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…
Memories of the Alhambra: Yay! I was keeping my hopes at bay for this show because (small voice) I don’t really loooove Hyun Bin or Park Shin-hye and wasn’t sure how this concept would work in action. But I’m so glad to have writer Song Jae-jung still on her game, throwing out imaginative and mind-bendy twists and basically being the gem in the K-drama landscape that we need right now, when every other drama looks the same. I don’t know where we’re going with the game storyline, but I find the virtual reality aspect clever and the sense of humor welcome (I died laughing at how long it took Hyun Bin to pass that first level, and the montage of all his failures). The glimpse into the future that closed out Episode 2 was fascinating if almost infuriatingly cliffhangery, because it piqued my curiosity so much — thank goodness it’s the weekend already! I’m definitely watching this one for the twisty plot and cool rules and not for the romance — which doesn’t mean I hate the romance, but it just isn’t the most interesting thing about this show.
Hymn of Death: This three-episode mini-drama dropped with relatively little fanfare, but it was a well-done and thoughtful melodrama that took a topic that could have been quite theatrical (double suicide in the name of love) and gave it a sentimental, bittersweet treatment instead. I was curious to see what about it was so special that prompted Lee Jong-seok to do the work for free, and I think the based-on-a-true-story angle definitely gives it an added hook, while the acting by Lee and Shin Hye-sun makes it shine in a quiet way. It’s interesting that this story (and the Hymn of Death song) are well-known to the audience at home, but it’s a story I’m unfamiliar with, so there was a sense of discovery for me as I looked up the background history of the talented singer, her married lover, and their tragic relationship. Tragic doomed romances aren’t usually my thing, but they did this one in good taste.
Bad Papa: God damn that ending. I’ve been expecting it since the fourth episode and I saw the comments last week, but it still didn’t prepare me for the emotional punches (heh) that the finale dealt. I started crying when the gangster hyung ambushed the evil promoter and just kept watching through my tears until the credits started rolling. I love this ending and I love how Yoo Ji-cheol was a very flawed lead. Not just in an “I shout at people sometimes but I’m secretly nice” way, but in the “I know I’m doing something wrong, but I’m tired of my family suffering, so let me keep doing this for a while more” way, until you miss your timing and it’s too late to fix things. It’s a more effective cautionary tale because it sends the message that the best time to come clean was right from the start, the second best time is now. It’s not a hopeful one, but it lights a fire under your butt more than a tale of redemption ever will.
Top Star Yoo Baek: Either episode two was really better or playing it at 1.2x speed hides the director’s tendency to stretch out the gags, making the show such zippy fun! Orrr Yoo Baek’s secret marshmallow staring at Kang-soon got to me. Also the promise of more Captain Lee Sparrow-yeob.
Happy to Die: This is my mood-lifter this season but I’m always a week behind on it so this comment is out-of-date *crying*. I just think it’s too early for Baek Jin-sang to be acting on his imaginary loveline. What’s he gonna do every day his romance doesn’t work out? Annoy someone until they murder him into a time loop?
Memories of the Alhambra: I love writer Song Jae-jung *conveniently ignores two years’ worth of jokes made at W’s expense* but what I love more is the beanie discussions that her shows generate. There’s always a thread for everyone and Alhambra is no exception. You have the science beanies breaking down the show’s logic, the thirsty beanies talking about Hyun Bin’s dimples, the witty beanies extending the episode’s jokes, and the lurker beanies silently upvoting everything while trying not to laugh out loud in public. The only thing missing from this batch is talk about the feisty heroine’s antics. It’s a staple of Song Jae-jung’s works and one of the reasons I love her shows, so I can’t wait to see more of Park Shin-hye’s character. Gimme the next episode, Netflix! *makes grabby hands*
Boyfriend: I would like to bestow Boyfriend with the award for Least Painful Drama Started in a Foreign Country. For this I am sincerely grateful. I’m also grateful for: Park Bo-gum’s smile, Park Bo-gum’s bad dancing, Park Bo-gum’s adorable fruit-selling family and the warmth that emanates from all of them, Song Hye-gyo’s regal screen presence, the colors of Cuba, old film cameras, and beautiful cinematography.
Hundred Million Stars From the Sky: I was a little behind in finishing this, trying to delay the inevitable. I think I’m still recovering from those last few episodes. The most painful part for me was Moo-hyuk realizing he had been played by Se-ran, and that the murder and mayhem that ensued at the end of the drama was all based on a well-crafted lie. It worked so well for telling the impossibly tragic story of Moo-hyuk: someone who had callously played people his entire life finally got played himself. And aigoo, it was something.
A Love to Kill: It’s time for another old school drama for me, and if this drama continues like the first episode, it’s going to be quite the ride. Rain is such a punk! Also, I’ve only seen Shin Mina in romcoms, so watching her weeping and chugging soju in a dramatic fashion is quite entertaining.