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