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Friday, December 31, 2010

KDramaGuk’s Biased & Worst of 2010:

The Taste of 2010
A Year End Review
Hello, kdrama-addicted world! Here’s yet another entry into the rolls of ubiquitous year end lists. Bear with me, KdramaGuk is nearing its first birthday and this is my first ever annual review. Another thing worth bearing? There is a fundamental flaw with the list about to follow, which is, well, it was compiled by me, and subject to my rampant subjectivity. Since this is a site with drama reviews, I suppose this list may not be very revolutionary either as my opinions have already been shared. Anyway, it was a big year for dramas: big stars, big debuts, big comebacks, and a lot of pretty big cries, big laughs, too.


WINNERS OF THE YEAR
Better Than Best
It is a pretty tough thing to objectively single out the bests of anything (books, music, cell phone carriers, anything), and such things are subject to debate, disagreement and argument. I have no doubts that my picks will not be the exception, but I have to do it, I just have to...because what is a year end list without a remark upon what one considered the best of the best? These were the top of the tops in 2010 for me:

Drama
A tastefully crafted dish from first bite to last. 


Pasta
The heavy [ratings] hitters this year didn’t do it for me (Chuno, Baker King, Giant, Dong Yi, Cinderella’s Sister). Their popularity was high, some were better executed than others, some I started, few I actually finished, but none of them felt consistently well-written enough to be considered the crèma of the cup. Pasta, on the other hand, stayed true to its story from start to finish and succeeded in something few dramas did this year, which was to develop and nurture all the main characters. Even at its most dull, it stayed well-written and well-paced. It was not the sort of drama to create manic fandom (like my 2009’s top: You’re Beautiful), so it clawed onto my 2010 pole position by sheer integrity, not with its fangirlism factor. It played out in a peppy setting (Italian restaurant in Korea) and filled itself with quirky characters that engaged in sharply writ dialogue (idol chefs, kitchen assistants and one hunky Alex), and despite it’s tendency toward metaphoric extremes and excessive silly, it never ridiculed the profession it was manipulating for entertainment. It managed to stay light yet believable and never dipped into complete stupidity, which is always an impressive feat in kdramaland. Really.


Actress/Female Character
Smart, driven, and still young at heart.


Park JinHee
as Lee ShinYoung
in The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry
She was a modern woman who fought against the convention that she had to sacrifice her career in order to advance love, and vice versa. The gorgeous Park JinHee brought a great deal of wit, understanding, and maturity to this contemporary character. Her very direct depiction of an insecure yet confident woman trying to break free from longstanding and deeply conservative molds for men and women in ROK was both endearing and inspiring. She was still young but she faced a society that told her that anything past the twenties was too old. What does it mean to act one’s age and gender? She was credible, relatable and lovable, a heroine well worth the hours of investment.


Actor/Male Character 
Arrogant purist who lived and loved honestly.


Lee SunGyun
as Chef Choi HyunWook
in Pasta
It’s rather harmonious that one of the best realized characters of the year should come from Pasta, which I have crowned the best drama of 2010 as well. Lee SunGyun did a phenomenal job bringing the cranky but brilliant Chef Choi to life, a pickle-hating, vongole-loving Italian cuisine idealist. The Kdrama version of Dr. House (House: Fox’s prime time show about a cranky but brilliant doctor, pretty much the skull and bones for all cranky and brilliant geniuses). Like Dr. House, Chef Choi was the kind of neurotic and intensely layered character the right actor could really cut teeth on. Obnoxious and armed with arsenic doses of sarcasm to keep people at a distance, he was all kinds of funny, different, difficult, but also a genuinely fleshed out character. On paper, Chef Choi may have read cold, but under Lee SunGyun’s deft guidance, he felt as warm as melted Parmigiano-Reggiano on a plate of perfectly al dente noodles.


Supporting Actor/
Male Character
A quiet scholar with the will of a warrior.


Yoo AhIn
as Moon JaeShin
in Sungkyunkwan Scandal
There was a whole lot about Sungkyunkwan Scandal that was done in fan service, a blatant pandering to the hysteria of drama devotees wanting to watch beautiful people parade around in equally beautiful costuming. All that aside, there was no denying the actual talent delivering some of these characters, because let’s face it, with the wrong actors, this drama could have fallen real hard, real bad. Supporting roles are meant to support, and Yoo AhIn really held up his end of the bargain. He provided the basic foundation for the drama to build heavier substance upon, keeping it from flying too far away into the flights of fancy it was most definitely capable of doing. Despite portraying a personality completely distant from the actor’s in real life, he not only managed a convincing portrayal of a malcontent idealist struggling against society and himself, but created an enjoyable one at that. He did amazing with such a bottled character and brought to life a memorable entry into the kdrama character roster, one that will henceforth set the standard for laconic malcontent idealists.


Supporting Actress/
Female Character
Sexy and goofy publishing goddess.


Park SiYeon
as Seo EunYoung
in Coffee House
Park SiYeon has always felt somewhat of a show pony actress to me in the past, a pretty face but not all that captivating as a female lead. She was always a delight too look upon, but nothing else stood out—her pageantry background did nothing to change my mind about her blank personality, nor did her brief and lackluster stint on the popular variety show Family Outing. What did change my mind? Her lively and truly unique delivery of Seo EunYoung in one of this year’s most oddball dramas, Coffee House. She found her inner weird and played to perfection a compulsive and overwrought president of a publishing house who was at wit’s end managing an eccentric writer. A very atypical female character to begin with, she made the woman even more outstanding by giving her self-respect, spunky flair, sex appeal, and a really great catwalk in this breezy summer drama. For the first time, I saw individuality revealed through her acting. Her character was sexy fierce and goofily vulnerable. One of my favorite female portrayals of the year. Hands down.


Most Spellbinding Performance
Self-destructive maniac burned by first love. 


Jang Hyuk
as DaeGil
in Chuno
Lots and lots of acclaim has already been written and written again regarding Jang Hyuk’s riveting impersonation of a rabid dog performance, and all of it well-deserved. Let’s just say he gets major credit for his acting chops because of the sheer imagination and insanity he brought to the character Daegil. The nature of man’s inner beast was exposed for all to see in the way he built his tormented slave hunter, with shadows layered darkness upon void. The character never took a single breath to calm down (the only other 2010 drama that could probably outdo it for sheer amount of mileage run is probably Fugitive: Plan B, not incidentally made by the same production team). It must have been exhausting playing this type of extremist zeal for 24 episodes, but Jang Hyuk managed it effortlessly.


Most Enchanting Performance
Mythical creature who ate stole hearts.


Shin MinAh
as Goo MiHo
in My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox
It’s rare for me to crush so hard on a kdrama girl, but that’s what happened when I encountered Shin MinAh’s feisty Goo MiHo. For eight weeks, I do believe I must have been enchanted by her, as in literally enchanted through my tv screen by some freaky-deaky Shin MinAh magicking. What was even more amazing to me was Goo MiHo’s inability to become annoying. How could such a saccharine-sweet character not grate on my normally sophisticate nerves after so many hours? Who knows if it was Shin MinAh’s real life charisma I fell for or some long unused acting mojo she tapped into for the role, but this enchantress put her stamp on 2010 and that mark boasted of nine tails. She has altered the course of the gumiho mythology forever.


Original Soundtrack
A great collection of tracks.


Baker King, Kim TakGu
Overall, it wasn’t a very memorable year for drama music. There were some great songs sprinkled here and there on various soundtracks, but nothing especially outstanding as an entire unit. As a collection, Baker had the best batch, many of the songs good enough to stand alone. The only problem was that the OST itself felt too individual, instead of melodies meant to personify its owner drama. Regardless, it still felt better than the rest in terms of quantity and quality of songs assembled. 



TOP 5 DRAMAS OF 2010
My Personal Favorites 
While living through it, the year felt like a harvest plenty. Looking back, however, I realized that there were many decent ones, but few great ones. For that reason, none this year made it onto my all-time favorites list, but a few did come shavingly close. Not to say it was not a splendid year for dramas, in a way. While there may not have been a whole lotta all-around knock outs, there were still an amazing amount of wonderful performances, characters, and kdrama moments, even within the flawed dramas.

Ranked, here are the ones I especially enjoyed:
 
1 : One


The Woman Who Still
Wants To Marry
Why: Sexy and fun, well-produced. And, obviously, Kim Bum didn’t hurt the equation.

 
1 : One (tied for first)


Sungkyunkwan Scandal
Why: Yoo AhIn and Song JoongKi. I won’t lie, my fangirl bias rears its ugly head yet again toward this trendy drama. Admittedly, this drama didn’t win me on the merits of its story but on the strength of its many actor charms, but it was the closest thing to a heart flutter I felt all year.

 
3 : Three



Dr. Champ 
Why: Maybe it was the timing (I watched it during the holidays when I was feeling sappy and sniffling through a nagging cold), but I was really liking this one. Sappy, uplifting, and packed with people who only lived to reach their impossible dreams. As a story, it was warm like hot chocolate and one of the few that didn’t feel totally insane.

 
4 : Four


Pasta
Why: Loved most every minute of it, especially Lee SunGyun and his idol chefs. Classy yet tasty all the way. I have always preferred shows about people, not plot tricks.

 
5 : Five


Gloria 
Why: Longer than desirable at a gigantic fifty eps, and still airing when this posts so who knows how I’ll feel about it when it wraps up, but I found it completely absorbing because of its wonderful cast. This was old sku kdrama all the way, not hip, not even very cool...sometimes boring, often cheesy, but stubbornly insistent on reminding of the reasons why kdamas can be so addicting if you just like the characters; like a favorite meal from childhood, gooey and a little homespun, but felt oh so comfortable. A sentimental dish with more heart than taste, really.



HONORABLE MENTIONS
Actors weren’t fit into categories here, but categories tailored for the actors and their characters.
 
Most Underrated Actress
In An Overrated Drama


Lee YoungAh
as Yang MiSun
in Baker King, Kim TakGu
This perky bread and pastry artist was the apple pie of my eye in this overly long successor story about a baking empire. She embodied the best parts of the drama, the moments when Baker revelled in youthful enthusiasm and baking romanticism.


Most Charming Too-Good-
To-Be-True Casanova


Kim Bum
as Ha MinJae
in The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry
This guy was a seriously unreal Prince Charming. A growth spurt later, Kim Bum actually looked the swoon worthy young man he was supposed to have been in Boys Over Flowers, and not just a pretty cherub acting the grown-up. He was a total noona-killer in his twinkly-eyed portrayal of the sensitive singer-songwriter wooing his ideal older woman.


Most Enigmatic Bad Boy


Kim JaeWook
as Hong TaeSung
in Bad Guy
My favorite outfit on a kdrama male lead is misery, and self-revulsion, and tortured love, not necessarily in that order. This character wore them all. Unfortunately for me (and the rest of the viewership), he wasn’t the lead, nor was story all about him, but still, he was the best part of Bad Guy.


Most Cavity-Inducing Couple


Lee SeungGi and Shin MinAh 
as Cha DaeWoong and Goo MiHo
in My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox
The Hoi-Hoi Couple was the winner by a large margin. Perhaps the only other actor that could have matched Shin MinAh’s dimpled adorableness was Lee SeungGi, with his brand of gangly and dorky charm. When Dimpled Adorable collided with Dorky Adorable, it was the perfect Dimple-Dork combination.


Most Fangirl-tastic Pairing


Yoo AhIn and Song JoongKi
as Geolro and Goo YongHa
in Sungkyunkwan Scandal
Call me a biased fangirl obsessive, and I’ll call you…pretty dead on! The fact that I’ve snuck these two and other SKK cast members all over my year end report card shows how much I enjoyed this one. These two were especially special, the human equivalents of kdrama dessert, the crème brulee, the shiso sorbet, the shikhye of all desserts. Onscreen together or apart (preferably together), they made a fangirl/fanboy giggle, sigh, and swoon. It was embarrassing, for sure, but the kind of magical collaboration that only appears once in a while to tremble a fan’s heart.


Most Eccentric Double Combo
(Cross-Drama Pairing)


Hyun Bin and Kang JiHwan
as Kim JooWon (Secret Garden)
and Lee JinSoo (Coffee House)
These guys were the two most idiosyncratic men of 2010; between one man’s enthusiasm for beaded active wear and the other’s penchant for strolling around town in a segway, they pretty much covered the standard for Hottest Wierdo, a category I didn’t actually include on the list, mostly because I didn’t know who would get the title between the two. On top of their ability to surprise with their clothing or manner of commute (among other quirks), they also had personalities to match their outer lunatic and a way of speaking that left victims alternately impressed yet offended. They were fantastically quirky standing alone, but imagine what kind of awe-inspiring screwball dynamic these guys could create if their forces were united under the banner of one drama? It makes me all giddy-like just thinking on it.


Most Perfect Sageuk Blind Date
(Cross-Drama Pairing)


Kim HaEun and Yoo AhIn
as SeolHwa (Chuno)
and Geolro (Sungkyunkwan Scandal)
These two are complete opposites, which only makes me think they’re even more perfect for one another than anyone could possibly write. She had a thing for the bad boys who could hold their own in a fight and he had a soft spot for petite and sassy girls who weren’t confined by conventional thought. Both SeolHwa and Geolro were short-changed and denied a much deserved love interest in their respective dramas...I dare speculate, perhaps because they were destined to meet one another on this list? Heh. She was loud, full of bubbly holler and he was a tortured soul of few words, always too sad, too serious. If there was ever a wildly loyal and impertinent tomboy that could give Geolro the happy hiccups and pull him out of his introverted shell, it would be this pretty in pink troupe girl. Besides, she was the type who was in constant need of a savior, prone to getting herself into trouble. Geolro could put his love for playing the heroic black knight to good use in a relationship with her. My two most favorite characters of 2010, I can only dream of what kind of sparks these two could ignite if brought together.


Unexpectedly Intriguing New Faces

 

Lee JongSuk
as Han TaeSun
in Secret Garden
An accessory character for a host of big stars in Secret Garden, his sassy and impudent singer songwriter was a porcupine-like curiosity (wow, was this the year for the character description “independent musician” to feature in dramas or what?). Lee, a model turned actor, had an even smaller part in Prosecutor Princess earlier this year, but it was his delivery here as an upstart anti-fan musician that gave some insight into his potential talent as an actor.

and 




Kang SoRa
as Kwon YooRi
in Dr. Champ
Oh, there are some actresses that pop up out of nowhere and after only a few frames, still manage to shine so bright. I immediately knew I liked this gal’s forthright and spunky attitude. In Dr. Champ, she played an average competitor on the national swim team. She wasn’t their star athlete, but she had a star personality. The poor girl had a one-sided crush on judo athlete Park JiHeon (the protag of the show), and while little seen in actual minutes counted, she made me smile whenever she brightened it. This was a fresh face I hope to see more of in a more prominent role.


The Guy Next Door...
You Really Want Next Door


Yoon SiYoon
as Kim TakGu
in Baker King, Kim TakGu
Yoon is a very pretty fella, the guy looks like an idol, acts like the boy next door, and smiles like he could be your best friend. He is believable as the friendliest guy on the block despite his good looks, the kind of guy even my father would want to call a son (it was so bizarre how much dad liked Baker King). This is the sort of dude we all root for not only because he’s actor handsome, but because he looks like the boy that’ll help your grandmother cross the bustling city street. When he spouts goodness like a boy scout, it doesn’t sound half as cheesy as you know it is on paper.


“Why Didn’t I Notice Him Before?”
Stand-Out Performance


Song JoongKi
as Goo YongHa
in Sungkyunkwan Scandal
Well, it’s true. This guy scored the right role in the right drama and made everyone notice. He’s been around the entertainment scene and then some, but it was his coquettish performance as Goo YongHa that allowed him to showcase his radiance, and let it not pass without comment, he looked divine in all his colorful historical pageantry. From the moment of his introduction, where he skimmed and coyly leered through an adult novel, a star was finally noticed.


Totally Refreshing Just-Needs-
The-Right-Vehicle Rising Star


Lee HyunJin
as Jang MinGuk
in Happiness in the Wind
His drama I did not care for, but this guy was bright and dapper and left a favorable impression. He is one of those actors who comes across as genuinely earnest, a Jo InSung type of appeal, but in a less intensely broody kind of way. Did you know he was one of the actors short listed for a part in the runaway 2009 hit Boys Over Flowers? He passed on the drama due to his agent’s recommendation (fired! kidding), which is why he isn’t a household name yet. But he is rather talented and with the right role, I think he could blow up to be the next great leading man.


Most Lovely Second Gal


So YiHyun
as Jung YoonSuh
in Gloria
There’s something about this slip of an actress, an effortless beauty and twinkle in her eye that makes even a gal like me just adore her to pieces. I was prepared to dislike her in Gloria, but there was something so fragile about her presence that she won me over. She has the kind of pretty that guys often go gaga over because she’s flowery and soft-spoken. Basically, she’s not usually my favorite type of heroine, but So YiHyun brought such a sweetness to her character that hating her would have been like hating a bird with a broken wing. Impossible.


Most Surprising Non-Sucky
Idol Acting Endeavor


Micky Yoochun
as Lee SunJoon
in Sungkyunkwan Scandal
The character he played was a little too square, a little too conventional, but the veteran pop star managed to make this boring guy likable, so kudos to him. If there was a stiffness to his acting delivery, I didn’t see it, probably because his character was a stiff bureaucrat anyway, but also due to his fairly comfortable portrayal of the character. Before I realized it, Micky Yoochun completely became Lee SunJoon for me, and that, by anyone’s standards, is a job well done. There were several performances this year where I could not separate celebrity from character, so for a huge idol supahstar like Yoochun to ably disappear into his role, I consider him a definite high note.


Most “Blech” Delivery By An
Actress Expected To Do Better


Chae Rim
as Yoon GaeHwa
in Oh! My Lady
I know Oh! My Lady fans will disagree passionately (and there were quite a few devotees), I still hold to my opinion that the drama was a lemon. If Choi SiWon wasn’t the male lead, I doubt the show would have even managed their average ratings. Anyhow, I think part of my problem may have been the fact that I am actually a fan of Chae Rim’s, and because I think she is that wonderful, I can only be brutally honest about her performance. Perhaps the bar for her had been set too high in my head, but while her performance certainly wasn’t terrible, it was totally vanilla, a very unimaginative display by an actress usually so full of flavor. I’m sorry to say, a woefully forgettable effort.
 

Most Likely To Become
An Idol Superstar


Lee HyunWoo
as Hong ChanDoo
in God of Study
Maybe it’s because he played an aspiring one in God of Study, but he totally gives off a mini-idol feel.
 

Overflowing With Acting Potential
(Tied)


Yeo JinGoo and Kim SooHyun
as Lee KangMo (left) and Lee SungMo
in Giant
Without a doubt, young talents with bright futures ahead of them. They’ve both been around here and there, but both actors really displayed their skills setting the groundwork for the epic Giant drama of the year.


Most Enviable Genetics


Ha JiWon and Jun TaeSoo
Gil RaIm (Secret Garden
and Ha InSoo (Sungkyunkwan Scandal)
These two would inspire crazy jealousy in me...if I didn’t like them so much. Ha JiWon is one of those actresses that is it for me, the epitome of all actresses. She’s beautiful, classy, intelligent, silly, natural …everything I’ve ever seen of her and read of her affirms that she’s also a really nice person in real life, too. From her early years (Secret, Something Happened in Bali) to her current success Secret Garden, she’s always been magnetic. Her brother, Jun TaeSoo, is five years her junior and just breaking into the biz. To say he could be her twin in the looks department is an inadequate comparison…I feel as if I’m watching a young Ha JiWon all over again. And just like big sis, his screen presence is similarly magnetic. He’s still in the process of finding his comfort zone in front of the camera, but clearly, talent is the lifeblood that runs through his veins.


Fiercest Anti-Heroine


Shin EunKyung
as Yoon NaYoung
in Flames of Ambition
Now, this is a drama I did not watch so much as skimmed here and there out of morbid curiosity, as this type of makjang x1000 fare with teases of incest, lust, revenge, etc, etc, isn’t really what I like to watch, and most certainly not for a half century worth of episodes. When it comes to these kinds of dramas, in the end, I think you really just have to like its ilk. Yet even without full investiture, what was insanely clear was that the woman pictured above was killing her role as a wounded and calculating, burned-by-love ambitious woman determined to rage against her preordained destiny. She was captivating, as if she held tv’s gaze in challenge and dared viewers to change the channel. Her cruel awesomeness was not really enough to have me continue the drama, but alas, she is undoubtedly noteworthy enough for my list, even at a passing glance. Honestly, I will probably never forget the scene where she gets the crap kicked out of her by a circle of thugs. Shudder. 


Most Mommy Dearest


Jun InHwa
as Madam Seo InSook
in Baker King, Kim TakGu
For me, the real strength of Baker was always with this woman (who is, I would just like to add, beautiful). She was a mega-villain willing to resort to anything, including murder, to see the son of her womb be lord of the baking fiefdom. She was a miserable lady who made everyone around her equally miserable...and she also had wicked eyeliner. This Cruella kept this drama chugging along with the ticking drum of her anger bomb.


Favorite Bromance

 

Jung GyuWoon and Jung SukWon
as Park JiHeon and Yoo SangBong
in Dr. Champ
There were a lot of interesting and messy relationships in this particular drama, but this one was quite possibly the most sad, and most messy. One of my favorites, I was moved by the quietly loyal brotherhood that was torn and tested again and again between these two jūdōkas. Childhood friends and rivals, they were reunited at Taereung National Village and there, the ultimate test was placed against the strength of their bond. Boys crying in stoic pain get me every time.


Best Cinematography


Joseon X-Files
In all honesty, this short drama was the most perfectly concocted little product. A unique gem that came out of nowhere. It’s writing, story, acting...it was all very good, but I was most insanely impressed by its production values, its top notch art direction. It was visually very rich, had a lot of style, and was very cinematic in its presentation. In a mystery thriller like this one, the ambiance was going to be of critical importance in selling the whole experience...and it succeeded. It was dark, gritty, and thoroughly engrossing...and a gorgeous experiment in camera movement and framing, with delightfully moody uses of shadows and firelight. tvN really offered some uniquely noteworthy ventures this year with really impressive production quality, especially when including the excessively stylized Harvest Villa with its darkly bent humor and vagarious flair.


Wackiest Sidekick


Jung SungHwa
as Noh SangJoon
in Personal Taste
Jung clearly enjoyed himself playing the flamboyant architect who had to pretend to be his boss’ gay boyfriend. He was beyond silly and full of exaggerated stereotype, but always stayed harmlessly fun when it came to the innuendos...and he also gave good evidence of why every woman should have a gay best friend.


Best Hair Fling Material


Jang GeunSuk
as Kang MuGyul
in Mary Stayed Out All Night
Self-explanatory, I believe. Not only did Jang GeunSuk’s indie rocker have delicious hair to fling about, he was the perfect sketch of the kind of guy that would make for a good time…for a time.


Best Real Life Boyfriend Material


Lee SangYoon
as Yang HoSub
in Life is Beautiful
He was such the nice guy, the perfect guy, really. He was the sort of well-adjusted person that a body could take as an accessory almost anywhere without worrying that he’ll embarrass; everyone would be jealous that this guy was your guy: cocktail party, happy hour with friends, work gathering, home to the parents. He was handsome, well-mannered, from a good family, open-minded, athletic (scuba diver), adventurous, good in the kitchen, caring, thoughtful, romantic…I could go on forever. A most normal dude and attractive in a real way.


Most Uninspired Performance


Lee DaHae
as EunYeon
in Chuno
Dull and lacking for a tragic heroine in an epic role. I myself find it rather interesting that I’ve decided the best and worst performances in 2010 come from the same drama. It speaks volumes toward my conflicting feelings about Chuno. For me, Lee DaHae was a huge liability for the show, if not the main liability among a grab bag of good performances. In her case, flaws seemed all the more amplified because she was the principle character and cast as the emotional center. When I revealed my selection for this category to another kdrama fan, she argued quite passionately against me, claiming that there just had to be another performance this year more deserving of the title. Perhaps, although not in my opinion. I cover my reasons as to why I thought her false and painfully inadequate for this role in my full review of Chuno, so I won’t go into detail again here other than to say she was not enough to fill the grand space created by a drama as broad as this one.


Sweetest Moment



Blooming Love Among Flours
in Baker King, Kim TakGu
These two were really too cute. Girl stumbles onto Boy napping in the flour closet. Girl sits down next to Boy and gently encourages his head onto her shoulder. Girl smiles contently. Awwww….


Sexiest Moment


Kissing In A Public Phone Booth
in Coffee House
This scene was HOT HOT HOT. Set up: Kang JiHwan is avoiding going home because his assistant has set up a birthday party for him. He gets caught in the rain and takes refuge in a phone booth. A slightly tipsy Park SiYeon stumbles upon him and after discussing his subnormal behavior of wanting to avoid all things birthday-related, Park SiYeon experiences a surge of emotion fueled by their cozy mood, the rain, and of course, by liquid courage, and abruptly pins a surprised Kang JiHwan into his phone booth and lays on him a sexy smooth smooch. Beer cans go flying and fizzes in surprise, umbrellas get discarded…and the music soars. Like I said, HOT HOT HOT. I love it when a girl takes control and takes what she wants. Heh.


Most Charming Moment



The Sound of a Heart Racing
in Chuno
This action journey had a lot of movement…but some of my favorite scenes were the ones that happened when Chuno slowed down. It was amazing how well the show found poignancy and a powerful tenderness in the quieter moments. If only there had been more scenes with this type of sincerity, I think it may have been a less insane drama, even in retrospect.


Total WTF Moment


Rear End Facial Chase Scene
in Fugitive: Plan B
As with Chuno, I wished there were more quiet moments and less of these kinds of stunts. They often came out of nowhere and literally, the words “wtf” involuntarily escaped my lips. I think this scene in particular felt all dirty and wrong and...just plain IQ-dropping. When Lee NaYoung’s face started bouncing against Rain’s apple bottom butt, it was too much. Too much, I tell you! How do actors even prepare for a scene like this? Are there practice runs? Do they mark the spot for the perfect contact or go with the flow? Do they need to perfume the area? What could be going through Lee NaYoung’s mind at that very moment when her nose gets squished into his crack? (“I better be getting bank for this shit!”) I was all distracted by questions like these. On the other hand, if completely pointless chase scenes that make no sense other than to create a moment for two couples to grope one another against the stick shift is the sort of action mayhem that seems marvelous and cool to you, then...well, you might like this drama, I guess.


Laugh Out Loud Moment


Sauna Peep Show
in Secret Garden
A truly laugh out loud…rewind and replay…laugh out loud…and then rewind and replay again moment. After accidentally locking lips earlier in the day, when Ha JiWon (trapped in HyunBin’s body) finds herself in a sauna faced with the sweaty glory of Yoon SangHyun’s full on nakedness she (he) squeals like a twelve year old girl and falls in a dead faint. HILARIOUS. The look on HyunBin’s face could fuel my smile for a full year...truly classic.


Feel Good Drama of the Year


My Girlfriend Is A Nine-Tailed Fox
There was so much about this drama I really enjoyed, but when it was over, it was over and done. A most self-contained show, it wrapped up and went away without a fuss. I enjoyed every minute of it when it was airing, but it was one of those dramas that felt the most inviting and happy place while watching, but when the break happened, it was a happy split and I was ready to move on.


Favorite OST Song

 

어디에 (Where) by 미 (Mi)
in Bad Guy
Very pretty…and fit the mood of the drama fairly well, full of regret and longing.
 

Most Badly Utilized Cast


Fugitive: Plan B
The cast for this show was so big…and that never made any sense, you know, since the plot was so small. Post-wrap, the production is having some problems paying up the wages for all their big stars…I’m betting right about now that they too wished they’d gone with a smaller cast.


Worst Drama 


Man Of God
There was some stiff competition for this category, and what a surprise, most of them in the same genre. I really have nothing more to say. I think category and drama define one another. Ratings-wise, it did respectably well actually. Sometimes...I just do not understand. I have learned one thing about ratings though: what the domestic K-audience enjoys is not necessarily what I enjoy...or what the international viewership enjoys. I guess something about this one pleased the natives.


The Drama Everyone Dug Into 
(Even The Universe), But Not Me


Cinderella’s Sister
What can I say, not for a single iota did I care for this one. I’ve seen lots writ and said about the quality of the acting within if not the story as a whole…and people watched it with dedication. I didn’t get it…and honestly, I still don’t. It was a total miss for me, which is interesting as I did like all the names cast in it…oh well, we can’t always be a part of the crowd.


The Drama Everyone Panned
(Even The Universe), But Not Me


Mary Stayed Out All Night
It’s rather amusing that the two dramas that I most drastically diverged from popular opinion this year were both vehicles of Moon GeunYoung. Lots of drama fans found this particular winter offering a complete disappointment and a waste of the talents gathered. I appreciate their point, but I think there were far worse this year. Turned out, however, even the powers-that-be were disappointed, going as far as changing writers at halftime (which I thought made it worse). For me, I had expected a silly frilly drama that would likely have no purpose other than to have three of my favorite pretties rub up against one another in aegyo circles. And that’s exactly what I got. My expectations were met…so I didn’t really have very much room to feel disappointed. What can I say, I liked this silly little show. An embarrassingly lot, actually. Certainly the story was unexceptional, even inane at times, but the little details of falling under the spell of confusing, unexplainable, and unexpected love kept me into it. Felt familiar to me, strangely nostalgic...and so I nurtured it with an unusual amount of devotion.


Most Overrated


Chuno
There was so much about this drama that was so very fantastic to watch, and without a doubt, it got noticed. It was lush, wild, and unapologetic about the way it yelled its story at viewers...but so much of this drama also felt empty and only partially actualized. At 24 episodes, it alternately felt too long, yet too short. Viewers got totally sucked into this baby (me included) because of its bravado and dirty glamour...but it was far from perfect, nor that well envisioned, especially not as an entire product. The show wanted to sprint when it needed more of a marathon mentality; it lacked pacing, lacked patience and above all, lacked proper direction. Somewhere along the way, it also started to believe its own press and self-glorified...A LOT.

Oh, come on, you know it wasn’t as awesome as you thought it was while watching it. Let’s put it this way, when I look back on my own glowing Chuno review, even I disagree with it.


Most Underrated


The Woman Who Still
Wants To Marry
It was a close call between this and Coffee House as to which drama deserved a bigger share of the ratings it never received. In the end, since Coffee House enjoyed its devoted cult fanbase, Married was the real odd woman out. Not many watched this drama, which was a little surprising to me considering Kim Bum’s starring role in it, but perhaps the subject matter seemed too dour and turned some fans off. This one sat on the border between light and serious, but it did both really well. A really good drama overall, it was a highlight of the year for me and I really thought this darling deserved more attention.
 




Final Thoughts
The end of 2010 is finally upon us. There are several 2011 dramas I am really looking forward to, so it looks like it’s going to be another great year. Whoop whoop! I’ll see everyone in 2011, back at the starting line, bright-eyed and hopeful.

11 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this post. Thanks!

    You may call it biased but it's one of the more objective reviews I've read so far and you really did give many dramas a chance.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You write wonderful reviews, I find them lovably subjective without ever crossing the arrogant line.

    I am a fan of your blog! Happy New Year, I hope you will continue to write :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agreed with you on multiple counts :) Lee Sun Gyun was indeed enjoyable in Pasta; I would give anything to watch SeolHwa and Geol-ho as a pair; I loved Lee Hyun Jin in Happiness in the Wind; Lee Hyun Woo will be smoldering in a few years time and Micky Yoochun surprised me as well.

    Most of all, the Yeorim-Geolho pair... GAH. Did you watch them star in their own movie? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXYMal8eBSU)

    ReplyDelete
  4. orbiter: Oh my, how giggle-worthy-licious. Now that's what I call proper fan service. ^^ Thanks so much for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I enjoyed "the woman who still wants to marry" too. Initially I watched it because of Kim Bum but after that those 3 girls just got me hooked on. I definitely like your year-end review. Thanks a lot for making it! :D

    ReplyDelete
  6. I laughed out loud at your Total WTF Moment description - very well written. And for the Most Overrated being Chuno, I do understand where you're coming from, looking retrospectively at the movie, that distance and reason and the light of day can make the flaws more noticeable. But I also agreed with your heart-in-mouth Chuno review, because, while you're watching the movie, the gloriousness of it makes you drunk enough to feel like you're completely and infatuatedly in love, and the heartbreak at the end is you being torn in two, so that the pain and the searing beauty are inseparable. And isn't there something to be said for the power of that?

    ReplyDelete
  7. You're right, Chuno definitely packed a killing punch...for sure, there is something to be said for how much emotion it drew out of the viewership. The ending was indeed heartbreaking. But more than crying, I recall screaming at the tv, "Noooo-WTF!" Heheh. So instead of sad, I guess I went straight for the rage!

    ReplyDelete
  8. do not agree with lee da hae commt .. u obv have issues.. she is the easiest to pick on isn't she.. wat a coward ur....

    ReplyDelete
  9. most over rated drama is secret garden not chunooo... ty

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm reading this in 2013 and I have to say, some of your predictions here have been really accurate.

    You said: "Yoon is a very pretty fella, the guy looks like an idol, acts like the boy next door, and smiles like he could be your best friend." - which I think is funny because Yoon Si Yoon just starred in Flower Boy Next Door and literally WAS the boy next door.

    And you said that Yeo Jin Gyu and Kim Soo Hyun are Overflowing With Acting Potential and have bright futures ahead of them, which is so true. They both are doing really well these days, Kim Soo Hyun doing movies and Yeo Jin Gyu is pretty much growing up to be a male lead before our eyes.

    The same goes for Song Joong Ki, about whom you said "a star was finally noticed." True, Joong Ki is really popular these days.

    It's really funny reading this post now and seeing that you were totally right about these things.

    ReplyDelete
  11. enjoyed reading your post...

    ReplyDelete

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