dangermousie: (SUFBB: kneel by timescout)
[personal profile] dangermousie
Now that we are more than halfway through 2012, I thought it would be fun to discuss all the dramas I've seen so far and where they stand. I don't have to have seen every episode of every drama on the list, just enough to form an opinion...

27. K-Pop the Ultimate Audition

Aaaand, we have a winner for the worst drama of the year so far! Appalling production values on par with a local high school production, a plot that is guaranteed to murder few of your braincells in an appalling fashion, a cast that cannot (or is not bothering to) act, all led by a leading lady who should never ever, for the sake of my sanity, be allowed on screen again. This was supposed to be a cute and poppy teen romance, a sort of poor man's take on You're Beautiful, with crossdressing gals who join idol groups. In reality, it turned out to be the kind of work that should be banned by the Geneva Convention.

26. I Love Lee Tae Ri

Where, oh where, to start with this one? A borderline-illegal premise (a 14-yr-old in a 20+yr-old body is still 14 and having him romance a late-20s woman is creepy), a script so lackluster, it seems to have been written by people who washed out of a community college writing course 10 years ago, and actors who rage from talentless to downright horrific.

25. Color of Woman

I am no big fan of workplace dramas or workplace romances but this one had a competent cast (Jae Hee!!!) so I decided to check it out. All that left an impression is heroine's horrific perm and fake glasses. This drama was just so pointless.

24. Fashion King

Good cast and writers who previously gave us the gem that was What Happened in Bali. A pity they must have been hitting themselves with hammers between the end of Bali and now because even the cast cannot save this overwrought yet strangely boring piece of nonsense. At the end, one of the main characters is shot by someone as he is lounging in a pool in a furcoat (yes, you read this right) and we do not know by whom. It's that type of drama.

23. Ghost

This cybercrime procedural has its fans and may have become brilliant. But I will never know because the first episode was the most ridiculous hour of celluloid known to man and I will never get enough nerve to go back.

22. A Thousand Kisses

Rarely has a family drama started this promisingly and this sweetly to disintegrate into such a mess. This isn't lower because the secondary couple was adorable. But seriously, I do not know what the writer was thinking. This put a ton of fangirls off Ji Hyun Woo forever. Or would have, if he didn't do the marvelous Queen In Hyun's Man later in the year.

21. Korean Peninsula

This isn't even awful in a particular way. It's just boring. The story of reuniting Korea and scientist lovers on opposite sides, sounds like it would be amazing. Instead, it's deadly dull. What a waste of its excellent cast.

20. Dr Jin

Objectively, this is a truly horrible drama - written by crack monkeys, acted (largely) by robots, and done by a director with visual impairments. It should be rated a lot lower. But its very horribleness rescues it - it's so bad, it becomes entertaining, in an MSR3K way. Still, if you want a drama about a time-traveling doctor, you are better off with the Japanese original.

19. Moon that Embraces the Sun

A period love story between a fictional King and a shaman, this is simplistic, surprisingly dull, and with a leading couple who have negative chemistry with each other. Not to mention that the male lead is Kim Soo Hyun, one of the very few Korean actors I dislike. However, objectively, it's better than the hot mess like Dream High 2 or empty hole of anything that is Big. The reason Moon has this particular low place in the rankings is due to its absurd close-to-50% ratings (why? why? why? WHY?) and the fact that KSH won the Daesang over a whole slew of truly deserving actors. Well, that, and the fact that Moon had the temerity to steal a pivotal scene from Tree With Deep Roots, a truly amazing drama. I shall stop, as Moon/Sun makes me ragey.

18. Dream High 2

I enjoyed the first season but this is utterly pointless, full of people who can't act, no coherent story, ship wars and no proper ending of any sort (romantically or professionally). Loved the soundtrack though.

17. Big

An 18-yr-old and a 30-yr-old switch bodies as a result of an accident. I can't say anything spectacularly bad about this drama - it's competently acted, the writing is semi-decent, nothing is particularly offensive. The problem is I've seen walls that are more entertaining. This is so very boring, it needs a special category of its own.

16. Fermentation Family

Good cast, good cinematography and I'll probably return to it some day, but I dropped it because it was much too mellow. But then, it's a drama about kimchi, what else could one expect?

15. History of the Salaryman

A perfect example of a good drama that is not my thing. I don't share a sense of humor with most kdramas but this is well-written and acted.

14. Rooftop Prince

The first few episodes were funny and cute but the drama bogged down in following its boring villains and even more boring corporate shenanigans - you have a time-traveling King AND a murder mystery and that is what you fixate on? - so I ditched. It's not offensive but romcoms and time travel have both been done better elsewhere.

13. Operation Proposal

This was fluffy and adorable and silly and fluffy and romantic and fluffy and...ultimately, it was so cute I was ready to overlook its flaws. A sort of a Groundhog Day situation where our hapless hero travels back into the past to win his best friend's heart. It won't change your life, but I can think of less pleasant ways to spend 16 hours.

12. I Need Romance 2012

About a long-term on-off couple, this is a modern romance. The main leads' story is fascinating, full of chemistry and realism and make-outs not seen outside of cable. Every other character is somewhat lacking, but I find it hard to care about it with an OTP that compelling.

11. The King 2 Hearts

This drama started out very strong but I confess to losing interest by the end. Its strengths lie in the performances of its leads, of the leads' complex characters and chemistry. Its weakness is that whenever it tries to delve into world politics, terrorism or any interactions among state actors or foreigners, it becomes so ridiculous as to be laughable. Sadly, it tends to do the latter a lot.

10. Soldier/God of War

Excellent and grim sageuk set during the Mongol invasions, I loved the acting, the unusual period, the look at the horrors of the world. It's rated quite highly by me, but I will never finish it because the grimness and the violence (the torture!) spooked even more, especially with no hope on the horizon.

9. The Equator Man

A dark thriller/revenge drama about two former best friends who become enemies, this had a hate-it-or-love-it direction (I loved it), hate-it-or-love-it score (I hated it) and some great performances. This is not as perfect as Mawang or Resurrection, but it's still damn good.

8. Ojakgyo Brothers

I am pretty picky with my family dramas (it's a lot harder to stick through 50+ eps than your average 16) but when they are good, they are wonderful because they give you so much more room to breathe and develop this story. OB centers around a young heiress whose father disappears at the same time as her fortune and her interactions with the family that lives on the farm that is the only possession left to her. I confess to skipping through every single storyline except for one - the love story between our heroine and the adopted brother of the farm family, a reserved (but issue-laden) police detective played by *gasp* Joo Won. They are sweet and wonderful and so shippy it hurts.

7. What's Up

A story about a bunch of misfits pursuing a musical theater degree, this is more about what makes us tick and live and dream than it is about the music per se, but it has an incredible soundtrack and performances. This is probably the most underrated drama on the list.

6. A Gentleman's Dignity

A sharp, star-studded tale of 40 and 30-somethings looking for love, this is funny and romantic and with its incredible cast giving it all it has. It just makes me happy, it lifts my heart, it makes my weekends wonderful.

5. Love Rain

An old-fashioned melodrama about two sets of lovers - one in the 1970s (a shy painter and his muse) and one in the present (a sharp-tongued fashion photographer and a quirky gardener), this is a perfect example of the genre - wonderful performances, angsty and romantic situations, and cinematography that puts most movies to shame. I rooted for the lovers so badly. It's an unabashed example of its genre - luckily, I love the genre. They don't make them like that any more, more's the pity - except this one did.

4. Padam Padam - the Sound of His and Her Heartbeats

This drama largely flew under everyone's radar despite starring Jung Woo Sung, Han Ji Min and Kim Bum. Those who did watch it, found it polarizing. I am in the 'firmly full of love' camp (come to think of it, this was the same thing with the writer's previous drama, Worlds Within). The story of a wrongly-convicted man, a standoffish veterinarian he falls in love with, and a troubled young man who claims to be the convict's guardian angel and may or may not be what he says moves to its own pace, anchored by wonderful performances and dialogues that stay with you. Despite the unusual premise, it feels as if you could pass these people on the street. The story makes me think of magic realism, especially Jorge Amado's novels, with his delight in dwelling on underworld, marginalized figures, and his hard-won optimism.

2. (tie) Bridal Mask

Think Batman meets 1930s Korea. A story of a tormented vigilante in occupied Korea, this has adrenaline and twisty plotting galore (and, oh, did I mention the costumes?), but its real appeal lies in its tormented, complicated characters, often at odds at each other, twisted by the brutal world and tricks of fate, trying to survive. The drama lives and dies on Joo Won's performance as Lee Kang To, an idealistic young man turned a brutal enforcer for the Japanese regime turned a guilt-ridden vigilante savior of the same Korean populace he helped to oppress (only he still oppresses them as he hasn't taken off the uniform), and luckily for us, Joo Won's pulled out all the stops and his considerable chops make the performance unforgettable, and my favorite performance by an actor this year.

2. (tie) Queen In Hyun's Man

This story of a romance between a 17th-century scholar and 21st-century aspiring actress can be described simply as a perfect romance, by turns funny and heartbreaking. Its strength is a creation of a contained world that feels believable even as it involves time travel (gorgeous cinematography helps). But its reason for existence is its couple - each of whom is an unforgettable person apart but becomes something entirely else, something unique and precious and perfect together. He is the soul of the drama and she is its heart and they make you care desperately. I had hysterics from crying so hard at one point and at other points I was literally running around like a maniac, shouting my delight.

1. Shut Up Flower Boy Band

My drama of the year. Who knew that a drama about a high school rock band, starring a cast I have never heard of before would win my heart? This is a perfect drama - there is nothing I would add, change, remove. It managed to make me cry, laugh and care. It balanced an amazing friendship, multiple love stories (three!), growing up, conflicts, issues, and everything else effortlessly. Ji Hyuk is by far my favorite hero of the year and his relationship with his bandmates and Soonah (where both of them are grown up and lovely and functional) were the highlight for me, but not one of its dozen characters felt short-changed or unimportant or unfleshed-out. How a drama managed that incredible feat, I do not know. I am just thankful that it did.


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November 2012

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