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[Drama Recap] Year in Review: 2012 Dramas

Dramas 20122012 is finally over and we’re still here so I guess the Mayans were wrong all along.  For the most part, it was as pretty disappointing year for dramas.  Several dramas that I had high expectations for fell flat(Big, Dream High 2) and many were pretty mediocre.  There were a few brights spots(King 2 Hearts, Gentleman’s Dignity), but I’m hoping that 2013 will bring qualities dramas compared to last year.

Big

Kyung Joon reenacts accidentDa Ran stops Chong Sik's punch
Yeah these two were the only reason this was even mildly watchable.  Lee Min Jung’s expression pretty much sums up how I felt about this drama.  It’s that part angry/part disappointed look.  It completely wasted Lee Min Jung and Suzy visuals by putting them in a drama that made little to no sense.  No sense wasting more time with this.  Read my full review here.

Don’t Worry, I’m a Ghost

Don't Worry I'm a Ghost - 02Don't Worry I'm a Ghost - 03
Admittedly, this was only a 1-episode drama special, but hey I’m not going to discriminate.  That being said, welcome back to the Korean drama scene Park Shin Hye.  She was ridiculously pretty in this and showed off her acting chops once again.  Definitely looking forward to her upcoming drama with Yoon Si Yoon, especially because it means she’s not acting along side the black hole that was Yong Hwa(Heartstrings).  I very much enjoyed Park Shin Hye as the friendly ghost and acting overall was pretty good.

For a drama that starts off so light, it sure got dark in the end.  At the beginning you figure that hey maybe the guy liked her before is the one who’s supposed to solve the mystery of how she died.  That’s how all drama plotlines go right?  Well, this writer seemed to have a different idea.  Feel-good episode of the year, this drama special is not.  Overall though, definitely enjoyed the experience if for nothing else that it’s something new and unexpected.

Dream High 2

HersheE girls stick togetherRian's look of disgust
It’s okay Jiyeon, I’m as annoyed as you are about this drama.  Well if they ever decide to do Dream High 3, at least the expectations are good and lowered at this point.  Throughout the entire drama I couldn’t help but feel like it was a massive troll effort by JYP.  I said from the very beginning that Kang Sora was horribly miss-cast as the lead in this and she did nothing to prove me wrong.  She doesn’t have the look or acting ability to properly pull off the idol-wannabe-turned songwriter.  I would’ve loved to see Jiyeon in that role, but she did a good job as her character Rian so can’t complain too much I suppose.  Don’t even get me started on JB as one of the male leads.

Looking back, I actually did enjoy the song performances for the most part.  Given the header picture, my love for Ailee is no secret and I’m a big fan of SISTAR’s Hyorin as well.  Jiyeon surprisingly had a few enjoyable vocal performances and I like JB as well…as long as he’s not trying to act.  They weren’t going to top the original cast though, of course.  I mean, you have two 2pm members, Miss A’s Suzy, IU, and T-ara’s Eunjung.  Vocally, Season 2’s cast might be slightly better due to Ailee and Hyorin, but from a performance standpoint, no way they can match the firepower of Season 1.  Kim Soo Hyun even went through idol training for a few weeks just so he could keep up with the idol actors/actresses.  Definitely couldn’t say that about the second season cast.  Still not sure what was wrong with Suzy and Eunjung’s voices during this performance as they are normally much better, but this kind of charisma and stage presence is something that was sorely lacking in season 2

But man, once you stripped away the performances, there was nothing redeeming about this drama.  Acting was terrible, story was terrible, chemistry was non-existent.  There were just too many rookie or inexperience actors/actresses to even try to salvage this thing.  Read the recaps here.

Faith

Faith 01Faith 02
Admittedly, the biggest reason why I watched this drama was because I saw Kim Hee Sun on Running Man and she was really funny.  As such, I figured I’d check out how she was as an actress.  I know many people were disappointed with this drama, but I actually found it entertaining.  It has its flaws, of course like any other drama, but it was something that I didn’t mind watching every week.

I guess that in and of itself is a problem.  Very rarely did the drama really make me feel like I needed the next episode.  I never really felt connected to the characters and I was confused by the bad guys a lot.  Their actions didn’t really make sense to me and I felt could’ve been handled much better.  I also didn’t understand why they introduced supernatural abilities…and then pretty much proceed to ignore them for the most part.  Sure it showed up here and there, but to me they never really served a huge purpose.  The few times they were actually used, it could’ve been very easily written around.

The acting in this drama, though, was actually pretty good.  Kim Hee Sun was great as Eun Soo and Lee Min Ho was decent as Choi Young.  The supporting cast really brought their A-game as well.  Ryu Duk Hwan and Park Se Young as the Royal couple both did amazing jobs in their respective roles, as did the actors for the Woo Dal Chi warriors.  It’s a shame that Phillip Choi wasn’t able to finish the drama, but I liked him as a foil to Lee Min Ho’s Choi Young.  I did find it odd that he was never developed as a romantic rival for Eun Soo, but they had enough going on that you didn’t really miss it.  All in all, it wasn’t a bad drama, but I don’t know that I’d recommend it to anyone unless they were watching for a specific actor/actress.

Fashion King

Ga Young unpacks her belongingsAnna shows up to cause trouble
Above are the only reasons I even made it through this travesty of a drama to do recaps.  I’m a huge fan of Shin Se Kyung, so I’m just hoping for something new from her to waste this taste out of my mouth.  Yuri, I don’t normally find that pretty, but she looked pretty good here.  There was nothing else even mildly worthwhile about this drama.

A Gentleman’s Dignity

Gentleman's DignityDespite not a whole lot going on in this drama, I actually really liked it.  I’ve always been drawn to comedic slice of life stuff, so this was right up my alley.  The Sooyoung cameo didn’t hurt either.  As I said in my review, the opening 5 minute flashbacks were the best part of the drama for me, but overall I enjoyed this drama a lot.  The flash mob proposal at the end was pretty damn entertaining too.  The writing for this was top notch and there was enough chemistry in this cast to cover for the complete and utter lack of it in Fashion King and Dream High 2.

This is definitely not for everyone though as, like I said earlier, there really wasn’t a whole lot that went on plot-wise.  The main conflict, and I use that term loosely, was only introduced towards the very end and not done particularly well.  If you’re not interested in watching the antics of four middle-aged men and the women in their lives, you might find this boring as well.  Had this been a different cast, I might agree with you.  However, all eight of the main cast did a fantastic job here and showed why they’re some of the most coveted actors/actresses in the industry.  The rest of my thoughts for this drama is in the review link.

Ghost

Ghost 01Ghost 02
All in all, I liked this drama.  The writing was pretty well done and it did keep me wanting to know what’s going to happen next.  Really wish there had been Daniel Choi, but again, that’s all covered in my review.  Here’s to hoping Lee Yeon Hee picks up a few tips from Ha Ji Won.

History of a Salaryman

History of a Salaryman 01History of a Salaryman 03
I was actually a bit surprised at how much I liked this drama, even if I already liked the leads going in.  I’ve liked Lee Bum Soo since “On Air” and Jung Ryu Won was pretty damn good in “King of Dramas”, which is actually why I decided to give this a shot as well despite this being on before “King of Dramas”.  Hong Soo Hyun I also realized was also pretty funny on Running Man along with Lee Bum Soo, and after this has become one of my new favorite actresses.  Jung Gyu Won was pretty good as the antagonist so kudos all around for the acting in this drama.

For the most part, I’d have to say that the show was written pretty well.  The character development was solid and none of the leads were particularly one-dimensional.  Like most shows, the best part of it was the beginning when the tone was a better mix of light-hearted comedy with story rather than the drama-rama that came at the end.  In spite of its ratings, I really didn’t see a need for the extension.  You could feel the pace of the story slow down a bit as the writer scrambled to figure out what she wanted to do with the extra time.  All in all though, it was a solid drama and one I don’t regret watching.

I Do, I Do

I Do I Do 01I Do I Do 02
I’d be sad too, Lee Jang Woo, if I had to act in this drama.  Despite being one of the least experience actors in this, he pretty much was the heart and soul of the whole thing.  I liked Kim Sun Ah in City Hall, but I felt like she almost overacted in this one.  Park Gun Hyung was pretty forgettable as the romantic rival to Jang Woo’s character, as was Im Soo Hyang as Sun Ah’s romantic rival.  I don’t know if it’s because of the age gap or what. Sun Ah being 9 years older than Jang Woo and all, but there was pretty minimal chemistry between them.  Jang Woo and Soo Hyang seemed to hit it off, being only 4 years apart, but their side wasn’t really developed as much as it could have been.  For the most part, they seemed content to try to push Gun Hyung and Sun Ah together to try to create kind of tension, which failed.

In the end, this was just a very safe drama to me.  There was nothing particularly surprising, nothing spectacular, and pretty much could’ve been any Korean romantic comedy.  I’m liking Jang Woo so far in his new sitcom “Oh Ja Ryung is Coming”, and I’m looking forward to seeing Soo Hyang play a North Korean sniper in IRIS 2.

I Miss You

I Miss YouI Miss You
So yes, this drama hasn’t ended yet, but seeing as how much most of it was aired in 2012, we’ll review it here.  Melodramas aren’t typically my genre of choice, but I decided to give it a shot to take a look at Yoon Eun Hye.  Her last successful drama was three years ago with “Coffee Prince”, which I still have yet to see.  Sacrilege, I know, but it is what it is.  I wanted to see if all the hype around her was really warranted, and also because of her still-running scandal with the Commander, Kim Jong Kook.  Even now, people still remember this scene in X-Man.

What I was most surprised about with this drama is how good the child actors were.  Yeo Jin Goo and Kim So Hyun previously acted together on “The Moon that Embraces the Sun” and were better than many adult actors I’ve seen.  Maybe it’s because they were already familiar with each other, but sparks were flying everywhere when they were together.  Loved their little performance during the MBC Drama Awards too.  Both have bright futures ahead of them, and I can’t wait to see what they do when they grow up and start taking lead roles.

The other thing that surprised me was just how dark the back-story for Eun Hye/So Hyun’s character was.  It was easily the most tragic that I’ve seen in dramas, and definitely crossed some lines that I didn’t think a Korean drama would cross.  Not to say it was a bad thing, in fact quite the opposite.  In fact, you could say that it was setup so well that it was hard for Eun Hye and Yoochun to continue the momentum that their younger counterparts had started.  I think both are doing very well in their roles, as is Yoo Seung Ho, but Yeo Jin Goo and Kim So Hyun just set the bar so high that it’s hard to match.

The King 2 Hearts

Everyone attacks Jae HaShi Kyung carries Jae Shin on his back
Drama of the year right here.  Great cast, great writing, great cinematography, great music, just great everything.  Jo Jung Suk was masterful as Eun Shi Kyung and Ha Ji Won played Kim Hang Ah perfectly.  There were no weak links in terms of acting in this drama and they all played off each other so well.  Lee Seung Gi is pretty much type-cast for this character, but hey if you’re good at it, why not just go with it?  I won’t argue that he’s the best actor in the world, but he pulled this character off very well.  I really enjoyed watching Lee Yoon Ji play Lee Jae Shin too, and she’s becoming one of the few actresses that I’ll watch a drama solely for, no matter how terrible it is.  That short list currently consists of Park Shin Hye, Ha Ji Won, Kim Ha Neul, and Lee Min Jung, so she’s in good company.

Click here to read the recaps and my overall thoughts on the series.  

The King of Dramas

 King of Dramas 01King of Dramas 02
I swear, everytime I watch a drama now I’m going to be reminded of the antics in this show.  Kim Myung Min was great as always in his role as Anthony Kim, even if I felt it was far too close to other characters he’s played in the past*cough* Beethoven Virus*cough*.  As I said in my thoughts for “History of a Salaryman”, Jung Ryu Won’s performance here is what led me to watch that drama so I don’t really think I need to say more about how I felt her acting was.  Admittedly though, the characters I liked most was the other pair: Super Junior’s Choi Siwon and Oh Ji Eun.  Siwon isn’t the best actor, but I found his character hilarious and Oh Ji Eun was pretty funny as well.

The best part of this drama I felt like was that it kept the same tone throughout the whole series.  Every time things got too serious, it managed to undercut it with well-placed comedy.  Whenever you felt like the series was becoming almost too light-hearted, something would go down and hit you emotionally.  Even though making a drama isn’t a life-or-death situation, you almost felt like it was as you watched the show.  Not since “On Air” did I care if a fake show actually come to fruition.  I’m just glad that it was only extended 2 episodes instead of 4.  With the two episode extension they were still able to keep the pace brisk.  With another 2 episodes, you know there’s bound to be filler or just lots of flashback scenes, as Anthony Kim used in his own fake dramas.  With a superb cast and some witty writing, this was definitely one of my favorite dramas of the year.

Love Rain

Chang Mo's friends prepare to throwJoon walks Ha Na home
Okay fine, maybe we can add Yoona to the list of actresses I’d watch a drama for.  The difference is the other ones, I enjoy their acting.  With Yoona, she’s just ridiculously pretty.  At her best, there’s maybe only a handful of girls who can even come close to her visually.  She’s also technically an idol, so we’ll just leave her off for now.

That being said, this drama really had it’s ups and downs for me.  The past arc lasted two episodes too long, as did the current arc.  Honestly, it felt like there just wasn’t enough material to fill the entire duration of the drama so it had to be dragged out.  As such, you could feel the pace just slow way down.  Again, not gonna waste much time on this one since I did full recaps and final thoughts here.

Salamander Guru

Salamander Guru 01Salamander Guru 02Salamander Guru 03
The only reason I even bothered to watch this drama was the sheer amount of idol and celebrity cameos that were in each ep.  You can see the full list here.  SHINee’s Minho has to be the worst idol actor I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying a lot considering how many idol black holes there are.  This could’ve actually been a pretty fun drama to watch, but he pretty much ruined it with how bad he was.

To the Beautiful You

To the Beautiful You 01To the Beautiful You 02
That’s right Sulli; never speak of this drama again.  The horror on Kim Ji Won’s face pretty much sums up how I feel about SM’s attempt to do what JYP did with Dream High.  I liked the original Hana Kimi manga and I like Kim Ji Won and Lee Hyun Woo, so I figured I’d give this drama a shot in spite of the previously mentioned black hole, Minho.  ZEA’s Kwanghee being in this, really didn’t help either.  I only lasted two episodes and couldn’t take it anymore.  Unlike his fellow “God of Study” alum Yoo Seung Ho, Lee Hyun Woo’s latest drama was just a huge and massive flop.  Hopefully though with Yoo Seung Ho going to the military, Lee Hyun Woo gets more opportunities to shine as he is actually a pretty talented young actor.

The one bright spot to this drama though was the OST.  SM brought out the big guns and we have songs by some of their best vocalists: “It’s You” by Sunny/Luna, “Butteryfly” by the Jung Sisters(for which I’m very grateful, by the way), “Beautiful You” by Tiffany/Kyuhyun, “Closer” by their OST queen Taeyeon.  “Closer” is her weakest out of all her OSTs, but Tae still killed it.  Bottom line, download the OST, but avoid this thing like the plague.

Wild Romance

Wild Romance 01Wild Romance 02
I really wanted to like this drama, I really did.  The second picture here being the main reason why.  Jessica was pretty much set up to fail.  Her first role in a drama and she’s playing a bi-polar artist.  That’s a difficult role to pull off well for even a veteran actress.  She did the best that she could, but even I have to say that the performance fell flat.  I will say this though, she looked good doing it.  Her OST for this was also top notch.

The biggest beef I had with this drama is how it ended.  It’s like the writer decided midway that her original ending wasn’t good enough and so blew up the characters and made them pretend like the first 10+ episodes didn’t exist.  The actors did the best they could with it, but the writing for this was all over the place.  I also got nothing between the lead actors Lee Dong Wook and Lee Si Young.  It honestly never seemed to me like their characters actually liked each other and only ended up together because that’s just the way it had to be.

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