My second year in review!! Wow, time surely flies fast. I was only an avid reader before but this year encouraged me to write. And now, I LOVE writing and learning new things about it everyday. I also found so many blogger friends who keep sharing love for dramas with me.
The drama palette this year was filled with many colors: romance, comedy, thriller, horror, emotions, melancholy. I enjoyed many shows and learned that dropping dramas can be as easy as abc. And hence, in my list, there are no shows that I hated or disliked. But yes, I have my darling dramas and the ones I liked but something was missing somewhere to get that extra click.
I have divided my year in review into three parts: Dramas that I loved (which may not be perfect ones but stole my heart ♥ ♥ ♥), dramas that I liked (they are the ones which I really liked but there is a thing called wholeheartedly which is not attached with them due to one reason or the other) and finally dramas that I dropped (the title is in itself the definition I guess).
So without any delay, here we go:
i. Dramas that I loved
Dating Agency: Cyrano
Dating Agency: Cyrano is breezy, light, funny, enjoyable and delightful across the board. I went to it with average expectations but it turned out to be one of my darling dramas of 2013 which just hit all the right buttons for me. The basis of the show, the movie Cyrano Dating Agency was a big, fat bore to me but the story was appealing nonetheless. I was pleasantly surprised that the drama was as far away in treatment from the movie as possible and unlike the film which progressed at the snail’s pace, the show has a brisk speed. The story about an agency that helps people to achieve their love actually established the point that they helped only in giving the first chance to the client but what followed in the relationship depends on the persons involved. The thing that made me fall in love head over heels was the main couple who sizzled together from the first time they appeared on-screen together. It became my favourite thing and their frank interactions, bickering, eye locks and romantic tension made me giddy with enjoyment. Charming Sooyoung and charismatic Lee Jong Hyuk are great together!! In addition to it, the drama carved out some very interesting characters: practical but not love-less Seo Byung, charming and lovely Minyoung with a joie de vivre (and she is the soul of the drama), adorable Ah Rang, robotic Moojin with a heart, enigmatic Master and his two hilarious goons. Each one of them contributed in making this drama compelling and fun. The cases of the week were small and cute with a string of cameos by so many talented stars who made each story concrete. I loved how each case mirrored with the main players’ life in one way or the other. Laced with outstanding soundtrack and cuteness, the drama never goes too serious but has a warm heart and its depth lies in small moments sprinkled throughout. I can always go for Dating Agency: Cyrano with bells on!!
Master’s Sun is all about a lovely couple and ghosts. Mesmerizing romance. Charming and picture perfect OTP. Packed with crackling dialogues with loads of metaphors and winks. So Ji Sub and Gong Hyo Jin create magical chemistry in this Hong Sisters‘ drama which is about a girl who can see ghosts and a guy who protects her from this ordeal by touching her. After Big, we all went into Master’s Sun thinking that we are skating on thin ice. But the show turned out to be super awesome with most of the credit going to its leads who are sweet, cute, adorable, warm, smart, sizzling in equal proportions. I loved the way the show juxtaposed all the ghost stories with the central romance in each episode and showed the personal growth of our hero and heroine effectively. This is one case where the main couple outweighs the story and that makes all other things diminish in importance, I didn’t really care for the main conflict. The ‘ghost story of the day’ format never disturbs the smooth flowing of romance and I liked that those cases are both bittersweet and funny. Master’s Sun is breezy and works at a relaxed pace. There are many positive characters with only the villain left as the negative one. I especially liked Secretary Kim as the cupid between the leads, along with second leads who were super cute. I felt giddy and excited as the romance progressed. I loved the soundtrack too. So Ji Sub is a revelation and surprisingly his role is the most adorable character in Master’s Sun. So. Cute. Gong Hyo Jin is as warm and natural as ever. These two undoubtedly form the best couple of the year and they just make my day. In short, Master’s Sun is like a sweet fragrance which I can always use whenever I’m in need for something sweet and romantic.
Two Weeks takes us into a roller coaster ride with incredible highs and sinking lows. The plot of man-on-the-run has been used several times before and what makes this action thriller different is the awesome emotional touch it gives to its narrative. That, plus a vulnerable and naive hero who makes his quest to survive truly believable; even to the limit that I breathed sigh of relief at times when he managed to get a sleep or something to eat! The show’s strength also lies in the simplicity of its plot which doesn’t require rocket science to understand it and takes a howdunnit approach rather than mixing mystery into it. We know what’s going to happen but still there is nail-biting tension whenever the hero is in a difficult situation. The show is successful in engaging the viewer in the hero’s journey and a brisk pace helps in hiding the plot holes if present. I loved the different indigenous methods of our hero (for example: taking help from the films he had seen in the past being a movie buff, or using ordinary things as his aid) and in the process, learning to make his own plans and outsmarting the bad guys after initial weakness and lack of courage. There are certain interesting characters like a badass female prosecutor (I loved her strategies with our hero), a cop torn between his duty and personal feelings, cute as button daughter and her sensitive mom. Everything being said, the crème de la crème is the moments between the daddy-daughter duo who often leave you moist eyed, sometimes with sorrow and sometimes with happiness. Most importantly, Two Weeks turned out to be an uplifting tale of a man who learns to love life and gets inspired to be a better man. Lee Jun Ki owns the part and turns in a solid performance. All in all, a thrilling, gripping and emotionally rich drama and easily one of my favourites this year.
School 2013 is as different from the usual high school dramas as chalk from cheese. Unlike the glossy and colorful dramas of the genre we are used to, it offers a realistic portrayal of the students and teachers lives with a story dipped in sensitivity and poignancy. It deals with a range of issues like knowledge v/s admissions, burgeoning competition and the consequent tension, teachers’ dilemmas, bullying in school, fights. etc. The characters and their relationships are very deftly shown and are very touching. I always crave for romance in a series but this show had none and I didn’t even miss it anywhere. Instead, we get great friendships and bromance that makes our heart filled with love and affection for the people here. It doesn’t mean that the show is dark, far from it. It just takes it in a less fancy way. The poignant moments tug at the heartstrings. The show does become a bit slow and narratively repetitive but never ceases to hold our interest. Also, I felt that the drama ignored the female students and the class as a whole didn’t come together as much as I wanted it to.
School 2013 left me misty eyed a lot of times. Lee Jong Suk and Kim Woo Bin give a winning performance with epic chemistry and there is no way they’ll not capture your heart with their heartfelt performances. The show maintains its realistic approach until the end by being kind of open-ended but one thing that it teaches us is that the flames of hope should always keep glowing.
ii. Dramas that I liked
Flower Boy Next Door
Flower Boy Next Door is like a breath of fresh air. Unlike my pre-conceived idea that it will be a colorful & fluffy drama, it took me by surprise with the natural portrayal of the story. I liked the indie and low-key vibe in it with so many adorable characters. The heart of the show is its main leads: the reclusive, introvert heroine who likes to be alone in her comfort zone and the equally contrasting hero, a guy who is extrovert and happy-go-lucky, and loves to make friends. The other players are interesting as well: the shy and caring neighbour (my first second lead crush: Kim Ji Hoon), his roommate and his cute relation with the eccentric editor and a cute chef. The show’s first half breezes with emotional and comic situations but never turns melodramatically over-the-top. The problem starts in the second half when the show loses some of its steam due to lack of concrete climax and spending lots of time in petty issues. My interest plummeted a lot, despite my love for the people here. The strength of the show is the freshness and sensitivity it pours in little moments and the hero who cares for the heroine a lot and wants her to come out of her shell and enjoy life to the fullest. Finally, it is a simple, soothing and refreshing show with a warmth like that of sunshine on a winter day.
Incarnation Of Money
Incarnation Of Money takes us on an engaging journey that spans over 24 episodes and 15 years and yet it is a completely gripping and thrilling ride, full of twists and turns. It is basically a revenge drama with a nicely made cocktail of comedy, action, emotions, thrills, suspense and romance. The drama works at a fast pace with well written characters, each of them playing an important part in the story. There are high stakes and on-the-edge-of-your-seats excitement. But the tug of war between the two main characters, played superlatively by Kang Ji Hwan and Park Sang Min, is the highlight of this show. We have grey shaded characters here and that includes our hero. It is to the drama’s credit that we finally begin to root for the hero who initially feels like an anti-hero. I loved that both the protagonist and the antagonist are equally intelligent, each one step ahead of the other. I also liked the team work of the hero with his minions who plan all strategies to win against the bad guys. The drama has a solid heart and emotional moments add an extra dimension to the narrative. It is a well made show which is truly adventurous.
I Hear Your Voice
This is a perfect example of a well-written show with strong character arcs and growth and a collage of emotions that draws the viewers in. It is an interesting mix of worlds of fantasy and law. My favourite thing in the show was the way it focuses on spreading morals and ideals without getting preachy. The heroine is a refreshing one who is as different from typical dramaland leads as night and day. She is good at heart but has a bratty personality. She says what she thinks and is open about her feelings and I love her for that. Lee Bo Young shines in her role. Our hero can read minds of others and Lee Jong Suk is adorable to the hilt. Then we have awesome Yoon Sang Hyun as an upright lawyer. All these people struggle through various cases and help others but I think the cases became kind of episodic and also were very dramatic with loopholes here and there. But still the effect was strong from viewers’ point of view. Then we have the main story of a murderer chasing our protagonists, which definitely gives chills down the spine. I liked how the show dealt with its main story: it was dark, serious and urgent and yet the drama is soaked in comic interludes and fun elements that provide heart and warmth. There is an upbeat vibe. I loved the frenemy relation of our heroine with her childhood friend/ colleague and how it developed from start to finish. What I wasn’t invested in at all was the romance of the OTP. I liked their interactions but never got attached to the romance part. They neither made me feel giddy nor were there any butterflies in my stomach. And that factor was responsible for me not getting completely hooked.
What is your ultimate wish in dramaland? That your favourite stars appear together in a drama. And that’s what happened with me when Heirs cast Lee Min Ho and Park Shin Hye and I was instantly on cloud nine. I loved each and every thing about them in the drama. Okay, not all things but I blame the poor writing for it! Well, if I keep aside the main pair and my craziness over them, there were enough entertaining features in Heirs like lots of interesting characters and hilarious moments to make the overall journey delightful and addicting. Many actors are wasted as are many story arcs, basically huge untapped potential. My biggest complaint with the show is the melodramatic tone and lack of lightness and humour, which when present gives the best moments. The plot is nearly non-existent with no character growths. The bromance and team camaraderie are not fully explored and satisfying but the one-to-one connections are great. The drama wastes lots of time in unnecessary love triangle and high school bullying which dampens the mood and pace but the overall effect is enjoyable with plenty of eye candy, funny bits and good acting.
As for me, Heirs is basically equivalent to 20 hours of cherishing my love for Lee Min Ho and Park Shin Hye. They are awesome together!!
Ad Genius Lee Tae Baek
I wanted to watch Ad Genius Lee Tae Baek simply because I like workplace dramas and this one had a huge scope for it. It is a simple and sweet drama that engaged me sporadically. There were portions which I really enjoyed like Tae Baek’s whole journey and struggle along with the team work and the lively rapport that his teammates had. I also liked the different methods they used to come up with innovative ideas for the ads. Actually, the show does full justice to its title as it is indeed all about ads. The things that I found lackadaisical were the rest of the corporate hijinks and the second leads. They were extremely boring and especially the last few episodes screamed predictability and dullness. Park Ha Sun is really charming and Jin Goo is competent in the titular role. The show has its best moments when both of them engage in funny and delightful conversations with their team. The drama is all in all not utterly forgetful but doesn’t say anything special to me. It is an easy watch and yes, feel good.
iii. Dramas that I dropped
Gu Family Book
Dropped after : 10 episodes
Historical is the genre which I’m not particularly interested in when it comes to Kdramas. But my Lee Seung Gi love and the fantasy laden plot compelled me to start this show. I found the first few episodes endearing and fun even when there were many conspicuous flaws glaring at me from many sides. Firstly, the plethora of tragedies falling upon everyone which might have intended to bring seriousness but looked rather too much to tolerate, then the convenient use of fantasy elements without any rules, the inconsistency of script, the goofy villains which did some of the most evil deeds, the hero who himself didn’t know what he wanted or did, the heroine with a one note expression that never alters throughout the show, the idiotic decisions taken by the hero’s mom in the beginning when she brings the bad guys to capture his father etc. Simply put, Gu Family Book looked really shallow. Still, I tried to stick with it as I thought it had some heart but finally, when I read about the ending, it felt like what was the point of everything and I decided to close the book on this drama which never even showed our hero’s quest for Gu Family Book, the defining title. Introduction to Choi Jin Hyuk is the only benefit I got from the show.
You’re The Best Lee Soon Shin
Dropped after: 34 episodes.
The biggest problem of You’re The Best Lee Soon Shin is its predictability as it is as predictable as recipe of an omelette. Every single character is a cardboard caricature: a candy heroine who annoyingly calls herself stupid quite frequently, a chaebol, a bitchy first love, birth secrets, etc etc etc. I wanted to watch the show despite it having 50 episodes (!) because I loved the brilliant ensemble cast but as the show moved forward after showing some warmth and cuteness in the beginning, it distanced itself from romance and cute; and the birth secrets/angst and annoying side characters took the centre stage and that went on and on and on along with the pain of fast forwarding 90% of the episode, which made me as tired as a marathon runner after a race and I was happy to say goodbye to the show. What I did love was seeing Jo Jung Suk in a rom-com who was super adorable, Jung Woo with awesome comic timing and Go Joo Won as a gentleman. The show did give some water drops of cuteness in the desert of the expected and boring scenario but that wasn’t enough to make me sit through till the end.