Drama Check-In 08/09/2018

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Drama Check-In is a recurring post that helps to keep track of dramas I'm currently watching and allows me to share immediate thoughts on them as I go through the episodes. The intention is to write down my prevalent impressions and encourage readers to do the same in the comments. Discussion is welcome.

Life on Mars (4/16)
While this show still continues the formula of new case each episode, I can't say that we haven't made any progress with the main mystery. I just wish it was the primary focus of the drama because things are getting more interesting with Tae Joo meeting his child self and parents as they were in 1988. I still can't put the clues we've been given together, which is why I wish Tae Joo's investigation into his own past would yield some quicker results.

But I do enjoy the little character interactions here and there. Like how Dong Chul is rendered speechless whenever he and Tae Joo happen to agree on something or how Tae Joo never hesitates to turn to Na Young for advice when confronted with a baffling case. Also, how funny is it that every time Nam Shik gets excited thinking he's noticed something that the others have completely overlooked, they stare blankly back at him and tell him to go do something else. I'm crossing my fingers that there will be time when one of Nam Shik's outrageous observations ends up being a breakthrough in a case.

It's also nice to see the characters slowly bonding. While Dong Chul and Tae Joo still have a long way to go before they completely start seeing eye to eye, Na Young has fully earned Tae Joo's trust and respect and him vice versa. It's so heartwarming to see her light up whenever he shows consideration for her. Like when he washed his own coffee cup, while the other men in the station were perfectly content with treating her as a glorified maid. Na Young certainly has a tough time proving her worth, though we might be getting closer to the day she's finally considered as equal by the rest of the team.

Overall, it really is the cast that keeps things interesting when I'm not necessarily that invested in whatever case our motley team is investigating in that particular episode. Things might be picking up a bit, however, now that Tae Joo must face the one person he has been trying to avoid thinking about—his father.

Time (8/32)
I don't really know why I'm watching this. I find it overly dramatic for my personal taste and I keep rolling my eyes at the melodrama cliches I can recognize from the screenwriter's previous works. Anyone who's seen Mask will probably agree that similarities between the two dramas are quite striking at first, though I think Mask was objectively much better both in terms of writing and performances.

I suppose I do find the soapy nature of Time entertaining to an extent which is why I haven't immediately dropped it. That said, I don't think it's going to take long until I'm hopelessly bored with the amount of tears and misery. Furthermore, I just don't feel convinced by the acting performances. While I've always liked Seohyun in real life, she's still quite lacking as an actress. I see her trying to convey a lot of emotion, but it just comes across forced or awkward. Kim Jung Hyun fares a little better, but even he struggles to find a balance between strong emotion and overacting. I think his type of energy suits better for a more comedic setting, whereas this role simply highlights his shortcomings. I find that I can't take either of them very seriously because the genre demands abilities and experience that the two of them just don't possess yet. Combine that with over-the-top character tropes and you get a fairly cringy result.

Overall, this drama just isn't for me in the long run and I'll probably end up dropping it even before I reach the mid-point of the series.

Familiar Wife (3/16)
I'm not sure how to feel about this one yet. It's shaping up to be more of a workplace drama, rather than the time-travel romcom I thought I signed up for. Maybe the drama still needs some time to settle in and figure out what is actually the main focus of the story, because I'm a bit confused.

So far, though, it is quite difficult to imagine our leads reuniting. Joo Hyuk is arguably a better OTP with his bestie Jong Hoo than either of his wives. I am aware that these types of stories tend to start out a bit hopeless, because it's more about the overall journey than where the story begins, but I do wish we already had some incentive to root for our main couple. I find that they both gave up on their marriage without even trying to communicate or understand each other. While Joo Hyuk had barely any consideration for the little things that make his wife's life more difficult, Woo Jin refused to discuss important problems with her husband and then lashed out when he had no clue. I'm siding more with Woo Jin purely because she hasn't gone as far to alter reality over marital issues but, to be honest, I found her explosive anger as off-putting as his immaturity.

What bothers me more, though, is that Joo Hyuk found it so easy to turn his back on the life he had built with Woo Jin, without taking any responsibility for his part in the shared unhappiness. Why not at least try to mend things before giving up? But most of all, what about the kids? Did he really not think about that or did he just not care that much? He was briefly upset about it but got over it rather quickly, didn't he?

I'm hoping the drama will soon not only explore what's changed in the alternate present day, but will also make the whole experience eye-opening for Joo Hyuk who is yet to realize the full consequences of his choices. I'm sure he'll see that the alternate reality is not that great once he lives in it for a while.

My ID is Gangnam Beauty (4/16)
I'm really enjoying this. These latest episodes seemed to be focusing less on Mi Rae's insecurities for the time being and more on her interactions with people on campus. We were also introduced to a few new characters. But most of all, we are seeing that Kyung Suk is starting play a more important role than of a simple love interest for Mi Rae.

While Kyung Suk keeps looking after Mi Rae and standing up for her when noone else has the guts to do so, he also doesn't shy away from challenging her to change her opinion when she's in the wrong. For example, I like how he called Mi Rae out on her essentially rating people's faces and made her realize that she was not being any different than everyone else. It was refreshing both on his part to be so honest and on her part to admit her mistake. 

I also like that we're slowly learning more about Kyung Suk and his family. He's really not the easiest person to figure out because he seems so closed off, but perhaps his deepening interest in Mi Rae will allow us to read him better as the series progresses. That said, Kyung Suk definitely doesn't like Mi Rae becoming friends with his estranged mother. While I find the surprise connection between the two ladies interesting, I'm pretty certain that Mi Rae's apparent decision to help the mother and son reconnect will end up backfiring in a major way.

Then we also have Soo Ah who...ugh. I can't believe how horrible she is. Her jealousy-fuelled fakery is infuriating because I cannot comprehend where such behaviour comes from. Unfortunately, her scheming is really not the only thing to worry about as it seems someone is stalking Mi Rae. Our heroine really can't seem to catch a break from being harassed in some way, can she? 

What's Up (13/20)
Somehow this show is better than I remember. Maybe I pay more attention to every little detail now or maybe I can appreciate the characters and how they are portrayed much better the second time around, but this rewatch has turned out to be a lot more enjoyable that I thought it would be.

That said, I'm now entering the sadder portion of the drama and while it's going to be pivotal to the characters' growth and overall arcs, it'll be hard to watch all my darlings suffer. But at least there's comfort in knowing how it all ends, so I won't have to stress myself out too much. That's the beauty of a rewatch, isn't it?

Thirty But Seventeen (12/40)
I'm starting to love this show. 

I know it isn't ground-breaking in any way and could probably use some polishing here and there, but Seo Ri and Woo Jin and the rest of our makeshift family have really grown on me. I don't even mind that the plot progression is relatively slow and that we haven't gotten any closer to finding out where aunt and uncle have disappeared to, or figuring out who the mystery lady in the yellow shoes is. Seo Ri's doctor admirer has also barely made an appearance in these last episodes. But dammit, I am feeling soft for Seo Ri and the cheerful optimism that she manages to conjure up, despite the overwhelming amount of adulting she is suddenly forced to do.

I am also so terribly sorry for Woo Jin, who is more deeply traumatized than I thought he was. I just wish that instead of pushing Seo Ri away, which I do think is perfectly understandable in his current state, he'd actually allow himself to care and worry about her. He doesn't realize it yet but she has been a wonderful influence on him. My heart broke for poor Seo Ri when Woo Jin tried to distance himself from her out of fear that she'd bring back painful memories. While I couldn't really blame him for doing that, it was so devastating that she didn't know what she did wrong.

If I am to trust the preview for next week, Woo Jin is going to warm up towards Seo Ri again, which makes me happy. The two of them have truly started to like each other and I enjoy watching them spend time together. Though yes, I'd love some actual plot development soon because I'm rather curious what the hell happened to Seo Ri's uncle and aunt. Also, when will Woo Jin finally find out that Seo Ri was in a coma?

Are You Human, Too? (14/36)
Yay, Nam Shin-III is finally not alone! Although So Bong has had a rough time getting used to him being an android, she's no longer creeped out by him and actually stands up for him when others are treating him badly. While I'm still not terribly fond of her as a character, I do like her interactions with Robo-Shin who finds everything about her so fascinating. Ironically, it also seems that our adorable android is teaching her to be a better human and she's slowly learning.

I'm also noticing that Young Hoon is warming up to Nam Shin-III and growing more concerned about what may happen to him once he serves his purpose. In these last episodes, we found out that Young Hoon made the choice to serve the Nam family with full knowledge that the luxuries he'd be provided would also come with the consequence that he'd be blamed for every problem that Real-Shin might cause. Hence, his own well-being depends directly on Real-Shin. I have no doubt that Young Hoon grew to truly care for him over the years, but this new information certainly adds an interesting layer to their relationship.

I'm also fairly intrigued by Chairman Nam who isn't as clear-cut as I thought he was. I did not expect that he was faking his dementia to figure out where people's loyalties lie at. That was rather clever of him. I am trying to figure out if he's as villainous as he seems. He tells Young Hoon that he can call him Grandfather, which was unexpectedly nice, and he occasionally shows signs that might genuinely love Nam Shin. But since Chairman Nam has fooled us once already, I'm not sure I can trust these rare moments of non-awfulness.

Who I do have faith in is Nam Shin-III. He continues to be the bestest, most purest thing about this drama and I will fight anyone who says that robots can't have feelings. He certainly does! 

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