I hate to drop a drama recap when the first episode was so darn satisfying that I was all primed to love it wholeheartedly. But the subsequent two episodes of Skip Beat have once again confirmed my gripe with this story. The concept and set up is impeccable, but the execution fails to focus on the material elements of the story for the sake of exploring every nook and cranny of the SB universe. I’ll keep watching, but I haven’t the energy or patience to recap this sucker. A great manga-to-drama adaption needs to understand that it’s free to pick and choose from the source material and do away with the excess while focusing on the pivotal elements that hooked the viewer in the first place. I’ve always been interested in SB for the Ren-Kyoko-Sho complicated relationship. Not necessarily a love triangle, but one where each person affects and pushes the other to climb higher or be better. The manga couldn’t do this, and the drama doesn’t appear to deliver this aspect as well. I’m disappointed, but then again, SB always makes me gets my hopes up and then dash it.
With the dubbing switch from Kun Da to Nylon Chen (himself a singer, and if you have watched KO San Guo, he played Cao Cao in that wacky drama), the character of Dun He Lian finally meshes the acting and presence of Choi Siwon with the dialogue. I love the switch very much. In episode 4, where Lian finally gets center stage alongside Gong Xi and we start to spend more time with them interacting, I was really taken aback at how much drama Lian is totally my cup of tea whereas manga Ren is not. I love Lian’s calm, his professionalism, his innate goodness, and his complete and utter confidence in himself that never borders on arrogance. I think Choi Siwon has really settled into his role and manages to exude intense screen presence with very little dialogue or body movement. He’s like a silent storm waiting to be unleashed.
Ivy Chen‘s performance as Gong Xi is really hit and miss for me, now that I’ve had a few episodes to see the entire picture. I think she’s overacting for the most part, and playing the character stupider than Kyoko was in the manga. While I really liked Kyoko in the manga, I don’t connect with Gong Xi anymore in the drama. I find all my attention drifting to Lian and waiting for any scene with him in it. Which is not a good sign, since SB is the story of Gong Xi’s climb up the entertainment ladder and she is necessarily going to be the focus of this story. I love the few snippets we saw of Shang in episodes 3 and 4, but sadly those moments are too few and far between. In the manga as well, Sho is completely MIA for books on end, and that rather deflates the balloon when Gong Xi’s nemesis isn’t around to see or spur her on. I’ve already professed to love Donghae‘s take on Shang, and he continues to delight me with his performance as a self-absorbed and insecure newbie idol.
I think the positives about SB the drama (and the manga) are enough to keep me continuing to follow its progress. But the myriad failings leave me uninspired to keep recapping it. When I watch SB, I feel dispassionate. The character of Gong Xi, and her trails and tribulations, doesn’t grab me emotionally (aside from episode 1). So I’m left a casual observer enjoying the story without feeling invested in its outcome. I much prefer a drama where I care wholeheartedly about the main character(s), so even if the execution and story is shoddy, at least I’m caring about what is happening rather than have the urge to file my nails. I hope those of you who love SB continue to enjoy it. Ratings tanked below 1 for episode 3, but rose slighting to hit 1.18 for episode 4. I think the drama is beautifully shot, but I can’t argue much with the ratings, which reflect a general viewer sentiment that the story is rather exaggerated and plodding.