Drama Check-In 07/20/2017

Thursday, July 20, 2017

So, I took a break from dramas recently. A regular occurrence, really. It's also quite often that after one of such breaks I start watching new shows or randomly decide to complete series I dropped sometime earlier, instead of continuing the shows I watched before the break. For those of you who diligently complete every drama you start, it perhaps might not make much sense, but watching things on a whim tends to work out great for me.

The reason I tell you this is to preface the following post, where I talk about an entirely different bunch of dramas than where we last left off. 

Ho Gu's Love (14/16)
Don't ask me why I never completed Ho Gu's Love. I don't have a good answer. I watched it when it aired, but for some reason dropped it at episode 6. But after picking it up for the second time, I've since made good progress and now I just have two episodes left. 

As I'm quite close to the ending, you'd think there's not much left to discuss but surprisingly we still have some big things coming up. 

First of all, although Ho Gu and Do Hee have finally become a couple, things are rocky between them since Do Hee keeps Ho Gu in the dark about the baby's real father and how she got pregnant. I don't blame Do Hee for hiding the truth, but she's not coping well and needs him by her side. 

Then there's obviously the question of whether the rapist gets his punishment and if that would happen at the cost of Do Hee's career. And what will Ho Gu and Do Hee decide to do with the baby? I've been always convinced that they'll ultimately decide to raise him, but then again, I could also see a bittersweet goodbye with Geum Dong being possible. Especially since Do Hee wouldn't be able to hide the kid from the public forever. On the other hand, I wouldn't want her to have to give up swimming, since it's a big part of who she is as an individual. I honestly am not sure.

We also have some unfinished business with Kang Chul and Ho Kyung. I'm not gonna lie, I feel a little bit disappointed that Kang Chul is not gay after all (that is the case, right?). If anything, he'd be asexual but I don't count on dramas to explore sexual identity beyond gay-straight anytime soon. In any case, his self-discovery has been one my favourite things about the show and I feel like it would go to waste with Kang Chul and Ho Kyung ending up together after all. I've come to prefer them more as friends and at this point in the series a romantic relationship between them would feel rushed. 

Overall, though, I trust this show to tie things together in a satisfactory manner. It has been an interesting mix of melo and comedy, where underlying darker themes are balanced by heartwarming character interactions. I'd see a slightly open-ended or bittersweet send-off to these characters most suitable, but I don't feel too worried about how the story wraps up. 

School 2017 (2/16)
I've always had a soft spot for high school dramas, both in Korean and American TV. I guess I like teen angst. In reasonable doses, of course, but still. I figure stories of the young and lost tend to resonate with me, because most of the time I feel pretty lost myself, even if I'm not that young anymore.

I wasn't particularly looking forward to this newest addition to the School franchise, but since I've watched two of the previous installments, I thought it would make sense to give this one a quick glance. 

I find it hard to make up my mind about what I think of this show based on the first two episodes alone. On the one hand, it reminds me of S2013 with more emphasis on studying and rebellion against unfair school management. On the other hand, however, the romantic angle is more in tune with what we had in S2015. So, it's kind of a mix of the two. I much prefer the understated charm of S2013, but I don't necessarily hate the romance. I'm more concerned with how the story progresses and how this installment explores the individual stories of the kids.

While school politics has never been my favourite part of the franchise, I do like that this drama questions the competition between the students and asks why kids with lower grades don't get the same treatment as the others. In fact, kids who don't perform as well in school are instead treated as delinquents, while in truth their interests and capabilities are simply different. The drama shows that South-Korea's school system does seem to favour those students who kill themselves with studying or those who come from wealthy and well-connected families, but not those who can't keep up with the ridiculous expectations forced on them. This topic is quite relevant and I'd be very pleased if the drama explored this more. 

We're also dealing with yet another mystery, though it's much less fantastical than the twin switcheroo in the previous installment. The idea of a mystery hero is not necessarily very original but someone rebelling against class rankings and biased treatment based on grades makes for an uplifting story. It's a cause I can get behind and I would love to see more and more students working together with Suspect X. At this point, it's hinted that Tae Woon and Dae Hwi are behind this and working together, but I wouldn't be surprised if it also involved more students behind the scenes. Guitar boy sure seems suspicious. And if it is Tae Woon and Dae Hwi, then do they have a larger purpose? I gotta admit, I'm pretty interested to find out.

At this point, I generally feel optimistic about School 2017 but it's no guarantee I'll keep on watching. It mostly depends on how much I like episodes 3-4 as first episode impressions are never an indication of how much I'll like the series. If nothing else, I kinda just want to check up on the cutiepie teacher next week.

Father is Strange (40/52)
Ahh, I am dying to see Joong Hee's reaction to Mi Young's confession. I can't believe it took us 40 episodes to get here. Granted, I viciously skip everything that's unrelated to either of their characters, so I really shouldn't be complaining that much. 

I do have to say that I'm quite enjoying the angst, both the fauxcest-y kind and the you-lied-I-was-your-son kind. Truth be told, I never followed what the parents were exactly lying about (I skipped all the flashbacks) until Mom explained it to Joong Hee directly. When I heard the full story, I couldn't believe they ever thought it was a good idea to lie to Joong Hee. I'm not terribly mad at them since at least they have been nice to Joong Hee all this time, but my opinion of them has certainly changed for the worse. I wonder how the rest of the fam reacts when they find out. 

But most of all, I want to see how Joong Hee will handle Mi Young's feelings and whether he nevertheless decides to keep her in the dark or if it'll be the tipping point and he can't help but reveal the truth. Oh sweet angst, come to me.

Solomon's Perjury (5/12)
Unfortunate thing with Solomon's Perjury is that someone spoiled part of the mystery for me, which was also why I stopped watching the series in the first place. I've internally debated for some time if that's a dealbreaker for me or not, but as you can see I've ultimately decided to continue. I'm glad I did, because I've realized that even though I know some things beforehand, there's quite a lot that still remains very much a mystery. 

The first trial certainly revealed something I had not considered before - that So Woo might have not been a very good person himself. That's what his hyung says. However, let's not forget that Solomon's Perjury is the name of the game and hyung could very well be lying. There was this interesting moment between Ji Hoon and hyung, although I'm not sure what its significance was. Anyway, I wouldn't be surprised if there was more to hyung than what we've seen.

Ji Hoon himself is very enigmatic and while it bothered me at first (since I couldn't relate to him in any way), I'm slowly warming up to him. The hint that he's adopted and suffered from a tragic childhood is one possible reasons why he's so closed off. Another is that he knows more than anyone else and sort of masterminds things from behind the scenes. I'm very curious to find out more about him because he's the key to the entire mystery, isn't he?

It's much easier to read Seo Yeon, for obvious reasons. I find myself constantly amazed at how smart and brave she is for her age. Of course, having such a good support system of friends and family definitely helps, but she has a very hardworking and genuine personality, and that is her own doing. She might be a little overwhelmed and intimidated by all the responsibility the trial is putting on her, but it's satisfying to see her find her way and learn to become a leader. While it may not come as naturally to her as it does to Ji Hoon, she's a very fast-learner.

I find Joon Young the most endearing of all three, however. He's found himself a great friend in Seo Yeon and I love how loyal he is to her. He's a bit smitten with her too, which I think is very adorable. I do continue to worry about his family situation as living with a mother who emotionally abuses him is not an easy thing to cope with, and even Seo Yeon can't help him there. I can only hope that even if suicidal thoughts are still in the back of his mind, he finds enough comfort from his new friends that he won't feel the need to act on them.

I do wish the drama was more fast-paced, but I am intrigued enough to reach for each new episode. I hope the pace picks up as we near the ending, as I think it would make the series a lot more thrilling to watch. Despite having a more light-hearted and youthful vibe at times, which I do enjoy, the darker themes are what make the show. If it was up to me, I'd let cinematography highlight the darker moments even more, to give it more of an edge. Knowing it's not a high-budget series, though, I don't expect much emphasis on the visual. As long as the show has a compelling story to tell, I shouldn't won't complain.

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