Official Character Stills of Rookie Cop Lee Seung Gi in You’re All Surrounded

Lee Seung Gi + white dress shirt + gun holster? Slay me dead with just a picture, why dont’cha You’re All Surrounded? That’s not a great idea since a dead me is unable to spazz and recap this drama so I suggest you send Seung Gi over to give CPR to noona here. He does know CPR right? Since he plays a cop and everything. The promotional machine is revving up for YAS coming at the perfect time to deposit my Bride of the Century feels right into twiddling my thumbs waiting for Seung Gi to pair up with hyung Cha Seung Won for a comedic cop caper drama. After playing a fighter for justice from the other side of the law in his last drama Gu Family Book, Seung Gi straps on a badge and plays a cop for this first time but it’s not exactly a job his character excels at or is excited about. His character Eun Dae Koo is described as having the three golden traits of good looks, smart brains, a fit physique, except it’s paired with an acid tongue borne from a painful incident in his past. He’s aloof and rarely smiles, but every time he talks it’s to say a cutting remark that gets right to a person’s sore spot. The drama has a short childhood sequence showing a past connection between Dae Koo and Go Ara‘s character Eo Soo San (can I just call her Susan?), a connection that has evolved into a love-hate interaction now that they are working on the same Gangnam police squad together. I don’t even mind that every single Seung Gi drama starts off with a love-hate relationship between him and his leading lady, why mess with a good thing when he always delivers on that particular trope so very well. Continue reading

A Big Thumbs Recommendation for the Lovely Angel Eyes with Gu Hye Sun and Lee Sang Yoon

I don’t know what else to say about the current weekend drama Angel Eyes other than – it’s really really good so don’t be scared and watch it! The first two episodes actually aired last weekend but it was primarily the teenage section of the story with Kang Ha Neul and Nam Ji Hyun ably hitting it out of the park in terms of acting for their own characters as well as couple chemistry. They were delightful and the whole thing reeked of Will it Snow For Christmas teenage portion vibes. But my Gu Hye Sun allergy is strong and Lee Sang Yoon dropped a notch for me with his last dull performance in Goddess of Fire. I was wary to commit before those two adult leads showed up just in case even a decent story is rendered hard to watch by either acting or chemistry. I can safely declare Angel Eyes a landmine-free zone now that I’ve spent all of episode 3 with adult Dong Joo and Soo Wan. The chemistry between Gu Hye Sun and Lee Sang Yoon is as lovely as it was with Nam Ji Hyun and Kang Ha Neul, and in fact I don’t remember a teenage counterpart casting that fits this seamlessly with the adult actors. The two guys look and act alike in character as do the two ladies, and a bit disconcerting because it’s such a rare treat. I like the two lead characters of Dong Woo and Soo Wan more than I like the story, and in fact the thing works better as a character and emotional piece rather than expecting a tautly written quality script. So far the drama is much better than all the recent SBS weekend dramas before it and a nice diversion for for on the weekends now that Bride of the Century has finished. Continue reading

Bride of the Century Episode 16 Recap

I want to start off my recap for episode 16 of Bride of the Century by giving a heartfelt thanks to the cast, crew, and production team behind this drama. It’s not easy gaining viewership or traction when a drama airs on cable, even harder when it’s one of the most niche and small cable networks such as Chosen TV. Right off the bat Bride of the Century was off-putting with its silly name and a cast of no known audience lures outside of F.T. Island and/or Lee Hong Ki fangirls. If anyone claims to be a Yang Jin Sung fan and that was the reason for checking out this drama, then you’re likely the first and only. Becoming a drama veteran means losing the element of surprise these days, I write about castings and previews and always have an ear to the ground so rarely does a drama sneak up on me. So the chance encounter with BotC felt like a double dose of pleasure to be surprised about a drama I never noticed and have it end up being so delightfully entertaining a watch. Perhaps it ought to be a triple dose of pleasure since I also acquired two new acting loves in Lee Hong Ki and Yang Jin Sung.

The pleasure I derived from this drama, it all came from a place of zero expectation so I can’t say future viewers who watch BotC after hearing raves and recommendations will necessarily like it as much. I do think a lot about it will stand up to the test of time. BotC was a throwback K-drama that used plenty of tropes but in ways that worked. I can’t tell you how hard that is since some dramas end up sinking on just one trope done wrong. While the drama did have a stronger start than finish, it didn’t putter to a conclusion and actually allowed the final two episodes to say something meaningful and heartfelt about what the central premise of this story was all about. All the mysteries were revealed by the end without any threads left hanging which was also quite a feat. Admittedly some of the heady romance mellowed into loving companionship but I think this drama’s nicely plotted and paced trajectory still delivered on what it set out to do. I watched a fantastic OTP fall in love and overcome all odds to be together and did so in a way that left a positive impression on the world around them. That’s a pretty nifty thing to pull off these days and for that I’m pleased as a peach with BotC when all is said and done. Continue reading

Bu Bu Jing Qing Releases Lovely New Character Stills Ahead of its April Premiere

I think it’s such a happy coincidence that I’m translating Tong Hua‘s fantasy romance novel Lost You Forever right now, reminding me daily of all the things I love about her writing which all started with her first novel Bu Bu Jing Xin (Startling with Each Step). It’s her most famous work to-date and likely deserves all the affection it gets. She took the real life princely battle for the throne in the Emperor Kangxi era Qing dynasty and made it into a time-travel romance novel involving a few of the historical princes with a fictional leading lady. The C-drama adaptation ended up being a raging success and I was also one of the many who thoroughly loved it when it aired. A sequel has been bandied from the very beginning but getting it made turned out to be a complicated factor of aligned schedules and career interests.

In the end, the modern day sequel Bu Bu Jing Qing brought back some but not all of the BBJX cast, but you can say it managed to get the two most important returnees in Liu Shi Shi who played the leading lady Ruo Xi (or Zhang Xiao in her modern life) and Nicky Wu as 4th Prince who later ascended the throne to become Emperor Yongzheng. The sequel brings modern day Zhang Xiao back with her reincarnated 4th Prince, and I’m sure there are lots of other narratives to come in BBJQ but frankly it’s all background noise as far as I’m concerned. The thought of Ruo Xi and her 4th Prince getting a happily ever after simply can’t be topped even if it comes with other makjang filler. Ahead of its April 22nd premiere, check out the just released new set of character stills which are light years better than the first deadly dull set when the drama started filming last year. Continue reading

First Teasers for A New Leaf and In Gyo Jin Replaced by Oh Jung Se Due to Differences with Writer

Kim Myung Min is an exceeding smexy man who looks even smexier in a suit. There, I just had to get that off my chest. I’m going to be a very happy camper if I get to watch him in a suit most of the time in the upcoming MBC drama A New Leaf. The Spring dramas are seriously funneling goodies all week long and with Single Cunning Lady ending next time, it’s high time A New Leaf drop something substantial. In addition to the first character-driven teasers focused on Kim Myung Min, the first official drama stills released also feature his character prominently in his professional playground. The first drama stills show Kim Myung Min in court arguing a case. He looks seamlessly at ease, less a factor of Kim Myung Min actually looking like or giving off lawyer vibes, but all due to his uncanny ability to slip into any role and make it seem like he was born into it. His character is described as a ruthless win-at-all costs defense lawyer who suddenly has a change of career direction after an accident gifts him with a personality swap and some convenient amnesia about his former self.

Kim Sang Joong is the law firm partner that wants his former ace back while Chae Jung Ahn is Kim Min Myung’s fiancee who actually thinks their engagement is a love match rather than the mutually beneficial alliance it was. Park Min Young plays the leading lady who starts off as an idealistic junior associate at the firm and later works alongside Kim Myung Min once he turns a new leaf and starts helping the downtrodden that have been ripped off by justice. There has already been a kerfluffle behind the scenes involving the infamous screenwriter Choi Hee Ra (Golden Time, OB/GYN) – supporting lead In Gyo Jin quit due to differences with the writer and has been replaced by Oh Jung Se (Marry Him if You Dare, Missing You). It’s a win-win for me since In Gyo Jin had time now to plan his upcoming October wedding to So Yi Hyun while I get the watch my much preferred Oh Jung Se in this drama instead. It’s still pretty nerve-wracking to wonder what other dust ups involving Writer Choi might occur before this drama runs it’s course. Continue reading

Bride of the Century Episode 15 Recap

I don’t blame anyone for getting frustrated with this episode of Bride of the Century but I for one loved it. I think it was written with such understanding of the main characters and how they would think and behave. I also think there are a few other lingering narrative threads that bubbled to the forefront and was handled really well by throwing the OTP into another quandary. Can they be happy if everyone around them are suffering? I think this question goes beyond the easy answer that some of the suffering is self-inflicted and others are likely just well deserved. That still doesn’t mean Kang Joo and Doo Rim can turn a blind eye, and sometimes the noble idiocy just comes from taking a step back to see if there is a wider path available that more people can travel on. Many times lovers myopically see the world only in the bubble of their romance and I like that BotC drops still hard problems even if the main obstacles have been overcome. Good thing this episode finally revealed the back story of the family ghost who was indeed much involved with the Choi family.

She wasn’t a bride like I thought though she is the mother of the Choi heir who is Kang Joo’s grandfather. Even though a first bride curse on the Choi family turned out to not exist, that doesn’t mean the Choi family isn’t suffering from a curse of another kind. I think Doo Rim is the bride of the century because she can break the curse of the Choi men not being with their true loves and in the process teach him about how to love. Kang Joo has taken major strides but in many ways he’s still very brash and sure that he can mow down any obstacle in his way. Can he still love Doo Rim if that love requires him to be patient and enduring? Will he trust her still no matter what she does? I don’t find Doo Rim a bleeding heart who would rather suffer so others can be saved. She is someone who is really to take a step back and see if that can become the trigger for solving stuck problems. I like that this episode seemed like a step back in that very way, asking the characters and us to see if we have the patience to trust this story through to the end. I definitely do.

In a Good Way Episode 21 Recap

I am genuinely impressed with the writing for In a Good Way. While I’ve loved this drama and acknowledge its sweet entertainment value with a throwback to more wholesome collegiate days, it’s still hard to keep a story momentum going and IAGW hit episode 21 today with an actual sign of speeding back up for the final hurrah. There was a bit of energy sap once Jia En and Liu Chuan got together, substituting budding attraction and uncertainty for tender romance and comfortable mutual exploration. I feel like Jia En and Liu Chuan quietly got closer without needing a lot of exposition. The drama has brought back Liu Chuan’s grandfather’s final treasure hunt as a final mystery to be solved and this episode gets Liu Chuan a major step closer. It also ups the pressure on him to fight for the freedom to live his life otherwise Jia En’s dad won’t be as keen to hand his precious daughter over to be the Stepford daughter-in-law for Liu Chuan’s dad to manipulate.

I was quite bored with both the secondary love stories in headstrong Tracy-Ah Qing or clueless Ri Qi-Xiao Wei, both of which can be solved with a simple five minute conversation devoid of any assumption that the other side ought to know what the other thinks. At least Liu Chuan and Jia En don’t pull that crap and they have truly settled into a lovely cadence where they are in love but it doesn’t define them. They both are concerned with other things but place each other in a critically important position. What does make up for those two stagnant plot lines is the return of Bai Xue to more screen time and cements for me that she’s the best second female lead around. It’s not even that she is mature and considerate, courageous and forthright, it’s that she has her own enriching life outside of romance. Her advice to Ren Wei and Xiao Wei in this episode comes from someone who is thoughtful about the conundrums in love but isn’t tied down by it. She’s awesome and adds to an awesome episode where the entire gang takes a road trip to the Taya tribal reservation to dig up a treasure and remind us that friendship and the time spent together is truly the most priceless treasure of college life. Continue reading