Tag Archives: fugitive plan B

Verdict on Secret Garden and Fugitive Plan B

Well, Secret Garden is all the rage these days, with the invention of Heavy Sexual Tension Sit Ups, Joowon Sparkly Tracksuits, and Joowon Ache. Everyone, every TV station, from Shin Bongsun to Kim Gabsoo have done a parody of the drama. I think the last time something became such a huge mainstream phenomenon was probably the Boys Over Flowers. Secret Garden didn’t pass 40% in ratings or anything, but thanks to the little things that stand out, it’s crossed over to the public at large.

This drama has literally propelled Hyun Bin to being THE guy of the moment. Hyun Bin is not a stranger to popularity of course, after being an overnight sensation with the drama My Name is Kim Samsoon. But his last few projects were garnering mediocre ratings even though they are critically praised. But with Secret Garden, Hyun Bin has successfully left his mark for the next two years he will be in the army.

For me, Secret Garden is a lot like Sungkyunkwan Scandal in a sense that it had so much potential. Both dramas promised something meaningful underlying the story, an ideal almost. Yet along the way we find out that it’s mostly bogus. Secret Garden had such a fascinating premise, body swap between a poor girl and a rich guy. They are drawn to each other but both stick with their own principle. The rich would never associate with the poor and the poor would never dirty herself by playing with the rich asshole.

For the first several weeks, I ended every episode with an excited ‘Oh My God!’. Despite not caring as much for the supporting characters, the drama had enough going on with the main couple that they alone keep me glued to the screen. As the episodes grew, I started disliking even the main characters. I find Ha Jiwon’s Raim to be so conveniently writtern. She’s the worst case of character inconsistencies. She’s supposed to be a tough stunt woman and has repeatedly demonstrated so, so how can we believe that Joowon drags her by the wrist while she struggles? I’m nitpicking, but such scenes were frequent enough that I can’t help but take notice. Raim is supposed to be gutsy, but when the story dictates, she’s so meek to people that I just can’t connect these contrasting personality to one person.

Whereas Hyun Bin’s Joowon? He’s just an asshole. Pure and simple. That’s why I don’t get this Joowon frenzy that is going on in Korea because I think the guy is inherently a big ol’ jerk. The Guhro frenzy was understandable because dude was freaking awesome, but Joowon? He doesn’t change. From the beginning he does whatever he wants without regards to people’s feelings. And really, he stayed that way till the end. His change only extends with respect to Raim, whom he loves. And really, he only changed because he found out he is literally indebted to Raim (‘s dad).

Near the end, it seems like Writer Kim was lost and just pretty much pulled everything out of her ass.The solution to Raim being brain dead was hilarious. Everything was literally solved in one or two episodes without us being given an explanation or a hint as to how things got solved. By then, I had lost all excitement for the drama and was just watching to see how the mess got tied.

The non-existant and overly convenient Body Swaps were really disappointing. What triggers the body swap? How can they come back during the rain? WHAT IS THE EXPLANATION? True, I didn’t expect to see them swapped for 10 out of 16 episodes, but I think that body swap should have been used to enhance character development, not merely as convenient plot device. Overall,6.5 out of 10.

Fugitive Plan B has always been a simple drama with spiffy coreography, expensive fashion, and pretty tourism ads. So I didn’t expect the ending to be, you know, meaningful or deep. But I did expect the ending to be satisfying not just in the sense that I want happy ending, but also an ending that is as spiffy as cool and as cocky as the drama had been.

In short, I did not expect everything to be solved just by Jini crashing the press conference to reveal the gold and the evil dude to the world. Why? Because how are you to believe that evil dude(s), who’s killed so many people, won’t have her trailed and killed BEFORE she got to fuck up the press con. That’s just so unbelievable. Considering how many minions the evil dude(s) has. So I was a little deflated that they went out with such simplistic ending.

Plus, how can you kill off one half of my favourite couple??? Seriously, that’s just unforgivable. I DID sort of predict that my couple wouldn’t get their happy ending, but damnit, they just had to kill one of them. I no like!!

In general though, I like Fugitive Plan B as that check your mind at the door and enjoy the show. I don’t watch it the moment it comes out, I don’t follow its news, I wait for it to be subbed. Which is actually critical for me. If you can get me to watch you right away on the day you air, then you’ve got me invested. If not invested, then at least curious. It means you’re never gonna be as memorable as some other dramas, even though I do recognize you are better than some of those other dramas. So the fact that I’m not as into the drama does not take the enjoyment I get from watching it. So, Fugitive Plan B, overall 6 out of 10.


2010 Dramas

Alright, so everyone is probably doing this at this point of the year. Mine wouldn’t too much different, but after reading other posts, mine feels so inferior as I’m nowhere near as eloquent or as detailed as some others.

For me, 2010 was filled with unfinished dramas, lots and lots of them. It feels like I’m always watching dramas, but when I did a head count of dramas I actually watched TILL the end, all my fingers were enough. Hell, up till the halfway cutoff, I only needed to use one hand to count. If I counted correctly, I only finished 3 dramas: Highkick Through the Roof, Harvest Villa, and Oh My Lady. The second half of the year was not much different as Sungkyunkwan Scandal, Doctor Champ, and Playful Kiss came out. I did finish an older drama, How to Meet the Perfect Neighbour, but that doesn’t count. So, all in all, I finished 6 dramas this year.

The unfinished ones are about twice that number. The thing is, most of them I actually watched quite a bit (not just 2 or 3 episodes) before deciding they were not worth my time. For example, I watched 14 out of 16 episodes of Personal Taste. I watched 14 out of 24 of Chuno. I watched 8 out of 16 episodes of My Girlfriend is a Gumiho. So I really WAS always watching dramas, just that I tend to bail on them.

The Finished Ones:

When I first wrote this post, I thought 2010 was a pretty awesome year. But as I started breaking down the dramas, I realized that really, I don’t have even ONE drama that I would covet as my absolute favourite. 2009 had Brilliant Legacy and Return of Iljimae, 2007 had.. a lot!! Evasive Inquiry Agency, Coffee Prince, and Que Sera Sera, and then Dalja’s Spring, Thank You and so on. I guess 2010 is more like 2008, where my two ‘favourite’ dramas, I Love You and Last Scandal of My Life are really just dramas I like. This year, my ‘favourite’ dramas are Sungkyunkwan Scandal and Harvest Villa.

The fact that the following dramas were finished AT ALL means that they at least had something special that kept me tuning in. I don’t think these are necessarily stellar dramas, in terms of quality, but one thing or another kept me invested till the finish line. So I won’t say these are better than the unfinished dramas, but they just managed to keep my attention. Here we go.

Sungkyunkwan Scandal, among the finished dramas, is sitting pretty at the top of the list. Which is actually really sad for me because even my top drama of the year was not completely satisfying enough. SKKS was such a… crazy experience. On one hand, I felt drugged, it was an addiction for many weeks. It had SO much potential to be awesome and it WAS, for the most part, but then it faltered fantastically toward the end. It’s a normal thing for a drama to kinda lose steam nearing the end, but because I really loved SKKS, it felt significantly more disappointing. But like I mentioned in my overall SKKS post, I am blissful in my ignorance of the last quarter of its run. So based on 15 episodes, I do declare Sungkyunkwan Scandal my favourite drama of the year.

Harvest Villa is the runner up, but like SKKS, the quality poses a downtrend as it neared the conclusion, particularly the last 2 episodes, I think. It became such a different thing, it just lost its root as a comedy thriller and went full on drama thriller whose conclusion felt halfhearted as well. By the end, I was just thinking “Did I really laugh to this drama?” Having said that, this drama was an amazing ride, so exciting and fun. Shin Hakyun was fantastic as this goodhearted but clueless tool and Lee Boyoung was delicious alternating between the scheming vixen and the ultimate girl next door.

If you’ve read reviews of Oh My Lady, you’d know just how devoid of drama this drama is. Everyone is logical and brave so there was no obviously manufactured conflicts. It is not realistic, but there was a lot of realism in how a person is poised and forced to grow up under certain circumstances. Plus, Choi Siwon with a baby girl? WIN!

Well, I think my hatred for the ending of Highkick Through the Roof has been pretty apparent. Others may find some poetic depth in the ending, but for me it was just poop poop poop, period. However, if you forget the ending and focus on the previous 125 episodes, HKTTR is such a charming drama. I was just rewatching one of the earlier episodes and it still made me smile.

Doctor Champ didn’t rank higher because I think despite everything I loved about it (bromance, Jung Kyeowon’s Jiheon, and abs) it was a lacking drama. Visual may be beautiful, but it’s really the story and the character that I am hankering on. And on those fronts, there was a lot to be desired. Kim Soyeon’s character was just so aggravated all the freaking time, whereas Cha Yeryun’s was so dull. And storylines tend to go back and forth and made little step forward.

I can’t really begrudge Playful Kiss too much because I know the basic foundation itself is really weak. It’s just a story about a girl being obsessed with a guy who treats her like crap. I do think, however, that the drama didn’t make full use of itself. Director Hwang Inroi seemed to TRY to do different stuff with the drama early on, but I guess after learning how sucky the rating was, he just decided to do it the quick way. As such, I also watched the drama with a heavy use of fast forward button. Very very heavy.

Them Unfinished:

Oh man, there are just SO many of these I don’t even know how to write about them. Some of these were finished a long long time ago that I don’t quite remember anymore what my opinion was and why I decided to quit watching. But anyways, this is me trying.

Pasta and Still Marry Me were dropped really just because I lost interest, which you will see is the case with most of the dropped dramas. I remember having mostly positive opinions about them, SMM more than Pasta. But when I got busy preparing for my Seoul trip, it was the ones more interesting (Chuno and Harvest Villa) that kept my attention.

Chuno, I admit I kept meaning to come back to. I was religiously downloading the episodes but somewhere along the lines, it kinda got phased out while I stuck to Harvest Villa. For me, I kinda got sick of the all the loud and the glorious. Like many has said, there was a lack of heart and too much flair. Also, I don’t quite get all the buzz around Jang Hyuk being the best actor of the year for this. I really loved him in Thank You, but after seeing glimpses of him in Robbers and then Chuno, it felt like he was playing similar characters, Chuno’s Daegil being the most extreme. It was a lot of glaring, posing, smirking, and yelling. Seems to be the usual for Jang.

I actually started picking up Smile, You again a few weeks ago and found that it was actually quite enjoyable, so this might actually be a work in progress. Maybe I will finish it in the future! (here’s hoping). I quit this drama after 28 episodes because I didn’t really like the direction the drama was going, with terminal disease and female lead who was turning into meek little mat. On the whole, I really liked the chemistry between the casts, but thanks to the extension, it was dragging its feet, really.

I wrote a bit about Prosecutor Princess, Personal Taste, and Cinderella’s Sister but despite the early excitement, I ended up finishing not one of these. I literally ABHORRED Prosecutor Princess after 7 episodes or so. I hated the characters, most especially the main male lead, so I was doomed anyway. Park Shihoo sort of redeemed himself (in character of course) in the beginning of How To Meet a Perfect Neighbour but by the end, I was back to hating his character and that somehow translates to the real life actor. Fangirls, I’m sorry, but I iz hatin’ on your oppa. I visited the drama again later and couldn’t stand watching even just half an hour of the finale, so there you go.

Personal Taste was just a brainless, painless drama for me. But unlike Oh My Lady where I developed a great fondness for it, I was really indifferent to PT. I couldn’t get behind any of the characters, the setups, etc, that’s why it was so easy to drop it even though I was JUST shy of 2 episodes.

After the death of Kim Gabsoo’s character in Cinderella’s Sister, it was a downhill from there. It just got soooooo boring, so chock-full of cliches, and in the end, I didn’t like any of the characters. I know there’s supposed to be a demon in all of us, but liking a character in a drama is a crucial thing for me. If I don’t like any of the main characters, that would pretty much be the last straw.

Please Marry Me and Life is Beautiful are two family dramas I was following for a while. PMM had Lee Jonghyuk as the draw and I love stories about female empowerment. Only, Lee Jonghyuk’s character is totally and completely unlikable that it grates my nerves everytime. Plus, that empowerment thing seemed to appear much, MUCH later and after around 20 episodes, I just packed my bags and left it for good.

I followed almost 30 episodes of Life is Beautiful. Inherently, I’m a sucker for family dramas and I really really enjoyed all the characters here. The chemistry was fantastic all around and the actors really brought it to the table. Plus, it was the first time I saw a gay relationship being sincerely portrayed in a k-drama. So all was good. As the drama progressed, it was clear that the drama was going to focus so much on the popular couple between Song Changui and Lee Sangwoo. The problem for me is that I wasn’t a fan of Lee Sangwoo’s character and I was more into the Nam Sangmi/Lee Sangyoon couple, who was getting less and less screentime. Also, with long dramas, progress came slower than usual short dramas. So after a while, I just lost interest.

Coffee House was a lot of fun in the beginning. It was quirky, it was funny, and Park Siyeon was all sorts of awesome here. Problem is, her character was pretty much the only one I liked in this drama (Jung Woongin’s was great too). I didn’t really care for the rest. I found Ham Eunjung’s character annoying and Kang Jihwan’s to be creepy. No matter how much I adored PSY here, it became overshadowed because of my distaste and indifference to the rest.

Watching My Girlfriend is a Gumiho convinced me that I have reached some sort of fatigue with regards to the Hong Sisters. This was a drama I was really anticipating. Not only was it written by the ever hilarious Hong Sisters, it also starred one of the Princes of My Heart, Lee Seunggi! Naturally, I just HAD to see it. I bailed halfway as Hong Sisters fell once again to their narrative pattern. I could already predict what would happen, almost episode by episode. More than the fatigue, it was the resentment I felt toward the writers. Do they think they can just recycle their structure OVER AND OVER AGAIN??

What can I say about Mary Stayed up All Night? It was meandering, chock full of cliches, full of moments that make you go WTF, but most of all it was boring. And there’s only 24 hours in a day, why waste them on this crap?

More Charming By the Day was a sitcom that followed Highkick. Look at the lineup: Yeh Jiwon, Song Oksook, Kim Sungsoo, Choi Yeojin, Lee Kyuhan, etc. I’d say this is a pretty awesome cast, right!. But I just didn’t care enough. Writing wasn’t good, it wasn’t funny, and I didn’t make a connection with any of the characters. I’m hesitant to make any strong verdict because with a sitcom that has more than 100 episodes, a judgement based on 15 episode is not to do. I thought Ye Jiwon was sorely wasted. She can channel hilarious any day of the week, but her character totally lacked any funny bone so she had no chance to explore her wacky side.

Work In Progress:

I was just watching episode 13 of Secret Garden and it just struck me how slow the drama was going. There’s always stuff going on in each episode but deep down, no real progress. I think episode 13 posed the most progress and I’m glad it’s finally here. I can’t decide anything yet with SG cos to be honest, it’s only Ha Jiwon and Hyun Bin that are sustaining my interest. They have one of the hottest chemistry this year (along with Yongha and Jaeshin from Sungkyunkwan Scandal and Yeonwoo/Jiheon from Doctor Champ) and frankly, I’m mostly indifferent about the rest of the characters. Yoon Sanghyun and Kim Sarang’s storylines bores me and Phillip Lee is just annoying. My general opinion right now is that I’m liking SG simply because I like the main characters and the actors.

Fugitive Plan B is already finished, but I still have 3 more episodes to go, which I’m planning to watch. This is kind of my ‘brain-check-in-at-the-door’ drama. I like the visual, the people, the fashion (I wish I have Lee Nayoung and Yoo Riel’s closets!!), fast moving episodes, but if you ask me about the plot details, I would’ve just blanked out. The storyline is not that hard to understand once we see it in bigger frame, but I think the drama wins me just for being pretty and a lot of fun. I don’t have many criticisms for it because really, I don’t take it seriously.

And there you have it, what I finished, what I abandoned, and what I’m watching at the moment!

Happy Holidays and may the new year brings all of you (and me!) awesomeness!

Current Events, part 4

The Big 2: Sungkyunkwan Scandal and Doctor Champ

Basically, Sungkyunkwan Scandal is dictating my life right now. I am completely and irrevocably in love with that drama. It’s an addictive crack. I can guarantee that once you actually get into it, there’s go getting out until the drama ends (which is soon, bohoo!!)

When I first started watching in September, it was pretty quiet. Not much fanfare, except maybe Mickey Yoochun’s fanbase anticipating SKKS, but now, it’s awesome to see that the reactions only have been super hot lately. Even though they don’t do too well in ratings, at least they have gained the Mania Drama title. I know it sounds sentimental bullshit, but I’m really happy for them. Normally I don’t really care about ratings. My general view is that if rating is deserving then I shut up. But sometimes, when you happen to come across a fantastic, yet underrated drama (especially one you never expected to like so much before), you just feel this overwhelming feelings to root for the said drama. And as Sungkyunkwan is my IT drama at the moment, I just wish everyone would take notice of this hidden gem.

To give a brief background on the ratings, the drama started at around 6% and has just recently broken the double digit ground. Currently, the best rating is at 13% for the newest episode, 15. I know the doubling in size becomes less spectacular when you see the base as 6%, but keep in mind that Sungkyunkwan’s Scandal’s competitors have been 2 heavy-weight dramas, Dong Yi and Giant, both garnering around the 2os% each. So this is quite a feat for SKKS that its ratings actually go up. It’s a testament to its enduring quality.

By now, some are probably sick of my over the top praise of SKKS, and by no means I think the drama is perfect, but it’s pretty great. It’s one of the best school dramas I’ve seen in a while, if maybe ever. Not since Brilliant Legacy last year I have been this obsessed with a drama. I’ve liked quite some dramas in between (Harvest Villa, Oh My Lady, Sons of Sol Pharmacy, etc)  but with those dramas, I was content to just… watch them. I didn’t try to join the discussions happening in Soompi or Youtube behind the scene videos or read up spoilers, but with SKKS, I am displaying the usual symptoms of drama obsession. Bottom line is, get your ass to whatever you can get to watch Sungkyunkwan Scandal. You’ll thank me later.

Can you believe that they got away with showing BUTT on national tv during prime time in KOREA?? This scene was hilarious by the way.

Doctor Champ is also another drama I didn’t expect to watch or like before it aired. I heard about the new Kim Soyeon project with Uhm Taewoong but that was it. So Doctor Champ is a medical sport drama. The story centers around the doctors and athletes of Taereung Athlete Village in Korea, which houses the nation’s best athletes. The drama takes a closer look at the Judo team. In a nutshell, we’ve got sweaty abs, testosterone, and hot ass wrestling each other.  Honestly? That’s like 50% my motivation in watching.

Deciding to try it out, I literally fell in love with the first episode, like SO BAD. I thought the chemistry was abound, the pace was exciting, and the acting was full of heart. I immediately took to the hot tempered doctor Yeonwoo, the goofy judo athlete Jiheon, even Jiheon’s cute nephew.

As things progress however, that initial excitement has died down a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I still like it and I continue to tune in week after week, but the drama just turned out to be different than my impression and expectation in episode 1. I thought Doctor Champ would be the thrilling medical drama, with frantic sports emergencies. Turns out, it is a more laid back, slice of life drama. The drama portrays the daily activities around the athlete village and while there are exciting things happening, they are not the BIG! CRAZY! PLOT! TWIST! kind of thing. Which is fine by me, but in all honesty, I wish to see things picking up a little. And judging by the newest episode, 7, it has started to.

The rest: Playful Kiss, Fugitive Plan B, Joseon X-Files

I’m sort of amazed that I’m STILL sticking to Playful Kiss when I dumped My Girlfriend is a Gumiho just shortly after the halfway point. Playful Kiss is easy to get through, especially if you don’t hesitate to fast forward. I watch a one-hour episode in probably 15 minutes, stopping to see the occasional interesting scenes. In general, PK continues to be silly and crappy and messy. The messy part is probably credited to the manga cos I saw similar issues in It Started with a Kiss as well. Although, I will say that PK is a lot more enjoyable than ISWAK. If you were watching this frenchise for the first time, I will recommend watching PK. It’s more digestible, with better acting all around and fewer episodes (that makes me wonder, maybe the Japanese, with 9 episodes, would be the MOST enjoyable version!). I like most of the supporting roles in PK while I found their Taiwanese counterparts to be really lacking.

Fugitive Plan B started really really meh for me. I didn’t understand WHAT they were getting at, so I was horrified at the first episode. But once I read around reviews from other people, I started to appreciate it more. It’s funny, snazzy, and zippy. Visually, it’s a feast. Although sometimes I wonder if I’m watching a drama or a tourism ad, with so much vanity shots. I love Lee Jungjin and Yoon Jinseo, they’ve got FANTASTIC chemistry. Which is too bad because main leads, Rain and Lee Nayoung are seriously lacking exactly that, chemistry.

I had been meaning to watch Joseon X Files for a while, after seeing so many people raving about it. I’m 3 episodes in and I love it, it’s really gripping, in times a little scary actually. Plus I love seeing a capable non-gisaeng single woman earnestly working and kicking ass in Joseon time.

I’m pretty happy overall with the current crop of dramas. I love that right we now have a wide variety of themes and genre. We’ve got action and thriller, good ol romantic comedy, fusion sageuk, political drama, medical sports drama, the usual family oriented dramas, and so on. After the lackluster first half of 2010, it’s fantastic to see a rise in the second half.