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Friday, May 11, 2012

You've Fallen For Me (2011)


You’ve Fallen For Me
넌 내게 반했어 / Heartstrings
(Jun – Aug 2011)

who’s in it
Jung YongHwa (You’re Beautiful)
Park ShinHye (You’re Beautiful)
Song ChangUi (Life is Beautiful)
Kang MinHyuk (You Who Rolled in Unexpectedly)
Lee HyunJin (Operation Proposal)
So YiHyun (Gloria)
Im SeMi (Hooray for Love)
Woo Ri (Crime Squad)


what’s it about
Welcome everybody to a college populated by hot young thangs aspiring stars—this school of arts is a musical place where extraordinarily talented people have gathered to inspire one another. Even the professors are hot young talented thangs (meet Song ChangUi and So YiHyun).

Park ShinHye is a traditional music major here, her specialty the gayageum, an old school Korean string instrument played by plucking, not strumming. She is the pride and joy of her famous grandfather, an authority in gayageum circles, and he wants the next generation of his bloodline to become just as well-known and respected. Our girl’s committed to her music, absolutely, but she’s no stuffy bore, she’s very personable despite her hard-working nature and has a quality circle of fun-loving friends who together form a traditional music quartet called the Windflowers.

Park ShinHye is not usually one to get involved in campus civil wars, but because of her love for all things responsible and traditional, she finds herself caught in a fight to defend the honor of traditional music against the too-cool-for-school campus hunk Jung YongHwa, a contemporary music student, and also the lead singer of a popular rock band called The Stupid. This boy appears to be ambivalent about everything but three things: his music, his family, and So YiHyun, the ballet instructor he has a wildly inappropriate one-sided crush on. Then this new girl enters his world and starts yanking on his strings, working up something that feels like an emotion when all he wants to do is play music and love the ballerina…will he be able to hold his cranky ground when faced with the full on cuteness that is Park ShinHye?

Oh right, there’s also some much ado about nada regarding a campus musical production Song ChangUi has been recruited to bring to glorious fruition, and that’s where supporting leads Lee HyunJin and WooRi play a part, but grievously little. There is also some university politics and parental boohoo subplots, but it is all sooo not worth mentioning.

commitment 
15 episodes (originally planned for the standard 16, but due to a car accident that involved Park ShinHye in week four of broadcast, only one episode aired, and the show decided to end its run early instead of going to 17—thankfully, for I cannot imagine how they would have stalled for another 120 minutes

network
MBC

director
Pyo MinSoo (Full House, Coffee House)

screenwriter
Lee MyungSuk

first impressions
An obvious lack of depth and variety in the writing plagued this show from the opening: gimmicky, shallow, hurried, and let’s not forget to mention the dreaded foreshadowing of student-teacher l’amour (blech). I had some lofty expectations, a side effect of having loved Your Beautiful too much and having foolishly tried to associate two wholly unrelated projects together just because it carried the same star power. My own fault for being greedy, so I quickly adjusted my frame of mind. I wasn’t completely loving the story presented, but I was going to go with the flow and stay open to it. Fortunately, the direction of the show was helmed by a man very comfortable in light romantic comedies with narrow plots, a director with a good track record for coaxing cute out of even the slimmest margin of story. The feel and look of the drama was stimulating on the senses, the soundtrack felt the right amount of breezy and catchy, and all of the cast seemed well recruited for their parts. Ah, yes, the people were going to be this drama’s greatest asset. We were given a little bit of everything.

The gorgeous idol: Jung YongHwa


The respectable actor: Song ChangUi


The energetic fresh face: Im SeMi


And, of course, a popular leading lady: Park ShinHye


Plus, as extra fan service: Kang MinHyuk

With these young stars clearing the path, how bad could it fumble?


wildcard factor
So, back in 2009, Jung YongHwa did not win Park ShinHye’s heart in You’re Beautiful, to the devastation of many fans who fell for the then newbie’s charms. Well, rare is the chance for a lovelorn second lead to be paired up with the same lead girl in another drama and get his chance to right a romantic wrong done to him. To the delight of many who had loved A.N.Jell and its band of wascally wascal pop stars, we get two of its members reunited, and this time, ladies—now I don’t want to give too much away—but it’s likely to be a happy ending for all you Jung YongHwa fans.

Anyhow, Jung plays a sorta similar character here as he did in Beautiful, not a famous idol exactly, but pretty close. He’s been reincarnated into an idolized campus heartthrob who is all attitude, a lil stuck up, a bit stewy, and a total burn risk, as in, he’s all kinds of hottie. He spends a lot of time cutely bickering/flirting with his real life buddy Park ShinHye, sings some romantic grooves with that earnest voice of his, and does a great deal of moody guitar strumming.

You
’ve Fallen for Me by Jung YongHwa
cr: TheAnnaptan

Sure, one cannot deny he is a little inexperienced as an actor and that comes across occasionally, but overall, he was in his element playing a campus rock star uncomfortable with all the attention that he got for his good looks. There wasn’t too much for Jung to do plot-wise but be a bit emo-handsome, and he did that very well. And besides, for most, spending 15 hours with Jung YongHwa would be enough incentive to suffer through eating live bugs, what’s a little drama discomfort in face of fangirl devotion?


For me, Park ShinHye was a bigger factor, cuz you know, I love her and if I were a casting director, she’d be my first choice for everything.

Thought for the day: how can two people be so good-looking and still come across on screen as such nice people? Why do some pretty people look bitchy, but Park and Jung throw out wholesomeness?

gave up

snoozer moments
Episodes 11 – 15.

After the main couple confirmed their undying devotion for one another, pretty much giving away the end game before it was actually the end of game, the whole drama got very rote—it ran in place for the remaining five hours. You’d think with such a variety of cute supporting actors assembled the writer could have conjured up something to do besides dropping the most obvious kdrama cliché at the end. The show found itself tripped up by its own ineffective pacing. By the time they hit the final episodes, they had too much time left, and therefore could not avoid adding one last romantic glitch, but it was also too little time to start anything really emotionally engaging. The final hurdle Jung YongHwa and Park ShinHye faced was so pointless, it was almost as annoying as the near development of the teacher-student love story.

And yeah, I didn’t care one lick about the musical either and anything to do with it felt dull.

Frankly, how better would it have been if Fallen had decided to leave the main couple alone to pursue their cuteness and had gone digging for second half drama angst elsewhere, such as the untapped potential of everyone else in the cast! Damnit! It was such a waste to have all that talent in there only to leave them just kind of loafing around with nothing to do but musical-related stuff.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

soju guzzling (angst factor)
It barely had a point, how could it have stirred up any sort of emotional suspense?

what didn’t work
See above.

 


Also, let me discuss the secondary cast a little more. First of all—and this really ticked me off because I kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting for this guy’s role to develop—one does not hire a charisma ball like Lee HyunJin only to ignore him for all of the show. Seriously, what was your problem, show, Writer Lee, who do I blame? Does he look like the kind of actor that belongs in a filler role? He was very legitimate love triangle material (especially since he wasn’t a teacher!). It’s, I dunno, the kdrama formula, it’s been pretty firmly established that at least two males should be in contention for two females. Unless planning to wow in other ways with something amazing, let’s just stick with the tried and true methodology, okay? Since everything else was so flatly pursued, the show should have just laid on us the most awesomest love triangle ever told on a college campus and overdosed us with jealousy and cute. It was as if the show/writer was overwhelmed by the sheer density of cast and could not decide how to find time for multiple story threads so instead settled for throwing out randomly adorable scenes to distract us. Pity.



For example, I draw attention to the people above. What about the potential romantic subplot between Im SeMi, Kang MinHyuk and WooRi? Or even, and this is me going off the good actor chemistry between these characters, a love triangle between Kang MinHyuk, WooRi, and Lee HyunJin? Better, what about an Im SeMi, Kang MinHyuk, WooRi, and Lee HyunJin quadrangle? So many possible combinations of romantic hula hoops between these four characters yet not a single one was explored? And this show had nothing but time to waste, especially after Park ShinHye’s car accident when the story was adjusted to accommodate her recovery. However, what we were ultimately given between Kang MinHyuk and WooRi, while at times somewhat amusing, never really got much interesting as their love story’s most challenging rival was a food complex and WooRi’s overbearing mother.

Could I really have been the only one who thought that Kang MinHyuk was a better match with Im SeMi? And that WooRi had some serious intensity with Lee HyunJin?

Was I imagining things?

what did
Ok, let’s rewind to the very beginning of the show. The story was lacking from the start, but the romantic architecture of the two main characters was pretty appealing. Not realistic, mind you, but as far as fun-potentials went, it had a really good kick off. Park ShinHye was the smart girl, not the femme fatale type, but the kind of homegirl that perhaps the hottest boy in school wouldn’t look twice until she started messing around all in his biz. Then we got the hottest boy on campus played by Jung YongHwa, which is pretty perfect casting, as I doubt anyone would deny that when this kid steps on campus anywhere, he immediately becomes the hottest thing there at any given moment. And this hot boy wanted nothing to do with Park ShinHye, and Park ShinHye is a girl that every girl wants to be, how could he not like her if he got to know her better? We believed: yes, he was hot, and yes, she was nosy but irresistible. His character was a stuffy jerk who disliked all his mooning fangirls, hers was a proud independent woman who hated arrogant jerks that had a lot of mooning fangirls after them. I mean, this was great, these were two characters genetically programmed to dislike each other, and the actors portraying them were adorable playing their parts. So, while I can’t say it was well-written, Park ShinHye and Jung YongHwa still made it worth watching. It was fueled by an awesome collection of their lovey dovey disdain for one another.







notable scene(s)
See my list below.

what kept me going
Probably if it wasn’t a Park ShinHye drama, I would have quit.
______________________________
Other factors:
predictability Yes
cheese Not really cheesy, but at times totally lame
originality No
eye-candy Pretty much the best and only thing it had going for it
hair and fashion n/a
______________________________
a list:
the most rewatchable 
ShinHye & YongHwa moments
(totally spoilerish)

5: do you like me?
 
Episode 5


After spending an entire episode using coffee as a token of Park ShinHye’s growing affections for him, Jung YongHwa gets a whiff of that java aroma. When she attempts to shake him out of his delusional crush on the ballet teacher, Jung YongHwa decides he’s had enough of her meddling: “Do you like me? I have no interest in who you like or don’t like, so you too, cut off your interest in me.” When the music swells, it’s the kind of kdrama moment that captures youthful heartbreak oh so well. Ah, we can all relate, can’t we, girls?

4: makgeolli memories 

Episode 8



An episode of awkward as Jung YongHwa finds himself in unfamiliar territory of not knowing how to convey his changing feelings to the girl he had treated so poorly up until then. He’s begun noticing Park ShinHye as more than just a nuisance, but is unsure how to proceed. Somehow he finds himself tagging along after her to watch a Windflowers performance at a senior center. There he dances with elders and to his disbelief, concludes the day carrying a very drunk Park ShinHye home after she guzzles down too much makgeolli while playing savior to him by taking bowl shots of the rice wine on his behalf.

3: fireworks fizzle fail
Episode 8


Park ShinHye suffers a fall and finds herself recuperating in the hospital, and unexpectedly, her most diligent visitor is the same boy who told her to stop stalking him only a few episodes earlier. At the end of the day, with beautiful sparklers flowering the night sky, Jung YongHwa proves that he’s a boy more used to being chased than chasing when he clunks his big confession moment with a remarkably snotty sounding: “You liking me, you don’t have to stop.” Even the pretty fireworks couldn’t save him from the stunned silence that followed.

2: the wrap up
Episode 7


Jung YongHwa finally wraps up his feelings for ballerina So YiHyun just about the exact time Park ShinHye decides it’s time to wrap up her feelings for the arrogant lead singer of The Stupid. Both have intentions to go their separate ways, unfortunately, the two are forced to collab on the music for the convenient plot device called Musical, and Jung YongHwa is once again reluctantly charmed by Park ShinHye after a night of karaoke, finished off by a quiet bus ride home...together.

1: I’m in love with my best friend
Episode 9


Quite possibly the most romantic moment in the whole drama…and a scene that holds up well even after several bazillion hits of the rewind button. His failed confession still a festering wound between them, Jung YongHwa confesses his feelings to Park ShinHye the right way this time while on a school retreat…by singing a Jason Mraz/Colbie Caillat song better than the original singers, and then makes girls the world over swoon by confiding his heart’s desire at midnight. The drama could have ended right here.

total enjoyment factor 
Eps 1-9: 8/10
I would not have minded even more push and pull between Park and Jung (yes, I am that greedy), specifically more than one tiny episode of Jung YongHwa pursuing Park ShinHye after all the jerkocity he committed against her in the name of ballerina love, but oh well…the first half of the drama was pretty fricken enjoyable. All the snide glances, the grumpy faces, the forced collaboration, basically the bicker flirt between Park and Jung was completely and totally girlishly satisfying.


Eps 10-12: 4/10
With the main couple already nicely settled together, the drama tried to channel our emotional interest toward a non-existent plot about the making of some musical show that nobody, least of all the characters, gave a rip about, judging by how often they thought about practice.


Eps 13-15: 2/10 
The show spun itself empty trying desperately to think of new ways to create any kind of new anything between Jung and Park that remotely smelled of conflict to fill the remaining episodes, but they established so completely that this couple looooved each other, the last big pull apart felt stupid. There was no rational reason why Jung was such a cranky pants heartbreaker at the end, and there was no reason why this sappy talk-loving couple wouldn’t have just worked out their differences during a heartwarming gayageum and guitar after school jam session.

Handicap: 10/10 
Why this crazy grading curve? This is a handicap that accurately reflects my bias. Frankly, as I mentioned earlier in the review, favorite actor combinations do not often reunite to make another drama. It’s kind of miraculous so the fact that the production was able to somehow trick convince big stars Jung YongHwa and Park ShinHye to come together a second time and be all cute together was enough mountain moving to deserve a big digital grading curve.

Final score: 6/10

why this review is completely biased
I am an unapologetic Park ShinHye fangirl…but also one that desperately wants to see my favorites in decent dramas.

verdict
My dismal rating of 6 aside, this wasn’t a terrible drama precisely, as it did have a lot of wonderfully sweet moments, but alas, it was still terribly far from being a good show. It had no interest in telling any kind of a story, which was sad but not particularly unique in the drama world, but where Fallen earned the most failure points was that it neglected a lot of talent, and that was unpardonable. The show had such great characters to work with, yet it could not manage to incorporate them into the drama in a way that made them feel valuable. This show must have decided on a cast before settling on a story because it sure had the most perfect cast to draw in young viewers, but sad to say, it had nothing much else to share with us about them. For me, it was only a romp down memory lane recalling how adorable Park ShinHye and Jung YongHwa were as a couple.

It was not very good, but I still recommend it because the small bit of what it did well is exactly the thing that we all want in romcom dramas: the cute. I mean, for the pure charm factor of the actors alone…hell, it might get a perfect score. How sad is it that one of the highlights of the show is the credit roll where we get to see behind the scene footage of the cast goofing off? Had it been a documentary about some of the hottest young stars coming together to film a really bad campus romantic comedy, it might have been a better show!

Ah, but I will heartily congratulate the drama on its music, that was hands down really good.

8 comments:

  1. LOL! Great review, and I have to agree that there was a lot of wasted potential in this drama. I was really frustrated at the plot direction in the last part too; it felt so forced, then the ending felt overly simplistic and convenient.

    That said, I liked the heartwarming atmosphere of this drama.. There was something endearing & sweet about it, despite its myriad of flaws, and for that alone, I didn't regret watching this one :)

    Looking forward to your next review! ;)

    Btw, out of curiosity, how are you liking Fashion King? I read that a lot of viewers are tearing their hair out over this one in frustration, but since you've disagreed with popular opinion on occasion, and I do often agree with your experience, I'm wondering whether you'd recommend checking it out :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow you're back! Yay! I've always been a silent lurker here at your blog. It's been a while since I check out your blog because of your hiatus and I miss your reviews. I found your reviews to be one of the most thoughtful KDrama reviews that I've read, and I'm so happy that you're back :)

    With that said, are you watching The King 2 Hearts? I fell in love with the drama and I'd really love to know your opinion about it. Once again, welcome back!

    ReplyDelete
  3. kfangirl: You know...Fashion King...feels like a show that revels in its own irrationality...like a hippo in a pink tutu that sees a flamingo in the mirror, the show makes no sense, is fashion ><, and seems perfectly content to stay that way. Have you seen any of it yet? I'm afraid popular opinion feels pretty accurate on this one! Actually, it was driving me crazy, too, so I had to pause watching it. The story might have gotten better by now? =/ I will probably go back later for a second try purely out of loyalty to Yoo. If you are a big fan of Yoo AhIn, it might be worth taking a peek...but for sure, it is definitely nutty nutty.

    ReplyDelete
  4. damasdamas: thanks for coming back to visit my blog and dropping a note! It's always so nice to hear from other kdrama fans! It's good to be back and current in the kdrama watching!

    I did start King 2 Hearts and thought it was promising, I liked the GI Joe v Jane chemistry between Lee Seunggi and Ha JiWon, but I've fallen a little behind on that one. There seems to be too much good stuff airing right now! But it sounds like King really gets going, I did wonder if such an odd story could be successful. I definitely intend on continuing it. Right now I'm trying to finish up Rooftop Prince, and I'm also completely taken by Queen InHyun's Man. Wow, it just occurred to me, there sure are a lot of princely dramas airing right now... =P

    ReplyDelete
  5. LOL! Yes, it's royalty season isn't it?!

    Thanks for the insight on Fashion King; I haven't checked it out yet, but have caught snatches of it while testing the episodes I'd downloaded. It didn't look great, even from the bits & pieces that I saw.

    Even though I do love me some Yoo Ah In in the right role (he made me swoon in Sungkyunkwan Scandal!), it sounds like this isn't one of those.. Looks like I'm going to have to pass on this one :p

    I'm definitely planning on watching Rooftop Prince & The King 2 Hearts though! That is, after I'm done with The Moon That Embraces The Sun.. I'm halfway through & enjoying it a lot! Kim Soo Hyun is rawking his kingly role!

    ReplyDelete
  6. kfangirl: but one perk of Fashion is that Yoo AhIn has A LOT of shirtless scenes...;)

    I haven't tried Moon/Sun yet...that one kind of intimidates me. It seems intense. But I want to eventually.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hmm.. Now that you've thrown multiple shirtless scenes to sweeten the deal, methinks I need to try at least the first episode ;) haha!

    You know, Moon/Sun is actually not very intense. The Princess' Man & Tree With Deep Roots were both more intense than this one. Moon/Sun is more of a straight-up romance than an typical sageuk. Some viewers found this not complex enough, but it actually works.

    Precisely because it's not so intricate & intense, coupled with some good cliffhangers, I find myself watching back-to-back episodes, which I rarely do. This, contrasted to TPM & Tree, where it got so intense that I even found myself resting mid-episode sometimes. Hope that helps make Moon/Sun more appealing to you.. I'm still enjoying it a lot, 15 episodes in :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. really good review. if you want to download drama and watch just visit my blog at
    http://drama-movie-korea.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete

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