Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching
by DB Staff
So, what are we all watching this week?
What kept you reaching for more (or agonizing when there was no more), and what made you want to throw your remote through the screen? Time to weigh in…
Age of Youth 2: The girls are back, and the show is funnier than ever! (The whole driving sequence had me in stitches.) This season looks visually crisper and more vivid, which is really welcome; I still kind of hate the music direction in this show, but I suppose it wouldn’t feel like Age of Youth to change the style now. Surprisingly, I didn’t find the Eun-jae replacement jarring, since the new actress has the same vibe to the character. Most of all, I like that the girls’ friendships still have that little realistic bite to them—it feels true to life to see them snap and get peevish for the silliest things, though we know they’re rock-solid at the core. I’ll miss Kang unni, but am looking forward to the new girl.
Father Is Strange: I was utterly tickled when Joong-hee and Mi-young’s relationship got accidentally outed (that got rewatched a dozen times), and doubly tickled at how much the family enjoyed ribbing him about it afterward. Gah, I just love this family. I have to say, I have a pretty cynical view of marriage, but more than any romantic OTP it’s Mom and Dad’s relationship that makes me see the appeal of a loving, committed partnership that goes well past the first romantic flutters.
Rescue Me: Just when you think this show is as dark as it’s going to get, they throw in some more horrors to make Sang-mi’s life even more hellish. It’s remarkable to have a character who is literally a victim the whole way through who doesn’t feel like she has victim complex, if we can make that distinction. I find myself admiring her resilience given her situation, and was on the edge of my seat just waiting for the moment when she’d ask Taec to rescue her. It must be because Sang-mi’s victimization doesn’t make her a weak character; rather, the drama clearly shows that she’s strong despite being put into the victim position, and it makes me pull for her so hard.
Criminal Minds: I think I’ve pinpointed what’s probably my biggest pet peeve about this show: All of the theories are always right. They’re super-detailed and sometimes even presumptuous, but the cases tend to bear out exactly like the profilers see them, with hardly any deviations. We go from A, to B, to C, to D, case closed. Instead of making the profilers seem brilliantly expert at their jobs, it makes the plots seem really obvious and straightforward.
Bride of the Water God 2017: This show took a really intriguing premise and played it out in the most boring way, with the least charismatic combination of actors. I have liked every main actor in other projects, but somehow you put them together and they just fall flat. Better luck next time, guys.
School 2017: In what high school on this planet would you ever meet a boy like this, who chooses to fight for your dream over keeping his pride, who knows your heart better than you do, and finds a way to turn every situation into a romantic declaration? When he saved every draft of Eun-ho’s drawings that she’d thrown away and painstakingly copied them to keep her webtoon alive, I was so moved. You deserve every pixel of that heart emoticon she gave you in return!
Age of Youth 2: That was a great premiere episode, and the transition between seasons was pretty seamless. I missed these girls and their wacky adventures. I was so heartbroken at the housemates’ first real separation though. Does Kang Unni really have to go? Say it ain’t so!
Live Up to Your Name: It’s kind of nice to have the shoe on the other foot, with Kim Ah-joong flailing around in Joseon and Kim Nam-gil getting his turn to be the respected doctor in his element. The back-and-forth time travel was a good move, though I’m really just here for Kim Nam-gil’s comedy, which is golden.
Bride of the Water God 2017: If we were only going to introduce the life-and-death stakes in Episode 15 and then solve them with a convenient magical twist in Episode 16, what was the point of the other fourteen episodes? It was just too late to make me care about anyone’s fate. Chemistry would’ve made up for a lot in a show like this; too bad it had none.
Rescue Me: Wow, the buildup to Dad’s fanaticism and Sang-mi’s breakdown was riveting—so well done and so believably terrifying. I don’t know how she’s not catatonic after all of that. I’m just going to sit here biting my nails until Dong-chul starts bustin’ some heads and saves the day. Please hurry!
Falsify: I’m liking Eom Ji-won’s character more and more. She seems like a real prosecutor, stumbling through her job and taking risks and making mistakes. She’s tough, but she’s not unbreakable, and after she was attacked by the killer, I thought her reaction was so perfect—anger at her own vulnerability, and pride in her job making her push past her fear.
Reunited Worlds: In this drama, everything just falls conveniently from the sky, totally out of the blue, with no preamble and no attempt to make it organic. Rich granny with a hotel falls from the sky. Food truck falls from the sky. Open art competition falls from the sky. Famous-on-the-internet guy with tons of followers falls from the sky. Hell, even Yeo Jin-gu fell from the sky!
Rescue Me: The tension! The stakes! Every time Sang-mi tries to escape, my heart jumps into my throat with dread, because you know the punishment will just be worse if/when she fails. All my hope hinges on her not losing her will to survive, even though I wasn’t expecting the show to kill off one of her few remaining reasons to live. Rescue Me is relentlessly dark in a way I wouldn’t have expected from a K-drama—it’s super artfully done, with more of a Chungmuro feel than a drama feel, but I like that OCN is willing to go there and let the show be something truly unique. I’m also struggling to remember the last time I’ve feared a villain as much as I fear Jo Jae-yoon’s sinister congregate. He oozes bad intentions from every pore, and maybe he’s so terrifying because he’s a person that could exist anywhere at any time, but it’s more than just him being bad: He’s unnervingly, all-too-believably evil.
Falsify: I get the distinct feeling that this show’s newbie writer feels really strongly about the subject matter and researched it thoroughly, since she loves for the characters to say lots of words and uncover lots of conspiracies. It’s just that I’m, well, bored.
Live Up to Your Name: I was pleasantly surprised by the time travel twist that happened in the show’s second week, since I thought all the fish-out-of-water hijinks would be saved for the Joseon doctor traveling to modern-day Seoul. I can see why we wouldn’t want to stay too long with the modern-day Seoul doctor time-traveling to Joseon, because Faith and Dr. Jin happened, but at least there’s the added twist that she’s not the only time-traveler around, so there’s someone to show her the ropes. It puts them both on a more even playing field, even if I can’t find myself really falling in love with either lead yet. Im can be entertaining in a buffoonish way and smart beyond his years, but Yeon-kyung, even for traveling to the past, remains surprisingly impassive about whatever supernatural forces are going on in her life.
The King Loves: I thought the bad editing was really going to end up tanking this show, so I’m wondering if they just ran out of time to mess with it as the show progressed. We’re not getting weird cuts to scenes that don’t matter anymore, and the characters are starting to take shape. I still can’t quite figure out if we’re supposed to like Won or be on board with his epic love, because I’m all aboard the Rin/San ship.
Manhole: It’s so stupid that it’s fun, and it embraces that silliness wholeheartedly. It knows what it is and doesn’t aspire to be anything more than a manic diversion, which I have to respect it for.
Currently recapping: Strongest Deliveryman
New Journey to the West: Eun Ji-won has always been my favorite 1N2D member because of his crafty ways of outsmarting everyone, so it was extra hilarious to see him lose every game on the last day. I’m sad another season is ending and that the next season won’t have Kyuhyun, but I’m betting Na PD will be able to snag Lee Seung-gi once he’s released from the army, so that will be a happy reunion to anticipate.
Manhole: The zany “back to the future” antics are still hilarious and I don’t think I’ll ever tire of watching Jaejoong run frantically around—which is probably a good thing, since that’s about 70 percent of each episode (well, except for maybe when he was in a coma). I love the rest of the cast, especially since they also get to play different roles when Pil changes the future (which makes me think filming must be tons of fun for everyone). I’m totally falling for the dependable Jin-sook and wish she could have a magic manhole of her own, just so she could know what would have happened if she ever admitted she liked Pil. Not that I think she’d be able to make him stop obsessing about Soo-jin or change his manic-pixie-nightmare-boy ways, but at least she’d have given it a shot.
Forest of Secrets: Mind. Blown. Life got in the way and I just started (and finished!) this drama this past week, but I loved everything about it: the stellar performances, the assured directing, and most of all the riveting story. Every minute counted in the episodes, and I got lost deep in the forest and secretly hoped I’d never find my way out. I’m in complete agreement with the praise heaped by HeadsNo2 and chickachunga, and I’ve already decided that nothing is going to top this show for me in 2017.
Currently recapping: Falsify
The King Loves: Not gonna lie. I’m watching this just for the Rin and So-ah love line. I lost my interest in Im Shi-wan’s battle for the throne a long time ago. This is probably not the best way to watch, but I fast-forward through everything until I see Hong Jong-hyun’s face onscreen again. Then, I replay all the cute moments where he’s being obliviously obvious about his feelings for her. I mean, that time where she tripped over herself and he caught her—kyaaah! My heart was thudding for her.
Currently recapping: Live Up to Your Name
Father Is Strange: Aw, it was nice to see lots of reconciliation this week, and finally Mi-young and Joong-hee being sweet and angst-free together! I side-eyed Mom’s health scare plotline a bit, because it seems like it was shoehorned in to make her more sympathetic at the last moment. Still, one of the things I love most about this drama is how it gives the female characters room to be complex and flawed, yet still sympathetic. I appreciate that Mom didn’t fall into either of the usual mother archetypes—most of the time we either get the saintly martyr or the screeching harridan, and I love that this mom was human, made mistakes, but ultimately was motivated by love for her family. Also, that scene of her and Dad crying and holding each other in the hallway? Killed me.
School 2017: I’m very behind on this one, partially because life is busy and partially because I love it so much that I’m savoring it. This drama feels like a high school manga come to life, in the best way—everything feels both heightened and authentic, just as life did when I was a teenager. These kids are just like we used to be: Our emotions were high and we felt like we would die for our friends; most adults seemed ridiculous and out-of-touch; and getting into college seemed like the end goal of life. Eun-ho, Tae-woon, and Dae-hwi alternately make me squeal and break my heart, and Mr. Shin just does me in every time with his full-hearted, idealistic love for his kids. Also, I don’t normally ship OTPs in school dramas, but these two adorable delinquents are perfect for each other. They make me giggle like I’m eighteen again.
Manhole: Such a weird show. And the same question persists that struck me the first two times I saw this premise (both adaptations of Operation Proposal): Why does the universe deem this hero worthy of so many extra chances, when all he had to do was speak, once? My dude is not just a pathetic loser, he’s kind of a terrible person. And in this story it makes even less sense because apparently the girl knew about his feelings and liked him back, but for some weird reason never said anything. Jaejoong’s hilarious antics are saving this for me right now; I love UEE, but she’s been given such a bland character to play here, she seems to fade into the background next to her co-star’s manic energy. I did enjoy how one fight turned Pil into a gangster, but I wish things didn’t reset for him every time he went back—it would be so much more interesting if he could no longer go to the original timeline and had to fix the mess he made. (I admit that would be a darker story, though.)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (August 19, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (August 12, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (August 5, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (July 29, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (July 22, 2017)
- Team Dramabeans: What we’re watching (July 15, 2017)
Tags: Bride of the Water God 2017, Falsify, Father Is Strange, Forest of Secrets, Live Up to Your Name, Manhole, New Journey to the West, Rescue Me, Reunited Worlds, School 2017, The King Loves, What We're Watching