Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching
by DB Staff
So, what are we all watching this week?
What kept you reaching for more (or agonizing when there was no more), and what made you want to throw your remote through the screen? Time to weigh in…
(With all the premieres kicking off recently, I was determined to catch most of them, at least initially before deciding what to commit to. It’s always exciting to have a lot to pick from, but it certainly also feels overwhelming.)
Mr. Sunshine: I made it this far, may as well finish it off. Interestingly, I found that although I really didn’t like the drama very much by the time the finale rolled around, the last episode employed all of dramaland’s tips and tricks to such effect that I totally still bawled watching it. It was an odd experience to watch something I was so utterly detached from, only to have the power of the tropes kick in and pull my heartstrings anyway, however unwillingly.
The Third Charm: One episode in, I like how light and breezy this feels, although right now it feels more cute than compelling. I’m happy to have Esom playing a romantic lead, while Seo Kang-joon has always been all over the board for me in terms of likability, heavily dependent on what kind of character he plays. Are You Human Too went a long way toward making him personable, and for me this drama builds on that goodwill. I have hopes that my emotions will engage sooner than later, but I suppose even if they don’t, it’ll be a comfortable, pleasant watch.
My Secret Terrius: I’m actually pleasantly surprised by this show being much less cheesy than I’d feared it might be. You never know with mixed-genre shows like this, where execution is key, but this drama is doing a good job of mixing the serious, tense spy mood with the lighter, mundane life stuff — it gives the character interactions this very welcome droll, deadpan quality. I enjoy So Ji-sub playing a humorless character in the larger context of a rom-com than when he’s playing this serious action figure totally straight, and Jung In-sun has a warmth and relatability that makes me pull for her.
Fox Bride Star: After one episode I’m not sold on this story yet, and I’m not really much a fan of this niche subgenre of airport dramas, but I’m still approaching optimistically because it does have that sentimental Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim feel (thanks to the writer) in taking a standard workplace setting and populating it with a mix of characters with distinct personalities. At least, that seems to be the approach; I’m not quite onboard with Chae Soo-bin’s character since I don’t think I *get* her yet, but I’m intrigued about what the deal is with Lee Je-hoon and his (literal) magnetism.
Beauty Inside: My favorite of the bunch so far. I was a bit apprehensive about having expectations for this drama, because I was afraid it would gravely disappoint, and on several levels at that: I absolutely loved the movie, which is one of my favorites of recent years; I loved Oh Hae-young Again, flaws and all, which this PD previously directed; I adore Seo Hyun-jin, both in and out of Oh Hae-young Again, where I related with her particularly strongly; and I was eager to see Lee Min-ki again after thoroughly enjoying last year’s sleeper hit Because This Life Is Our First. Lots of opportunities to crush hopes and bury expectations. But as of this first week I’m finding it engaging and sentimental, with a touch of moodiness that hints at deeper developments in our future. I’m also feeling the chemistry between the leads off the bat, which bodes well.
Hundred Million Stars From the Sky: I think I need to come back to this when I’m in the right frame of mind, because there’s something about this mood — a little pensive, a little stark — that I think I’d be ALL ABOUT when in a slightly different frame of mind. It may be better saved for a day when I’m not juggling a dozen shows, and instead have the mental space to commit to it more fully.
Beauty Inside: There are so many shows to choose from right now, I was secretly hoping that the first one I tried would be a dud that I could drop. To both my dismay and my delight, I’m already hooked on Beauty Inside — it’s a keeper. There is something about the way Seo Hyun-jin takes on characters that I find utterly charming, and despite a fantastic cameo by Kim Sung-ryung, I just want more of Seo on my screen. I’m liking the chemistry between her and Lee Min-ki, and hooray that we have many future episodes of Se-kye and Do-jae fighting their growing mutual attraction to look forward to. I also like the supporting cast, and Ahn Jae-hyun as ditzy friend Eun-ho makes me laugh almost as hard as when Yoon-jae did the E.T. finger touch with Min-joonie hyung in You From Another Star. I wouldn’t complain if he was typecast as the vacuous friend/brother forever.
Witch’s Love: I’ve been a good girl this week, finishing up old shows before I hook myself on the next batch (also preparing for the yearend Bean Count!) Though the final battle with Evil was a bit lackluster, I can’t really complain because this show knows its strengths and piled on lots of couple-y moments. I’m glad it stayed a sweet watch until the end. Too bad I don’t have anything light to sandwich in between The Guest and The Ghost Detective now.
Life on Mars: I envy Tae-joo for having a paradise to escape to, even if I know I shouldn’t. This show is bad for my thoughts because it just reinforces my dangerous ideas about happiness and life and death.
Life: I can’t remember why I dropped this before when it’s been my crack this week, breezing through nine hours in just two days. Maybe Netflix was right about the binge format after all. (If anyone from Netflix is reading this, please ignore the previous sentence and keep releasing episodes simultaneously with South Korea, thanks!) I think I was programmed to assume that Jin-woo/Lee Dong-wook was the lead, ergo, the good guy, which my subconscious was having problems with. Now that I’m nearing the end I see him more as a highly-flawed guy who wants good things to happen but doesn’t want to lead the change, instead relying on other people to step up–which is how the whole world got into the mess it’s in now. For the finale, I hope everyone in this hospital learns that change should come from everyone, and they shouldn’t ignore other groups’ suffering just because they aren’t affected by it. Yet.
The Guest: What else can I say about this show except that it’s perfectly dark and cool and funny, so much that I’m still watching despite regular nightmares? Also that I’m more in love with Hwa-pyung than Father Mateo, which should be good news if they were real guys. Which they’re not. Because this isn’t real, right? Please someone tell me it’s not real. *clutches my bunny*
Produce 48: The only thing I can say about the finale is, joke’s on you, MNET. You can’t break my heart if it’s already been crushed.
Night Goblin: This is the beginning of the end for me. I’ve fallen into the disease girlfriday described and am now watching a variety show solely for an idol even if Oppa has no variety chops at all. Night Goblin’s concept is pretty simple: a bunch of guys stay up all night while queuing for something–a famous restaurant, gadgets, theme park, etc. It’s as boring as you’d expect, which surprised me because I’ve only watched Yoo Jaesuk or Na PD K-variety shows before this, and they always manage to turn shows with a simple premise into something more exciting. With the Night Goblin team, it’s painfully obvious that they’re still trying to figure out how to sell their show. I’m a bit worried watching one of the hosts, Hyung-don, try to liven things up by having joke breakdowns which seem all too real and desperate. It’s an old show but I hope for his sake that they manage to find their concept and become more comfortable after a few episodes.
Fox Bride Star: I can’t remember the last time a first episode made me this mad–which bums me out because I was so excited to see Chae Soo-bin and Lee Je-hoon together! I’m all for equal opportunity in female-lead jerkiness, and I hope that what the writers are going for here is a heroine who is on the first leg of a believable journey toward redemption, but I wanted to at least have one reason to root for Chae Soo-bin beyond she’s the heroine. Here’s what she did in episode one: showed up late to her new job; took on tasks that she lied about being able to do; ignored offers of help from people who knew what they were doing; angrily confronted her boss because she’s too proud to be mentored by someone who’s technically her hoobae, even though he has more experience than her in this particular job; decided she hates said hoobae for being smarter and better at the job for making her look bad. Or what stunned me the most: turning off her walkie-talkie and not answering her phone in a potentially dangerous situation. I appreciate that a couple of the characters call her out for her behavior, but she’s so lacking in self-awareness that she continues to only whine about how things make her look or feel or her own offended pride. I feel like it undercuts the valid points the show does make about abusive behavior from superiors, or how ineffective a hierarchy can be sometimes, because it’s setting her up to be both bad at her job and an awful person, but still wanting us to be in her corner when her co-workers are also awful. The show asks us to be feeling romantic with her when she’s caught up in the Lifesaving Moment of Destiny #2 that she’s just had with the hero, instead of reflecting on her own terrible behavior toward him, when he’s only helped her. (A hero with a bionic arm though–how cool! Why couldn’t we have focused more on that?!) Please tell me episode two is better, Beanies.