Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching
by DB Staff
I’m ever so slowly emerging out of my drama slump, after feeling sluggish and listless in recent weeks. But I’ve been encouraged by the crop of new shows and have started getting back into the habit of watching shows regularly for enjoyment (for a while, it felt like I was forcing myself to keep up). Maybe spring will be a good season for getting back on that horse and recharging, who knows? I can only hope! –javabeans
Tomorrow With You: I find the plot intriguing and the show’s way of constantly refreshing the mystery works well to keep the suspense building, but I suppose I’m just not on the hero train here (or should I say, the hero subway), so this show is half-fun, half-frustrating for me. I love Lee Je-hoon and he’s doing a great job as an actor, but his character drives me a little batty; I can’t believe he’s so careless about leaving relics of his time-traveling lying around, and then is such a brick wall to his wife. I guess I sympathize entirely with Ma-rin here, and I don’t blame her for feeling like she’s going crazy. Maybe if the romance kicked it up—as in, with real emotions and stakes and movement on his side—it would bring me back in.
Father, I’ll Take Care of You: I still struggle with Lee Soo-kyung’s character (I want to love her), but I do appreciate her place in Hyun-woo’s development, where she’s oddly the one person who can put a dent in his feelings or have a chance at getting through to him. I’m getting a bit of plot whiplash from all the birth secrets being dropped and then rescinded, but I don’t really mind since at least the story’s constantly moving. And of course, my main reason for keeping up is still Sung-joon and Dong-hee, who are acting a lot like an already comfortable married couple and should just get there already.
Introverted Boss: I don’t dislike this drama, but I do often find myself wondering what they’re doing with it, because it seems unfocused and lax. I do think the producers have a direction and intent, but it’s just not that effective; at this point there’s no getting past the fundamental block that is Ro-woon (more specifically, the actress). Also the fact that Yoon Park’s inner turmoil, while understandable, pulls no sympathy strings (marry her or not, but can you pull the trigger already?). Yeon Woo-jin, meanwhile, remains the heartbeat of this show, and can make me feel such pangs with just one look.
Hwarang: I’m… trying… to finish… this. Every week I face the same struggle to get engaged in this story, despite liking all of the characters, and I think ultimately it’s because the story never took me anywhere surprising. I don’t think it’s fair to criticize a drama for something it’s not trying to be, so I won’t blame it for being light or jokey; I just think I was in the mood for a young, romance-driven sageuk to have more bite. Such as…
Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Ah, it’s getting really good! I loved the first episode right off, but somehow I got behind and had a tough time catching back up for the next couple of weeks, and in retrospect I think it’s because while Amogae’s backstory is riveting and moving, it felt like it was taking a while to move somewhere. But then Yoon Kyun-sang showed up and I blazed through the rest of the episodes in a blink. Also, the music in this show is a standout: fresh, folksy, and moving. Manseh!
Strong Woman Do Bong-soon: Finally, a show I could fall in love with from the first minute! This is rare, and I am relishing every moment of it. The show has a nutty, whimsical tone and surrealistic comedy with adorably odd characters—it’s like Amelie on crack—and I love that the heroine is strange and assertive. Moreover, I love how Park Hyung-shik is taken with her pert, almost rude attitude in a way that feels almost bent. This show made me laugh out loud unexpectedly, and I’m excited to keep watching. Park Bo-young is a gift.
Hwarang: What makes me mad is that this show had the skeleton of a good conflict, with the potential for a moving story about friendship and honor and duty. But towards the end of the series I realized that the writer had only one idea—the fakeout where we’re supposed to think Sun-woo would take the throne—and chose to leave the actual relationships underdeveloped in favor of the Gotcha! moment. Which was a really poor choice, given that the so-called twist was a surprise to NOBODY. (Because we were told Jinheung was Jinheung from day one!) The actual moment when they pledged allegiance to the king was cool, but it was not worth sacrificing character development for. Oh, the bromance that could have been!
Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: I’m loving this show, and it only gets better every week. I thought the story of Gil-dong’s first love was such a beautiful interlude amidst the life and death stakes, and I wanted to stay in that wonderful little story detour for just a bit longer. I just really like carefree, cheeky Gil-dong the merchant who’s traveled far and wide and knows how to charm anyone. Is it any wonder that everyone is in love with him? I just want him to retain that cheeky wit even when he becomes the rebel leader and takes up all that heavy responsibility.
Tomorrow With You: This show really knows how to keep me feeling nervous about the couple’s relationship, but I find it a fresh and interesting way to approach a romance, by launching them into a rocky marriage with all of these emotional landmines underfoot. I do find the pace a little slow, but I mind that less when the episodes give me more relationship moments to savor.
Defendant: Sometimes the coincidences yank me out of the narrative (they were really out in full force this week), but the forward momentum is so strong on this show that I can never linger on one plot point for too long, which is this drama’s appeal. I was just glad to see Ji Sung using that prosecutor brain of his, because it’s time to turn the tables on this mofo.
Introverted Boss: I did some catching up on this show, which is a much lighter watch after that rewrite, though I wouldn’t blame anyone for not waiting around this long to find that out. The romance doesn’t feel organic to me, but the hero is such a compelling character, and his inner monologues are pee-your-pants funny. I just never get tired of them. I choked on laughter-tears when he was trapped on that awkward canoe date with Heo Jung-min going, What do I say? What do I say? What do I say? What do I say? What do I say? What do I say? What do I say? What do I say? What do I say? What do I say? *cries*
Hwarang: While the finale was perfectly serviceable, which is what I’d say about the show as a whole, I left feeling rather unsatisfied. I can’t quite put my finger on why—there were certainly elements of the show that had potential, but overall there was this feeling that the drama was always holding back its better story threads to explore them more in-depth later, but that later never came. It’s not that it felt unfinished, just not all that fleshed out. The central conflict never changed (when will he finally just be king?), and when it was finally resolved at the very end, it was anticlimactic. I’m still kind of irked that Sun-woo’s fainting problem was quite literally just a plot device, since we never knew what it was and it was never touched on again, but as harmless sageuk fluff, I guess it worked, maybe for some more than others.
Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: I really didn’t know what to expect of this show going in, but it’s turning into one of my favorite shows to tune into week after week. Maybe I was just itching for some real sageuk—and while Rebel is still very much a fusion sageuk, I’m really appreciating their attention to historical detail. There are gisaengs in every drama, but because one of our lead female characters started out as one, it’s been interesting to see the back end of how that business used to work. Also, the show is making excellent use of historical singing, which I feel like I don’t hear that often in sageuk, and the scene where Gil-dong and Nok-soo sang their feelings to each other was sweet and beautiful. I’m also impressed by how well Honey Lee is doing in this role, because while she’s shown she has the chops for sageuk, it’s sometimes too easy for her to seem cold and distant. But in this role, we’re seeing a woman trying to make the best of a terrible situation, because while she gets to wear silks and fineries, she knows that ultimately, her life means nothing. The fact that you can actually see that struggle in her eyes is, to me, an amazing feat. She’s an amazing character, and I’m now stuck wishing she was the first female lead rather than the second.
Defendant: While most of the plot hinges on a completely outlandish premise and villain (come on, he intentionally burned his fingerprints off in front of the prosecutor chasing him and everyone just went, “Welp, guess we can’t catch him now!”), but Ji Sung’s performance is compelling, and the show knows how to amp up the suspense. Right now, Eun-hye feels like a piece of scenery, so I’m hoping she’ll have something more to do in the future. But for now, Ji Sung is selling it, and there’s no denying that it’s an addicting show.
Introverted Boss: I really do want to feel something for the main couple, but it kind of feels like Hwan-ki likes Ro-woon because she’s the first female lead. I do love Hwan-ki, even if his more anxious habits hit a bit close to home, but I’m not quite sure what the overarching story is anymore—what’s the ultimate goal here? What are we supposed to want to see resolved by the end?
Chief Kim: My normal tendency is to shy away from workplace dramas, just because it’s a genre that’s been done to death. And while Chief Kim isn’t reinventing the workplace drama wheel, it’s so funny and charming that I can’t help but like it. The side characters in the workplace really shine, even down to the surly janitor lady who never has a kind word to say to anyone, though I do kind of miss Yul’s puppy days, when he’d follow Ha-kyung around. I like him less in full villain mode since he’s capable of so much more, but there’s still plenty of show left, so maybe we’ll see more of his good side.
Missing 9: There’s suspension of disbelief, and then there’s just throwing any notions of believability out the door, and I kind of feel like we’ve been at that point for a few weeks now. The fact that there’s this enormous cover-up of the crash to protect just one star, who’s never been established as a top A-lister worthy of that kind of insane coddling, just isn’t working. The comedic antics are funny, even if I find them tonally weird sometimes—we’re dealing with a serial killer and a corrupt establishment doing everything to keep that serial killer from facing justice, yet there’s never a situation so pressing that a few visual gags can’t solve. Yang Dong-geun seems to be the only one taking this seriously, but I could watch him in anything. Better luck next time? (Phew, this is why I don’t check in every week—too many dramas!)
Currently recapping: Voice
Super Family 2017: I started this show for a silly shallow reason (*cough* Hoya *cough*) and with no expectations, especially since I don’t generally watch family sitcoms. But the short episodes, relatable characters, fun cast, light plot, and cute editing all make up just the right kind of easy-to-watch drama that will likely keep me hooked.
New Journey to the West: My favorite thing about Na PD shows are how he seems to bring out the worst in people just because they don’t know what to trust any more, and then they end up creating their own chaotic games that go off script but are so fun the production team just rolls with it. I’m still giggling over how the guys started an elaborate “steal each other’s stuff” game that had nothing to do with the real mission. Of course, the dramatic life-and-death editing also played its part, although perhaps my favorite part was that the usually crafty Eun Ji-won turned out to be the innocent one for once.
Currently recapping: Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People
Introverted Boss: Hmm as a hardcore fluffy drama addict, I never thought I would say this, but maybe this drama would be better without the romance? Yeon Woo-jin’s slow transformation from complete hermit to socially awkward, but endearing boss is emotionally rewarding enough. And I think I’m more invested in the individual relationships that he’s been fostering with his other employees (who each have their own set of issues) than the overall love story/revenge plot/brother-in-law bestie makjang that’s going on.
Laurel Tree Tailors: I found the Boys vs. Girls battle amongst our three couples entertaining, and I loved the traditional-style wedding at the end. I don’t know if that couple is ready for marriage yet even though they are adorable together, but I’m a sucker for beautiful hanboks and elaborate cultural ceremonies, so it’s a treat whenever I get to see one in modern dramas.
Defendant: After weeks of procrastinating I finally started watching Defendant, only to regret it ten or so hours later when I had no more episodes left to watch. I should’ve held out until the show was over so I wouldn’t have to feel the pain of waiting a WHOLE week. Gimme MOAR. There are a lot of times when I think Cha Min-ho is getting away with his crap wayyyy too easily (and fooling nobody, except that one stupid prosecutor ‘friend’), but then I forget about it when something batshit crazy happens, because now I just want to see him roast in the fires of his own making.
Saimdang, Light’s Diary: I stopped watching this after Episode 3 but finally picked it up again, and I was surprised to find the show rather watchable. That might sound harsh, but once we began spending most of the time with Saimdang and her life, I settled in and went wherever the show wanted to take me. I think part of my early struggle had a lot to do with the way that they chose to portray Seo Ji-yoon’s character as a sad victim who had terrible things happen to her, primarily through the men in her life. And then they had the nerve to have Sang-hyun save her whenever there was trouble (he just pops up in the most unlikely ways, doesn’t he?). Needless to say, that annoyed me greatly. However, while Saimdang sort of started on that same trajectory, she got off it quickly and started to rebuild her life with her children, while silently taking no bullshit from her loser husband, or even from Gyeom, who is acting like a possessive ex-boyfriend (she doesn’t owe you anything, bro!), but is otherwise kind of amusing to watch.
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (February 18, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (February 11, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (February 4, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (January 28, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (January 21, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (January 14, 2017)
Tags: 1 show to rule them all, Chief Kim, Defendant, Father I'll Take Care of You, Hwarang, Introverted Boss, Missing 9, New Journey to the West, Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People, Saimdang Light's Diary, Strong Woman Do Bong-soon, Tomorrow With You, What We're Watching