장난스런 키스 / Mischievous Kiss
(Sept – Nov 2010)
who’s in it
Kim HyunJoong (Boys Over Flowers, SS501 - member)
Jung SoMin (Bad Guy)
Lee TaeSung (The Woman Next Door)
Lee SiYoung (Birth of a Rich Man)
what’s it about
Isn’t it every girl’s dream to find herself conveniently installed in her dream guy’s home? During long hours of cohabitation, the girl would exhibit so much charm and verve that Mr. Perfect will eventually come to realize that she’s the real deal and fall for her—they would break fast together...walk to school as a couple...share the same warm toilet seat, that sort of thing? Well, this drama is that fantasy come true. Jung SoMin has been majorly crushing on the smartest [and hottest] boy in school Kim HyunJoong for the better part of her academic career. But now with graduation just around the corner, she realizes time is running out and she may have to part ways with him without ever having confessed her love.
Jung SoMin is a quirky girl who lives life in an alternate universe of daydreams and spends more time creating sci-fi in her head than studying for her college entrance exams. Most of these fantasies center around Kim HyunJoong. Unfortunately for her, Kim HyunJoong is a self-declared hater of dumb girls—she being the prime example of the kind of girl that turns him off.
When a mini-earthquake decimates Jung SoMin’s new but poorly constructed home, her father’s best friend from childhood adopts them into their house. The twist? That friend happens to be Kim HyunJoong’s father! Whether this aloof dream guy wants to or not, the two seniors are now forced to spend plenty of quality bonding time together...
Hwang InRoe (of Goong films fame)
16 episodes (about 10 episodes too long)
A few things to get out of the way:
1) I felt like I was watching a poor Princess Hours sequel...really, teddy bears again?
2) The writing feels immature and only halfway developed...what’s with all the boring fantasy sequences that seem to go on forever?
3) Last but not least, the drama was actually worse than expected.
Honestly, it does make one realize that it’s no easy thing to make a decent drama. The cosmos needs to tilt, the stars need to align... it’s a magical dessert that can’t be made simply by following the obvious recipe:
Delicious Fun Well-Made Kdrama Cake
1 - idol
1 - perky female lead
1 tbsp - chirpy music
2 - overexaggerated second leads
1 cup - fantasy sequences
1 scoop - silly parents
Beat together in a mixing bowl. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Let cool and serve.
But, as we all know, there is no such thing as sure hit.
In tv show building, like baking, there needs to be some sort of yeast to make the dough rise...in this case, the yeast missing would be the omission of a cleverly writ script. There also needs to be some measure of intuition from the directing to make it all blend well. Otherwise, you could end up with a lumpy cake, or a lumpy drama.
Everything about this show was too perfectly choreographed, as if following some preset formula, from the dialogue to the situational comedy. It was so forced that many of the scenes felt awkward and misdelivered. Some early lowlights (instead of highlights) include a painfully gross and silly scene with a pervert flasher out to wow some young girls, a particularly awful Matrix spoof, a boring ballet sketch...oh, who am I kidding? Practically all the fantasy sequences were too long and total duds.
The only truly well-written character appeared to be Kim HyunJoong’s mother, who was both delightful and heart-warming as a woman who was lonely after having two overly capable and distant sons. She has always wanted a daughter, which she has found in Jung SoMin’s cheerful character. It was somewhat refreshing to have nice parents pop up in a kdrama for once, and as far as matchmakers go, this power blogging mom was adorable to watch.
I don’t have much else to say lest I risk being murdered by SS501 fans, but despite all my misgivings, I see myself finishing this one. I am, however, praying every night that the writing improves. Hopefully there will be more to the story than just the advancement of a crush. There’s still hope...
To sum, Jung SoMin seemed cute and Kim HyunJoong was his usual attractive self, and his acting was passable. So basically, the actors seemed okay and fitted for their parts, it was everything else that felt unstable. I must be a real sucker because even though I disliked 90% of this drama after the first couple of episodes, I couldn’t help but want to keep watching that remaining 10% that spoke to the little girl in me who has always loved the stories about awkward girls who win the noble prince’s heart by sheer determination and character. Ya know? As a commenter so perfectly put it, this drama was both torture and guilty indulgence in one ridiculous package.
Really, when I saw this drop dead gorgeous smile play across Kim HyunJoong’s face after two hours of his scowls...damnit, I knew I was a goner.
Bad or plain stinking horrible, I don’t think I cared, I wasn’t going to be able to resist watching this drama.
(first impressions originally posted Sept 5, 2010)
Will Kim HyunJoong’s hot idol popularity save this drama from the depths of its writing black hole? Will his adorably lopsided smiles soothe away the ills of a plot-lite tale? For some, yes. For others, specifically non-Kim HyunJoong fans, get ready to lose some IQ.
A months ago, when I wrote my first impressions, I scribbled that it felt “too perfectly choreographed”? Turned out, the complete opposite of that assessment is actually true. This drama had no strategy, no recipe. It was completely winging it and letting its freak fly, hoping for the best.
Please indulge me for one second. In all seriousness, let’s all take off our fangirl-rose-colored-looney-bin-brainwashing goggles for one brief moment. Look me straight in the eye and tell me—without an ounce of satire—that this was a well-made drama. Can you do it?
[rubbing chin in pensive wait]
Holy schmoly, wow, you did it, you were really able to do it! =)
Ok, ok, I relent. I do realize that this drama is the kind of guilty affair of the heart that is as good as each individual viewer wants it to be, a romantic tryst that may be a source of embarrassment in 10 years time, but right now, pure relationship bliss; there’s no denying its charm, which is a fulfillment of every fangirl’s fantasy (oh, don’t play coy, you know what I speak of, the taming of Kim HyunJoong). And there is nothing wrong with that at all. It engages the romantic innocence in us all and does it in a way that other dramas do not. I don’t begrudge anyone the right to adore and drool over this logic-free drama, but I challenge you with this thought: how much of this drama is actually good escapist fare and how much is only enjoyable because you have recast yourself as a better, less insane version of Oh HaNi? I mean, how frustrating was it to see her shelf her self-esteem over and over and over again?
For me, the biggest hurdle was the feebleness of the characters, like Lego pieces stacked too high, swaying back and forth in a fragile truce with gravity; nonsense upon nonsense toppling all over one another in storytelling chaos. The entire show was so badly developed and written with such outlandish mania that these people never existed in any type of reality for me. Therefore I could not care about them. This drama gave us diary entries instead of a story. There lacked any real point other than to showcase the ridiculous trials of a rather unintelligent girl with a big crush. It felt a waste of time, like hacking away at a tree with a blunt axe—slow and tedious and without satisfaction.
Why was there no movement in this story? When the kids progressed from the Highschool Years to their College Years, I’d hoped for some maturity in the characters, a growing that should have extended to the story and situational comedy as well. Unfortunately, it kept spinning in circles. The same conflict was fought over and over in every new episode. No progress was ever made, not in any way substantial. Adapted from a manga (that I have never read - but it was a shōjo manga, so it is what it is, I suppose), I was quickly beginning to grasp that this thin story could not possibly work in any other context other than in graphic form with boxed dialogue. This drama did not know what it wanted to be, where it wanted to go, and it most certainly did not have a clue as to how to get anywhere…anywhere being
Illogical, contrived, and redundant. That is Playful in a nutshell. In terms of enjoyability, the drama rocked like a pendulum, going from okay to terrible with every scene change. It managed decently charming moments on occasion, but the overall choppy directing and the limp dialogue crossed the border between Bad-Amusing to Bad-Boring fairly quickly. Remember the name of the directors and the screenwriters, people, they deserve the lame award at the end of the year. Not an original idea to be had in here, not a single one. For shame on them.
I pose this question for you, my fellow drama fans: if you were cast in some weird kdrama reality survivor program and you had to get through 30 days stranded on a remote island while watching only one kdrama on repeat for those 720 hours straight (minus sleeping time) and the producers told you the selected kdrama was Playful Kiss, tell me you wouldn’t opt to just drown yourself right then and there?
Okay, I’m just teasing. Kim HyunJoong fans, lower thy pitchforks. I had no problem with Joongie or his acting, which was a minor bright spot. He was not dazzling, but hardly the thespian train wreck some fans feared. There was improvement from his Boys Over Flowers performance, which leads me to hope that he will likely continue to improve should he persist in this dabbling with acting. In fact, I felt he was a victim here, like all the other actors and actresses. When they signed on for a ride on this Playful truck, I’m sure not a single one predicted this vehicle was going to be such a total lemon—flat tire of a story, bumpy road pacing, chugging engine directing, jerky brake dialogue…and then there’s that roadkill at the very onset of the journey—the roadkill being the dismal ratings, blood and gore the drama has not completely been able to shake off its tires.
Truthfully, the only refreshing aspect of this drama were the parents, who were actually nice and likable, although completely misguided and yes, like everything else, an unrealistic depiction of parents dealing with two horny teenagers living under one roof—in any country.
I had hoped to make it to the very last episode, but alas, even my fondest affections for Kim HyunJoong could not compete with the tedium of this drama. Mostly I found myself distracted by the pity I felt for this cast. I hope Playful doesn’t derail any careers. I hope to meet them all in their next [hopefully better] project.
Wrap up: unless you are a diehard Kim HyunJoong groupie-head and need your fix, I say pass on this one. I’m sure a great many Playful devotees will disagree with what I have written, as judging by the blogging buzz, it sure sounds like there are a great many who are actually enjoying this one. Those content fans may even accuse me of missing the entire point of the drama (if I did miss some significant underlying meaning in this one, in my defense, it was so murky in there I really couldn’t see all that clearly). But I have to think that I’m on the side of the mass majority here. Ratings aren’t always a good indication of quality, but an average of 4% starring one of the [arguably] most worshipped idols in the current kpop scene does indicate something, don’t you think?
In fact, I take it back, even if you are a fangirl needing to satiate your Joongie hunger, go rewatch old episodes of We Got Married instead. Way more cuteness and satisfaction to be had there.
Post-review thoughts [added 10/14/2010]:
Adopted from my response to a comment, I thought this was worth adding to the review:
Regarding my comment on originality, I wasn’t referring to the source material or the drama’s fidelity to it, but the style and packaging of the show itself—the teddy bears, the editing, fantasy sequences…for me, the overall feel of the show was too formulaic yet completely unorganized, actual manga content notwithstanding. This drama brings up some interesting questions about drama redos of works in a different medium, I think. When kdramas borrow stories from other sources, should they be direct translations or loose adaptations? Will something that worked in a graphic novel work as well with the same pacing on film? How much production liberty is too much, or too little? The challenges of adapting anything into live action is especially evident here. Should these offsprings be graded on their own merits or as companion to their parent? I wanted to clarify, my review above was written in assessment of this kdrama as a standalone, my criticisms on it about the success of its storytelling in that form only. In the end, perhaps the story itself did not speak to me and did not appeal to an outsider not familiar with Itazura na Kiss.