Premiere Watch: My Sassy Girl, Seven Day Queen, Best Hit, Duel
It’s a big week for KBS, which is launching two new shows this week, and also for sageuk romances (again, two shows this week). But the genre spread of the new offerings is fairly wide, so if period romance isn’t quite your thing, there’s also crime thriller and comedy to look forward to.
Even the two sageuks will be pretty different even if both have appealing leads, beautiful costuming, and a strong romantic bent; one veers light-hearted, while the other looks to be more dramatic. On the upside, they’re not airing on the same day, so hey, maybe you’ll have time to watch them all. (Not that overbooked schedules ever really stopped a determined drama addict from Finding A Way!)
My Sassy Girl
Time slot: Monday & Tuesday
Genre: Historical, rom-com
Episode count: 16 (or 32, if they decide to split episodes into halves for ads)
Reasons to watch: Mixed feelings galore! My Sassy Girl is a historical drama dressed up as a romantic comedy, and I have very much enjoyed this genre in past dramas, where the humor was a key component and the sageuk element was fusion at best. As with so many historical dramas (even the lighter ones), I do expect the tone to start light and gradually transition more melo, but I’m going to enjoy as much of the comedy as it gives us while it lasts. Oh Yeon-seo (Come Back, Ajusshi) has a comic sensibility that is a little broad but can be very, very funny, and she’s not the type of actor to skimp on her commitment to a gag. And while I wouldn’t have pegged Joo-won (Yong-pal) as a funny guy after all his engrossing dramatic performances, I did see his manhwa-adapted movie Fashion King and busted a gut laughing, so I am looking forward to seeing him taking on another comedy.
I still don’t see the purpose for calling this My Sassy Girl when the story is so far afield from the original, which is not only a rom-com classic but has also spawned a lot of flopped imitators/sequels/follow-ups. You’d think they’d have learned by now that you can’t slap a title on a project and expect the magic of Cha Tae-hyun and Jeon Ji-hyun to spring up out of nowhere. And while I think the casting controversy (over auditioning a lead actress, picking a winner, and then dumping her for a name actress) shouldn’t really have any bearing the quality of the project itself, it does put a slight damper on things just by the association.
Still, I’m always up for an upbeat romance starring a strong-thinking young woman and the tsundere man who loves her. Moreover, this is Joo-won’s last project for two years; he reported for his mandatory military service two weeks ago, just after attending the drama’s press conference. Let’s hope the memory it leaves us with is a positive one. If not, I’ll just have to go watch Gaksital over again, which would probably break me all over again.
Seven Day Queen
Time slot: Wednesday & Thursday
Genre: Historical, melodrama, romance
Episode count: 20 (or 40, with ad-induced splitting)
Reasons to watch: This story has all the elements of an epic romance, being based on real-life lovers who were torn apart by political intrigue. We did get a surprisingly light-hearted teaser, but I wouldn’t pin your hopes on that being the drama’s overall tone; the follow-up teasers were much more in line with the tragic love story about a young king and his queen, who was dethroned after just seven days.
Yeon Woo-jin is a wonderfully subtle actor who is fantastic even when his material isn’t (Introverted Boss), and he has the capability to really make me feel for his King Jungjong character, a man wants to be a good king but lives a suffocated life lest his volatile brother, tyrant king Yeonsangun, see him as a threat. Speaking of whom, Lee Dong-gun (Laurel Tree Tailors) takes a villainous turn as Yeonsangun, and I think he could really benefit from shaking up his gentle, genteel image by playing someone much darker. And I find Park Min-young (Remember–Son’s War) just plain likable, whether she’s portraying plucky or tragic, and it looks like she’ll get a chance to play both here.
Normally I would be wary of diving into a show that practically promises a sad end for the couple, but the production values look gorgeous, I’m a fan of the actors, and I’m remembering that not all shows that tout a tragic romance turn out to be full-on tragedy (I’ll never write off a show prematurely for sounding sad after Princess’s Man). And if it does turn out to be sad, sometimes a good cry can be just as cathartic as a happy ending.
The Best Hit
Time slot: Friday & Saturday
Genre: Variety-drama, comedy
Episode count: 32 (half-hour episodes, equivalent to 16 hours)
Reasons to watch: I’m still intrigued with this idea of mixing variety elements into scripted dramas. I don’t think we’ve seen any drama figure it out yet: The Producers tried briefly before losing their nerve and dropping the variety angle entirely, and After the Show Ends was a slapdash attempt. Maybe The Best Hit will stumble too—there are no guarantees that it’ll do better than the previous examples—but my interest is piqued.
If we look at this production optimistically, there are signs that KBS is learning from their earlier missteps, and they’ve hired a veteran variety PD, Yoo Ho-jin (1 Night 2 Days), to be the main director. Moreover, they’ve paired him with his 1N2D cast member, Cha Tae-hyun (The Producers), who is credited both as actor and director; he’ll be drawing on his years of variety experience to act as a liaison between the cast and the production team, which strikes me as a clever idea. Who else would know better the needs of both sides than someone who’s been intimately familiar with both? And of course we also have Yoon Shi-yoon (Mirror of the Witch), another 1N2D alum, whom I love for his bubbly real-life personality.
The biggest question mark for me is actually the story; we’ve heard a lot about the behind-the-scenes plans for The Best Hit, but haven’t really gotten to know the setup well. The description is a vague type of “youthful people live out their struggles, loves, and relationships” deal that leaves a lot of blanks unfilled, with hints of Yoon Shi-yoon shaking up everyone’s lives. A lot will depend on how well the variety angle is executed; I’ll be hoping this comes together in a light, charming way.
Time slot: Saturday & Sunday
Genre: Crime thriller
Episode count: 16 (full-length, normal episodes!)
Reasons to watch: Or maybe you’d rather skip the breezy comedies and jump right into the crime scene with darker characters, in which case Duel is one of a few grittier options this summer. Jung Jae-young (Assembly) is a veteran film actor who brings gravitas and intensity to his roles, and I fully expect he’ll be engrossing in this as a detective desperate to save his kidnapped daughter.
Kim Jung-eun (Oohlala Spouses) moves away from her usual image (plucky, upbeat) to be one of the drama’s villains; she’s not the criminal on the loose, but a prosecutor with a corrupt sense of morals. Sometimes it’s those institutional villains who do the most damage!
Last but not least, we have a drama taking on the topic of human clones, played here in dual performances by Yang Se-jong (Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim; Saimdang, Light’s Diary). OCN’s perennial slate of crime dramas can sometimes run together in my mind, but when you say “human clones” you’ve certainly found a way to set yourself apart from the pack. Let’s hope it’s in a good way.
- Arranged marriages and love at first sight for the Seven Day Queen
- Queen for a week, heartbreak to last a lifetime
- Star scholar Joo-won is official royal babysitter for SBS’s My Sassy Girl
- More couple cuteness and character stills for My Sassy Girl
- Yoon Shi-yoon shows off his idol genius in The Best Hit
- Cha Tae-hyun brings in several high-class cameos for The Best Hit
- Retro fun at the world’s hottest attic room in The Best Hit’s new posters
- The hunt for the clone is on in new Duel teaser
- Three-way face-off between clones and a desperate father in Duel
- The clone face-off begins in Duel posters