Rookie Historian, Goo Hae-ryung – Series Impression

Yes, I’m clearing up my in-progress back-log in this holiday lull and Rookie Historian, Goo Hae-ryung had been in limbo at episode 6 for too long and deserved a speedier completion. Although it suffered from a slightly split personality tonally, there is a lot to recommend about this fantasy piece (because after all, it is a fantasy to think that a female, let alone a historian where she to exist, would ever be permitted the free rein to speak and act as our heroine does in a Confucian society, but let’s not let facts get in the way of our enjoyment, okay?)

It took me a while, but I’ve come around to really enjoying Shin Se-kyung’s work, and as our heroine Goo Hae-ryung she shines. I particularly like the timbre of her speaking voice which is low and melodious. She’s nobody’s patsy or plaything and an independent woman with a mind of her own. She’s got no time for romance novels, such as the drivel written and published anonymously by the youthful Prince Dowon (played by Astro vocalist Cha Eun-woo, he of the sparkling dark eyes and innocent face and coltish limbs). She wants to learn things that mean something, like astronomy or medicine or history, so when the chance comes to sit for a civil service exam given for women in a ploy by government officials to keep secrets and weaken the current regime, she does what any girl needs to do. She works out a deal with a prospective bridegroom and skedaddles!

This is a large cast of regular characters, what with the 4 women chosen as historians, the 10 or so main male historians (including Lee Ji-hoon as the 2nd in seniority but of his status), the royal family, including older brother crown prince (Park Ki-woong) and father, grandmother, etc., and the key manipulative ministers, and so on, but they all tie in… eventually. I confess, the plotting for the throne part is fairly predictable so you have my blessing to fast-forward to your heart’s content. You’ve seen one coup plot you’ve seen ’em all, but the scenes with Shin Se-kyung and Cha Eun-woo are sparkly good fun.

He’s still green as an actor and it shows, but in a way that’s kind of okay because he’s playing a 21-year-old naive and sheltered baby prince with a loving heart who wants to be loved, who’s living in virtual isolation. She’s older than he by about 6 years in the story and has a lot more life experience so it’s perfectly logical that she should be more forceful and better able to control most situations in which they find themselves. They are so appealing together that it’s not hard to imagine that they could find each other attractive.

It’s also relatively interesting to imagine the ‘what ifs’ of a court that would allow women to have any kind of role of this importance, and what it might have meant to government structure. While some women have over the course of time played influential roles, they were far and few between.

Some of the other characters of note are those played by Park Ki-woong as the crown prince, caught between a rock and a hard place — or many rocks and hard places (cruel father, wife he cares nothing for because she’s daughter to his ministerial enemy, etc.). He’s underutilized in this role, but it’s nice to see him back in dramaland. Lee Ji-hoon as the moral and honorable historian sonbae gets a little more meat in his role as the brother-in-law to the crown prince and son of the villain of the piece. He’s proving to be a versatile actor too, handling drama and comedy equally well.

I think they could have trimmed some of the subplots and had a tighter, more cohesive story, and in a way if they’d not gone a little too far into progressivist history (just saying that of all the radical insertions of modernistic takes on aspects of the plot, the ending could never, ever happen) it would have potentially had more skin in the game, emotionally speaking because the risks would have been more grave, more realistic. If it were tonally more consistent it would have been a better drama, but I’ll recommend it (with judicious use of fast-forwarding) on the whole, and mainly for Shin Se-kyung.

#cha-eun-woo, #heo-jung-doo, #kong-jung-hwan, #lee-ji-hoon, #park-ki-woong, #rookie-historian-goo-hae-ryung, #shin-se-kyung, #sung-ji-ru

Extra-ordinary You – Series Review

This has been a year of ups and downs when it comes to drama creativity, and onscreen chemistry, but how nice to have a few series to think back on that bring both, and in spades. I’m going to put Extra-ordinary You in that collection.

Art class with Haru and Dan-oh

Because high school is many years ago for me (sob), there are times I just can’t get into dramas set in that age bracket and will often take a pass on dramas that others rave about, but there were some compelling arguments for giving this one a look/see and I’m so glad that I did. What first intrigued me was the premise; the characters were inhabiting the arbitrary world of an in-progress manhwa (or manga) and the main characters in the drama are not the main characters in the on-page story, but supporting characters — extras. This was a fresh take on the school setting and allowed a lot of unusual things to take place that introduced both creativity and urgency to the plot.

Eun Dan-oh, played by relative newcomer Kim Hye-yoon, is frustrated by her character’s nonsensical besotted behavior in the presence of her intended fiancé, Baek Kyung (Lee Jae-wook), who does the surly teen thing proud (he has his reasons, of course, for the attitude), and the fact that her character has been given a heart condition that is likely to be terminal in the course of the story. This irritation, and strange elements around her lead her to becoming “aware” of her surroundings. Her off-page character is feisty and energetic and determined to not take things lying down. If she can change her story and her future, she will do so.

Baek Kyung’s growing jealousy

A tall, almost mute fellow extra (so unimportant he doesn’t have a name) catches her eye and is instrumental in saving her in a situation; this leads to her becoming curious about him and how he seemingly has this ability to alter the course of the plot. She pursues a friendship with him and in doing so, gives him a name: Haru. Played by the extremely TD&H Rowoon of the group SF9, Haru slowly becomes more integral to the story, and the love of off-page Dan-oh’s life, to the increasing chagrin of Baek Kyung.

The problem with changing the plot without the unknown writer’s intention is that the so-called “butterfly wing effect” occurs. Things go askew in other aspects of the plot, and not always with the happiest of consequences. Complicating matters, it turns out the writer has been a little lazy when it comes to building characters and plot triangles in her/his works, and there is precedence to much of what will happen to Dan-oh, Haru, and Kyung, thanks to this “recycling” of concepts and characters.

This is a romantic little fantasy, and very gratifying in that regard. It’s not as mature in its fan service of kisses, etc., as Her Private Life, for example, but then it is a young adult-plus drama. Watching Haru be so protective of Dan-oh is lovely to watch (don’t we all have a thing for the tall protective male and the petite female in his arms?) and frankly, those glowering looks of Kyung as he seethes with anger towards his father’s on- and off-page actions and grows increasingly jealous of the relationship between Dan-oh and Haru are worth the price of admission on this drama. He’s another one of the reasons I chose to watch this drama; I enjoyed his work in WWW:Search so much I knew I wanted to see more and he did not disappoint. As sweet and lovely as he was in that prior drama he was angsty and sulky in this one. And, it turns out, he was filming them simultaneously, so talk about your mood swings!

I’ve seen some complaints online about the plot bogging down about the mid-point, but I did not find that to be the case for me. I was fascinated by the worlds created and wondered all the time how the drama writer would get them out of the plot holes created by story disruptions and the manhwa writer. I spent a ridiculous amount of time just admiring the “visuals” of the drama (oh, the dimples!) and really came to enjoy the plucky Eun Dan-oh.

Definitely recommended!

 

#extra-ordinary-you, #jung-gun-joo, #kim-hye-yoon, #kim-young-dae, #lee-jae-wook, #lee-na-eun, #lee-tae-ri, #rowoon

Onscreen versus Real Life Dramas

You might have noticed that I’ve been off-site quite a bit for the past month or so, but I’ve entered into a period of life we all face at some point in time — coping with the illness of a loved one. The real life dramas that accompany that have cut into my available time to escape into the onscreen variety, and selfishly, I miss the latter and my time to unwind and lose myself in those other worlds.

Instead of being able to see what happens next with heart patient Eun Dan-oh in the intriguing Extra-ordinary You, I’m spending time with a real life heart patient, and it’s a lot less fun (though I don’t begrudge the time spent, nor would I do it any other way).

This means that I’ve got a lot of things started (and I am have enjoyed them and will finish them), but no time to share my impressions and while away an hour or two nightly. So, please don’t think that I’ve abandoned y’all, or my love for dramas – I’ll just be away more than I’d like for a few weeks more (fingers crossed).

#extra-ordinary-you

Secretary Kim was…

A lovely drama! I enjoyed this couple! Both were level headed, loving, jealous and thoughtful. While I’m sure the narcissist in him will probably never completely change, he has been tamed! Lol. And inasmuch as I like the bits at the end, that show the hard work and camaraderie of the cast, I’m reminded that it’s just a drama and reality bites! All in all, well done! Great secondary characters too! And yes Camelia, whoever dressed Park Min Young for this drama needs to be slapped! Haha…

I want to go onto Her Private Life, but I’ll take a break from PMY for a bit…..not ready to see her all loved and boo’ed up with someone else just yet 😁

#park-min-young, #park-seo-joon, #whats-wrong-with-secretary-kim

For some reason…

I’m unable to comment on older posts. I’m finally catching up with dramas you guys have already partaken in, hehe. Started “What’s wrong with Secretary Kim?” Like it so far!

#whats-wrong-with-secretary-kim

1% of Something

1% of Something (aka 1% of Anything) stars two leads that I’m certain I’ve seen in other dramas — I’m just not sure which ones yet. The formula is familiar to us all; a chaebol and working class girl come together because she does a kindness to his grandfather and the grandfather wants this girl to become the wife of his surly, arrogant, detached and dismissive grandson. So in order for grandson to get the whole of the company, and for her to become rich and receive shares in the company, they must marry.

Both are, initially, not interested. She’s a kindhearted, but feisty school teacher who thinks that he’s a jerk and trying to run a scam on her. He’s also of the mind that she’s probably a gold digger who seduced his grandfather somehow. Funny thing is that she doesn’t know who his grandfather is because the man she helped to the hospital looked poor and grandpa is purposely not letting her see him.

So the two agree to 6 mos of dating in order to appease grandpa, but both have no intention of marrying the other.. And of course the relationship grows nicely, although his arrogant and jerky ways are going to take some time to change. But change he does, slowly but surely. There are also rivalries that get in the way, old wounds that need healing, and for the backstabbing within the family to resolve. The chemistry between this couple is pretty good, and they are both really good kissers although they haven’t had that many so far. I’m 9 eps in out of 15, and each ep is about 40- 45 mins—- give or take a minute.

It’s a light, cute, and romantic drama. I’m enjoying it. I tried checking to see if anyone saw this drama previously and couldn’t find anything…hope Im not being redundant…..

#1-of-anything, #1-of-something, #ha-suk-jin, #jeon-seo-min

Finished “Hotel del Luna”

For the most part I enjoyed it. (Mild spoilers follow)

There were some noticeable inconsistencies, but they didn’t alter my enjoyment of this drama. What did change for me as the drama progressed, was that the “great” love between the two leads never really transpired for me. I was more into the back story of her first great love, and in hoping that she and he would have the opportunity to find it again. Of course I knew on every level that it couldn’t realistically be, unless her current love was a reincarnation of the first one. I honestly felt more longing and more of a connection between her and her first love.

Then, although the drama is based on goodbyes and moving on, there were just too many goodbyes in the end, and long ones at that! I kinda got the feeling that they no longer knew what to do with the leads by then, so my interest waned. Also, you really had to suspend belief in some of the situations and scenarios. I really liked most of the characters though, their histories and the bonds they formed. I cried more than normal, for me, lol.

I still look forward to seeing the leads in other dramas, and I especially enjoyed the stylish wardrobe of IU!

#hotel-del-luna, #iu, #lee-ji-eun, #series-review, #yeo-jin-goo