Splendid Politics Premieres with Ratings Success and Critical Acclaim

The real ratings horse race has finally arrived for 2015, four months into the year already but a doozy right out of the gate. MBC‘s annual tent pole sageuk Splendid Politics (Hwajung) premiered this past Monday and announced its arrival in a big way with the best first episode ratings of all prime time dramas that premiered this year and the first drama premiere with over 10% in ratings. It notched a 10.5% AGB for episode 1, placing it behind SBS drama Heard it Through the Grapevine at 11.6%. SP then took a huge jump and vaulted over Grapevine by episode 2, garnering 11.8% (+1.3) while Grapevine was close behind at 11.7%.

I’m thrilled for both dramas doing well, or well enough considering the overall ratings malaise going around these days, since both are excellent in its own way. The first two episodes of Splendid Politics blew my mind, it was that good, or better yet it was that great right off the bat. MBC is back to fine form in doing a sageuk right in every way, the script is airtight and riveting while the acting is phenomenal so far. Ji Sung‘s Kill Me Heal Me stroll to the Daesang at the year end MBC drama awards will clearly have to get by Cha Seung Won first. Chajumma owns everyone as Gwanghaegun and I’m simultaneously crying for him and scared of him. WOWSERS.

Both Grapevine and Splendid Politics are teeming with powerhouse acting across the board, which makes the third competitor on Mon-Tues Blood look even more terrible and farcical with how bad the acting is there. The ratings for Blood this week dipped even lower, dropping to 3.8% on Mon before rising a bit back to 4.4%. KBS will be sooooo relieved when Blood finally shuffles off, though it’s going to be hard to imagine Who Are You: School 2015 with a cast nearly of all newbies getting a leg in edgewise between SP and Grapevine.

With how extraordinarily good Splendid Politics is so far with the entire cast, a veritable who’s who of the Korean acting veterans, it makes me even more worried once the young leads arrive that they will stick out like awkward sore thumbs when everyone else is acting their pants off. My worry is mostly for Seo Kang Joon, somewhat Lee Yeon Hee, and a bit for Han Joo Wan.

Cha Seung Won is basically declaring that he’s gunning for the MBC Daesang, and a Baeksang drama award nomination, with his impeccable performance that is impossible to look away from. His Gwanghaegun (Yi Hon) will anchor the first half of this long 50-episode drama, while the other male lead Kim Jae Won‘s future King Injo (Yi Jong) will take over in the second half of the drama as his villainous usurper takes over the throne.


Splendid Politics Premieres with Ratings Success and Critical Acclaim — 23 Comments

      • @ Peeps,

        Bingo!!! He’s got the face that the camera and even Ahjummas adore…

        He’s been signing CFs after CFs and he’s actually a decent actor for a newbie.

        It’s definitely his face…I remember seeing him for the 1st time in “Suspicious Housekeeper” and I was like: “who’s this gorgeous boy?” and I was always looking forward to his scenes.

        This boy is loved and people just want to see more of him.

        I guess some people just have that “it” thing.

        I think his case is different from Jin Se Yeon’s in that everyone complaints about her acting and don’t want to see her get lead roles but still she get them regardless and people find that disturbing, and think that she might have a sponsor.

        And to me a sponsor is not necessarily related to sexual favors.

        When someone like Changmin gets a 2nd lead role in a huge drama like “The Scholar who walks the night” when everyone knows how terrible of an actor he is (I have nothing against the boy, I’m just stating a fact), I call SM (his agency) a strong sponsor, and by that I don’t mean that anything sexual is involved, but that SM is a powerful enough agency that can get even their terrible actors big roles just because… well…they are… SM.

        A sponsor in this instance to me is someone who helps an actor gets a role using means other than the actor’s own abilities.

        Another perfect example is also Lee Yoobi… who apparently has been accused of getting roles through her parents (I have no idea who they are, I just read about this in some forums) …Well…in this case, I will call her parents her “sponsors” if indeed it is true that they help her get roles.

        I wanted to clarify this because there’s been an ongoing discussion about people being harsh on JSY that she has a sponsor and that those people think she gives sexual favors.

        My thinking is far… far away from that thought…

      • his popularity, too. It’s surprising but he’s actually quite liked in dramas and signs a pile of CFs.

      • not a fan either. his eyes are so pretty, it’s distracting. i just find him stiff.

      • Which is ironic because Kang Joon is part of an all male troupe of actors which goes by the name of 5urprise, well, technically they started as an idol group (the kind that sings), but they all have ventured into acting instead. The thing is, they are from an unknown and very new company, but Seo Kang Joon has been quite fortunate to be garnering this much attention for himself that he has went on from being a complete unknown to lead role (caveat: it’s still supporting role though, that much at least is true: as in, if he wins an award for this, he won’t be the “best actor” but rather “best supporting actor”) in a big budget sageuk. And it’s not as if he had such a meaty portfolio to begin with, he had one small role and a cameo before landing a 2nd lead role opposite Lee Min Jung within a span of only a year. Acting-wise, there is nothing really much to fawn over, and look-wise, well I cannot really comment because I’m a guy, so I dunno, he looks um, normal to me?

        That is to say, I’m never going to doubt on how Seo Kang Joon ascended to lead status the way that he is, connections or none. To me, that is the nature of their industry. Some actresses have forever been in supporting roles despite being non-lightweight in the acting department. Some have been promising as early as they were child actors. Some were from completely unrelated profession (ie. idols) but have made a big splash in the acting industry, partly thanks to the fact that they are already popular–they were given a chance to star in a role. Some were unknowns but just became stars.

        All of this is to say that public and network affection is fickle and that there is no one absolute metric to gauge how and why one actor should fare better than the other. Acting is only but one aspect of being an actor nowadays (and I would argue even before), but building a “star” is far more complex, and usually involves a bit of (a lot of) luck to produce. There are tons of GREAT actors out there, but they inevitably just going to be _that_ actor, stuck in supporting roles.

        So really, it’s all but a matter of keeping an open mind. I, personally, would never accuse others of “sponsors”, connections, or what have you, because by the end of the day, we humans are social creatures. We’re not machines which value is only gauged by how well we do our tasks. Inevitably, some would get ahead of others because of that “social” aspect. Some may think that is unfair, but really, it’s all about capitalizing whatever life has given you.

    • Not a fan of Seo Kang Joon by any means, but based on episode 1 this drama is hardly Oscar worthy material. Child actors can’t act, directing is sloppy and low budget. I mean, it is not bad by any means, but I see nothing deserving ‘critical acclaim’ here.

      • I’m not planning on watching this one but a big budget MBC sageuk is pretty high profile regardless of how good it actually ends up being. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up taking a bona fide leading role after this one… hooray, yet another teeny bopper to avoid in the future!

    • He’s good looking and both of his previous dramas have rated well. He got a lot of attention as 2nd lead in Sly and Single Again ( i think that was the name) and What’s with this family was a hit weekend drama.

  1. I normally don’t do Saeguks (minus Joseon X Files) but if it’s well written and acted, I’ll definitely be checking it out.

  2. Chajumma is the man! He’s so taking that Daesang and would most likely bring in the numbers for MBC. SOGC did really really in the well wih the acting, writing and more importantly, got some good numbers. Specially after the epic sageuk fails lrc last year. I’m glad Hwajeong is taking over nicely because the pace and acting blows my mind. YAY for MBC sageuks this year – finally!

  3. Wow!!! Nice ratings for first episode. I wonder how Park Young Kyu ahjusshi is managing his schedule. He is already acting in angry mom, falling for innocence and now this saguek. Omg!!!! He should be really busy shuttling between the three drama sets.

  4. Sooooooo is Cha Seung Won only going to be in this show for 25 episodes? Because I’m only going to watch for him and if he’s not going to be in the whole drama then … I don’t know if I can do it.

  5. uuughh, the sexiest ahjussi alive! Cha Seung Won is the only reason for me to watch this drama. I don’t care if he is the bad guy, I’ll just root for him anyway.

  6. so half eps for CSW and the rest KJW will take over? I remember I stopped watching Hwang Jini once he appeared. Something lacks about him to me. Let’s see if he can convince me to watch him here this time.

  7. I thought Cha Seung Won’s going to be in the whole show! Show why did you cheat my poor heart :'(

    I loved the first episode, hope this show’s going to be consistent from start to finish.

  8. I wasn’t particularly thrilled by the news of this drama cuz I was a bit tired of splendid politics in all the serious sageuk although I do love sageuk. LOL…But Ms Koala, since you highly recommended it and I think you have certain credibility in drama review, I’ll give this drama a shot. I’ve never watched CSW’s drama except for The Greatest Love which I quit watching because of time constraint and honestly I didn’t feel fun watching it. I hope this segeuk will be appealing enough for me to stay through the last episode. Perhaps this would be “Fated to Love You” experience repeat! I wasn’t interested in K version of FTLY because I was so into the T version and it was hard for me to wipe out each single detail of the T version. But you watched the K version. So I followed out of my boredom…LOL…And then I found a gem in my eyes in the almost barren drama land during that boring period – Jang Hyuk. So, Ms Koala, I’ll give this splendid politics my precious time and hopefully I can persist through 50 episodes of the long court struggle. Hahaha….bless me not to doze off zzzZZZZ.

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