Sunday, January 06, 2013

Kdrama in 2012

It’s time to summarize the year that already drowned under the waves of dark waters of the past. Year 2012 in dramaland. I will focus only on those that I finished, but I will mention those I watched few episodes and dropped because of this-or-that reason.
One more thing, dramas are listed chronologically, more or less, so just to avoid (see how clever I can be?) being biased and putting some drama as the first one.
First, I also include those who started airing in 2011 yet continued to 2012. I always have the same problem with late year series. I also watched few raw dramas that no one picked up to be subbed, yet I don't write them here, except for one.

There will be a short reason given on why I watched those dramas. Also, I don’t include Drama Specials, as I watch almost all episodes, so enumerating them here would be pointless.

1. JYJ battle with SMEnt

1. What’s Up!
Musical. I was lured there by this word only and Oh Manseok in it. Although the former disappointed me in a way, the latter didn’t. As for the drama about making the musical, there was little music and dancing and rehearsals in it. I know some people don’t like musicals, but I don’t watch series thinking of what others like, it’s about what I like. I love dancing and singing people, I wanted to see that, and except for few numbers, I didn’t get that. But in overall – very good drama, worth watching, worth recommending.

2. Padam Padam
I wrote tons on this drama, so I guess I don’t have to repeat myself. From light, cinematography to acting – all was superb. People either love this drama or hate it. Hate comes from the fact that the main character may seem irritating. He’s dumb, simple, straightforward. Yes, he is. This is a drama without glamour, without edgy fashion, Louboutins, jaebol sons and luxury houses. Main character’s IQ is below 100, but he’s pure. He was locked up in jail and in the same time his personality was also locked up and ceased to develop.
And Kim Beom and his weird eyes...

3. Color of Woman
I didn’t have high expectations and I managed to finish it although without enthusiasm. At first I thought… I don’t actually know what I thought when I started this, I probably just wanted to see Jae Hee in a drama. I won’t recommend it as it went dull from the middle to the end. Without life at all.

4. A Thousand Kisses
Twists and turns of a family drama. I’m well prepared for those and I don’t bitch about that (much), because it’s the element of the genre. And it would be really good drama if they didn’t screw things up around ep 30+. What irritate me, not only here, but in general (in real life it happens too) is that when someone leaves for another country and has someone, they always expect that left out person to be locked up in some cloister doing nothing but praying for lover’s return. And when they return after few years, they demand unchanged devotion, love and attention. Well, people change, and if someone remains faithful and waits – good for them, but usually people start having feelings for others.

5. Ojakgyo Brothers
Maknae’s love affair didn’t end well and that pissed me off. Other than that, light and fun until around 30+. Then – maknae and his line.

6. Wild Romance
I’m certain of one thing – Jessica can’t act. She was an eyesore every time she was on screen. Oh Manseok’s character was a little too bland, but in overall I enjoyed this drama immensely. LDW and LSY had great chemistry together. But still I’m not interested in baseball at all.

7. Mushin
One of the best taeha I have watched. Intense, wicked, wise, well written, well acted (except for one girl), perfectly chosen tumultuous period in Korean history (Choi domination and Mongol invasion). Loved absolutely everything, the realism, the characters, the little details and care. Highly recommended for every taeha lover out there.

8. History of the Salaryman
I enjoyed it until it went all business-talks-and-mergers-and-takeovers. Main lady was unlike any other lady nowadays (heavy swearing, lack of any dignity-preserving inhibitors), main character was gentleman when this suited him and bitch when didn’t. Supporting characters were well sketched too although not given as much opportunities as main ones.

9. Twelve Men in a Year
First episodes may seem slow, but this drama is tasty. With a clear conclusion in the end. I liked how the transition was done.

10. The Marriage Plot
Funny, witty, light (with Noble idiocy half of the episode but whatever). It’s been a while I had so much fun while watching this.

11. Hero
“I have superpowers! That’s stupendous!!” Our hero-antihero is nowhere near likeable. He’s not doing Batman stunts because of his deep desire to fight the injustice, but because it’s fun.

12. A Wife’s Credentials
Well written, true to life, perfectly shot and edited drama. Slow narrative but intense emotions and acting. Highly recommended.

13. Rooftop Prince
This drama is a mosaic of great moments and WTF ones. Most people complain that time-travel wasn’t explained. I find that unimportant. Call it Fate, Accident, Chance, whatever. Despite all faults in this (cartoonish villains, some plot holes), I enjoyed that more and more toward the ending. And when Lee Gak started to show his “disappearing” symptoms, my heart started slowly breaking. There was no miracle, Lee Gak couldn’t travel back and forth in time whenever he felt like it, when he went back, it was an absolute end. Seeing how he disappeared completely after that sweet ceremony made me damn depressed as not usually. That was one of the saddest ending I saw.
Not sure if recommended.

14. Happy Ending

15. I Do I Do
It had its great moments and low moments. We had this reversed pattern, here our “jaebol” role was played by a woman, and “Cinderella” was a young man. And although she opened up herself to the unconditional love she was given by the young fella, she remained a woman of steel. Not a meek, whining chick, but she was giving orders even while delivering a child. Drama made also some subtle paths for future dramas to follow – single mothers, working mothers, woman’s place in highly traditional society. One important figure would be our main hero’s father. A role model for older generation who might be shocked at some changes, but needs to face the unpleasant truth – changes WILL happen and the best you can do is to get accustomed to them.

16. Arang and the Magistrate
Ghosts were my main interest here, yet their problems and ontological status disappeared (sic!) fairy quickly. I enjoyed this from the beginning to the very end, including OST (and have to tell that this year didn’t have spectacular OSTs at all).
Godly Yoo was beautiful too.

17. The Chaser
One of the best dramas of 2012. Intense, highly structuralized, and perfectly acted (plus nice OST). There is no fluff in this, no easy routes, no useless characters and sidekicks. There is human’s nature, greed, power, suffering and parental love. Quite heavy drama, but highly recommended.

18. I Love Italy
One of the biggest age gaps between pair I have ever seen. Kibum being cute, to just add. This drama had its own pace, nothing groundbreaking, but the fact everyone changed in this drama, made me appreciate it more. And it made me watch it live.
I’ve said this already but will repeat – I love this drama more than it deserves. I know that.

19. Dummy Mommy
Cruel and cold drama, with no perfect character, no easy choices, no nice statements. I’d recommend it if it wasn’t so gnawn.

20. A Gentleman’s Dignity
Jang Donggun showcased his acting being so damn natural it hurts. Sadly, Kim Haneul has not that much charisma to match him, but she did what she could. Maybe she was still petrified and haunted by My Fag Pet memories?

Best actor of the year for me. Thank you.
21. Gaksital
Fast paced (but marred also with stagnant moments), visually nice and nerve-wrecking drama set in occupied Korea in the 30’s. It had its brilliant moment and also dull moments. Credits to worst moments go to The Broom, I can’t stand the girl and she managed to ruin 2 good dramas in the same year. Please give her an award for that. I wrote lots of thoughts on this drama, so I won’t repeat myself. When lovey-dovey started, this man above was my only consolation. Sometimes I wanted to do the same.

22. Five Fingers
I love melo and I love Ju Jihun. Add music to that and I’m sold. One complaint would be the Broom who was ruining every damn scene with her. No, I can’t think of even one good moment of her acting.

23. Answer to 1997
Don’t you wish your drama was cool like this…?”
Absolute no promotion, no hype, no advertising – yet it made the biggest waves this year. Partially because of the memories of sweet innocent youth factor. Then it had Junhee who probably contributed half to the amount of love this drama received.
Fabulous acting, fabulous script and directing kept audience on edge for weeks.
SMEnt observed rise in H.O.T albums sales too.

24. Vampire Prosecutor 2
OK, I enjoyed this, but actually after it ended, I have no idea why. There was little actual prosecutor in Vampire Prosecutor after all. I don’t mind delving more into vampire world there, but last couple of episodes were just chaotic.

25. Panda and Hedgehog
Still maintain that Donghae’s acting… ah whatever. I enjoyed this cute little drama full of yummy cakes and sweet moments. My crocheting drama.

26. Haeundae Lovers
Similar to Panda… drama in terms of light watching and some nekkid men. Had fun crocheting another scarf.

Honorable mention:
KBS DSS Ordinary Love and Strong Colors of Kang Cheol. The first one, 4-part special was about a guy who comes to the sleepy, cultural town to track down the murderer of his brother, and starts developing feelings for his daughter (or already has, cause he saw her before). But the problem in this mini was deeper than just this. And writers didn’t hide from all possibilities of having less characters but lots of events. When we go deeper into the story, we got to learn that the dead brother was on his way to elope with his lover when he was hit by a truck. The driver was under the influence and even though he wanted to take young man to the hospital, he saw police checking the drivers. His fear of losing the license made him a murderer as he went to woods instead, killed and buried the young man. There is no “it was actually some last-minute-character who killed the man instead of girl’s father, no. It was him, and the killing was caused by fear, panic and real human problems. There is also a vague ending, like it or not. But worth watching.
Strong Colors is a comedy sageuk mini with Oh Manseok as the writer-detective (or whatever he was doing) being two-faced, mean, greedy, crazy and in overall slightly psychotic character. If you watch this, you won’t regret this. All other characters are purely brilliant as well (the King!).
Killer Girl K. Intense, gore, lots of violence and the most unexpected cutie’s demise I have seen lately. If you don’t like blood, guns and violence – stay away. If you do – watch it, people!
The Thousandth Man - sweet, concise, cute, wise. With Namstar who managed to not embarrass this nuna with his first time acting. Recommended.

Dramas I dropped somehow along the course:
Queen In-hyun’s Man – forgive me, all fans of this, but somehow it started to seem like a bad dream.
Big – first episode was a major snooze fest so I didn’t even bother with the rest. No, not even for Gong Yu. Did he lose some bet so he had to appear in this?
Nice Guy – the premise looked nice. Song Junggi looked nice. But drama was dull, pretending to be what it was not.
The Moon That Embraces The Sun – lackluster, lukewarm, diluted archetype of “forbidden love”. Even BOF had more love tension between characters.
I Need Romance 2012 – talk talk talk. And talk some more.
Operation Proposal – have no idea what I expected. Even Godly Yoo Seungho couldn’t make me watch this.
Faith - Really, Minhot is hot, but this drama had so much potential and yet it was dissipated somehow. Ryu Deokhwan was great but failed to keep me interested. Not his fault though.
Hanbando – dropped because of lack of time, but didn’t feel the urge to pick it up so it joined the merry club of “Do Not Want”.
The King 2 Hearts – I actually expected The Carp fabulous acting? Or Ha Jiwon’s different character than the latest 5 of hers? Not even secondary characters made me stick with it.
Fashion King – Yoo Ah-in mannerism just put me off really quickly.

There were also few others I watched first episode and decided I’m not going to invest any minute longer. Some I avoided on purpose.

Dramas started in 2012 I’m watching now:
Cheongdamdong Alice – cray fest displayed by PSH is bottomlessly hilarious yet depressing at the same time.
Missing You – I love melo and this drama delivers. Oh damn delivers. It rips you apart, sows back and then again shreds to pieces. Godly Yoo is mentally deranged psychopath.
Can We Get Married? – quirky, fun and surprisingly true to life.