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Showtime Begins!: Episode 1 (First Impressions)

What happens when you combine a secretive magician, ghostly hijinks, and a murder mystery or two? A lot more than sleight-of-hand, that’s for sure. If you’re like me, you’ve been looking forward to this one for a while, and the moment we’ve been waiting for is finally here – it’s showtime!

Editor’s note: Continued drama coverage is pending based on Beanie feedback.
 
EPISODE 1 FIRST IMPRESSIONS

It’s tricky to pinpoint the tone of Showtime Begins! from just the first episode. We open on a chilling exorcism that ultimately kills the shaman performing it, but we also get moments of poignancy, slapstick comedy, and kind of everything in between as well.

The shaman (Kim Won-hae) is the grandfather of our hero, famed magician CHA CHA-WOONG (Park Hae-jin), and as his strength fades, he says that Cha-woong will have to take up his duty of serving the family’s spirit known as the General.

Cha-woong, however, has no intention of doing so. Growing up, he’d watched with pride as his grandfather helped their neighbors drive out spirits and solve problems, all while declining gifts of thanks… only for them to turn on him when he was arrested in connection with a serial killer case.

It seems Cha-woong’s grandfather was trying to catch the killer himself and got in the way of the police investigation; hence his arrest. As Cha-woong watched their neighbors curse his grandfather to reporters, he swore off ever helping anyone but himself.

So instead, he performs magic shows with elaborate effects like pyrotechnics, levitating, and escaping from chains inside a locked water tank. His big highlight performance involves riding a motorcycle around a ring while a volunteer shoots flaming arrows at him.

Of course, he dodges all the arrows – except the last one, which launches late due to a technical issue and lodges square in his chest. Except, when everyone rushes to check on him, his suit is empty, and he appears back on his platform, completely unharmed.

In performance, Cha-woong carries himself with a confidence that errs on the side of cocky, smugly declaring that there’s a difference between a real magician and a trickster (placing himself in the first category) and pledging to refund the ticket price tenfold to anyone who can guess the secret to even one of his stunts.

But in private, he’s actually terrified that someone will discover his secret – which, of course, is that he relies entirely on his assistants, who are a trio of ghosts.

NAM SANG-GOON (Jung Suk-yong) acts as his body double; MA DONG-CHEOL (Go Kyu-pil) is his strongman; and KANG AH-REUM (Park Seo-yeon) handles mechanical props.

They all have their reasons for needing to earn money before they can enter the afterlife, so they work as Cha-woong’s employees, and he pays them, gives them a place to stay, and even feeds them from his table – but only the food he likes to eat, naturally.

Meanwhile, our female lead, GO SEUL-HAE (Jin Ki-joo), is a young police officer with a dogged sense of justice and a slight tendency to put her foot in her mouth. She also turns into a puddle of goo any time her sunbae, SEO HEE-SOO (Kim Jong-hoon), is in the vicinity, and while he definitely regards her with affection, it’s unclear if it’s of the romantic or brotherly sort.

Seul-hae’s path crosses Cha-woong’s when she chases a purse-snatcher into his magic show and mistakes him for the culprit. Then she accidentally takes Cha-woong’s helmet, leaving in its place the one she borrowed from her neighbor, which has a built-in camera.

That camera is a problem for Cha-woong, because it recorded him talking to his assistants and could expose his secret to the world. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t realize this until after Seul-hae has switched the helmets back.

There were glaring hints throughout the first half that Seul-hae’s neighbor was going to die, but it’s still shocking and saddening the way it plays out, with Cha-woong swerving to avoid hitting him with his car, only to realize he’s already dead and wandering around as a ghost. But it’s even worse for Seul-hae, because she’s out searching the woods for a reported corpse and only learns it’s her neighbor when she finds his body.

Cha-woong, desperate to protect his secret, has followed her, hounding her about the helmet and the camera footage. She gets rid of him in the moment, but later puts the encounter together with the fact that: 1) glass from Cha-woong’s headlight was found near the bakery her neighbor visited just before dying; and 2) Cha-woong knows exactly what her neighbor bought at that bakery. It all points to Cha-woong as her primary suspect, so she goes straight to his house to arrest him.

Half-blinded by grief and rage, Seul-hae tries various weapons from a taser to a baton to subdue him, but his ghost assistants block each one, leaving her staring in shock as the weapons fall harmlessly to the ground or are wrested right out of her hands. After a brief moment of calculation, Cha-woong leans in and whispers that this is the work of ghosts.

On paper, I’m not sure I’d expect to like either of our two leads as much as I did. He’s all bluster and arrogance – until his mask slips just enough for us to see his insecurity and pain underneath. And while she’s not the most competent cop you could ask for, her interactions with her neighbor and even some of her bickering exchanges with Cha-woong went a long way toward endearing her to me.

Even at the end of this first episode, it feels like we’re still working our way through the setup, but overall I found the episode pretty fun and engaging, even with its more somber turns. Most of the comedy bits tend to lean very silly (which to be honest isn’t my favorite), but the emotional parts and the characters themselves were compelling, so I’m tentatively but hopefully buckled in for whatever kind of ride it turns out to be.

 
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I liked it. I thought the leads were charming and I came away really like Jin Ki joo in this.

Suel hae is not incompetent, she is just a busy body as her boss stated as such. She is a neighborhood cop and she is liked by her co workers and neighbors. I really want to know why she keeps getting passed over for detective when her work record and testing shows she should have been promoted already.

Interesting indeed.

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I guess she is not being recruited for detective position because of her past. Some of the scenes in episode 2 indirectly points to an obvious reason, which I don't want to discuss in this recap, but the writer might have planned a twist for the same. Let's see!

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I liked it too. The trio of ghosts and their employee woes were funny. The secrets behind the magic tricks made me lol. It's good to see Park Hae-jin on screen again and he seems to be having fun with the role.

I like the broad story structure too, predictable as it is. This is from Ep. 2 but I can already see Ahn Chang-hwan's role being the overarching arc linked to the past, with minor ghost stories being the episodic arcs.

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"secrets behind the magic tricks made me lol"

Me too. Please continue to cover this.

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I love the comedy whenever the "secrets behind the magic tricks" were shown, I couldn't stop laughing !

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The card trick in Ep. 2 was SO good 🤣

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That's the one my mind went to immediately - I giggle whenever I picture it!

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We loved the first episode but have not been able to see the second yet due to problems with Viki on Roku.

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I had the same problem. Turns out my old Roku 2 had an update and some streaming apps are too cool for it. Got a new one and I can't believe I hadn't done it sooner. Even the iQiYi app works now, which is great because I didn't have enough to watch already...

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I recently replaced my old Roku as well and we could now use iQIYI on it but do not have to as I also have a Firestick- so we just switch to that - this last weekend my wife and I watched a fair number of episodes of MY SASSY PRINCESS on iQIYI using our Firestick. Given my wife's love of Chinese Costume Dramas it is good to have access to an inexhaustible supply.

This last weekend the problem was not our equipment but the Viki App for Roku itself- as Viki noted in its Help section with a banner atop the help page telling us that they were working on it. Yesterday they announced that the issues had been resolved. This is a good thing because now we can get caught up.

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I liked the first episode and the story seems pretty straight forward.

The ML was a tad bit annoying but there's a back story as usual.
I loved the ghost trio and I'm looking forward to the ghost hijinks.
I think the FL's sunbae just sees her as a sister😅 but I have a feeling it might change along the way.

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The story started with a bang in episode 1, but episode 2 had teeny weeny draggy abd predictable scenes, but overall it is very good! Loving all the characters and the arguments between the ML and FL/ghost employees is a hoot! So, please do weecaps/recaps for this drama!

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I really like the first two episodes of the show.
Cha Woong and SeulHae gets on each other's nerves but there is a reason behind that. Park HaeJin and Jin KiJoo are doing justice on the comedic beats of the show. Episode 2 fleshes out more the story of the leads. The three ghosts are fun. The story is set up well and promises to more hijinks in future episodes. I would definitely keep on watching the show.
I hope there will be weecaps in future episodes.

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Really liked the premiere! The banter and hijinks between the ghosts and Cha Cha Woong were so much fun jajja even when the show doesn't take himself serious in some parts while adding that overdramatic BGM lol but I liked the emotional bits we've got...Now will he able to refuse to become a shaman or not...

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Something tells me he won't have a choice in becoming a Shaman.

Just a feeling. :).

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At the beginning, I thought I was watching The Guest, I hope it won't become as dark as this one.

If the ML character is pretty standard with the "I have powers but I don't want to use them for good", I really liked the fact he used them for magic shows :p

I liked the FL, she's brave but not to the point of acting stupid. I really like this actress.

It looks fun for now.

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"I liked the FL, she's brave but not to the point of acting stupid. I really like this actress."

You summed it up right here. I believe that is why I like the character as well. She so far has not gone into a situation that she cannot handle.

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I really liked the first episode- it had strong thematic and character set up, was a lot of fun, was balanced really well and hit a lot of sweet spots for me (this feels like a very Sic Show lol). Episode 2 was a bit messier and slower, but it didn't turn me off and was still a lot of fun.
I don't really mind if it's predictable as long as it handles it right? Mystic was very predictable but in a good way.
I'm hoping it eases into itself a bit more next week and we get more funny Hae Jin faces lol.

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I was interested enough to go straight to the second episode so it's keeping me hooked so far...

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Absolutely loved this premier - such an unexpected delight that has my holy trinity: police/crime + fantasy + romcom! I also like that both the FL and ML are aren't your typical aloof CEO and uptight police types - ML for sure has a diva complex but he's not completely cold and is somehow a little bit of a moron but incredibly sauve & intelligent and the FL has steel combined with golden retriever energy which is PERFECT - she's not a pushover but she's not inflexible either. Tone is a little whack for sure too (but a good kind of whack), the humour is right up my alley and it's got enough substance to weigh down the 'lightness' perfectly. Suffice to say, the vibes were immaculate and I'm in hook, line and sinker - this looks like it'll be be the much needed balm for my heart which took a massive hit after watching Red Sleeve, Snowdrop and 2521 one after the other lol

Only downside is the sheer amount of dramas airing on weekends, rip my sleep/study/work schedule I guess. Really hope this show gets picked up for proper recaps here though!!!

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* the word I was trying to find was 'rich famous dude' not CEO but same difference hahaha

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Yes, so glad I gave this one a chance after Park He Jin's last one that I regretted seeing (aka Forest. still shudders remembering some of the bad writing in it!). I don't think I have seen the FL in anything before, but I like her energy. Glad that she is not the "hardened cop because of trauma in the past" or the "incompetent female" character, but knows to be a dogged cop when needed, but also turn into a gushing fangirl at times, which is very refreshing. And the three ghosts crack me up. I am really interested to know why they are hanging around ML other than to earn money. For example, the fourth ghost was able to achieve "nirvana" for some reason, even though he could have stayed and continued working with ML to ensure he looked after his wife and daughter (like he's doing with the other ghosts). So, clearly, there is some reason they are all staying behind. I wonder if they too died of unnatural causes and can't remember what happened to them. And ML probably didn't want to ask too many questions, but was happy to "employ" them instead. I do hope you keep up with the recaps, becoz I will definitely be watching this one (definitely need more comedies to balance out all the melo in Our Blues, My Liberation Notes and Green Mothers' Club).

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I had high expectations going in because this was the writer of the brilliant Mystic Pop-up Bar. How could I not? Yet, I was delighted to find that the opening episodes totally lived up to my lofty standards. The leads were charming and I know I will enjoy seeing their journey in the episodes to come. I was already primed to adore Jin Ki-joo here because I love her, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Park Hae-jin as well. It’s been a while since he’s been in a project I liked. So yeah, good pilot episodes (I preferred episode 1 over 2). Maybe a tad bit predictable, but I’ve never truly minded that if the writing is competent and the characters are compelling. I’m just really digging the vibe so far - it’s fun.

I hope coverage continues for the drama. This looks good and I wouldn’t want it to be the only one not represented in weecaps from the weekend extravaganza that’s going on now.

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Thanks for the detail about the writer, it explains the set up of the show.

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I like Jin Ki Joo so I may watch the show no matter if it gets recapped.

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First of all the setup is exactly my cup of tea - mysterious magician who does astounding tricks with the help of reluctant ghosts but also helps solve crimes alongside an intense and grounded policewoman?! From the start I was hoping it would be good and so far I'm really enjoying it. I'm curious to see if/how the grandfather's patron spirit will fit in; will he be a thorn in the side as they're investigating cases, an asset, or a bit of both?
Also, I love the ghostly trio, particularly tech genius/gamer girl Ah-Reum; I want to be bffs with her :)

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I just can't wait for the FL to turn her attentions to the ML. It's gonna be so cute!🤩
Love the ghosts! I really like it when writers really do give prominence to the side characters.... Will we get their backstories?
Bromance between the general and ML?
Fingers crossed 🤞!
Please continue to recap💖

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