first-world problem, because I’m actually liking so many of the current and new shows (and am acutely aware of several more on the horizon) that I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to keep up with them all. It’s a happy conundrum, but still a conundrum. –javabeans
Circle: Swoon. I’m in sci-fi nerd heaven. There’s so much here that gets me excited: the mystery connecting the two time periods, the whodunnit case, the false utopia with the sinister government putting “Care Chips” in people’s heads to keep them “safe,” the dystopian wasteland outside the Smart Earth, the brilliant performance by Yeo Jin-gu, rascally Kim Kang-woo… The show feels fresh and innovative—it’s not reinventing the wheel, but it’s bringing something new to dramaland, which excites me; what feelings of familiarity it did evoke were all positive ones. The future storyline reminds me of the Asimov stories I cut my science-fiction teeth on, with its vaguely Caves of Steel-like puzzle of how crime arises in a place where crime isn’t supposed to be possible. I am all in on this one.
Fight My Way: It’s refreshing to start off a drama with the eventual couple already completely at ease with each other, and Park Seo-joon and Kim Ji-won have a really lovely natural chemistry. Of course I’m looking forward to when they fall in love romantically, but I wouldn’t even mind taking a little time getting there, because I’m so touched by the way they love each other as friends and caretakers, and could watch that go on for a lot longer. I’m liking this one a lot.
Lookout: I’m digging the secret group of Lookouts, and I’m glad the show opened with that glimpse of Lee Shi-young as part of them because it was something to look forward to when they jumped back in time. It’s all necessary setup, of course, but since we know what’s to come, it felt like they were taking their sweet time with the backstory and I was antsy to get back to the present.
My Secret Romance: Wow, did this week suck or what? This show certainly went from sixty to zero quickly. (Or maybe more like thirty to zero.) I was prepared to deal with the show getting angstier since the needless separation is an inevitable development in romances like this, but the downturn was worse than I thought. The show has been cute and funny enough that I never minded the low-rent directing or the mediocre acting, but now it’s taking its melodrama too seriously and it’s cringes all around. The epilogues are getting bizarre, too, and the overly somber poetry recitations almost feel like SNL parodies, not emotional character moments. Normally I’d drop a show at this point, but we’ve only got one week left, so I may as well stick around to see the happy ending.
Ruler–Master of the Mask: Yoo Seung-ho is so good, but it’s starting to feel like he’s working on a different level from everyone else, and it can be a little jarring sometimes. On the whole I still enjoy the show, but I feel like this is a story full of convenient writing, and while I think the plot is interesting, I don’t find it exciting. Still watching for Yoo Seung-ho, though, because he’s just that good.
Suspicious Partner: I love this couple and all the ways in which they work together well. I also love the wistful touches that weave in and out of the show, in between and through moments of levity, sometimes catching me unawares with its unexpected droplets of insight. I love where the relationship is right now, with Ji-wook’s interest and caring for Bong-hee becoming more obvious, and him just on the verge of admitting it. Of course I’ll enjoy it when he finally does, but I want to bask in this stage, where every hint, every tiny gesture, elicits a little thrill of pleasure.
Man to Man: The mood lightened up again, and I was drawn back in accordingly. I don’t mean that I want this show to be flippant; it’s just that any attempt at earnestness tends to feel forced to me, so I much prefer it when it’s being fun. I do like how Do-ha’s now testing Seol-woo at every turn because she doesn’t trust him, and he quietly complies with everything she demands. It’s sweet in an understated way.
Father Is Strange: Can Dad please reveal the truth soon, so that I can enjoy Joong-hee getting a crush on his not-sister? I loved that he finally spoke up about how he felt to Dad, and how that led to his breakthrough acting moment, and how giddy-happy Mi-young was for him. I’d really like to appreciate their developing closeness without any misgivings—it doesn’t matter that I know, I need him to know!
Tunnel: Don’t leave me, Show. Why must you end? The internal conflict between wanting to know what happens and wanting it to go on forever is strong with this one. Damn my curiosity. Maybe if I lose the battle I’ll watch it again from the beginning just to live in denial a little longer.
Whisper: It ended. Justice was served. Karma prevailed. I just didn’t really care.
Mystery Queen: Wait, what? That’s how you’re going to end things? By NOT solving the one central overarching mystery that connects our two leads? They ended it like there’s already a Season 2 in the pipeline, except there isn’t (they’re obviously angling for a sequel, but what if they don’t get it??). What a weird and vague way to end an otherwise pleasant show. Blarg.
Fight My Way: I already love this couple. The heroine is so awesomely sassy, and the loyalty between the two friends melts my heart. Everything is so comfortable and mundane between them, and their petty, immature banter is the best—it feels real!
Circle: I’m still warming to this split-episode storytelling where the two timelines are told as separate parts. It’s jarring at first, and in the premiere I got mad that we weren’t with Yeo Jin-gu anymore and still had half an episode left to go. But now that the connecting threads are starting to show, I’m slowly becoming more invested in the two worlds; plus, the human experimentation in the future world is starting to creep me out in a good way.
Lookout: I think I’m going to like this a lot once Lee Shi-young joins the badass vigilante team. It feels like the story is still revving up, but until then, more Kim Seul-gi/Key bickering will keep me happy.
Suspicious Partner: I wish the killer were more interesting, but the romance is really what I’m here for, and these two are so surprisingly affectionate (yunno, for people in denial about their feelings). And now that jealousy has come into the picture, it’s going to be even funnier and swoonier.
Ruler–Master of the Mask: I’m disappointed in the measly amount of screentime our heroine is getting. Is it always going to be this difficult to get our leads in the same place at the same time? I object!
Ruler–Master of the Mask: I love this show. Yoo Seung-ho is putting in a masterful and emotional performance, but I’m actually surprised that I empathize with L’s character so well. We’ve seen the prince and pauper situation played out before, but the pauper has no earthly idea what he’s doing, and that pervasive fear that he feels at every moment feels so raw to me. Even in his hunched stature, his stuttering words, he embodies the idea of this poor boy thrust into a situation he can’t even begin to comprehend, but his love for the prince—his one true friend—is what brought him to this point. I actually find his story quite tragic, in a lovely sort of way.
Lookout: I’ve really made it a point to avoid Kim Young-kwang’s shows (excluding White Christmas), since he’s just never been the kind of actor I’m able to warm up to easily. None of that’s changed, since he’s basically playing a heightened version of the character he always tends to play (smarmy, kind of terrible), though I appreciate where the show is trying to go with him. But it was Suji who absolutely broke my heart this week, and I can’t wait for her to be inducted into the Cool Kids’ Surveillance Club.
Circle: I like it. Yeo Jin-gu is amazing in everything, and I really dig a show that’s trying to be something we’ve never quite seen before. It just so happens that Circle is a little bit of everything we’ve seen in sci-fi before (I’m getting Equilibrium vibes more than anything, but name any dystopian future movie and you won’t be too far off the mark), but it’s trying, and it just may pay off dividends. I’m all in either way, though I have no idea where it’s going just yet. And that’s probably the best part.
Whisper: I’m going to avoid the internet until I finish this.
Fight My Way: So cute and endearing. This has been a good year for charming little shows, hasn’t it?
Fight My Way: It’s light and cute, with relatable moments about the struggles of youth. I like our main couple’s bickering relationship, and I find them adorably dim about their budding feelings for each other. But the close friendship portrayed by Kim Ji-won and Park Seo-joon feels a little forced, and I found them more convincing in their brief intimate moments of vulnerability. From the first impressions, it seems like a fun ride, so I think I’ll stick around.
Suspicious Partner: This show is great. Ji Chang-wook’s bottled up rom-com potential has been freed in this show, and it’s amusing to watch the details in his facial expressions as he reacts to the spontaneity around him. Nam Ji-hyun is an adorable puppy in love, and I really like her in this role. I love how Bong-hee is the ray of sunshine to Ji-wook’s gloomy storm cloud, who’s becoming a jealous storm cloud raining on his ex-friend to keep the sunshine all to himself. Hehe.
Super Family 2017: I still love this show for all the reasons I’ve stated in weeks previously, but I want to give a special shout-out to Manager Choi, the most underrated character. He always seems to know what’s going on but doesn’t bother to make a big deal about it until it’s time to gently and subtly lay down some well-needed wisdom (that may or may not apply to something else entirely, too). He’s the sane center of our Doremi Sales Team, and a good mentor for Chun-il (even if Chun-il doesn’t always realize it).
Chicago Typewriter: I’m behind on everything and forcing myself to get caught up before I peek at any of the premieres (or I’ll never finish the shows I’ve started!), but it’s no hardship bingeing this one. Each episode gets better and better as we learn more about how the present connects to the past. I’ve loved Go Kyung-pyo since Flower Boy Next Door, and I’m thrilled he’s getting a chance to prove he’s good at more than just comedy. His sad-puppy ghost has made me tear up more than once, and the ending of Episode 12 made me clutch my heart. I’m desperate to see what happens next!
Currently recapping: Circle
Man to Man: Dropped. I just couldn’t get into the characters enough to finish. I realized that my emotional investment in the drama was nearly 0 after three weeks of watching, so I decided to browse some of the newer alternatives instead. It’s so unfortunate because I so wanted to love Park Hae-jin in this drama, after his amazing performances in both Cheese in the Trap (despite that ending fiasco) and Bad Guys.
Suspicious Partner: Crack drama, is that you? Have I finally found you? I was wary about starting another rom-com with a mysterious killer, but this show really knows how to balance out its tone. The couple is an absolute hoot together and I’m genuinely interested in seeing them catch this killer. I hate seeing poor Bong-hee still carrying all that blame. And Ji-wook… Oy. He is so unintentionally (unwillingly, even) swoony, it’s no wonder Bong-hee fell so hard for him.
Ruler–Master of the Mask: I wanted this to be my next crack drama, but after the first few episodes, I could feel that potential slipping through my fingers. It is good and the characters are good (loved that initial friendship between the prince, Lee Sun and Ga-eun), but I think my expectations were much too high and, unfortunately, weren’t met. I’ll keep watching to see where things go, though.
Drinking Solo: Finally decided to sit down and marathon this and I’m so happy I did. It was every bit as funny and poignant as everyone had described it, with an especially relatable performance from Park Ha-sun. As for her love interest, I think this was the first time in a long time that I completely loathed a male lead. I warmed up to him eventually, as I’d hoped I would, but he left a terrible impression in the first half of the drama. Every time he mentioned his aggravating obsession with “quality,” I just wanted to fast forward to the silly Noryangjin students. This was a fun watch overall, so I’d say my time was well spent.
Currently recapping: Mystery Queen
Man to Man: The dynamic between Seol-woo and Woon-kwang is seriously the bromance that keeps on giving, but the more serious aspects of the drama seem a bit confused. I appreciate Seol-woo’s subtle confessions, but I understand Do-ha’s frustration with him because he still hasn’t really given her a straight answer about anything. And I’m not sure what her plan is with this “lovers tactic” thing, because kisses are well and good, but at this point their relationship needs honesty, not more plots.
Father Is Strange: I was expecting Hye-young to give in to Jung-hwan, but was glad that she stayed firm on what she wanted. I’m also glad that he didn’t blame her for her decision, although I do think he was acting like a teenager by running away from his adult life (even if his mom totally deserved to stew in worry for a while). I’m happy to see Lee Yuri play such a strong, intelligent character who makes her own decisions and never lets anyone take advantage of her, even if she’s a total marshmallow on the inside. (Also, I covet everything in her wardrobe.) Now that Hye-young has proposed this new kind of contract marriage, I’m interested to see how it unfolds. As for Joong-hee, he broke my heart into little pieces with his monologue about how he grew up waiting for his father to show up. I’m glad to see the parents truly reflecting on the damage their actions caused, even if it’s a bit too little, too late. I really hope Dad does the right thing this time. Joong-hee needs to know the truth, and the earlier the better.
Fight My Way: The premiere was funny and moving, and our OTP gives me a Bottom of the 9th With 2 Outs vibe—a good sign, because that is my favorite friends-falling-in-love drama. Also, I’ve waited so long to see these two as leads in a rom-com, and their chemistry is perfect. Yay!
Suspicious Partner: While this week gave us many more moments to squee over between Ji-wook and Bong-hee, I’m kind of bummed that so much time was spent on the ex-girlfriend. Her ridiculous idea that she can waltz back into Ji-wook’s life and restart their relationship somehow makes the show feel less authentic to me—I feel like we’re being asked to feel bad for her. In my opinion, she deserves whatever pain she’s in right now, and I’m unhappy that her “I’m too distressed to walk properly” shtick affected Ji-wook so much. Bong-hee continues to be the best thing in this drama, and I love how brave she always is, especially in the face of that terrifying assault by the district attorney. (Somebody call the cops on this man. I’ve never felt such physical menace emanating from my computer screen before.) I love that Ji-wook pays such close attention to her that he picked up on what happened without being told, yet respected her wishes when she said she didn’t want to talk about it. Now I’m just waiting for him to admit his very obvious feelings for her. Come on, Wookie, don’t leave the girl hanging!
Tunnel: Awww. I’ll miss this show so, so much. Given the premise, it was inevitable that the show would be compared to Signal, but while I think that the tvN drama put more thought into the time manipulation aspect, I was really invested in Tunnel’s characters and their relationships. I think my attachment to the team of lovable detectives and Jae-yi was strong enough that I wasn’t (too) bothered by the many unanswered questions I had at the end of the finale. Such as, did the present timeline cease to exist now that Kwang-ho’s gone back for good? Or will it carry on as a parallel universe? Did Kwang-ho ever catch young Mok Jin-woo in the past? Wait, but in the original present timeline, our Kwang-ho wouldn’t have been there to make sure 1988’s Kwang-ho was safely born… Eugh, now my head hurts.
Chicago Typewriter: So many revelations this week!! This show has definitely been more of a slow burn for me in that it didn’t really grip me in the beginning, but it’s gotten more addicting these past few weeks. If only it had been this compelling sooner. I do wonder, though, how many more mentally unstable people this show is gonna add to its list of antagonists. It’s like Se-joo is a magnet for these types, poor guy. But at least he now has a sharpshooter girlfriend to protect him, and a ghost bestie who conveniently has telekinetic powers. Speaking of whom, I felt so bad for Yul and his ghostly dilemma of getting too involved with (living) people, and when he finally got Seol to see him, I almost cried with him. It helps that those emotional beats are accompanied by one of the best drama soundtracks I’ve heard in awhile. The music director should get an award.
Circle: Yaaas. This is everything I wanted it to be. The mysteries are compelling, the pace is intense, and best of all, it’s completely unpredictable! This is the kind of sci-fi you don’t find often enough in dramaland, so I’m going to savor it as much as I can while it lasts.
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (May 20, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (May 13, 2017)
- 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)
Tags: Chicago Typewriter, Circle, Drinking Solo, Father Is Strange, Fight My Way, Lookout, Man to Man, My Secret Romance, Mystery Queen, Ruler–Master of the Mask, Suspicious Partner, Tunnel, What We're Watching, Whisper