For a long time, I had no idea what this drama’s name is all about. All I knew is that it was baseball related, but how it was related, I was clueless. It wasn’t until I went on a baseball game recently that I understood it. Bottom of 9th Inning and 2 Outs. Another out, then the game is over, I believe.
If I’m not mistaken, this drama aired when Coffee Prince was the rage in the Summer 2007. So, with CP as its direct competition, 9 End 2 Outs suffered. This is reflected by the low, single digit rating, barely making it into the Top 20 nightly rating. But as they say, rating is not always an indication about the quality of a drama. In 2007, a lot of my favourite dramas had super low ratings, such as Capital Scandal (Kang Jihwan and Han Jimin supppeeerr CUTEE), Evasive Inquiry Agency (Lee Minkiiii!!) and Que Sera Sera (the drama that started it all, my Eric and Shinhwa addiction!) but CS, EIA, and QSS remain some of the most memorable dramas I’ve seen.
I’ll digress a little. 2007 is an all around special year for me, in terms of drama watching. While 2006 was the year I first got into K-Dramas, 2007 was where I became a more avid watcher and watching drama became a passion rather than a fleeting hobby. So 2007 dramas feel really special for me. Even those dramas that I hated (eg: Witch Yoohee, Air City), I can still remember them vividly. Of course 2008 was the crappy year where I barely got 2 dramas finished, and one of them wasn’t even that year’s drama. 2009, this far, is a recovery from the stinky 2008. Right now, 8 months in, I can say that despite loving a lot of dramas this year, the majority of this dramas can’t hold a candle to those in 2007.
So anyways, I didn’t get a chance to watch 9 End 2 Outs when it first aired. I had heard about how people thought this dramas was hugely underrated as opposed to the overrated Coffee Prince (haha, it’s like the battle between Boys Over Flowers and Return of Iljimae) I admit that I did watch the first episode a while ago, but quickly got bored with it and dropped it all too easily. But I tried again a few days ago and to my surprise I loved it and finished it in 5 days.
A brief summary. Hong Nanhee and Byun Hyungtae have been friends for 30 years, they basically have known each other inside out and enjoy a tight knit friendship together. Nanhee is in a relationship with a guy 8 years her junior, while Hyungtae is still having a hard time getting over his old flame. When they are forced to live together under one roof (yeap, another one of those), they begin to discover that they may harbour deeper feelings than friendship to the other and fight to keep those feelings at bay in order to protect their friendship.
The above. It’s one of the biggest reasons why I liked this drama a lot. Look how comfortable and plain they look. Nanhee and Hyungtae are like a positive and a negative magnet. They are joined at the hips and have been for so long. They call each other 10 times a day and their conversation range from the profound talk to the most trivial chitchats. The things they say to each other are uncensored, neither feel the need to filter what comes out of their mouth or how they behave around each other. When Hyungtae is pissed with Nanhee, he tells her off. When Nanhee is in a good mood, she unabashedly thanks Hyungtae for being the best of friend. This absence of barrier between the two lead characters is the charm of this drama.
It’s such a refreshing change to see longtime friends like them gradually discovering that the love they have for each other has gone from purely platonic to one with romantic elements in it. But even then, they don’t lose their easy friendship vibe once they start liking the other. The first time Nanhee blurts out ‘I Love You’, Hyungtae’s response is something along the lines of ‘WTF, how can you say that so suddenly?’. When Hyungtae says ‘Let’s get married.’ Nanhee easily brushes him off with ‘Let’s date more.’ Somehow, this really satisfies me, that while yes, they are now in a romantic relationship, but their friendship doesn’t fade away. It’s still there, and perhaps, it’s even stronger than ever.
That was such a good ending. Nothing big and earth shattering happened, things just fall into place. The ending is perfectly apt for such a drama. No fuss no pretence.
I know almost nothing about Soo Ae, having only watched her movie Once in a Summer with Lee Byunghoon, but I really know nothing about Lee Jungjin. I did not recognize the name, I didn’t recognize the face, I didn’t even recognize the projects he have been in. Practically, Soo Ae and Lee Jungjin were unknown to me. But wow, the chemistry, these two actors have awesome awesome chemistry.
They don’t have the benefit of the fluttery first encounter or the flirting/getting to know each other part. From the get go, these two actors have to act like they are the chummiest friends in the universe. But because of this, 9 End 2 Outs have a unique charm that sets itself apart from a lot of other romantic comedy dramas. Right away they vandalize public property together (and get caught together too for that matter, haha). Right away, Sooae has to ‘seduce’ Hyungtae so that she can get him to marry her to finally, finally, end her meaningless dating at the age of 30.
The way they argue is not unlike a longtime married couple. They even kick each other in the butt, sometimes literally. Soo Ae and Lee Jungjin pulled everything off fanstastically. That they have been friends for 30 years is believable. That they love each other is believable. In short, I really would love to see them co-starring together again.
I have to admit that the drama faltered a little in the home stretch, even in the last episode. But it’s not a big deal and I understand that in order to be more realistic, they need to give time for Nanhee and Hyungtae to experience that contemplative and confusing period of time before their mind is finally made up.
Overall, easily a 8.5 out of 10.