It was the best kind of surprise to have two of my great loves collide over the weekend. What’s even more perfect is that the collision actually produced exhilarating results. A good idea can be remade if something different is added to the mix, and the TW-drama Miss Rose is remaking the K-drama City Hall with a twist. It doesn’t appear to be a shot-for-shot direct remake, as enough details have been switched around and the execution style wholly changed. The result is that MR stands well enough on its own. I love CH but I don’t watch MR constantly comparing the two. Rather I get giddy when I see something that makes it into MR and is done well.
I guess the best way to describe what MR is doing is that it’s inspired by CH and borrows heavily from the set up and elements, but adds a wholly Taiwan flavor and cadence to it. Watching episode 2 was like indulging in Koala-nip. Roy Qiu the most perfect Taiwan actor to try and capture the magic Cha Seung Won brought to the unforgettable character of Jo Gook, and I have to give him kudos for balancing the restrained funny with the controlled intensity. Megan Lai’s Si Yi is much more different than Kim Sun Ah’s character in CH, without any aegyo and acting dumb, but both contain the same potential to be so much more.
Episode 2 recap:
Si Yi and Xiao Ke leave the fortune teller’s store and discuss the crazy bet Si Yi just made with the fortune teller. Xiao Ke is worried that Si Yi will have to pony up NT 1 million if she doesn’t get married within the year, but Si Yi isn’t terribly worried. She doesn’t believe that she can’t get married, and she’s not going to waste her time over thinking it when she can spend it working on getting herself married off.
They walk up to the window display of a bridal shop and look at the wedding dress on the mannequin. A woman is inside trying on her wedding dress as well, and the two girls peer in wistfully. Si Yi asks Xiao Ke where she can go to start finding men, and Xiao Ke says the first stop ought to be a nightclub. Si Yi asks Xiao Ke to take her to one then.
Cheng Kuan is waiting impatiently at a restaurant for someone who is late arriving. Sheng Jun tries to calm him down and reminds him that they are waiting for Vivian, his future fiancee and the daughter of President Jiang. As Cheng Kuan gets up to leave, Vivian Jiang walks in all haughty and cold, unapologetic about being extremely late. She sits down and Cheng Kuan tells her that he doesn’t like to be kept waiting. She doesn’t care since in her eyes, he’s just her daddy’s tool and serves her daddy’s wishes. She heard from her daddy that Cheng Kuan didn’t want to go to the LED Company and she warns him to do what her daddy wants without bitching.
Cheng Kuan bites his lip to keep from retorting and has to sit there and take Vivian’s attitude. She reminds Cheng Kuan to attend a party with her this weekend, and demeans Sheng Jun as Cheng Kuan’s secretary, asking him to reserve the time in Cheng Kuan’s schedule. Cheng Kuan tells her to watch her attitude when speaking to Sheng Jun, who is his work partner and not some lackey. Vivian scoffs at that, saying both of them are just her daddy’s minions. She doesn’t even eat dinner and leaves to go meet some friends.
Cheng Kuan sits in the backseat of the car as Sheng Jun drives and tries to lift his sour mood. Sheng Jun offers to take Cheng Kuan to a hot new nightclub to blow off some steam. Sheng Jun promises that is where all the models and actresses hang out these days so Cheng Kuan agrees to go.
Xiao Ke and Si Yi walk into a nightclub and Si Yi is uncomfortable since she’s still dressed in her dowdy suit. Xiao Ke tries to take Si Yi’s glasses off and unbutton her shirt but Si Yi refuses. Xiao Ke goes off to get drinks and wishes Si Yi luck on meeting a cute guy when she’s away.
Si Yi looks around and sees a cute guy sitting to the side sipping a drink (model-actor Edwin Gerard in a cameo). They make eye contact and Si Yi looks away shyly. The guy stands up and struts towards her, and next thing you know, the two of them are grinding away on the dance floor. Of course this turns out to be Si Yi’s overactive imagination at work, and in truth the guy never even notices her.
Cheng Kuan and Sheng Jun walk into the same nightclub and find a table to sit down. Cheng Kuan sits down directly behind Si Yi, and his back bumps into her just as she’s eating a maraschino cherry. Si Yi gets the cherry stuck in her throat and she starts to choke. Sheng Jun recognizes her first, and Cheng Kuan sees that her choking is serious and he quickly grabs her from behind and administers the Heimlich on her.
After Si Yi spits out the cherry, she turns and slaps Cheng Kuan across the face, accusing him of trying to kill her AND feeling her up. Cheng Kuan is flummoxed by her reaction since he saved her life. He bitches to Sheng Jun about taking him to this nightclub, because he doesn’t see any hot chicks, only this thing in front of him. He looks at Si Yi and rattles off a list of horror movies, explaining that he’s fallen into one. Sheng Jun and Cheng Kuan leave, walking past Xiao Ke on their way out.
Cheng Kuan is at the golf course with President Jiang discussing how to get him into Guang Qiang LED Company. Chairman Chen arrives, the majority shareholder of the company and the brother-in-law of the current General Manager (GM). Cheng Kuan is introduced to the Chairman as President Jiang’s future son-in-law, soon to be engaged to his daughter Vivian.
President Jiang deferentially asks Chairman Chen about the losses at the LED Company and wondering what to do, other than sell his minority shares. He asks about replacing the General Manager. The Chairman says the current General Manager is his brother-in-law so he ought to be given a chance to turn things around. President Jiang smoothly suggests sending one of his guys in to be the Deputy General Manager (DGM) and provide “support” to the General Manager. Chairman Chen has no choice but to agree with this compromise.
Back at the LED Company, Deputy General Manager Kang is freaking out after learning he’s being demoted to make way for a new DGM installed by the minority shareholder President Jiang. The GM tells him to calm down, explaining that this is temporary and he will find a way to get rid of that cocky and arrogant new DGM called Gao Cheng Kuan. The GM wants his DGM to endure this demotion and pretend to be friends with Cheng Kuan to gather intel on his weaknesses. Then they can swiftly get rid of him in a few months by making him take the fall for the Company’s losses, killing two birds with one stone.
Having been demoted to just Manager Kang, he asks Si Yi to arrange for a grand welcoming party for the incoming new DGM. Si Yi prepares with Miao Jin’s help, and the two discuss what the new DGM will be like. Miao Jin giddily suggests that if the new DGM is cute, maybe Si Yi can land him.
Si Yi is at the night market with Miao Jin, her sister Si Qi, and Xiao Ke. They are playing a game of fishing using paper scoopers, and everyone sucks except for Si Yi. Xiao Ke wishes Si Yi was as good at fishing for men as she is fishing for goldfish. Xiao Ke’s cute boyfriend arrives and gives her a sweet kiss. He offers to take all the girls out to eat.
Si Yi gets ready for work the next day and she actually takes the time to change up her look. Miao Jin is happily surprised to see Si Yi walk in with her hair down, make up on, and a cream colored suit. Si Yi grabs the welcome wagon displays and hands it out to the employees as everyone runs outside to welcome the new DGM. While waiting for the car to pull up, Si Yi and Miao Jin snicker that this is so embarrassing for the new DGM.
Former DGM and now Manager Kang loudly welcomes the new DGM to Guang Qiang LED Company. The car pulls up and Cheng Kuang and Sheng Jun step out. It’s adorable that the two guys have the exact same series of gestures, from opening the car door at the same time, stepping out, taking off their sunglasses and putting it inside their suit jacket, and then walking forward side by side.
As they walk up, all the employees rush forward and create a welcome party around them. Cheng Kuan is annoyed by this display while Manager Kang continues to be totally obnoxious.
Cheng Kuan walks up to the front door and turns to the side and locks eyes with Si Yi. Both of them freeze. Si Yi calls out “pervert!” in her shock.
Cheng Kuan turns to stare at Si Yi directly while Sheng Jun whispers that it’s the Miss Old again. Cheng Kuan whispers back that this old maid is like a vengeful spirit that haunts them wherever they go. Manager Kang steps in front of Si Yi to greet Cheng Kuan, and then calls around for Luo Si Yi to assist him.
There is no answer, so Manager Kang looks around in confusion for the suddenly MIA Si Yi. The sign she was holding up is lowered to reveal a new employee standing there. Finally Manager Kang locates SI Yi lurking in the crowd trying to be hidden and beckons her forward.
Si Yi walks forward and Cheng Kuan steps towards her. He lifts her name badge up and reads her name “Luo Si Yi, Secretary’s Office.” He pulls her closer using the name badge strap and whispers in her ear that he is her superior and she is his subordinate from now on. So she must never call him a pervert again. Plus he’s not a pervert, the last few times they’ve run into each other, he was the victim each time.
Manager Kang walks Cheng Kuan and Sheng Jun to the office of the DGM, explaining that the GM is too busy to see them. He had a breakfast meeting, then this afternoon he’s playing golf with an overseas client. As they walk past the GM’s office, suddenly Cheng Kuan and Sheng Jun turn back and barge in forcefully.
Cheng Kuan and Sheng Jun walk right up behind the GM, who is playing online mahjong. The GM tries to cover up but Cheng Kuan allows him to pretend that he wasn’t making up excuses not to meet with him. Both sides shoot the breeze, fully aware the first salvo has been launched.
Cheng Kuan and Sheng Jun sit in the office of the DGM when Si Yi enters bearing two cups of coffee for them. They take a sip and Sheng Jun immediately exclaims over how delicious it tastes. Si Yi smiles and admits folks around her think she takes a mean cup of coffee. Cheng Kuan doesn’t say anything but its clear he likes it, too. When Si Yi asks what he thinks, he makes the OK sign.
Si Yi makes the OK sign back as well, pleased he’s not upset with her again. But the OK sign reminds her of the first time she met and kneed him in the groin and asked how he was doing and he made the OK sign indicating he was fine. Si Yi quickly puts her hand down and then moves to leave so that they can get to work.
Sheng Jun and Cheng Kuan exchange a look before Cheng Kuan stands up and asks Si Yi how long she has been working her. Si Yi says 6 years, so Cheng Kuan confirms she knows everything there is to know about the company. He asks her to take them for a tour and introduce them to all the employees and managers.
Si Yi takes Cheng Kuan and Sheng Jun on a tour, ending in the sales department. The sexy sales department supervisor Ting Ai offers to help Cheng Kuan get acquainted with the company, but he ignores her and tells Si Yi that that she did well enough for today. Si Yi is pleased until Cheng Kuan adds that there is still much room for improvement. Cheng Kuan tells all the employees that they are screws for the company but each screw is of vital importance. He offers to take everyone out to dinner tonight.
Manager Kang tells the GM about Cheng Kuan’s dinner invitation, and the two men plot and giggle to throw a wrench in his plans.
All the employees are enjoying a raucous dinner with the GM and Manager Kang, and its clear they purposely made all the employees attend their dinner to stand up Cheng Kuan’s dinner invitation. Everyone is enjoying the dinner except for Si Yi, who looks worried. Miao Jin asks why and Si Yi is not comfortable that Cheng Kuan is being stood up this way. Si Yi makes the excuse that she needs to go to the restroom and ducks out.
Cheng Kuan and Sheng Jun sit alone with all the food arrayed around them, waiting for people to arrive. Cheng Kuan is starting to get annoyed and impatient when suddenly Si Yi walks in. Sheng Jun happily welcomes her and invites her to sit down.
Sheng Jun and Si Yi make chit chat and it’s hilarious because their awkward banter is over the head of Cheng Kuan who is sitting between them. Cheng Kuan shoots these perfect Roy Qiu-esque dry looks between Si Yi and Sheng Jun. When asked about all the other employees, Si Yi lies that everyone is working late, which doesn’t fool either guy for a minute. Si Yi tries to persuade the two of them to eat and then leave, not to wait for other people to show up.
When Si Yi gets up to leave, turns out that the GM’s dinner party was purposed held at the same restaurant and is in the private room facing Cheng Kuan’s room. The two doors open at the same time and both sides make eye contact. The GM and Manager Kang act like they forgot about Cheng Kuan’s dinner invitation to the employees, fake apologizing for ruining his dinner.
Cheng Kuan and Sheng Jun get up and leave, acting like its no big deal. As Cheng Kuan walks out, he tells Sheng Jun that this dinner was rewarding because now they know who is on the side of the GM.
Si Qi and her PDA-filled hubby are minding the dry cleaning store. As they are ironing Cheng Kuan’s suit, they start snuggling and pay no attention to the hot iron. By the time they smell the burning fabric, it’s too late and they have burned a hole in the back of Cheng Kuan’s suit jacket. Si Qi shoves the suit into a dry cleaning bag and for Si Yi to take, not telling her about the mishap.
SI Yi’s mom has arranged for Si Yi to go on a matchmaking date tomorrow night, which Si Yi reluctantly agrees to attend.
Si Yi brings Cheng Kuan’s cleaned suit to work and takes it to his office to hang on the coat hanger. She flashes back to how the suit got dirty, with the cake and the groin attack, and tries to shake the memory away. Cheng Kuan walks in to see Si Yi chanting to the suit to forget it all. He walks up to Si Yi and asks what she is doing? She quickly makes an excuse and runs off, but not before telling him that the GM scheduled a last minute morning meeting.
Cheng Kuan prepares for the meeting when he gets a call from President Jiang to bitch him out for not treating Vivian better. Apparently she complained to her daddy about Cheng Kuan’s poor attitude, and Cheng Kuan reluctantly promises to be better at wooing her and catering to her needs. After hanging up, he slams his papers on the table. As Cheng Kuan heads to the meeting, the GM, Manager Kang, and Ting Ae walk behind him and secretly laugh at the big hole in his suit jacket but don’t tell him.
At the management meeting, Cheng Kuan leads the discussion about what the strategy is for turning the company around. To the gasps of the attendees, and the amusement of the GM and Manager Kang, when Cheng Kuan turns around to write on the white board, he reveals an iron-shaped hole in the back of his suit jacket. Si Yi is too preoccupied with writing the minutes for the meeting that she doesn’t notice the snickering going on.
Every time Cheng Kuan turns around to write, the attendees snigger behind his back. When he turns around and quizzically asks if there is a problem, the GM smirks and says everything is fine. Manager Kang makes a pun about plugging a “hole” in their organization to fix the losses, but his joke goes over Cheng Kuan’s head.
Si Yi finally notes that big hole in the back of Cheng Kuan’s suit but there is nothing she can do to help him. Cheng Kuan sets out the gross sales targets for the company this year and reveals that the only way to hit those numbers is to win lucrative government contracts. The GM agrees and wants everyone to clap for the new DGM’s goal to plug the company sales “holes”.
Cheng Kuan announces that he’s personally taking on this project of winning the government bids. The GM wants to appoint Manager Kang and Ting Ai to assist him, but Cheng Kuan hand picks Si Yi to work on this project with him. When he calls her name, she’s zoned out and he has to repeat it twice. He wonders how she’s writing minutes of a meeting when she’s not paying attention.
Cheng Kuan hands Si Yi the project of finding out the government bid plans for the remaining half of the year. The GM is fine with Si Yi being on the project and assigns her as the special assistant to the Deputy General Manager Gao Cheng Kuan. The GM snarks, wishing Miss. Screw and Mr. Hole to be happy working together, which makes Manager Kang crack up at this inside dig. God, these two are like a sneaky dumb and dumber.
Cheng Kuan walks out of the meeting where Sheng Jun is waiting for him outside. He reveals that the GM was trying to install his people to spy on him, which Cheng Kuan was able to avoid by hand picking Si Yi to work on his project. She was the only one who had a shred of decency last night and told them to go home at dinner rather than waiting any longer for people who won’t show up. Plus as a long time secretary at the company, her knowledge will be of good use to them, and she will likely know a lot of secrets about the GM so they can get rid of him quickly and leave this crappy company. As Cheng Juan turns around, Sheng Jun finally sees the hole in his suit jacket and tries to tell him.
The GM, Manager Kang, and Ting Ai all corner Si Yi and remind her explicitly to mind her place at the company.
Cheng Kuan goes back to his office and holds his suit jacket up to stare at it. He finally knows why the GM was making jokes about holes and plugging holes and Miss. Screw working with Mr. Hole. He throws the suit jacket down and screams out “Luo Si Yi!”
Thoughts of Mine:
After one week preemption due to the Olympics, episode 2 of Miss Rose rose a bit to hit 2.76 in ratings. I would love for this drama to have the legs of the monster rating success of Office Girls, but it’s too early to tell if it’ll peter out shortly or keep on going. I was the first to say this drama feels like a redo of OG, and the Taiwan audiences also think so, with some worrying that it just doesn’t feel fresh enough to retain interest. With episode 2 revealing its CH inspired roots, I’m relieved that MR has the foundation to head in a different direction than OG. Without the entire main plot of OG, which was the poor frugal girl and the rich-turned-poor boy trying to work hard under limited means, MR has lots of room to focus more on the corporate business storylines and the relationship between the two leads isn’t buttressed by their financial disparity.
When I watch MR, I’m giddy over the CH references but don’t place the two dramas side by side to see which one did it better. Of course CH will always do it better, because it came first and had a much greater overarching narrative about civic responsibility and political idealism. MR is much more relaxed and free flowing since it doesn’t aim to be a civil awareness tale within the Cinderella love story. I feel like Cheng Kuan and Si Yi are much closer together on the social and professional ladder than Jo Gook and Shin Mi Rae were. So the distance between the OTP is less to travel, and there are fewer obstacles in place between them. Cheng Kuan isn’t even officially engaged to Vivian yet, but she does appear to be the same cold fish bitchy second female lead we can all happily hate on.
I’ve read the synopsis and the second male lead hasn’t even been introduced yet. Chao Chun Ya will be playing a department manager at Guang Qiang LED Company, who has just returned from the US and is actually Si Yi’s ex-boyfriend (the heartbreak her family talked about in episode 1). He might have a back story with Cheng Kuan as well, and will become his rival and possible ally at the company. In short, he’s playing Lee Jung Do with a twist in that he has a romantic backstory with leading lady. I also see that sexy and ditzy Ting Ai is MR’s version of the social climbing and hilarious Min Joo Hwa, while Xiao Ke and Miao Jin appears to have split the best friend character of Boo Mi in half.
The CH remake elements aside, I love MR for its snappy bright tone which sets it apart as a TW-drama. There are few lingering reaction shots and leisurely camera crawls, instead all the action happens at a brisk pace as characters interact quickly and fluidly. Personalities are revealed in actions and reactions, with nothing wasted as mood filler. I’m loving the relationship Cheng Kuan and Sheng Jun, at times like brothers, at times like superior and subordinate, but always with great chemistry and awareness of each other. Cheng Kuan runs the show, but Sheng Jun makes sure there are no rocks in the road he can trip on. This is what I call a solid one-two punch.
Si Yi is an interesting character that is slowly growing on me. She like that odd combination of capable and flighty that can only happen in dramaland. It’s perfect that Cheng Kuan and Si Yi keep running into each other, and will now be working on the government bid project, because the magic of their pairing is how she continually does things to alter his opinion of her. It’s like she confounds him because she isn’t what she appears on the surface, whereas Cheng Kuan is exactly how he appears on the surface, and that’s how he likes things. It’s going to be so awesome to see them continually collide at work and beyond until she worms her way into his heart.