I have just finished ep 2 of Thorn Birds and it's official - I am in love. Make no mistake, this is an unapologetic melodrama - three of the four protagonists have mothers who abandoned them and the story is not set in an orphanage. But I believe melodrama is like any other genre - most of what is made in it is crap, but occasionally you can find a gem. After all, both Something Happened in Bali and Que Sera Sera were melodramas.
I have no idea if TB will join those ranks but after the first two eps, I think it's very much on track. The drama's biggest strength lies in its casting. Yes, the script is fast-paced and I like the dialogues but imagine a slew of idol-wannabe-actors in the role and the drama would quickly become unbearable.
The top honors go to Joo Sang Wook who tears into his role as someone deeply scarred under his well-mannered and reserved facade. I have no idea if JSW is a versatile actor - for all I know, he'd be awful in a comedy. But he is incredible in dark adult dramas which is what this is. Just as in Giant, he steals every scene he's in - whenever he's on-screen, I can't pay attention to anyone else. It helps that he looks like a grown-up and can project a masculine/intelligent/competent vibe. Nothing against teen dramas or teenybopper idols but I prefer to watch adults.
Kim Min Jung is next - she's someone who is hateable but also pitiable. I should dislike her, and I do, but I can't wholly dismiss her - there is something irreversibly broken in her. Her hunger for power, recognition, love is what drives her. I am sure I will cheer when the heroine will grind her bones to make her bread, but I will be devastated too.
Han Hye Jin is likewise very good - I thought she was a little over-the-top in a couple of hyper moments but only a little, and she nails every quiet scene.
Seo Do Young hadn't had much to do yet other than be his gorgeous, cheeky self, but it's testament to his chops and screen presence that he's able to hold his own against his co-stars and keep my interest whenever he shares the screen with them, despite me knowing so little about his character.
Please, flist, give this one a chance. It's very very good. I don't remember the last time I've seen such an intelligent, nuanced, adult kdrama.
( A few caps from ep 2 )
In casting news:
(1) Apparently, Lee Da Hae and Micky Yoochun may be cast opposite each other. I adore both of them but I cannot imagine them opposite each other at all. My brain breaks. But I have liked every single LDH drama I've ever seen, so I will probably like this too.
(2) The Hong Sisters are considering casting Cha Seung Won as the lead of their next, a drama about a romance between a popular actor and a washed-out actress. I used to love Hong Sisters and swear by them but their two last dramas really rubbed me the wrong way so my new motto when it comes to them is "approach with caution". Still, if they are casting CSW, there is no way their hero would be a spineless, cowardly, immature beta (yes, my Gumiho issues are showing) because that is impossible to make CSW into that (and he's a couple of decades too old to even try). And I have no idea who they will cast as the heroine and what her character will be, but I can't imagine her being a spineless idiot like the heroine of YAB because not only would the age be wrong, any character played by CSW would eat her for breakfast. So I am cautiously optimistic with that one.