Review extravaganza time!
I know: Already? It feels like just the other day I was killing myself to corral all my thoughts in coherent fashion in a monster review of 2011’s dramas, and already it’s time to lose sleep wrangling my thoughts together for 2012. Time sure flies when you’re having fun, or old. Guess which one I am?
These days I shy away from blanket statements like “This was an awesome year” or “This was a terrible year.” Dramaland has been putting out so much material that all the nuance gets sucked out of a flattening statement like that. If anything, 2012 was the year it overflowed with variety—so yes, there were terrible shows, and there were awesome shows, and there were shows every step in between. But thanks to the explosion of cable programming—aided by the launching of not one, not two, but four new cable stations boasting big drama lineups—there was just about something for everyone.
SONG OF THE DAY
Shut Up Flower Boy Band OST – “Jaywalking” [ Download ]
We wrap up mini-drama Ma Boy with Episode 3, which shows that being pegged into a particular genre and market have little to do with telling an effective story. There’s plenty of lightness and laughs in this episode in particular, which wraps up the soonjung-manhwa-esque story neatly and cutely.
I know there’s nothing terribly novel about this show, but even so it kept a silly grin on my face throughout. I’d say Episode 1 started us out with a solid baseline of cute, which dipped a little in Episode 2 to make way for the romantic development, and then came roaring back (and then some) with the wrap-up, which had me laughing quite a bit.
Plus, it’s just nice to see youth programming being given a decent production budget and a name actor or two (e.g., Kim So-hyun), instead of being relegated to grainy low-budget affairs. I hope dramaland keeps it up, whether on Tooniverse or other stations.
SONG OF THE DAY
Ma Boy OST – “Pink Lens” by Chi Chi [ Download ]
I will say this about Ma Boy: If the entire thing must hinge upon a single conceit, then at least it’s got that one conceit down pat. Because Hyun-woo (er, idol Sun-woong) is so pretty in both gender personas that you really can’t take your eyes off him sometimes.
The show continues with its frothy-light campus hijinks, and now our heroine finds herself entangled in this lie as well. She happens to be much more committed to protecting the secret, but on the downside, much less good at it. But hey, two heads put together are better than one… right?
SONG OF THE DAY
TTS (of SNSD) – “Twinkle,” which is used in this episode. [ Download ]
Aww, this show is super cute. The gender-bender mini-drama Ma Boy initially got on my radar for its simple twist of taking the very familiar girl-dresses-like-boy-to-infiltrate-boy-world premise of so many dramas, and giving us a boy dressing as a girl. I know, right? Finally!
Some of the cross-dressing offerings in dramaland have been awesome and cracktastic, while others have been less so, so the premise alone isn’t enough to make this great. Thankfully, though, the show works with a charming vibe and enough heart to sustain its plot beyond the initial gimmick. That’s always a worry with these one-gimmick concepts, that the show will forget to have an emotional throughline or characters we care about. But one episode in and I’m already feeling for our hero(ine)’s predicament.
Ma Boy is definitely geared toward a younger crowd, airing on cable station Tooniverse, and there’s a distinct Disney Channel sort of vibe to it. It’s adolescence through a kaleidoscope, not quite real but enjoyable in a light and fizzy way. But it’s a Lizzie McGuire kind of Disney (What? The Lizzie McGuire TV series was great), not… I dunno, whatever forgettable stuff they’re churning out these days. And you know, I have a lot of fondness for those Disney and ABC Family movies/shows—I have seen waaay too many Hilary Duff and Amanda Bynes projects—or at least the good ones, which take little slices of life and make them engaging and relatable.
This is a very short offering, clocking in at a mere 3 episodes, so that’s one limitation. If you watch knowing that this is aimed at a different audience than the prime-time broadcast dramas we’re used to, and adjust expectations accordingly, you might find Ma Boy to be a pleasant watch. You know, if this stuff is your kind of thing.
SONG OF THE DAY
Touch – “같이 걷자” (Let’s Walk Together), the group our lead, Sun-woong, belongs to.
[ Download ]
There’s another gender-bending youth romance on its way… but before you write this one off, there’s one big difference from all the others: This time the boy’s dressed as a girl. Hee. It’s about time!
The short mini-drama is called Ma Boy and the main character is played by Kim So-hyun, a child actress you probably recognize from playing villainous characters in Rooftop Prince (as young Jung Yumi) and The Moon That Embraces the Sun (young Kim Min-seo). She’s in her first leading role as Geu-rim, a student at an arts high school who dreams of becoming a pop singer.