Forest of Secrets – up to Ep 9

Whom do I trust?????? Who is real??? I think I know but honestly these writers are having so much fun with us in peeling the onion skin oh so slowly and throinw little tidbits to consider (just in case you think you have it figured out.) I’ve come to consider every line of dialogue and look for hidden meanings.

Spoilers follow after the jump.

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#bae-doona, #cho-seung-woo, #forest-of-secrets, #jo-seung-woo, #secret-forest

Forest of Secrets – first few thoughts…

What can I mind is spinning trying in vain to keep facts and names and faces straight, but there’s one face that I have no problem with, our hero!

Robin..I can understand your reaction to him. I’m just loving him to pieces!!

First of all, on a superficial note, there’s something about his face that I find so beautiful and aside from the physical. I also love how expressive his face can be, even though he is not able to feel emotion at all and it is supposed to be just the opposite. There’s just something in his gaze when I look at him that tells me that this isn’t just a robot talking. Yes, there is curiosity and intelligence and a passion to get at the truth as well as insensitivity, but there is also humanity that I see there. Kudos to this actor for bring that out. His previous role gave him no opportunity to be subtle and thankfully he’s making up for that here.

I love to see his mind constantly thinking and there is a certain amount of comfort in watching him go through scenes and scenarios that would have made “normal” characters cringe in humiliation or embarassment.

I love our lady cop too. She’s just so “normal” in many ways but can step up and wear her cop hat in an instant when she has to. She’s forthright and honest and soooo wants to do the right thing. She can be like a dog with a bone but she can also empathize and give chances to those who need them. They have a really interesting relationship, which is just at it’s beginning so far, but these are two good guys I can get behind.

I also find the side characters interesting. I’m a sucker for the bad guy with a hint of something to keep him from being totally black (and boring) and I think we have one — or two here as well — even better as far as I’m concerned.

I must admit though that I can only watch an episode at a time (right now)..only because there is so much to digest..which is fine with me..more episodes to look forward to for longer!

#bae-doona, #cho-seung-woo, #forest-of-secrets, #jo-seung-woo, #secret-forest

No doubts, Secret Forest will be the year’s best drama

Of course, that’s just my opinion, but I think that this will be a tough one to beat.

Without giving away any plot details (which are rich and complicated and couldn’t be adequately summarized here anyway), this is a must-see drama for anyone who loves quality acting ensembles, movie-quality direction, and a plot that keeps you guessing every step of the way.

I fell hard for Jo Seung-Woo’s character – Prosecutor Hwang Shi-mok – within the first few seconds of him being onscreen. His expressionless, dogged pursuit of the right thing without any awareness of the social niceties is brilliantly portrayed by Jo Seung-woo. When you think about it, it’s incredibly difficult to communicate without the smiles and frowns of normal interactions; imagine having to portray a character like that and keep him so compelling to watch! And he manages to humanize him, even when Hwang Shi-mok seems somewhat inhuman. Amazing performance!

Bae Doona is the perfect counterpoint playing the honest and intrepid police detective Han Yeo-jin, because she manages to have kept her integrity and compassion in a tough environment. She brings the warmth to the equation, and it works.

The plot involves murder, corruption, prostitution as part of deal-making, and more and it’s all carefully woven together. Watching Hwang Shi-mok dig thru the ‘murk’ with the help of Han Yeo-jin, even when it seems for every 2 steps forward there’s 1 step backwards.

I mentioned the ensemble cast? It’s equally up to the task of the storytelling. Remember the guy who was the noble prosecutor in City Hunter and how much we liked him? It’s fun to watch him here as the shifty and conniving prosecutor Seo Dong-jae!

I hope you watch it too, now that it’s finished, so that we can discuss it!

#bae-doona, #cho-seung-woo, #forest-of-secrets, #jo-seung-woo, #secret-forest, #stranger-secret-forest

Stranger (Secret Forest) progress report

Okay, I’m not going to include any spoilers of note, but I have to say that the characters Hwang Shi-mok and Han Yeo-jin (Jo Seung-woo and Bae Doona respectively) are probably going to be my favorites of 2017, and there’s still half the year (and drama) to go!

I feel like this one is my reward for sticking with Man X Man; the acting and plotting is top drawer here. I should be kicking myself for watching it as it airs (and don’t get me wrong, there are times that I do), but I kind of like the anticipation as I wait to see what clever, twisty thing is going to happen next. In a way, if I were inhaling it, I might not have time to sit back and reflect on the story. In some ways it reminds me of Heard it through the Grapevine – not that the plot is at all similar, but tonally it evokes the same feels. They are both populated by highly intelligent lead characters, have characters that have genuinely good hearts, and the stories include that perfect combination of tension and levity. I couldn’t inhale Grapevine at the time either.

I won’t reveal any of the details, but Hwang Shi-mok is really a delightful, fresh character. Due to a condition (this is a character description well-publicized) he’s unable to experience most human emotions and this is used brilliantly in the show. His ally, Han Yeo-jin is decent and human, and doesn’t judge him for this lack. Her camaraderie with him so far is so gratifying on so many levels.

Is it Monday yet?

#bae-doona, #cho-seung-woo, #forest-of-secrets, #jo-seung-woo, #stranger-secret-forest

Stranger (Secret Forest) – Initial Impressions

Of course, no spoilers ahead!

I watch a lot of mysteries, from the “cozies” to the police procedurals (and btw, see the latest season of Bosch if you can, on Amazon), and I like all of these different genres, but I also have a lot of expectations from any mystery series if it’s going to get me tuning in episode after episode. Fortunately, Stranger is ticking all the right boxes for me, and boy I’m happy about that!

I’ve watched the first 3 episodes (it’s currently only on Dramafever, but will also be on Netflix towards the end of its run, just like Man X Man) and I’m hooked. Cho Seung-woo is so intriguing — his character plays someone who’s had a medical procedure as a child to correct a damaged nerve that made him hyper-sensitive to noise, like tinnitus times ten (would that make it tennitus?) and as a result he’s unable to feel normal emotions. Normally I’d pffff at this, but his calm, almost childlike (but not childish) pure gaze as he evaluates any stimulus or fact in front of him makes him more interesting somehow. He’s not doing a Rainman kind of thing; it’s not showy, just super effective for me.

Bae Doona is a very good counterpart for him because she’s equally intelligent, but compassionate and aware of social niceties where he has no clue, nor sees any need for things like that (like interviewing a bereaved older woman in a very direct manner because, hey, the crime needs solving now.) I like how she has her own personality trait and it’s a fresh one and suits her and her character – she sketches things she’s seen that resonate with her at crime scenes (not very well). It’s her memory aide, and makes perfect sense to me.

The production work on this is high quality too. As I’m coming to expect with more and more of tVN’s productions, it looks more like a film in most scenes. The story is also sufficiently twisty — I always appreciate it when I have to puzzle things out like our heroes and don’t see them telegraphing clues so blatantly. I can’t wait to see how this unfolds.

#bae-doona, #cho-seung-woo, #forest-of-secrets, #stranger, #stranger-secret-forest

Mixing things up a bit – what I’m watching now

Yes, I’m still watching shows currently on air, but so many that I generally don’t have open space while I’m waiting for a new episode. In fact, I’m ‘behind’ on a few of them!

Last night I watched the first 2 episodes of Stranger (aka Secret Forest) with Bae Doona and an actor I don’t know much about, Cho Seung-woo, and it ticks the right boxes for me – mystery, conspiracy, smart protagonists. I also watched the first episode of Circle with the spouse last week. He fell asleep, but I’m sufficiently intrigued by the cast and the different and fresh sci-fi angle, so I’m adding it to the list.

I’m furthest along in Ode to Joy 2, which must be wrapping up next week on Dramafever, and I’m still skipping most of the Ying-ying storyline (as well as plenty of Sheng-mei’s too). I really enjoy the Andie/Bao Yifan storyline, and the Xiao Qu/Dr Zhao (Wang Kai) bits too because they are the most natural. Wang Kai in particular is so perfectly at home acting with his ‘girlfriend’ that they no doubt have a million plus shippers.

I’ve also picked up Suspicious Partner and Fight My Way and enjoy them for what they are. By the way, how is Park Seo-joon so darn appealing? I have come to the conclusion that it’s the sincerity in his expression. He just seems so genuine and… pure… for want of a better description.

How about y’all?

#bae-doona, #cho-seung-woo, #circle, #fight-my-way, #park-seo-joon, #secret-forest, #stranger, #suspicious-partner