Premiere Watch: School 2017, The King Loves, Man Who Dies to Live, Reunited Worlds
Out with the old, in with the new! We just had four finales last week, so you know what that means: four brand-new, shiny dramas headed our way to vie for our attention. I actually like it when shows start and end together in groups like this because it feels nice to have a fresh turnover in one go, and it breeds some healthy competition for premiere week. You’ve got one shot to make a good first impression, because I can’t watch all of you!
…Is what I always say, and then I end up committing to too many shows, and four weeks in I’m cursing Past Me and debating what to drop. I never learn, but what can I do when I’m so easily enticed by new things? We’ve got four shows all in different genres launching this week, so this time around there really might be something for everyone.
Time slot: Monday & Tuesday
Genre: High school, coming-of-age
Episode count: 16
Reasons to watch: School is one of dramaland’s longest-running franchises and it’s one that I’m particularly attached to, so I’m excited to see a new class of fresh faces. The series tells the relatable everyday stories of high school students and their growing pains, and is also responsible for launching a number of stars’ careers in dramaland. I’m curious to see how Gugudan idol Sejung will fare in her acting debut, but I’m glad that at least the other two leading actors are familiar, and left a really good impression from their previous roles. Kim Jung-hyun played the prickly enemy-turned-frenemy-turned-friend Mori in Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People and Gong Hyo-jin’s prickly little brother in Jealousy Incarnate, so it should come as no surprise that in School 2107 he’s playing a prickly rebel. Also playing to type is Jang Dong-yoon, who was the golden boy with a secret in the high school mystery Solomon’s Perjury, and will play the golden boy once again.
This season features a mystery delinquent known only as Suspect X, who goes around burning class rankings and setting off fire alarms in the middle of tests. Suspect X is considered a criminal by the school’s administration and a hero by the student body, which already makes him/her interesting in my book. I like that this kind of mystery could be a compelling storyline without having to take over the plot completely (unlike, say, a murder plot), because the universal and uplifting slice-of-life stories are really the best part of the School series, and the reason I’ll be tuning in.
The King Loves
Time slot: Monday & Tuesday
Genre: Historical, melodrama, romance
Episode count: 40 (half-hour episodes, 20 hours in total)
Reasons to watch: The King Loves is a novel adaptation about an epic bromance gone bad when two royals fall in love with the same girl. The biggest draw for me is Im Shi-wan, because this is his first drama after Misaeng, and I’m so curious to see if what I liked about him as an actor was Jang Geu-rae the character, or if he has it in him to be just as compelling in a completely different role. He’ll play an intriguing Janus-like antihero, a Goryeo crown prince who is extremely ambitious and calculating. Hong Jong-hyun is the prince’s best friend, and Yoon-ah is the daughter of a wealthy aristocrat who will have the love of both men.
Then there’s the other huge draw, writer Song Ji-nah of Healer, Faith, Sandglass, and more. Her involvement in the production began in a creative overseeing capacity, and the drama was initially credited to her team of junior writers. But late into the show’s filming, it was announced that she’d done so much work on it that she’d be signing on officially as the main writer, which changes my expectations by a LOT. Between this show and Seven Day Queen, I just might be signing up for nonstop tears Monday through Thursday…
Man Who Dies to Live
Time slot: Wednesday & Thursday
Genre: Family, comedy
Episode count: 24 (half-hour episodes, 12 hours in total)
Reasons to watch: This drama’s premise is bizarre but potentially hilarious: Choi Min-soo plays an eccentric count who makes his fortune in a fictional Arabian country, and then returns to his homeland in search of his daughter. The problem is, there are two potential daughters with the exact same name—one is a pragmatic ajumma (Kang Ye-won), and one is a chic careerwoman (Lee So-yeon), and hijinks ensue as Dad gets tangled up in their lives.
Based on the teasers, one of the more enjoyable aspects of the show will be the relationship between Dad and his new disappointment of a son-in-law, played by Shin Sung-rok. He’s a manchild with his head in the clouds who delights in the sudden appearance of a wealthy father-in-law who showers him with gifts, while Dad is testing him and decides that he’s not good enough for his precious daughter. I’m hoping that Man Who Dies to Live will be all of the funny bits from a weekend family drama condensed into 12 hours—all of the laughs and all of the heartwarming daddy-daughter love, and none of the drawn-out angst. Fingers crossed!
Time slot: Wednesday & Thursday
Genre: Fantasy, romance
Episode count: 32 (half-hour episodes, 16 hours in total)
Reasons to watch: Yeo Jin-gu is baaaaack, just three weeks after he left us! He’s also graduated to being a leading man in a romance drama, which is not a thing I plan to miss out on. Reunited Worlds is a fantasy romance from the PD-writer team of Girl Who Sees Smells and Beautiful Gong Shim, about a 19-year-old boy who seemingly dies in a car accident, and then suddenly reappears in front of his friends and family 12 years later; they’ve all aged like normal, but he’s still somehow 19.
It sets us up for a really interesting age-reversal dynamic, a trend I’m loving in dramaland this year (see: Tunnel and The Best Hit for time-traveling dads), as Yeo Jin-gu returns to his first love and the rest of his best friends from high school, and his two younger siblings who are now older than him. I just love age-reversal hijinks; I’m probably the only person on earth who watched Flower Grandpa Investigation Unit, all because I had to watch Heechul speak to Lee Soon-jae in banmal.
Reunited Worlds also has a lovely contemplative feel to all of the promo material, which seems pretty perfect for the nostalgia-filled backstory and the fantasy-driven reunion between first loves. It’s described as a healing drama, about how Yeo Jin-gu puts everyone back together after they suffer his tremendous loss in their youth. Count me in. I’m ready for my heart to be warmed!
- Underdog student dreams of breaking into the elite ranks in School 2017
- A mystery, a suspect, and a hero for School 2017
- Mistaken bromantic love and deceptive princes in The King Loves
- A house and friendship divided in The King Loves
- Choi Min-soo searches for his true daughter in Man Who Dies to Live
- Shin Sung-rok, Kang Ye-won potentially get married for Man Who Dies to Live
- Reunited friends and reunited loves for Reunited Worlds
- The long, desperate wait in Reunited Worlds