181

The DramaMeter: highly scientific and foolproof [Year in Review, Part 4]

 
Wow, another year of dramas, come and gone. Where does the sanity go? I decided that for this year’s review, I would learn to be impartial and precise, and give systematic mathematical ratings for every show. Because numbers are fun. But then, I found that trying to rate a year’s worth of dramas was a lot like comparing apples and oranges and giraffes. It made my brain hurt and then I was all sleepy. So I did what anyone would do. I built a machine to do it for me.

Meet… the DramaMeter (patent pending): a highly scientific, totally foolproof system of computation, fine-tuned to measure any drama in any circumstance. It uses complex algorithms, longitudinal matrices, and other mathy things, to calculate a drama’s rating with exact precision, every time, without fail. I know. It’s likely to blow your mind. So without further ado, the dramas of 2011:

 
SONG OF THE DAY

Kim Bo-kyung – “Suddenly” from the City Hunter OST [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
 
Dream High

Dream High surprised me, and came through with one of the sweetest stories of the year. It’s basically a sports drama—think about it—replace dancing with baseball and you’ve got yourself a tried and true underdog tale, complete with inspiring coaches and teammates who each have their Achilles heel to overcome, so that united, the team is stronger than its parts. That narrative backbone is what made this show work for me, because otherwise idols singing and dancing is just… idols singing and dancing, and I can watch Inkigayo for that… They still have Inkigayo, right?

But I did love the sing-offs and dance-offs, the guerilla concerts and battles, and series of musical midterms they had to take, because they were written as climactic narrative moments, and had the added benefit of being really fun to watch, so that we were as invested as the characters when someone hit that perfect note or finally got that dance down. And the show did a fun series of updates on old songs, taking a cue from shows like Glee, which worked to secure musical references for a broad audience.

It was the first drama of the year, but even by the end of 2011, it still stands as one of the prettiest. It was shot gorgeously and directed with an eye for dramatic musical flair. Dancers captured in mid-stride looked like works of art, and the performance sequences conveyed all the sensation, the angst, and the thrill of each movement. Even the best dancer filmed badly looks mediocre, but here every sequence conveyed that crucial emotional beat that resonated with each performance, which is why this drama worked, where so many other musical-themed dramas failed this year.

Though it’s not a really complex story with the most riveting characters, everything about the earnest go-for-your-dream message of this drama just gets me in the heart. Watching the misfit mafia sing and dance was really fun, but what hooked me was when they banded together as outcasts, shielded each other from being pelted with eggs, or put together their own renegade showcase to perform, even if it was just for an audience of one.

DramaMeter Rating: Mix-tape. Memories of your first crush, and your embarrassing love of electropop.
 

 
My Princess

My Princess is as frothy a confection as they come. It’s mounds of cuteness built on top of a plot that I’m pretty sure a six-year old could reconstruct, without even cutting corners. But Kim Tae-hee and Song Seung-heon are winning as a pair, and this drama went a long way in making me like them again, after years spent in meloville where their acting ranges were always stretched way too thin.

Granted, no one was expecting the modern monarchy setting of this drama to be politically riveting, or even a rival for a drama like Goong that sells the universe as much as anything. We knew going in that My Princess was going to be the stick-figure version of that picture. But I still wanted better dramatic conflict within that world, to make us care whether the heroine was royalty, or just a girl with a really big shoe collection.

So it’s no surprise that the drama was best early on, when the heroine was still just an ordinary grad student before she suddenly got her life turned into headline news. Her run-ins with the chaebol diplomat prince charming (sigh) were hilarious when all she cared about was making her next rent payment or making a good impression on the other guy.

The early palace stuff was adorable too, but then when everybody and their mother started moving into the place and making her life hell, it drove me a little nuts. She had to escape so many times that after awhile, I thought she should just stay out, since the drama never once made me believe that she had to be the princess, or that the country ever needed one.

But where this drama won me over was in its sweet romantic chemistry and the lack of any really infuriating behavior between them. The villain is another story, but the leads always managed to clear up misunderstandings and kiss and makeup, replete with flirty banter and midnight cocoa runs. I liked the heroine’s refreshingly straightforward approach to everything—her gumption—and found it fun and easy to root for her, despite never really caring about the stakes involved. Sometimes whatever a princess wants is whatever a princess should get.

DramaMeter Rating: Third scotch. A little hazy on the details, but feels warm and fuzzy.
 

 
49 Days

There was something about the premise of this show and the way it was plotted that sank its claws into me and made me have to have the next installment RIGHT NOW, despite some major flaws in the drama as a whole. There was something refreshingly different about a heroine who lands in a coma the day before her wedding and spends the drama stuck between this life and the next, guided by a sassypants reaper. I love the dramatic potential of a universe like that, and the drama proved to be both suspenseful and contemplative at the same time.

The story was constructed very neatly with two parallel heroines — the spirit one and the person whose body she ends up borrowing, setting us up for lots of thematic mirroring between an almost dead girl who desperately wants to live and a living girl who desperately wants to die. It takes sharing a body for them to each evolve to be more like the other, and learn to appreciate what it means not to waste the time you’re given. I very much enjoyed the thematic resonance between the heroines, standing on opposite sides of that cosmic divide.

The addictive element of the story came from the mysteries: Who is this reaper guiding her soul? What nefarious plot was her fiancé scheming before she threw a big wrench in his plans by getting herself almost dead? The mysteries coupled with the ticking clock of a 49-day window to gain a second chance at life made for a plot that zoomed by and left us itching for more.

49 Days had its share of faults too though, for as many upsides it had. Other than Jung Il-woo‘s turn as the smartass Scheduler, most of the cast seemed to be sedated. And then on the total opposite end of the spectrum was the villain, played by Bae Soo-bin, who overacted so hard I thought his eyeballs would pop out of their sockets. Everyone played their roles serviceably, but I feel like the drama would have been on another level entirely if it had been cast with stronger leads.

Now that lots of time has passed since this show first aired, I find myself hard-pressed to remember much about 49 Days other than the Scheduler (and perhaps some collective squealing over Jo Hyun-jae‘s post-army abs). I would’ve loved it if the drama we got was the B-side, where we just followed the Scheduler around wherever it was he always ran off to, trying to keep his reaping appointments in between his jam sessions and his weekly perms. Now if the drama gods could give me that show, I’d be in heaven.

DramaMeter Rating: ∑ 49 √ 7 ≈ 3 ∆ ☺
 

 
Best Love

I love it when a rom-com is done right. You would think it’s an easy formula, but the sea of bad ones is a testament to how hard it is to get just right. (See: Lie to Me, below.) Best Love is whip-smart and incisive, but also absurd and childish at the same time. It’s potty humor laced with social commentary, which sounds totally insane, but somehow it all works. In true Hong Sisters fashion, it had one of the best couples of the year – zany, larger-than-life characters who made us believe wholeheartedly that a wayward pair of sneakers or a sprouting potato were the height of romantic gestures.

With writing so deftly plugged into popular culture, it’s no wonder that Best Love features some of the Hong Sisters’ wittiest work, using the showbiz world as a platform for their particularly hilarious brand of meta humor. Even their usual wordplay and metaphor-love seemed to be on steroids this year, making me wonder how they’ll outdo themselves in 2012. The plotting wasn’t as strong as the moment-by-moment dialogue, but sometimes a really good joke goes a long way to smooth those seams.

Gong Hyo-jin is one of my favorite actresses and I love her naturalistic acting style in everything, so it was no surprise that she was fantastic here. But Cha Seung-won was the revelation. His Dokko Jin was the equivalent of last year’s gumiho—that one memorable character that stands out against a year’s worth of dramas, a Hong Sisters specialty for at least three years running. He managed to turn a 40-something man into a giant silly man-baby, who could go from slapstick to heartbreaking to sexy beast, all at the drop of a hat.

There were problems with the story, at the end of the day: things that didn’t quite pan out in the third act, like the heart surgery that was all buildup and no dramatic follow-through, or the recycling of similar conflicts, window-dressed to be slightly varied. But the characters managed to be emotionally engaging throughout, leaving us clutching our hearts along with the hero or rolling on the ground in peals of laughter. Best Love certainly isn’t the perfect rom-com, or even my favorite of the Hong Sisters dramas. But it is definitely a contender for the funniest of their shows, and certainly one of the smartest and best-crafted of the lot.

DramaMeter Rating: Spare panties. For when you laugh so hard you pee through the first pair.
 

 
City Hunter

City Hunter was my drama of the year, bar none. It was comic book crack brought to life with flash and heart, filled with idealistic heroes and gripping moral conflicts. It hooked me so hard that I still get withdrawal pangs now and again. This show had the trifecta of good writing, directing, and acting, which meant that every moment was played to its fullest extent, and I was never left feeling like something was missing or wasted, which is amazingly rare. I loved the sharp directorial style that showed as much of the story in visuals as it did in dialogue, the cracktastic pace of the plot, and the committed performances by the cast, ranging from action to humor to heartbreaking drama.

This show had perhaps one of the best ensemble casts of the year, because despite being a hero-centric story, it really was filled to the brim with great secondary characters, all of them so wonderfully played. Bad Daddy Kim Sang-joong was the best of them, making a ruthless villain feel lived in and whole, like he relived his tragedy every day, until he stopped fighting it and chose to let it fuel him. The father-son dynamic grounded everything in a central emotional journey, giving every minor arc in the drama a backbone to rely on. It was, oddly enough, one of my favorite love stories of the year—the twisted and highly dysfunctional love between a hero and his villainous father. It’s an unconventional choice among Favorite Couples to say the least, but it was the love story that shot me through the heart.

Of course I love Nana Bear and Ajusshi and the stick-in-the-mud Prosecutor who was a hero in his own right, and could watch City Hunter fight crimes with his Scooby gang till the cows came home. Park Min-young played such a kickass girl friday who risked her life to protect the hero, and I was happy to root for such a strong heroine. Lee Min-ho carried the burden of the hero with an earnest vulnerability all the way through, making City Hunter so much more than just a cool, slick action hero.

I’ll always be a fan of great superhero fiction that takes me away to another world, where heroes fight social injustice and right wins out over wrong. When City Hunter was firing on all cylinders it was the best of all things — exhilarating, heartfelt, and totally badass.

DramaMeter Rating: A bullet to the heart. It’ll kill you dead and take your soul with it.
 

 
Lie to Me

You tell yourself that there’s such a thing as a bad rom-com, and really, it happens all the time. And yet, every time I encounter one, I think, how could you possibly have screwed this up? This drama managed to take two actors who can actually handle both comedy and heart, and waste them on characters who were illogical, and worst of all, supremely unfunny. And that? Is the biggest travesty of all.

The premise was simple: an ordinary woman lies about being married to a prince charming. But you get the sense that the writer forgot to ask: “And then what?” Because I watched the whole drama, but couldn’t tell you the answer. Because there isn’t one.

I never understood the motivation behind anything the characters did, especially the heroine, which is kind of the death knell for me when I’m watching a drama. So she lies once to her frenemy that she’s married to the rich guy in the magazine. Sure. Brief moment of satisfaction, which I don’t begrudge. I even understand it. But then when she goes to all those lengths to keep the lie going and going and going, all for a friend she hates, you have to wonder why the supposed smart and plucky girl doesn’t just stop hanging out with her.

If I can poke a hole in your story logic with the question—What if the heroine just stops answering the villain’s calls?—then you’ve got nothing but an uphill battle to convince me to care. [Spoiler Alert: ending discussion ahead.] An entire third act was devoted to the heroine’s sudden decision not to marry the man she had wanted to marry for the entire run of the drama, and then, just as strangely as she decided to say no, she came around to say yes, for reasons still unclear to me.

The couple had its moments of cuteness, but everything about their relationship felt maneuvered there by such clunky writing that it showed at the seams. It’s a lot like going to see the great and powerful wizard of Oz, only to make awkward eye contact with the tiny man behind the curtain. I didn’t come to dramaland to see the man behind the curtain. Show me the wizard. Show me the magic.

DramaMeter Rating: Two crooked-necked giraffes. They’re an eyesore, but at least they have each other.
 

 
I Need Romance

This was the first of this year’s cable offerings that made me stand up and take notice. I Need Romance is a beautifully shot, frank and sexy look at the lives of three single women and their search for a little romance. It drew a lot of comparisons to Sex and the City, and it was, for all intents and purposes a version of that familiar setup, but it had enough of its own legs to stand on.

I really took to the heroine, played by Jo Yeo-jung, and her two wacky friends who represent the two extremes of the dating spectrum—a virgin and a serial dater. The friends’ stories are a little zanier, but they’re a fun pair, and a good foil to the more realistic heroine.

The love triangle is one of the most compelling ones of the year, between a ten-year relationship with her first love, plagued by cheating and dwindling sexual attraction, and a new relationship with a younger man, half puppy-crush, half prince-charming-dreamboat. At first you think good riddance, old boyfriend, but then the more time you spend with the heroine, you realize how much he’s a part of her, and how hard it is to cut him out of her life. The relationships are realistically messy, and not cut-and-dry, which I really appreciated.

[Spoiler Alert: ending discussion from here on out.] It seems that the majority of viewers hated her final choice, having fallen for Choi Jin-hyuk‘s prince charming. Not that I could blame anyone – he’s great, and definitely the swoon-worthy guy in the drama. But I understand her choice to stay with Kim Jung-hoon, and found his apology (and admission of fault) to her parents to be stirring, and more sincere than any apology he threw out when he was trying to hold onto her.

I liked that dating the noona-killer reawakened a sense of romance in her life and made her realize what she was sacrificing in her comfy-old-shoe relationship with the boyfriend who had become basically a piece of furniture in her life, or her in his. But I didn’t think she was meant to be with the chaebol prince who wanted her to change her whole identity to be with him. I would’ve been disappointed in her if she had given in to his requests, because sure, romance is great, but staying true to yourself is more important. Despite all the odds stacked against them, it was brave and honest of her to follow her heart and give the ex another chance, which the drama points out is as open-ended as anything in life. Maybe they live happily ever after, or maybe they don’t, but what matters is that she’ll always choose to follow her heart.

DramaMeter Rating: Makgulli. Bubbly and sweet, with a kick.
 

 
Miss Ripley

Miss Ripley was an interesting attempt to tell the story of an anti-heroine who lies and manipulates her way through life, and cheats the system because she feels the system cheated her. It’s a fresh idea and one that’s based on a wave of real-life scandals involving diploma forgery. I just wish the drama went all the way with its own premise, and made the heroine actually an anti-heroine. She ended up being mostly sympathetic and just really maladjusted, which took a little tooth out of her bite.

As a melodrama it was a fascinating character study that did a good job of making us feel for the heroine despite her arsenal of lies. Our hearts lurched in fear whenever she was in danger of being caught in another lie, and despite knowing that it was all wrong, we wanted her to get away with it. I found that to be a curious effect, and well-played by the drama. It also had a swiftly moving plot for a melo, making each conflict move by at a brisk pace that kept my interest all the way through.

But I was sorely dissatisfied with the way the love triangle was handled, only because I wanted it to be more evenly matched, but Kim Seung-woo‘s character got tossed aside in the latter half of the drama, which was a crying shame. I liked Park Yoochun‘s character as a foil for him, but the conflict was more compelling in the relationship that got dropped, which only served to further sap conflict out of the surviving one. There was a moment when it appeared that the chaebol good guy would be the one to turn to the dark side because of the heroine’s choices, but alas, that fizzled out as so many storylines did. Other threads like single-white-femaling her roommate got dropped like a hot potato, leaving entire sets of characters just dangling there.

So in the end the idea was better than the execution ever lived up to. But the performance from Lee Da-hae was believable and she made an unlikable heroine strangely sympathetic and really engrossing. If the story had held it together in the second half and stuck to the original complexity of the characters and the setup, it would have been a much more solid drama, and left a bigger impression overall.

DramaMeter Rating: Fortune cookie. Lies wrapped in a crispy wafer shell.
 

 
Myung-wol the Spy

Oh, Myung-wol. What you could have been. This drama started out darkly funny and offbeat, promising farcical North Korean war room scenes and silly physical comedy, all with a satirical bent… and then it went on a crack bender, and not the good kind. You’d wonder, how could anyone mess up a screwball comedy with a North Korean spy assassin sent to marry a Hallyu star? (Because the joke’s in the premise!) But lo and behold, you can totally mess it up, and you can mess it up but good.

The downward spiral was fast and furious, each time slinging the characters into some new storyline that made even less sense than the one that came before. It was kind of like watching a really public nervous breakdown… except… it was actually like watching a really public nervous breakdown. Life started imitating art and back again, and suddenly the drama was without a lead actress, who walked off set from over-exhaustion. Or perhaps she was just tired of being confused by each new script? It turned out that the behind-the-scenes drama upstaged the actual drama, which is never a good thing.

So many things about the story confused me, like why a badass assassin spy let herself get dragged around like a rag doll all the time, or why the biggest star in Korea was still beholden to his original financial backer, or why the villain did… anything that he did. It was all so tenuously held together, like a web of logic held together by icicles on a hot summer day.

When it was fun, this show had an absurd sense of humor with lots of promise, but sadly the drama I wanted to watch never saw the light of day. Maybe the Anti-Hallyu squad ran off with it and sabotaged the production by replacing the crew with evil doppelgangers. ‘Cause that would explain a lot.

DramaMeter Rating: Expired milk. Was once good, now stinks up your fridge.
 

 
Scent of a Woman

Frankly I thought this drama would leave a bigger impact on me, but it never fully swept me up in that magical way. I can feel that it wanted to, and it tried, but it just doesn’t stand out once I step back and think about the dramas I watched this year. It was shot with that gorgeous camera, filled with a great cast, was an uplifting story about a woman’s second chance at life, but I think it was missing that ineffable quality that just gets me in the gut makes me love a drama, faults and all.

What I did love about it was the heroine’s central conflict – a woman who’s spent her whole life repressing her desires and living a humdrum existence gets diagnosed with terminal cancer, and instead of moping about it, she decides to start living. It’s so satisfying to watch her talk back to her horrible boss, take herself on a shopping spree, or take up tango lessons just because she’s always wanted to. Kim Sun-ah takes her from timid, mousy wallflower to vibrant, outspoken heroine, and we cheer her on with excitement.

But the drama gets bogged down with a lot of needless conflict that gets in the way—chaebol heroes and their attendant issues and screechy family members, ex-fiancées and their screechy family members, work conflicts that no one cares about—so that somehow the cancer and the living each day to the fullest gets a little lost in the other drama. A really long bout of noble idiocy didn’t do much to curry favor either.

I ended up liking the second lead more than the hero, not necessarily as a romantic rival, but just as a character. Eom Ki-joon played Dr. Poopypants with quiet humor and hidden depth, and I found myself more interested in his growth as a person than the main romance happening on the other side.

But this drama did get a few things right, like the heroine’s resolve to make her mother laugh once a day, or teaching Dr. Poopy how to dance, or letting herself be happy in the arms of the one she loves. Her bucket list was a challenge not to prepare for the end, but to turn the page and keep living for the future. The message was worth it; I just wish we could’ve waded through the crap a lot faster to get there.

DramaMeter Rating: Roller rink. You go around in circles but it seems fun at the time.
 

 
Can’t Lose

Can’t Lose was certainly an underdog drama, as it came and went without a big splash, but it was engaging and satisfying from beginning to end. It was a simple story about a couple on the rocks that needs to go through divorce in order to figure out just how much they love each other.

But it’s played for endearing humor and slice-of-life realism rather than high drama, which is always a welcome thing in my book. It may not have been the flashiest drama or even the most memorable one, but I laughed with all the characters down to every wacky sidekick, as they took sides on the battlefield with Team Husband or Team Wife.

This was the first time I’ve liked Choi Ji-woo in years, since she’s taken on the mantle of melodrama queen, and it was so refreshing to see her be so light and bubbly and fun. Her chemistry with Yoon Sang-hyun was ridiculously adorable, and no matter how much they bickered like schoolchildren, you always wanted them to kiss and make up.

I really enjoyed the smallness of the stories – how tiny arguments and differences can escalate into all-out war, and then suddenly the way she brushes her teeth or the amount of butt space he takes up on the bed becomes a catalyst for conflict. They were delightfully petty, managing to turn everything into a competition, until well, you know what they say about the straw and the camel’s back. Though it took losing each other to figure it out, eventually they learned that at the end of the day, winning or losing isn’t really all that important when it comes to love.

DramaMeter Rating: Three-legged kitty. Equal parts cute and pitiful.
 

 
Girl K

I loved Girl K more for the story that it hinted at than it gave. Because at three short episodes, it’s juuuust long enough to whet your appetite and leave you screaming for more. This drama felt like a comic book in every frame and every line of dialogue, and had an impressive mix of blood-splattering action and suspense, with a strong central character that I took to right away. I mean, a teenage assassin girl who kills with guns, knives, and chains, all while going to high school? Who doesn’t want to see that?

It’s a premise that begs for a longer season, because the three-episode version actually tried a little too hard to cram too much story in there, to the point that it almost falls apart under the weight of it all. The revenge plot alone, Kill Bill -style, could have been one drama. The sci-fi evil scientist lab run by the Big Bad, another drama. The high school student who moonlights as a gun-for-hire, yet another drama (which I would watch for a hundred episodes). They’re all great, all badass, but all together a bit much, especially for three episodes.

Newbie actress Han Groo was stellar as the lead. She hit all the right notes – badass, sassy, vulnerable, enraged – she was believable as both the killer and the girl, which is kind of incredible for someone so new. Altogether, between the actress and the awesome display of badassery in the action/thriller genre, this drama makes me excited for what lies in the future, both for Han Groo and for cable.

DramaMeter Rating: Virgin on prom night. Over before you know it.
 

 
You’ve Fallen For Me

This drama makes me a little sad, because I wanted it to be better than it was. Basically, I wanted it to be another Dream High, but it just wasn’t, by a long shot. You’ve Fallen For Me (or Heartstrings) actually began with a breezy youthful vibe and had some promising characters. But it plodded along at a snail’s pace and did little to nothing with its cast.

The romance between Park Shin-hye and Jung Yong-hwa was certainly cute – one thing that strangely sticks with me is when he shows up to give her a ride, and he’s tied a frog cushion on the backseat of his bicycle for her as a sign that he likes her – but cute is pretty much the extent of their relationship. They never really pulled me into their world or made me care, because I never got the overwhelming feeling that they cared.

Every single time the heroine gave up being the lead in the musical or didn’t assert herself, it let the air out of my tires, and by the end, I was like, who am I rooting for and why? I get that not everyone can be the lead in the school play. Sure. But I want the heroine of THIS DRAMA to be the lead in the musical, to have the underdog success story and be the winner, not the snobby stick girl! A lot of the so-called conflicts in this drama felt rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, which isn’t because it’s about a campus musical, but because there just wasn’t a whole lot at stake for them, ever. So rather than get taken along on the heroine’s journey, we’re left behind to watch passively.

I wanted more of the fusion between rock and traditional Korean music, and would’ve loved if the drama had stayed on course with the rock battles and the campus wars. I feel like Song Chang-eui was tragically wasted as the director, though I did love his rapport with Park Shin-hye, especially early on. It’s too bad he got paired with the downer dance instructor, because it would’ve been great if he were an actual leg in the main love triangle. Hell, I would’ve loved it if the main couple had any real conflict to speak of, because this drama? Could’ve used some drama.

DramaMeter Rating: 404 File Not Found. Abort, Retry, Fail?
 

 
Warrior Baek Dong-soo

This actually ended up being one of my favorite dramas of the year to watch, just as a viewer. Now if I were recapping every episode (and thus forced to measure the boring against the awesome at each turn) it might have been a different story. This drama basically has really high highs and really low lows – when it’s awesome, it’s so kickass it makes me pump my fist in ever-living glory, and when it’s boring, I kind of want to tear my hair out or be sedated. But I suppose what really matters is that it got me in the heart.

The political intrigue in this drama is the simplistic cartoon version, but that’s hardly the point of the show. It’s the bloody, badass action sequences that matter, and they’re reason enough to tune in. I love the way the operatic action sequences are handled. They’re set to modern music and choreographed like a beautiful dance, turning battle into ballet. Yunno, if ballet were bloody and violent.

At its core it’s a story of brotherhood, spanning the divide between good and evil on an epic scale, but in an honorable world where warriors abide by the same code despite the side they’ve chosen. This is why it struck me right away, because anyone can do two-dimensional evil villains and perfect heroes. But a universe where both sides are heroes, and they honor each other as warriors and brothers before all else, is a world that I want to know. Besides, a drama whose main love story is two generations of back-to-back bromance? You know I’m there.

The two central relationships are mirror images of each other: Jeon Gwang-ryul and Choi Min-soo (who were both phenomenal throughout) play the two best swordsmen of the land, old friends who stand on opposite sides. One serves the king and the other leads an army of mercenary killers. They each train one disciple who carries on their legend, played by Ji Chang-wook and Yoo Seung-ho, the latter of whom spends his youth being a double agent among the good guys. Thus the boys grow up friends, who are fated to live out the same tragic battle on opposite sides.

[Spoiler Alert: ending discussion ahead.] This is why the ending didn’t bother me too much, though I gather that it enraged a lot of people. Was I happy about the ending? No. But was it the ending I expected? Yes. Yeo-woon’s death changes their fate, and ends the cycle with them. It’s his way of finally making the choice to buck Fate, as Dong-soo has always urged him to do. It’s important that he chooses to die by Dong-soo’s sword rather than dying some heroic death in his place, because it’s his final gesture of faith that Dong-soo was right all along about making your own destiny. This is the payoff for the hero’s refusal to give up on their friendship, no matter how dark Yeo-woon went: the world is set back on the side of Good, left in Dong-soo’s care. Now that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have been happier if Yeo-woon had just put down his sword and took up knitting sweaters instead, but that’s generally not how heroes like to go out. Stupid heroes.

DramaMeter Rating: Two swords up.
 

 
High Kick 3: Counterattack of the Short Legs

I had low expectations for this daily family sitcom because High Kick isn’t really a comedy franchise so much as a short-format family drama. But I quickly became invested in the wacky characters that inhabit this world, and soon I was laughing out loud at all the antics of two neighboring families, connected by one happy accident in the form of a secret underground tunnel.

We’re just about halfway through the series, but I feel like there’s still so much story to tell. I love the parents, Jong-seok’s growing crush on Ji-won (and his vast ineptness at showing his feelings), and Yoon Kye-sang’s utterly ridiculous Dr. Get-a-Clue. Basically, everyone’s so cute you just want to squish them.

In a cast full of great characters it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’ve actually come to love Park Ha-sun‘s character the most, which surprised me. She plays a meek, unassuming teacher, who’s so nice that you find her pretty frustrating at first. But she owns her character’s transformation from sheltered girl to adventurous young woman with sometimes side-splitting hilarity, and often sensitive realism. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s the object of the show’s best romantic storyline – Seo Ji-seok‘s undying secret love for her that just about kills me with its sweetness. When they’re onscreen together my heart just melts.

What this show manages to do so well is draw you in with the daily adventures, and then sneak-attack you with sudden burst of heart. I can earnestly say I’ve shed more tears for the High Kick family than for most of the melodramas I’ve seen this year, because they’re not tragedy-tears, but heartwarming ones. When Dad hit rock bottom and then his family rallied behind him? When Mom stepped up to be silent and strong? *waaaah*

It’s enough to make you wonder how they got under your skin, at a measly twenty minutes a day. But I guess this show is like real family that way – you don’t really notice them in the everyday, but they just become a part of you, and before you know it, you cry when they cry and laugh when they laugh.

DramaMeter Rating: Daily serving of rice. You don’t really notice its value until you try living without it.
 

 
Vampire Prosecutor

Vampire Prosecutor is one slick puppy. Though it’s a genre mashup, it’s primarily a stab at the American crime procedural, and the first that I’ve seen done just as well. It takes a stand-alone murder of the week as the primary story of each episode and sends our prosecutor team out to the field to solve the grisly murder, using more old school powers of deduction rather than the supernatural ones endowed to our law-upholding vampire hero.

It’s polished, beautifully lit and shot, and edited assuming that the audience is smart, (sometimes too smart, as my frequent rewinding suggests). I love a show that stays ahead of its viewers, though admittedly some twists are more effective than others. But what the show really got right was its ragtag prosecutor team – the vampire, hot, broody, and cheeky to boot; the cop and bestie, keeper of secrets and drinker of juice boxes; the young upstart female prosecutor with a chip on her shoulder and a growing crush; and the doofy intern everybody likes to push around. They’re just the right amount of dry, smart, and badass, and you just want to watch them solve crimes forever.

The show does lack a certain balancing act between the murder of the week and the overarching Big Bad of the season, choosing to dole out the long-term mystery one tiny droplet at a time. It’s almost enough to make you forget or stop caring, with such little attention paid to the bigger picture. I prefer a show that gets more twisty with its season-arc than its one-offs, and with a such an important mystery to the main character (the murder of his sister and his being turned into a vampire), you’d think they’d skimp a little on the murder of the week so we could sink our teeth into the death we really care about.

But as the show went on, it got better and better at integrating the main characters into the weekly murder mysteries. A standout episode was the murder of the mafia boss that brought the heroine face to face with her mobster father as the prime suspect, and dragged her personal backstory into the case. The two-part finale was as epic as promised, sending the prosecutor on the run from the law to solve the case and clear his name, in a nice reversal filled with tension and gripping action.

With the production in talks to do a second season next year, I’m excited to see the effects of the trail this show has blazed on the cable landscape, as a ratings heavy-hitter, a successful genre mashup, and a slick crime procedural primed for multi-season storytelling. More cheeky, badass vampire prosecutor equally skilled at applying guyliner as he is at catching the bad guys? Consider me there, with bells on.

DramaMeter Rating: O-Negative. Dry, full-bodied vintage.
 

 
Man of Honor

Man of Honor is a drama that I watched solely for the leads, Park Min-young and Chun Jung-myung, despite my reservations about the writer (who penned last year’s makjang king, Baker King Kim Takgu). I like Park Min-young in just about everything, and here she’s as plucky and winning as ever. The problem is, she and Chun have the chemistry of a pair of siblings. Not the kind they’re supposed to be – faux siblings who fall in love with each other – but real siblings who ought not to be touching.

It’s rather unfortunate, because that’s really the only thing that would’ve saved this ship from sinking. Sadly, the best parts of this drama were when they thought he was her oppa and their biggest worry was how to convince Mom to accept her. The family dynamic was cute and fun, despite the melodramatic turn looming ahead.

Park has better chemistry with the second lead played by Lee Jang-woo, who isn’t really a more effective romantic rival, so much as an interesting take on the usual chaebol heir. He suffers from a psychological disorder, like Tourette’s, but specifically as a reaction to his overbearing father, which goes a long way in making him sympathetic and layered. But he’s pretty much the only character with that level of characterization, making everyone else just your standard hero, heroine, villain, brash mom with a heart of gold, etc.

This is hands-down the most predictable by-the-book drama of the year. It’s the perfect example of what happens when you follow the decades-long blueprint of all the dramas that came before it, with no spin, no creative turn of its own. Cinderella loses her parents in a tragic accident, grows up an orphan with no memory of her former life, comes to think the hero is her brother, then learns who she really is and sets her sights on righting all wrongs. It has a mustache-twirling evil villain who’s so over-the-top that he’s unintentionally comical, and every plot point feels maneuvered into position by the hand of Fate, making each character feel like nothing but a chess piece.

Sometimes you have to learn your lessons the hard way. I know now after two whole dramas that I do not like this writer and her single-entendre-I-will-say-exactly-what-I-mean dialogue. There are still four episodes left (though why this drama is 24 episodes long, I couldn’t tell you), so things could change, but I don’t expect them to. There’s at least one upside to being the most predictable drama ever – you know what kind of ending Cinderella always gets.

DramaMeter Rating: Your sister’s diary. You wish you hadn’t read it, but now you can’t un-see what you saw.
 

 
Thousand Day Promise

This drama had the performances of the year — watching the decline of a young, intelligent woman into the recesses of her own mind is terrifying, but the main character is nothing short of magnetic, and played to perfection. But goddamn is it the bleakest of stories. It’s gripping, but in the end you’re not sure if you’re emotionally drained, or if Show just bitch-slapped you.

For most of the series’ run, it was an intense, compelling melodrama powered by pure raw emotion rather than plot maneuvering. There are definite downsides though, in that while it’s nice not to rely on plot for the melodrama, it’s nice to have some. You know, to move things along and have all the characters change and grow, rather than just emote according to the situation at hand. I feel like at the expense of one central character who has all the growth / downward spiral, the peripheral characters all remain in place. So while Seo-yeon’s journey is always in flux, it feels as if the world around her has no movement.

The character owes everything to the actress – Su Ae‘s tour de force performance is by far the best of the year. She plays everything from denial to despair to hope to anger with astounding depth, each time peeling new layers away as Seo-yeon faces the loss of her memory, and more importantly, her identity. I’ve always loved her, but she’s never been as raw and unnerving as she is here.

One of the biggest things that went to waste was the fluidity of time and memory in the storytelling. In the beginning of the show we began with a loose sense of time, telling parts of story in flashback and moving between the main characters’ collective memories. I expected that element to be more prominent as Seo-yeon’s memory begins to fade, and was excited to see how experimental they could be with narrative time. But alas, it’s a device that fell by the wayside, underutilized and sadly forgotten.

Writer Kim Soo-hyun is actually the most palatable to me of her class of A-list writers, most of whose work I find cold by virtue of their overwritten nature. But despite that, Kim’s characters have a warmth to them that I connect with. This drama had one of the most moving displays of familial love I’ve seen this year. And what really kills me is the heroine’s struggle not to lose herself or her fear of leaving this world without any trace that she was here. That feels like it comes straight from a writer’s heart, and makes her extraordinary circumstance feel universal, and ordinary, and endlessly compelling.

[Spoiler Alert: ending discussion ahead.] So then why, WHY, choose to undermine all that with a listless ending that’s as bleak as night? It’s not even what happened to the characters, but the emotional payoff that was so utterly lacking. It never gave me final moments with family members, or one moment of connection between Seo-yeon and her child, and worst of all, nothing left of Seo-yeon’s writing to be passed on. I felt robbed, and it was drastic enough to make me wonder if the rest of the journey had been worth it. ‘Cause if I had known Emotional Deflate-o-land was the destination, I might not have gotten on this train.

DramaMeter Rating: A box full of puppies. Abandoned in the street. On Christmas Eve.
 

 
Flower Boy Ramyun Shop

I love this drama. So. Much. It’s far from perfect, but it hits my sweet spot. I will always have an affinity for dramas set in high school that manage to juggle that perfect mix of the absurd and the earnest. It’s why I love Freaks and Geeks, Buffy, Veronica Mars, why I talk incessantly about Biscuit Teacher Star Candy. Because they’re heightened reality, and stripped of all the lame adult stuff you have to deal with later in life, and simply focused on the feelings and the crazy of being young. And when you’re young, there’s just so much crazy. When a drama can capture the essence of what it is to be youthful and hopelessly confused in love, with wit to spare? Then it captures my heart.

Flower Boy Ramyun Shop is cleverly written with an eye for the meta, hiding insightful character moments under layers and layers of jokes, puns, and metaphors, all drawn from dramaland or popular culture. It takes after the Hong Sisters style of buildup: joke, callback, punch to the gut with earnest meaning, rinse, repeat. It’s the kind of reversal that feels satisfying and well-earned, and gives the characters an added sense of wit, since they’re the ones spouting wordplay at each other. The story moves along at a speedy pace, clearing up conflicts with swift resolutions and saucy skinship, all the while introducing a new theme in each episode, about the universality of a shared song, what a person’s scent can tell you, or how all the ways to make ramyun can teach you a lot about love.

Cha Chi-soo is hands-down one of my favorite characters of the year. His literal interpretation of love as a series of physical ailments never ceases to amuse me. I love his tantrums, his cheeky comebacks, and his newness to… everything. And I’d be lying if I said it’s not because he’s played by Jung Il-woo. He imbues Chi-soo with such a range, from the absurd and impetuous, to the honest and vulnerable, to the young man utterly captivated by love.

I love that he loves with the intensity and the recklessness of someone his age, and that our heroine Eun-bi, who’s closer to adulthood and facing responsibility, is a little more guarded and fearful of what it means to let her heart boil over. It’s an instance where we see youth’s advantage: that maybe being young and so clear about your desires is more honest in the face of love. Chi-soo takes a while to know what love is, but it’s Eun-bi who knows and fears it. That difference feels spot-on to me, and makes their conflict organic and real, despite the absurd sense of comedy and endless stream of toilet humor on the surface.

[Spoiler Alert: ending discussion ahead.] What I enjoyed most about this show was its ability to balance the ridiculous and the heartfelt — the fairytale-reversing rescue where the heroine storms the castle to save her prince (hell yeah), countered with the real-life choices you make to follow your heart and grab love in the here and now, not knowing the outcome. Ramyun Shop may be a familiar setup, but it’s populated by fresh and colorful characters, smart zippy dialogue, hilarious situational comedy, and so much heart it boileth over.

DramaMeter Rating: Un-ripened kimchi. You spicy little tart.
 
 

And that’s it for my drama year! Thanks for tuning in, and thanks to our guest recappers for joining us in the yearly round-up. Coming up next: Editors’ Picks, where you’ll find out how our votes shook out for the best of the best, and who went home with a black eye. Hint: it wasn’t me.

 
RELATED POSTS

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

181

Required fields are marked *

City Hunter - was by far my favorite out of all the dramas this year. It had the right amount of badassery and heart. I adored Lee Min-ho and Park Min-young in this. I was proud to stand this hero/heroine set.

Girl K - was my 2nd fav. OMG. I wish this was longer..or at least extend the love interest a bit longer. Either way, I'm looking forward to other works by Han Groo.

Vampire Prosecutor - slick, sleek and oh so amazing. Second Season, please?

Flower Boy Ramyun Shop - Suffice to say I didn't care much for Eunbi and Chi-soo. /shrug
I only really cared for Bawool, Hyun-woo, and Kang-hyuk.

Worse Dramas? Spy Myung-wol, Lie to Me, Best of Love, You've Fallen for Me, Scent of a Woman, and Miss Ripley. I'm sorry but I just could NOT continue past the early episodes with these shows....

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

That kissing pic on the top, from what drama is that?

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I've been waiting for your review! Yours always hit me right here *thumps at chest dramatically*. Seriously though, thank you for sharing your thoughts on the dramas of 2011.

Particularly, thank you for saying what I've been hiding at the back of my mind for a really long time: That Park Min Young and Chun Jung Myung's chemistry was of the sibling sort. I really didn't want to admit it... even after I dropped the drama. *sobs* I just really really really hoped against all hopes that this drama would work cuz I loved both leads just as you did. *sigh*

Oh well, among those you reviewed, FBRS and City Hunter saved the year for me. Here's to another year of drama watching!^^ Cheers to you and JB!^^

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Has NOBODY watched Protect the Boss? :(

0
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Alice I did!!! PT was adorable for the first 13 episodes I LOL all the way through, but then the drama really dragged with the whole "company sucession schemes" like the whole conflict felt force. Also, the extension kinda hurt the drama, cause it created conflict/separation that wasn't needed it at all. However, over all it was enjoy to watch ....

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Apparently not any bunch at Dramabeans... then again, I haven't either so who am I to talk? I have bad luck with mainstream popular Kdramas--like BOF and Shining Inheritance for an instance. Hated them but more so BOF than Shining Inheritance (Amazing start, miserable 2nd half).

0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Not true - MANY of us watched and LOVED PtB here. Just because a Kdrama isn't recapped on this site doesn't mean that we're not interested. You should join in on the lively Friday OT post where tons of stuff is discussed - dramas included. PtB was really lots of fun to watch - we were universally thrilled with the new take on the female second lead and fell in love with her.
:)

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I did. Well, at least the first 8--or wait a minute, did I reach 10?--episodes of it.

Frankly, I wanted to watch because of Jaejoong and see how he does in acting--which is okay by the way.

However the whole second-generation-chaebol-successor-with-love-triangle/square-on-the-side plot dragged. And while the main cast tried to make up for the lack in substantial plot by trying to be funny, I just couldn't see what the whole story is driving at and had nothing that substantial enough to get engaged into it.

I wished DB made a review too. But then again, seeing all 4 reviews without a mere mention of PtB makes me think maybe it didn't have that great of an impact.

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thanks GF for your great reviews!! couldn't expect anything less.

My Top 3 dramas:

City Hunter-Cause heck it was just amazing and yes LMH outfits really had something to do with it, it kept me guessing what he will be wearing next.

FBRS-Cause its was like falling in love all over for the first time, with someone who is out out your league completely, but yet miracles do happened down at the end.

Best of Love-Cause hearing "Panties!" would never be the same, the same goes for Potato and Ding Dong!...

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

U know what would be great? A podcast of all the editors fighting over their picks, i would love to listen to that!!!

Thanks to everyone for their reviews!

0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

omg, that would be epic and I would definitely tune in!

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

City Hunter and My Princess are tops for me!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I completely agree about Man of Honor. The character Seo In U is really the most interesting and he has awesome chemistry with Jane. I also agree that it was at its best when she thought she was a member of the family. I'm really hoping Lee Jang Woo gets a leading role after this one.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

1st thing, thank u soo much for yourawesome review. For 2011,city hunter by far was the BEST FREAKING DRAMA EVER! Its not just bout LMH being all hot n heroic at the same time(alyhough most of it is) but what got to me was his fucked up relationship with his ass daddy and how he fight to make his dad see that revenge aint just bout killing n done with it. Eventhough i'm more of a romcom fan,but city hunter was 1 of the very few dramas i didnt mind Yoon sung n nana bear notbeing the cental of the story. And damn it how can a guy be THAT hot and bbadass at the same time?! LOL,enough bout city hunter. 49 days wasnt really as epic asother dramas,but the storyline was what kept me going to watch. And the Kang-ah moments :) not to forget the hot scheldurer. Who knew death could be so hot? (totally the jung il woo effect. Due to really stress load of work this year,i really didnt got to catch much dramas n read only recaps bout it. Scent of a woman, the only saving grace was Poopy pants.Even lee dong wok abs and god like looks didnt do it. FLOWER BOY RAMYUN SHOP WHERE HAVE U BEEN THE ENTIRE TIME WHEN I NEEDED U?!?! By far the best romcom i ever watched. CHA CHI SOO N PILLAR WAS THE BEST! N THE NOONA KILLER SMILES CHA GAVE. *die* story wise it was a lil bit fluffy and really straight forward,but omfg the meta,the wordplays,the BROMANCE,THE THEKIMCHI KISS and not to forget the adorable dad who's jealous of pororo. omfg tht was hilarious. I cpuld go on and on bout this drama. But I will stop here. PS,sorry bout my messy thoughts. I'm not exactly the type to write down my thoughts due tomultiple thougjts crossing each other at the same time.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

You know, I've had my share of difference with Dramabeans Kdrama reviewer but I THINK... I *THINK* I've found someone to relate with. I've seen some of the Kdramas that you've rated and OMG, I could not agree with you anymore in almost ALL sense. Why don't we read more of YOUR reviews?

Anyway, what a refreshing read. It's almost rare for me to find someone who has the same opinion in Kdramas... I'll definitely looking out for more of your reviews.

By the way, I think you've had the best ONE-LINER at the end of your reviews.

DramaMeter Rating: 404 File Not Found. Abort, Retry, Fail?

LMFAO! That line was more entertaining than the whole "You've Fallen For Me"!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I totally loved your Drama Meter ratings, especially the one for 49 Days: "∑ 49 √ 7 ≈ 3 ∆ ☺". I really don't know why, but it was the first one that made me let out a loud "Haha!" I haven't seen it yet, but plan to watch it soon despite already knowing what happens in the end (somehow that doesn't really bother me).

As a newbie to K-drama starting this year, City Hunter was one of the first that I watched and I have to say that I picked a good one. It was like an addictive drug and I just had to keep going until the end. It is definitely one of the best and one of my favorites among everything else I've seen this year. Next in line is Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, but since I haven't seen the ending yet, I don't know which one I'll end up putting in first place.

Yeo Woon's death in WBDS really wasn't what resonated the anger from a lot of netizens (at least that's not the reason why it pissed me off). I loved the series overall for the world and the action and the bromance (the love lines were unfortunately poorly done); there were blatant flaws in the story line and the editing, but I chose to overlook them after some fuming. I love adventure stories like this (it reminded me of the Chinese wuxia stories I have always loved).

And I totally expected a death scene for Yeo Woon with the predictable last battle between him and Baek Dong Soo. But the events that had suddenly taken place leading up to Yeo Woon's death was what got me. His final resolve to die by Dong Soo's sword was propelled by the fact that he gave into the fate that he would forever have to live the life of an assassin otherwise. In my opinion, that wasn't really fighting his fate as much as it was giving up on his fight because no one around him believed he could change his life, not even himself.

But I could go on about my ranting about the ending, so I better stop.

Let's see... Lie To Me was one I picked up because of Yoon Eun Hye and Kang Ji Hwan. But having heard some negatives on it, I went into it fully trying my darndest to like it. I really, really wanted to enjoy it. Instead, I spent my time scolding it like it was a delinquent child who should have known better than commit wrongs.

Anyway, I always love reading the recaps and posts here at Dramabeans. They've helped me to understand a lot of series a lot better (especially anything that doesn't make sense to me with simple subbing translations).

Thanks for all the great posts!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I am a very picky drama watcher and I have a short attention span to boot. I never stick around for a drama and I have only finished 4 dramas since 2009 (I know I try to keep watching until the end for most dramas but then I forget what drama I am watching and yeah). Only two dramas this year have kept my attention span and one I am still trying to finish.

I finished City Hunter and although I agree that after episode 7 I began doubting the drama, I stuck through and I wasn't disappointed. I loved the characters, the interactions, and I loved the daddy-son relationship. It was my drama of the year.

I am currently attempting to finish Vampire Prosecutor because I really like the characters but I still haven't gotten pass episode 8 due to time limitations. I am loving Ojakgyo Brothers. I love the characters and I can't say that I don't love Joo-won, his character's mother issues really made me cry.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

"49 Days had its share of faults too though, for as many upsides it had. Other than Jung Il-woo‘s turn as the smartass Scheduler, most of the cast seemed to be sedated."

I think the writer meant the other characters to be calmer than Scheduler's, who's just all- out and living- life- because- I- died- at- 23. For one, Han Kang is really the silent and thoughtful type, so he's expected to be "sedated."

Wow. Why'm I so defensive about 49 Days? I guess I just really love the drama. Haha.

0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

There were a lot of draggy scenes in 49 Days, but it is also addicting because of the cliffhangers and Jo Hyun Jae aka Kang ah.

He is my favorite character in 49 Days.

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I'm totally with you on the ending in I Need Romance. I would've loved for her to end up with the younger guy, prince charming and all. But realistically, like she said, she wasn't meant to live or ready to live in his world. As much as I love a Cinderella ending, I would have done the same thing. She's a rational person.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

City Hunter, Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, Vampire Prosecutor, 49 Days, Best Love, Can't Lose, You've Fallen For Me, High Kick! 3, Myung-wol the Spy are the dramas I watched this year, or some of them. And that is the order in which I enjoyed them. More or less. City Hunter was THE BEST drama of the year. Flower Boy Ramyun Shop and Bes Love were the best rom-coms. 49 Days was the best melodrama. Can't Lose was good too. High Kick! 3 was the best sitcom. Vampire Prosecutor was the best mashup of genres with a badass vamp hero. You've Fallen For Me was good, but could have been better. And Myung-wol the Spy was a HUGE disappointment.

Thanks for your input, Girlfriday!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Welcome to the end of the year GF.

When I read the title I thought there was some wine involved in this post but it seemed you did it sober.

As always interesting to read your thoughts. So glad you can remember all these dramas so well.

I used to believe a drama was good if you could watch it twice but this was a year of finding my ability to watch dramas over is failing. The only one I could watch of the above is '49 Days' and it was on TV. To tell the truth I couldn't even watch a lot of these through the 1st time.

Hoping 2013 brings dramas to prove my KDrama Fan handle.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

2011 is Jung Il Woo's year...yeah! ^^
attempting to see Can't Lose
and Realy Love GF's Dramameter Rating.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

ha, simply love your dramameter.

i think it gives some of the most accurate yet laughable ratings ever :D

i still have no inkling why flower boy ramyun shop is so popular. maybe 'cos i'm still stuck at episode 3, not really that captivating for me.

thanks for all the recaps this year, and year 2012 ... i know i'll definitely be checking dramabeans nearly daily :D

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

What I love the most about gf review it's her obvious love for Jung Il Woo :-)

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

My pick for best action drama 2011 is City Hunter, for Rom com: I need romance (1), Flower Boy Ramyun Shop (2) and Can't Lose (3). Melodrama/makjang: Man of Honor and Thousand day of promise. I was actually want to pick Best Love but I love Can't Lose better, so... its a hard choice though...

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I understand people like GF's thoughts and like in the dramas, but talking bad about the other two who did review just because they didn't go crazy for the dramas you loved is so immature. Grow up!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thanks for the review, GF! :D

I've only watched Dream High and YFFM so far, but My Princess, Best Love, and City Hunter are next in line :D DB is such a major influence on my K-drama watching.

My Princess has already been shown on local TV here, and YFFM is going to be shown soon as well. I hear City Hunter and Dream High have also been optioned. YFFM is getting a lot of word of mouth here. But then I guess we Filipinos have always liked the cute. :D

0
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

hi! i live in the philippines too but ever since Meteor Garden i prefer to watch with english subtitles rather than tagalog-dubbed... i guess the ones i watched that were dubbed really disappointed me coz they don't sound right and some actually don't translate well... but i'd like to know if there are some that were dubbed nicely?

0
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

Hello ^_^ It depends on "nicely..."? There are some dramas where I actually liked the dub and some dramas where, having already watched the subbed version and read the DB recap, I was shaking my fist at the TV yelling "that's not what she really said, you idiot!" [*cough* Shining Inheritance *cough*] Some stuff never gets translated right because the TV networks sometimes tend to use the local context and not the Korean cultural reference-- I guess it's hard to translate the cultural references and they just assume it will go over the audience's heads anyway so they use the local context, maybe, I'm not sure. Stuff like the use of banmal and jondaemal, for instance, I never understood or caught on to till I read the DB recaps. Which drama dubs did you not like?

0
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Boys Over Flowers... i regret watching the tagalog-dubbed coz i was constantly distracted not only by the rough translations but the ugly voices as well... they were nowhere near the actual voice of the actors and did not fit the personalities...

then i tried again with Down With Love (taiwanese drama with Jerry Yan and Ella Chen) coz i really found that show hilariously funny... again the weird voices and changes in the dialogue turned me off :(

0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

We have a theory about that... they seem to use the same voice talents over and over again, so yeah, a lot of the time they don't sound like the actor's actual voice at all. I think two of the most comical moments for me that just sounded funny and overblown was again, Shining Inheritance, where Hwan yells at Eunsung for almost getting run over, and in their conversation at the lighthouse, because it just sounded so plain out of character and cheesy. Hwan (Lee Seung Gi, for pete's sake) bawling out loud, omg. And yeah, I also liked the subbed version of Down With Love better than the dubbed one. Also, Elvin and Malou for Yu Ping and Yang Guo, omg, who thinks up these names! YFFM's Shin and Kyu Won are now... dun dun dun... Kevin and Nicole! I wish they'd just keep the names.

0

THANK YOU!!!! for a wonderful refreshing year-end review. I definitely have to watch Girl K. And Can't Lose may have to become my rainy/snowy day drama.

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

DramaMeter Rating: ∑ 49 √ 7 ≈ 3 ∆ ☺
This was as cryptic as the drama ending! Brilliant summary!

DramaMeter Rating: 404 File Not Found. Abort, Retry, Fail?

I laugh so hard when I saw this. Apt description too LOL

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

QUESTION!...~ did you finish watching Princess' Man? Because that and City Hunter took out my heart this year.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

No one wrote any reviews for 'Protect the Boss'. I was waiting to read some review about it.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I pretty much agree w/ GF regarding "My Princess", "Best Love", "Girl K", "Lie To Me" and "Dream High" w/ a few caveats.

"MP" was a lot of fun, well, at least when it concentrated on the 2 leads and the good professor.

The most important thing for a good romcom is the relationship btwn the 2 leads and how it develops over time - here, the writer for MP did a good job with that - doing a good job mixing in the cute/funny with the emotional moments.

Yeah, the background story line was a bit lame, but then again, most romcoms really don't have great background stories.

"Coffee Prince" - about revamping a down and out coffee shop, "MGIAG" - about a 9-tailed fox that wants to become human, "Secret Garden" - I don't even know what the baclground story for SG was supposed to be.

"BL" was great and the most complete Hong sisters romcom to date when it came to writing and character development, including the supporting characters (this is where MGIAG was severly lacking).

Next to "CP", it's the most complete and well-written romcom with really funny scenes (dingdong!) counterbalanced with a lot heart.

Dokko Jin is the most memorable character in a romcom for the year (taking over for Miho from "MGIAG" from 2010); for more serious fair, it's got to be Lee Do/Sejong in "TWDR."

But when it comes to favorite overall couples, I'd probably give the edge to the couple in "MP."

"Girl K" was violent, but had a lot going for it, esp. Han Groo. Could have been better served as a 6-8 ep series, but oh, well.

"LTM" was just plain awful; not only was there a lot of bad overacting, but the writing, both the overall storyline and the dialogue was just cringeworthy.

Really wanted to like "LTM" b/c I was hoping for YEH to get out of her rut of picking bad projects, but no dice.

Basically, when it came to bad writing and dialogue, one dimensional, stereotypical characters and predictable plotlines, LTM was this year's "Secret Garden", except possibly even worse.

As for "Dream High" - saw only the 1st few eps and it was alright, but not enough to interest me in continuing.
For those who like the whole HS-scene and singing and dancing, it seemed like a decent watch.

Oops, almost forgot "Warrior Baek Dong-soo."

"WBDS" had it's moments, but basically it ended being the same plotline circling around over and over again.

I actually preferred the 2 lead characters when they were younger w/ the younger actors and the best part when the characters were older was the whole bonding thing as they went thru their training.

After that, it was standard avg. sageuk fare (the "baddie" escaping death numerous times and many deaths towards the end).

When it comes to these types of "standard" sageuks, I'd say there have been better.

Now, "TWDR" which GF didn't comment on (GF - you really, really have to watch this, if you haven't) is not the typical sageuk and is hands down the best series of the year and probably the best K-drama series ever (certainly the best of all that I have seen).

Everything about it is superb - the writing/dialogue, the acting, the direction, the cinematography, etc.

Han Seok-kyu brings a powerhouse performance which is just brilliant - one that I would put right there with the best from Jeon Do-yeon.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thanks for the review Girlfriday!

So fun. Love your DramaMeter!

LMAO at ∑ 49 √ 7 ≈ 3 ∆ ☺ and 404 File Not Found. Abort, Retry, Fail? hahahaa

Yay, City Hunter was my drama of the year as well. like Javabeans, it is the perfect and complete entertainment for me. it might not make my heart burst and cry a river, or roll on the floor laughing, but enough heartfelt for me to feel for the characters without feeling down from it, because immediately after that it provided smiles back. one moment it was intense, then it was giddy. all in one episode.

and i guess its the drama of the year for dramabeans as well, because the number of comments for the recaps.. were pretty insane. the fans definitely went insane at that time.

anyway, I Need Romance, i hate where that drama went. tell me whats the message of the show? choose someone you're comfortable with even if you are going to spend your life being cheated over and over again?

and Dream High, yeah its one of the surprise of the year for me. i didnt expect to have a high school kdrama be that good. the k necklace was a great idea to keep viewers on their edge until the end. and the love triangle also. Samdong-ah~!! eventhough to be honest, if its not for Kim Soo Hyun i dont know if i will like it that much.

so, this is the last review? i was expecting other recappers as well, like thundie. i read her twitter and i thought she was trying to finish some dramas for the review, no? anyway, thanks for all the reviews and i'm looking forward to the Editor's pick. i'm sure Dahee wont let you go easy with City Hunter haha.

0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

ok i must have forgotten just now but thinking back my heart definitely exploded hundred times in City Hunter. how could i say the show didnt cause it to burst. when Nana shot YS, that was one of them.

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

thank you so much for this! javabeans had a rly good day when she found you and made you her plucky sidekick :D

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Watching K-dramas is one thing, but hearing girlfriday opinion about them is a WHOLE other world! Love it! Hope you will keep up the sassiness.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

No one talked about Protect the Boss?
I think it's fun!!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

it has been a good year for Kdramas... and for me too... been watching kdramas since winter sonata... n started to get really serious 2 or 3 years ago... but i watch so many dramas this year... haha

Dream High was way better than i expected.. the first few eps weren't good but it got better n interesting... and Kim Soohyun really did so well... love him...

CIty Hunter... i expected it to be really cheesy.. yes it is chessy at some point but in the good way... and i swear i'm not really into Lee Minho but his role in CH makes me fangirling over him.. rofl...

Warrior Baek Dong Su is a major dissapointment for me... i watched it bcoz of Yoo Seungho.. the story didn't sync.. idk it feels weird at some point... felt like the heroin is the other girl, Jinju and not Jiseon... and i didn't want Ye Wun to die but he died..

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Here are the results of a poll on Ezday conducted from Dec. 9 to Dec. 16

The Best Drama of 2011
1. The Tree with Deep Roots (SBS) 26.1%
2. The Best Love (MBC) 26.0%
3. Smile, Donghae (KBS) 20.3%
4. The Princess' Man (KBS) 13.6%

The Best Comedy Program of 2011
1. One Night Two Days 1박2일 (KBS) 36.0%
2. Infinite Challenge 무한도전 (MBC) 24.8%
3. I'm a Singer 나는 가수다 (MBC) 17.7%
4. Gag Concert 개그 콘서트 (KBS) 11.3%

The Best Actor of 2011
1. Han Seok Kyu (The Tree with Deep Roots) 31.7%
2. Cha Seung Won (The Best Love) 29.7%
3. Park Shi Hoo (The Princess' Man) 16.1%
4. Lee Min Ho (City Hunter) 11.8%

The Best Actress of 2011
1. Gong Hyo Jin (The Best Love) 35.1%
2. Moon Chae Won (The Princess' Man) 23%
3. Hwang Jeong Eum (Can You Hear My Heart) 13.1%
4. Kim Tae Hee (My Princess) 11.6%

The Best Entertainer of 2011
1. Yoo Jae Seok (Infinite Challenge, Running Man) 43.8%
2. Kim Byeong Man (Master, Kiss&Cry) 23.4%
3. Lee Seung Gi (1 Night 2 Days, Strong Heart) 12.8%
4. Kang Ho Dong (1 Night 2 Days, Strong Heart, Knee-drop Guru) 11.1%

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Man, did I laugh out loud during this review. I LOVE reading Girlfriday and Javabean reviews. ;)

I'm sad to find that out of all 4 reviews, not even one reviewed "Protect The Boss". :(
I'm surprised that neither Javabeans nor Girlfriday watched it as I know they're big on Rom-Coms which "Protect The Boss" was BRILLIANT at. I didn't plan on watching it and was hesitant to because of the absence of review/recap on Dramabeans but once I watched the first episode, I got completely sucked into it. The heroine was probably the 1st girl I wasn't screaming at to just stand up for herself. LOL. She was so plucky and straight-up which was just SO awesome and satisfying for me to watch. :)
AHH, I wish this drama had been recapped because I would have LOVED to hear their thoughts on this. I can't believe they missed this drama as it was one of highest rated drama this year. Same goes for "Shining Inheritance" and "Kim Tak Gu".
Haha, not complaining though. I just really enjoy reading their thoughts in the recaps and sharing thoughts with everyone else. I know they're all immensely busy so they can't watch every drama out there. Too bad there wasn't already a drama meter on each prior so they can know ahead of time which good ones to watch. lol

This is probably the last of the reviews on dramabeans, right?

Anyways, thank-you once again for this hilarious review, Girlfriday! :)

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Spot on, girlfriday!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thank you GF! A great year-end review. I loved all of the ones you loved and hated most of what you hated.

Disclaimer: I'm a super casual viewer only.

I really really loved Scent of Woman. It just broke my heart and then put it back together that other dramas haven't done. Maybe it was because it was shown during the time I was crumbling in real life; for some reason I found the drama really uplifting. I really love it. Gonna watch it now. Haha.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

GF, I'll just say it (again): I HEART YOUUUUU.

Love your review, best one by a mile (my opinion, anyway) !! Butttt thanks to y'all for tirelessly spending time writing these reviews :)

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I'm not really agree with your review.Plus am I the only one who thinks that flower ramyun shop is overrated?! Anyway the drama of the year for me is Scent of woman.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

nice reviews of the dramas, Girlfriday!!! I especially loved what you said about "City Hunter"...and about "A thousand Day's Promise" although I have only seen 9 episodes of this drama!

Great reviews, Guys!!! I like reading them even if I don't or didn't see all the dramas!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

That was fun:) , thank you, GF!

Man, Agree on Girl K~ favorite of the year :)

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I loved Dream High. I wasn't expecting much, but when I read all the reviews, I tried it out. It turned out to be one of my favourite dramas. I also became a fan of Kim Soo Hyun. He was just so spot on. When he was discovering music (playing on the piano) or when he lost his hearing, I just felt for him.

I absolutely love Flower Boy Ramyun Shop. It was fantastic. I loved the little family they created together. I loved the metaphors. I loved their laughter and their tears.

City Hunter was just...amazing. Towards the end, the last couple episodes were a little drawn out. But other than that, I loved it. It hit all the right notes.

Best Love was just hilarious. I'm actually not a fan of Cha Seung Won (don't kill me), but he won me over in this drama.

I actually did like You've Fallen for me. Except for the whole wrist injury thing. I thought the couple was cute. It was light and fluffy.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I agree with most of the opinions wrote on here. I have to say that City Hunter was the best drama of this year on the simple fact that Lee min ho beat the hell out of someone using a spoon and then basically humiliated someone by beating them down with a water bottle. you can't be anymore badass than that.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Busy busy Christmas.

I HEART you Girlfriday.

I love that you are diplomatic enough yet still funny and snarky to make this review like what your writing has always been - DELICIOUS.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

If JB has the Stick-o-Scale, GF has the intricate DramaMeter. And boy, how complex this machine is!

This:
DramaMeter Rating: ∑ 49 √ 7 ≈ 3 ∆ ☺
made me watch 49 Days. Now.

And this:
DramaMeter Rating: 404 File Not Found. Abort, Retry, Fail?
made me want to stay away from You've Fallen For Me. Big Time.

And also:
DramaMeter Rating: Two swords up.
made me consider watching Warrior Baek Dong-Soo.
Not a real big fan of saeguk (the number of episodes always makes me think twice before watching one), but I probably won't "spork myself in the eye" like Dahee.

In addition, I find your review so warm and easy to read. Although I must say I am somehow changed after reading Kaedejun's and Dahee's reviews as well.

0
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Tee Heeeee.

I caught you here.

LOL.

Uhhh. I replied to your comment on the other year in review as well...

And once again, I do recommend WBDS! *laughs* It's not so much a saguek as a fusion saguek...and if you actually like PSH, I would recommend The Princess' Man as well(though I'm not a big fan of PSH...).

Both TPM and WBDS has this wonderful OST, and though I dunno about TPM(I haven't finished), I expect that the swordplay would be just as spectacular as that of WBDS as well...

WBDS OST 야뇌: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VL2iMXUxRCo

(Do avoid the comments, or else you'll see too many spoilersXDDDDD)

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yup, I just finished "A Thousand Days Promise" it think it was great, personally..i creid at the end, it was so sad...Kim Rae Won did a great job with the "long-suffering, heartbroken, husband" and Seo Yeon's aunt..I loved her she was awesome. she was soo upbeat all the time, and she cried at every little thing. I love how she could just turn the tears off at will. I loved "49 Days" too.Jung Il Woo...*drools* I'm SO waiting for "The Moon Embracing The Sun"

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

city hunter was surprisingly good but it wasn't all *that* great. considering that it's an "action" drama. IMO, the rom-com didn't jive well with the genre it was aiming for. but i admit, i loved loved lee jin pyo. he's one of my favorite characters in city hunter actually. my least was nana. i guess its because of park min young. the character was supposed to be a strong awesome female lead but i failed to connect with her because i feel that there could have been another actress who would be more suitable. among the action dramas i've seen, city hunter was the least impressionable. hmm, i guess i'm more aligned with serendepity when it comes to dramas.

thanks for the review though. it's highly appreciated. now you make me wanna watch best love. i was having doubts since other reviewers never liked it. i've just learned to love the hong sisters wacky sense of humor through MGIAG even if im not into rom-coms. i'll give BL a try some day.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

awe, no Princess's Man. Probably a very memorable drama for me this year.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

We have the same taste in dramas!! Also, I just wanted to say I am also obsessed with Biscuit Teacher. Still, after all these years! :)

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Currently Airing

Prime-Time Shows This Week
Monday-Tuesday (July 6-7) Wednesday-Thursday (July 8-9) Weekend (July 10-12)