You can only pick one: Time-slip drama
by DB Staff
You can only pick one, and boy the pressure is on. The DB team will answer a new prompt in each post, and you’re invited to do the same in the comments. Ready to play?
You can only pick one time-slip drama
missvictrix: Oh, I love time-slips and all things time-travel, so this is a tough one. I’m going to pick Nine: Nine Time Travels, not because it was perfectly or anything, but because it blew my mind when I watched it. Not only did it cement my eternal love of Lee Jin-wook and the wonderful performance he gave here, but it hit so many notes that I love in time-travel stories. I don’t require perfection in my time-slipping, but I do love a unique and emotionally-driven premise — and with its time-travel incense burning, and a man trying to save his brother, Nine was a fantastic watch for me.
quirkycase: I thought this would be an easy one, but I’ve watched (and liked!) way more time-slip dramas than I realized. After painstaking deliberation, I’m going to choose the adorable web drama Splish Splash Love. One, it’s got Kim Seul-gi as the lead. Enough said. Two, it’s a romcom about a modern student wowing and wooing Joseon-era king Yoon Doo-joon with her sub-par trigonometry skills that basically make her the greatest mathematician of the age. It’s just as much fun as it sounds.
mistyisles: Ohhh this one’s hard, because I LOVE stories that play around with time (hence I’m a big Doctor Who fan!). I’ve narrowed it down to two, but every time I pick one over the other I can’t bring myself to type the words, so I’m going to tell myself that Signal doesn’t count because only their *voices* travel through time. Thus, the winner is Life on Mars! The fish-out-of-water floundering, the Jung Kyung-ho/Park Sung-woong bromance, the crime-solving and overarching mystery, the character development, the found family dynamics — it’s like it was made for me.
DaebakGrits: When it comes to fantastical timey-wimey stuff, my go-to drama is Signal. There are a lot of other fun dramas that fall into this category, but Signal stands out as my favorite because I love how it uses the back-and-forth communications between the past and present as a means to solve serial killings. It’s a very well-written drama, and — other than the ambiguous ending that leaves me hankering for a second season — I love every second of it. It’s one of the few dramas that I’ve rewatched and enjoyed the
second third time around.
solstices: Was there ever any doubt that I’d choose anything other than Signal? Ever since I first watched it in 2016, not only has it maintained the title of my favorite time-slip drama, but it’s also remained amongst my top few all-time favorite K-dramas ever since. Signal wove a compelling narrative intertwined through past and present, elevated by the heartfelt performances of our lead trio — Lee Je-hoon, Kim Hye-soo, and Jo Jin-woong. The drama balanced its parallel timelines with a deft ease that attested to an intricate script and exceptional directing. Despite its fantastical premise of a walkie-talkie that transcended both spatial and temporal boundaries, it always remained realistic in doling out consequences — not every battle can be won, and not everyone can be saved. Still, that doesn’t mean we stop trying. The suspenseful mystery was always grounded at its core by such raw and evocative pathos, and the story stayed consistent from beginning to end, which is a rare feat in dramaland. Signal will remain forever etched into my K-drama wall of honor, and I doubt any other time-slip drama can dethrone it anytime soon.
Unit: Live Up to Your Name is easily my favorite time-slip drama because: Kim Nam-gil. Lol. For someone whose character died in the first two dramas I watched him in, I found it highly amusing that “death” was the medium with which he moved between the past and present in this drama. And he’s got a really good comedic timing which made all his fish out of water hijinks more hilarious. Apart from that, I loved the plot, the evolution of his character as well as the female lead’s, their chemistry, and how the duo made considerable impact in both time periods as they kept going back and forth. The OSTs are an added bonus as well! PS: I’m not a big fan of second seasons, but I’d still like that spinoff based on Moon Ga-young’s character in modern times. Come on, drama gods.
Dramaddictally: I picked Tomorrow, With You even though, objectively, it might be (or definitely is) a bad drama. My explanation is that it has all the makings of a good drama. Shin Min-ah, being her adorable self. A timeless (ahem) romance at its center. And most importantly, a subway train as the method of traveling through time. It’s really this last one that I like the most even though it makes no sense (including within the world of the drama). As a long-time urbanite, and someone who took the subway to and from work on a daily grind for years, I love the idea that the train has magical properties — and maybe it will land me somewhere other than the office at the end of my trip. In this case, Lee Je-hoon is trying to avoid his death by marrying Shin Min-ah and traveling to the future to check on how things go. And in the end, isn’t that what we’re all trying to do? Find love, avoid death, and hope the subway will, at least once, take us somewhere unexpected?
alathe: Mr. Queen! Look, ordinarily I’d say there’s nothing I adore more than a good Joseon drama. Turns out, though, that there’s something better: an absolutely top-notch, body-swapping Joseon drama starring Shin Hye-sun. Mr. Queen is just absurd amounts of fun — sharp, witty, with a delightfully anarchic approach to gender and sexuality. There are some absolutely unforgettable moments. The Joseon fast food! The long-suffering court ladies! The venerated ancient proverb, “No touch-ie”! Our protagonist is just the right balance of arrogant and endearingly out of his depth, and Shin Hye-sun’s portrayal involves out-of-this-world levels of acting. Whether it’s her pitch-perfect swagger, or her hilarious sense of anachronism (Joseon etiquette? What Joseon etiquette?!), never have I seen anyone deliver on the “out of time” aspect of a time-slip drama more thoroughly than she has. Plus, the main romance? Had me by the throat. I was rooting for the king as romantic hero every step of the way. After all, what do you get when you shove two very flawed, very messy people together amid culture shock spanning the width of several centuries? Apparently, pure chemistry. The ending was… certainly not my favorite, to say the least — it felt like a real letdown, after all the cliches the show had previously managed to dodge. Still, this one’s my pick, for better or for worse: it’s fun, it’s flawed, and it’s utterly addictive.
- You can only pick one: Park Min-young drama
- You can only pick one: Sports drama
- You can only pick one: Office romance
- You can only pick one: Namgoong Min performance
- Nine: Series review (spoiler free)
- Signal: Episode 1
- Live Up to Your Name: Episode 1
- Mr. Queen: Episodes 1-2 Open Thread
- Life on Mars: Episode 1
- Splish Splash Love: Episodes 1-2
- Tomorrow With You: Episode 1