The written preview for episode 5 of In A Good Way came out really late this week but its here now so I’m happy again. Knowing the drama has time jumped a year to 1996, I keep going back through my memory rolodex of what was going on that year in Taiwan. Aside from the popular songs and cultural milestones, such as the B.B. Call though cell phones were already around but still huge and expensive at that time, did any major events happen that might get referenced in the drama? I saw some BTS filming stills from two weeks ago showing Jia En and Liu Chuan at the MRT station and I remembered that 1996 was when the first line of the MRT began operations. Back then it was called the Muzha line (though now its been extended and is called the Wenshan line) and went all the way to the suburbs and the Taipei Zoo. Looks like Jia En and Liu Chuan will have an encounter on the MRT and I’m looking forward to them interacting outside of school. I feel like Liu Chuan is always the center of attention at school even if he doesn’t even notice, but he seems much more relaxed and open when he’s hanging out with Jia En when they have random encounters outside of school. I noticed that he’s almost always the one to start conversation and ask her something, which is what someone would do when they want to learn more about the other person. I think right now Jia En likes what Liu Chuan can show her or teach her, but she’s not yet connected any dots that she may feel more that. Of course a kiss could vault those two past all that tentative phase, but for once its so delightful to watch that I can patiently wait for love to arrive even if it circles the entire campus twice in a leisurely jog. Continue reading
When normal people heard the word “Friday” the first thought is weekend almost here and work week almost over. For the next few months when I hear Friday I’ll start screaming In A Good Way kyaaaaaa~ That’s a normal reaction, right? I mean, find me a person who can withstand the force of sheer chemistry and visual perfection together that is Liu Chuan and Jia En. The exact same description applies for Kirsten Jen and Lego Lee (Rong Rong and Guo Yi). Once a week we get to see Liu Chuan and Jia En continue to get to know each other, tentatively because both are so new to all this stuff called opposite sex awareness. I don’t think Liu Chuan is averse to dating despite Ah Qing and Ri Qi thinking he’s avoided getting a credit in love. I think women have been throwing themselves at him his entire life and so he’s just unaware of them at this point. Girls who like him are like air so Jia En is the first girl to make him sit up and notice for all the reasons we’ve seen. The way she barged into his life, the way she makes him feel sorry for her yet proud of her at the same time. In a K-drama, the perfect Liu Chuan would be the token second male lead and we would all suffer along with his unrequited love for Jia En. In a K-drama, Ren Wei would be the male lead and the childhood relationship with Jia En would be emphasized and he would grow to love her back. I’m so glad the drama tossed the Jia En has a crush on Ren Wei plot line because that is just so overused. Let’s have the girl see the cutest nicest guy around and actually fall for him back rather than some harebrained idea to redeem the loser.
SETTV is trotting out RongYi like you wouldn’t believe, and this week Lego and Kirsten stepped out together (in couple’s outfits, natch!) but not in character to attend the Original Festival being held at the Songshan Cultural Park in Taipei. It’s a week long event showcasing traditional culture and crafts of Taiwan which ties in with the drama which is set in the 90′s and features lots of throwback elements. At the Festival, the two made a craft present for each other, a little metal engraving plate which they both chose to engrave each other character’s BBS handle – Kirsten made a plate that read “3631″ with hearts on either side while Lego’s plate for Kirsten read “sky”. Lego also got Kirsten a necklace and put it around her, but not before feeding her some of his old-fashioned popsicle. The two cheekily told the press that this Festival was the perfect place for couples to spend a day together. Ha! We all know some dancing is forthcoming in episode 5 and a few new stills have been released showing Kirsten and Lego practicing for their dance. Kirsten was much better at it than Lego, who may be a sports jock but admits he has two left feet when it comes to dancing. His candid assessment is that athletic ability does not equal having rhythm. Lego teased the press by saying that viewers need to bring their sunglasses for episode 5 because they will be blinded by the growing electricity between Jia En and Liu Chuan. Oh dude, you are so loving every minute of filming this drama with Rong Rong. Continue reading
It’s with a pat on the head that I put Heirs/The Inheritors away, a drama that had so much but did so very little with it. It was enjoyable but frustrating, harmless yet mildly irritating. I wanted to tell it all the time to get on with telling me a story with more purpose while it stubbornly insisted that this was it and nothing more was forthcoming. In the end there was no time jump anywhere in sight, so the main cast started off as high schoolers and end up maybe taking a few steps forward in the path of their lives. For some those steps were big ones, transformative ones, while for others not much changed even if all sorts of random and improbable things happened along the way. The drama delivered on the superficial in a mixed way as much as it failed to deliver on the substantive. The cast was comprised of pretty young actors and actresses but everyone sported the same pink lipstick with sartorial tastes that ranged from absurd to ordinary. I felt myself watching for the sake of watching, like it was here and I just wanted to see it through to the end. When I wonder how a cast can act in a truly terrible drama to the end, I figured it was about making the best of it. That was me and Heirs.
I did like bits and pieces, and a few episodes in the middle were really engaging and entertaining. But overall this drama failed to come alive and merely floated in the shallow ended, which was even more frustrating because even the viewers could see there was more to be mined. This was the first Kim Eun Sook drama where the central love story completely fell flat for me, on paper I got it, if I tried to analyze the why and hows I could make myself accept it, but viscerally on the primal feelings of attraction turning to love and passion, Kim Tan and Cha Eun Sang were like two wet towels rung repeatedly to milk the tears and emotion by sheer brute force. This story couldn’t decide whether it was a high school drama filled with test-taking worries and school yard conflict, or a inheritance drama stemming from familial strife. It presented both and failed to do anything meaningful with either. I did take away my own little bits of satisfaction with this – Kim Woo Bin is a scene-stealer extraordinaire and has great chemistry with Park Shin Hye and I’d vote for them to do a drama together in the future, the production captured the beauty of Southern California but I could do without the cringeworthy English scenes, Bo Na and Chan Young are delightful and any scene with them made the drama better, and the two Moms soothed my soul when the drama tried to suck it dry and for that they deserve hugs. Continue reading
SBS is not wasting the chance to bandwagon on Heirs/The Inheritors great ratings and its follow up drama You From Another Star (You Came From the Stars) will air next week on December 18th. With that said, the promotional machine for this drama has been decidedly non-existent, especially stacked up against the juggernaut that was Heirs releasing stuff every week for months. It’s not even for the lack of big name stars since we’re got two movie star A-listers with Jeon Ji Hyun and Kim Soo Hyun. Maybe last year I would have called Kim Soo Hyun a rising star but he’s headlined a box office smash movie all by himself with Covertly Grandly and with his Baeksang Best Actor win for The Moon Embraces the Sun so I’ll give him the early distinction of joining the young A-listers. The drama released a fourth teaser today that is less mood building and more character illuminating and I’m liking what I see. Jeon Ji Hyun plays Chun Song Yi, a top Hallyu actress with a self-absorbed personality and a foul mouth. Kim Soo Hyun is Do Min Joon, a calm and collected alien who have lived on Earth for the last 400 years and is currently a university professor. I like that he looks much younger but is the mature one, while she’s like a raging tornado who is going to turn his life upside down. I wrote in an early post about this drama set up that it will involve cohabitation between the two leads, which is basically contract marriage without the marriage. I wish the teasers would start showing the rest of the cast such as Yoo In Na and Park Hae Jin so I can get a sense of what to expect. Right now it feels like a mash-up of fantasy and comedy with a side of melancholy. The drama palette is very pretty (though I think Miss Korea looks prettier) and we’re getting two gorgeous leads who are playing characters that are beautiful in the drama so I’m expected lots of eye candy. Continue reading
It’s a wrap for Heirs/The Inheritors a mere hours before the broadcast of its final episode 20. The cast and crew assembled at the set used for the interior of the Kim mansion for a group picture and it’s going to require some squinting to see everyone. I spot Bo Na, Rachel, and Young Do in the front row. Second row has Hyo Shin (hopefully a sign that he doesn’t die by the end), Secretary Yoon, Eun Sang’s mom, Ki Ae next to Ji Sook, Eun Sang and Tan flanking Chairman Daddy, Won followed by Yi Seul and Chan Young. It’s a lovely picture commemorating months of hard work which ultimately paid off – this drama is the highest priced K-drama sold this year and garnered high ratings and lots of buzz. It’s a success any way you look at it. I think the writing was half good/half bad, and the casting was also a mixed bag. Lee Min Ho and Park Shin Hye was the oddest coupling I’ve seen in ages. It’s not like they don’t have chemistry because they do, but it’s more like friends, or colleagues, and sometimes veering to respect, but never fully believable as two young adults attracted to each other. My gut tells me that it’s not the fault of either of them, but if one was cast then the other shouldn’t. Does that make sense?
I thought Park Shin Hye had much better chemistry with Kim Woo Bin, which was apparent from their first scene together though he was playing a turd. By the end it was something I wanted to see more of but knew it didn’t make any sense in the story. Before the drama aired, insiders were saying that Kim Tan was the best male lead ever written by Kim Eun Sook and today I stand here scratching my head going “whut” because surely those who saw the early scripts must’ve been smoking something. Tan is at most entertaining to watch when he’s being immature, otherwise he broods too much. The cast all signed personal notes to the drama which have all been collected in one picture below, so go check out if your faves wrote something interesting or have pretty neat penmanship. The final scenes of episode 20 will clearly be Eun Sang and Tan, judging from Kim Eun Sook‘s preferred ending style as well as from the fan-snapped pictures of the two of them filming today in the cold wet snow. Those two definitely deserve a vacation since they carried the bulk of the scenes. I won’t miss anything about Heirs other the routine of following along with this drama for over six months since it was announced, cast, filmed, and broadcast. Continue reading
There are plenty of K-dramas that garner low ratings, nowadays more than ever since the audience seems to be dwindling and there are so many other options beyond the Big Three networks including the rise of cable programming. Despite all that, I’m still stunned to see the current KBS Wed-Thurs drama Pretty Boy (Bel Ami) with Jang Geun Seok and IU hit a new drama low of 2.9% ratings for today’s episode 7. I don’t think I’ve seem a prime time drama with ratings that low since Playful Kiss, and funnily enough that drama starred Kim Hyun Joong who is on deck for his Age of Feeling to take over the time slot of PB. Even more coincidence between these two guys goes back years and years ago when they were both up for the role of Ji Hoo sunbae in Boys Before Flowers. Jang Geun Seok was actually offered the lead of Gu Jun Pyo but he wanted to play Ji Hoo but that role was already inked to Kim Hyun Joong so the rest is all Lee Min Ho career making history. I thought episode 1 of PM was much better and less stupid than I expected, but I was rather bored by episode 2 despite it still staying really watchable. Over the weekend I caught up on episodes 3-4 and the drama really isn’t bad at all. IU is wonderful here and reminds me of Jung So Min in PK but with her own flair and character tweaks that freshen up the obsessed girl trope. Jang Geun Seok is also decent and plays his character straight yet with a sense of irony and self-mockery of the whole “prettiest man alive” conceit. The story isn’t anything to write home about but there are stakes and acceptable reasons for why the characters go down certain paths, and the growing closeness of the OTP is slow and funny. I’m sad for this production to garner such low low ratings and I hope this drama stays good and ends up with a second life on video or overseas. I plan to keep watching but it doesn’t hook me to the point of having anything insightful to write about. Check out a well-made MV and see if maybe you want to give this one a try. Continue reading
The world of Heirs/The Inheritors loves to throw out allusions and illusions, signs that seem to point to something more, something greater, something more substantive to come. If we wait patiently, we will be rewarded. I have long since discounted this drama having more below the surface of the superficial narrative we see, but I had hoped to sail to the end with a sense that it was still a story with a heart even if it was wrapped in layers of Kim Eun Sook manufactured artifice. But episode 19 strongly pulled me back to this drama’s repeated reference to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. If only Heirs was a broad comedy such as that, because within the comedy comes an understanding that we are being tricked to laugh but that’s the price to be paid. Instead the easy and rather befuddling resolution of big problems continues to make me feel utterly manipulated.
Is Kim Eun Sook and the cast of Heirs all Puck, and we the audience the leads in the play that are led by magic that makes no sense? So will tomorrow bring the grand finale that releases us from this thrall so that we can exit that dang wooden forest and return to a world where people say what they mean and decisions come with genuine consequences? I can’t even critique episode 19 anymore because it’s jumped the shark so completely. There were amusing interludes for the sake of shilling more mango drinks and showcasing the snazzy features of Kakao talk, all the adult plotting evaporated into a veneer of self-pitying regret, and a new villain emerges so that Chairman Daddy can get redeemed as part of the grand re-write to turn the dysfunctional Kim house into one of solidarity. There wasn’t enough Young Do for my liking since he’s the most dynamic story arc around still, and way too much Eun Sang and Tan who I have long since stop caring about because whatever obstacles they face seem to just evaporate into thin air. Continue reading