Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"Reunited Worlds" episodes 1-2 recap

Yeo Jin-goo died on his birthday trying to save a friend.
On the first episode of the SBS drama "Reunited Worlds", Seong Hae-seong (Yeo Jin-goo) was in 11th grade when he took graduation pictures with Jeong Jeong-won (Chaeyeon).
This picture became his funeral picture. Seong Hae-seong narrated, "I died at the age of 19".
12 years later, Jeong Jeong-won (Lee Yeon-hee) was a thirty-one year old grown up. She visited Seong Hae-seong's memorial and saw a strange white smoke in the sky. At the same time, Seong Hae-seong woke up on the school roof and also saw the strange smoke.
Seong Hae-seong came down from the roof and was surprised to see himself wearing an old pair of uniforms that was different from the uniform today. He came out into the field and headed home thinking about his grandmother and sister. He arrived home but his family wasn't there. The tenant who lived there now mistook Seong Hae-seong for a thief and they got into a struggle. Seong Hae-seong slightly pushed the man but he showed amazing strength.

Seong Hae-seong was taken to the police for trespassing. According to police information, Seong Hae-seong appeared to be dead 12 years ago. The police reported this to his superior Sin Ho-bang (Lee Si-eon) who was also Seong Hae-seong's friend. Sin Ho-bang and Seong Hae-seong met in the meeting room. Sin Ho-bang was so shocked he passed out.
Grown-up Jeong Jeong-won was working in a restaurant as an assistant chef. Cha Min-joon (Ahn Jae-hyun) the head chef and owner of the restaurant was going to leave to Paris and he waited in front of Jeong Jeong-won's house. He said, "I couldn't go because I felt scared and worried about you. So I'm not going". He had confessed his feelings for her but she didn't notice.
Jeong Jeong-won still thought about Seong Hae-seong and missed him.
Seong Hae-seong had wanted to become a famous chef when he was in school. He and Jeong Jeong-won liked each other, but they never got around to telling each other that.
On Seong Hae-seong's birthday, Jeong Jeong-won prepared a surprise birthday party. Seong Hae-seong called to say he was taking a day off work and going home. Jeong Jeong-won told him to bring her wallet she left at art school to stall him.
Seong Hae-seong went back to school alone. A fellow student was passed out in the art room, with blood on his head. Seong Hae-seong took his bike to call the ambulance but got in a car accident.
Grown-up Jeong Jeong-won and Seong Hae-seong reunite after 12 years as grown up and a high school boy in uniform.
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"Queen for 7 Days" episode 15 recap

Lee Yeok (Yeon Woo-jin) and Sin Chae-kyeong (Park Min-young) exchanged feelings for each other.
On the latest episode of the KBS 2TV drama "Queen for 7 Days", Lee Yeok confessed his love for Sin Chae-kyeong and they had some quality time.
Lee Yeok claimed he would give up the throne for Sin Chae-kyeong. He also agreed to leave the castle and leave for the countryside with her.
Lee Yeok laid Sin Chae-kyeong down and she said, "If you don't do anything like this, it's very cowardly. Do something".
Lee Yeok whispered, "I adore you. I like you. I love you a lot". He kissed her and she said, "Do one thing at a time".
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"Man Who Dies to Live" Episodes 1-2 recap

Count Said Faid Ali (played by Choi Min-soo) is The Sheik- not literally, but that's the character type he aspires to. Such clichés about the Middle East are more than a little antiquated. It's hard to escape the sheer cartoonishness of Count Said Faid Ali's supervillain palace, complete with sexy women in blasphemous swimsuits that couple headscarves with cleavage. By the end of the sandstorm it's pretty thoroughly established that Count Said Faid Ali is from a pretty weird world.
...But actually, Count Said Faid Ali is from Korea. Once that's explained, we move into the world of Ho-rim (played by Sin Seong-rok), a nebbish bank employee. He struggles with trying to resign from the job that he hates, and can't even stand up to his wife Ji-yeong (played by Kang Ye-won) when she tries to take the family on an unwanted vacation. Take note, though, that Ho-rim never comes off as a particularly sympathetic.
This is because Ji-yeong has her own set of problems. She longs to show more of the world to her daughter Eun-bi (played by Ko Bi-joo), because Ji-yeong's family had no money growing up on account of her having an absentee dad. An absentee dad who might, indeed, be Count Said Faid Ali. And that's where "Man Who Dies to Live" is taking us. It's throwing all these disparate characters at us and each other as we wait for that powder keg to inevitably go off.
The sheer ethnic nature of "Man Who Dies to Live" is the main standout quality. The drama borrows tropes from a wide variety of sources, making it a simultaneous look into a large number of Korean stereotypes have about foreign cultures. The unnamed Middle Eastern kingdom Count Said Faid Ali is from is the obvious example. But there's also how Count Said Faid Ali interacts with Westerners. Then there's Ji-yeong's beliefs about the value of travel, the visuals of the scenes at the oriental medicine clinic where she works. There's even a character who sneakily watches anime during working hours.
All of these factors combine to make "Man Who Dies to Live", at minimum, quite distinctive. However, I must confess that as of yet, the drama is really more weird than it is genuinely funny. Although I suppose the more important factor is just that it's interesting. The premise is well exposited and explained, and the characters are already a pretty diverse mix of positive and negative traits. That's something, at least.
Review by William Schwartz
"Man Who Dies to Live" is directed by Ko Dong-seon, written by Kim Seon-hee and features Choi Min-soo, Kang Ye-won, Sin Seong-rok, Lee So-yeon, Jasper Cho, Kim Byeong-ok, Hwang Seung-eon and Bae Hae-sun.
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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

"My Sassy Girl - Drama" Episodes 31-32 Final recap

The final clean-up takes place pretty quickly. Really, once it's established that the right people were digging in just a little deeper, and that most of last time's cliffhanger was just a matter of dramatic license, there really isn't any direction for Gi-joon to go except for straight down. There is, naturally, also the gratification of seeing all the other villains brought in one by one and punished for their transgressions.
Of course none of that takes very long so the real focus for the final episodes of "My Sassy Girl - Drama" is on the reconciliation between Woo and Princess Hyemyeong. Which initially disappointed me. Not that there's anything wrong with that story arc, just that the whole issue of Princess Hyeomyeong's mother coming back to the palace is surprisingly glossed over. I thought we'd get more focus on that, considering Princess Hyemyeong and her brother now share the unfortunate fate of thinking their mother is dead- but Prince Wonja is just left in the lurch.
In more ways than one, really, considering the comical albeit rather predictable fake out that ends up delaying Woo and Princess Hyemyeong getting together. On one end all the scenes relating to the proposals are fully adorable, and do a very good job tying in the many disparate elements that have made up "My Sassy Girl - Drama" to date. We have the erotic novel writing, the charity subplot, and of course, the usual excellent romantic chemistry.
But I also couldn't help but notice that the whole temporary enforced separation thing is a recurring plot device of romantic dramas in general lately, where the main couple getting together is delayed for the sole purpose of reminding us that love isn't everything in life, and that dreams are important too. In the historical context of "My Sassy Girl - Drama" that's an obvious anachronism. Although hey, anachronisms! I like those, too!
It's odd how the overall design of "My Sassy Girl - Drama" simultaneously makes the story feel fresh and clichéd. Every element that has appeared in "My Sassy Girl - Drama" has shown up somewhere else, it's just that these elements come from such radically different sources that the final product feels new. The fusion, while not always perfect, definitely left me smiling more often than not. I mean come on, they even manage to work a Park Jin-joo cameo in there- my favorite actress that no one else has ever heard of, and it's sooo cute!
Review by William Schwartz
"My Sassy Girl - Drama" is directed by Oh Jin-seok, written by Yoon Hyo-je and features Joo Won, Oh Yeon-seo, Lee Jung-shin, Kim Yoon-hye, Son Chang-min, and Yoon Se-ah.
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"Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 6 recap

Bi-ryeom (played by Gong Myung) is, like Moo-ra, a god living in the human world who is supposed to be doing divine stuff but instead seems to engage mainly in petty bickering. Thus "Bride of the Water God 2017" continues its fine tradition of making Ha-baek a sympathetic character, not by having him engage in character growth, but by making all the other characters he talks to even more obnoxious. I guess it's working. Ha-baek is swiftly becoming the only character in "Bride of the Water God 2017" I particularly care about.
In all fairness this is definitely a balancing act when it comes to the genre. The easiest way to create an obstacle for a superpowered god to fight is by making them face off against another superpowered god. The problem with this is that supervillains are fairly dumb and childish, and we get enough of those in American media anyway. Because really, what can you do with a supervillain in the end aside from just punching it into submission?
But the issue with "Bride of the Water God 2017" right now is that Moo-ra and Bi-ryeom are playing the role of villain when they are not actually villains. They're incompetent, and occasionally accidentally sociopathic. Beyond that, though, their goals aren't that different from Ha-baek's. Indeed, if we want to look at "Bride of the Water God 2017" as more of a travelogue, the logical thing for them to do would be to ask Ha-baek to do something for them rather than get hung up on technical procedures.
Although really, all this narrative analysis is just a disguise for a more brutal critical assessment- that "Bride of the Water God 2017" is surprisingly boring. As inherently stupid as the car scene from last episode was, it did at least manage to stick out in memory as being stupid in an interesting way. This episode is just an extended series of conversations about nothing, none of which seem to move any of its characters closer to an actual goal.
I guess the love story makes progress, if you want to call it that. The problem there, though, is that Ha-baek and So-ah's relationship appears to be defined entirely by how Ha-baek is dragging So-ah into near mortal danger, and So-ah puts up with because she's trying to get something out of him. She's not really sure what. This isn't exactly the basis for a healthy romantic relationship.
Review by William Schwartz
"Bride of the Water God 2017" is directed by Kim Byeong-soo, written by Jeong Yoon-jeong and features Nam Joo-hyuk, Shin Se-kyung, Lim Ju-hwan, Krystal, Gong Myung and Lee Kyeong-yeong.
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"The King Loves" Episodes 3-4 recap

The editing in "The King Loves" is very quickly starting to confuse me. Here I was thinking that we were just going to watch the three main leads deal with the whole bridge situation chronologically then for some bizarre reason the production team keeps jerking us around between events from before the bridge incident and after the bridge incident and other far away stuff that has nothing to do with the bridge incident and it's just getting really hard to keep the story straight.
This is where I can see that "The King Loves" is clearly adapting itself from a novel, where introducing a large number of characters in an exceedingly complex plot can be done fairly economically. But the sheer level of exposition going on is the kind where I really kind of need a chart in front of me just to keep track of each character's known motivation. Which is harder than it sounds, since a lot of this motivation is for now being kept fairly intentionally vague.
The only part of the "The King Loves" that I consistently understand is the relationship between the main three leads. I actually really like Won a lot more than I was expecting. Strictly speaking the guy's a little creep. He abuses his royal authority to try and stalk Eun-san, and isn't really the best at keeping up appearances with his dad either. Incidentally, King Chunyeol (played by Jung Bo-suk) is mean and strict, although that may be more the Goryeo setting than his actual personality talking.
He is also at the center of the royal conspiracy which, again, I don't particularly understand or care about because it only has the most tangential relevance to anything the teenage leads in "The King Loves" are up to. Mind, it also helps that the motivations of the teenagers are so simple it's easy to identify with whatever their current objectives are. Eun-san is thirsty, so she looks for water. Eun-san is hungry, so she buys food.
It's a bit jarring how we have simple stuff like that on one side of the transition, then on the other side there's Song-in (played by Oh Min-suk) and Moo-bi (played by Choo Soo-hyun) flirting, making out, then fading to implied sex as I'm still left wondering, wait, who are these people again? Why are they important? Hopefully, eventually, I'll figure that out once they start directly interacting with the leads.
Review by William Schwartz
"The King Loves" is directed by Kim Sang-hyeob, written by Airborne, Song Ji-na and features Im Si-wan, Yoona, Hong Jong-hyun, Kim Jung-wook, Bang Jae-ho and Ki Do-hun.
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"School 2017" episode 2 recap

School policewoman Sunhwa fought school bullies.
On the latest episode of the KBS 2TV drama "School 2017", Han Soo-ji (Sunhwa) showed school bullies a piece of her mind.
Hwang Yeong-geun (Ha Seung-ri), Yeo Seung-eun (Kim Min-ha) and Choi Hyeon-jeong (Song Yoo-jung) ordered Seo Bo-ra (Han Bo-bae) to steal Yoo Bit-na's (Z.Hera) study note and sell it online. Seo Bo-ra stole it but couldn't sell it and said she'd start a job if she really needed money.
Hwang Yeong-gun slapped her in anger but the school police Han Soo-ji saw that and kicked Hwang Yeong-gun away. Hwang Yeong-gun, Yeo Seung-eun and Choi Hyeon-jeong tried to fight back but Han Soo-ji managed to defeat them all and their teacher Sim Kang-myeong (Han Juwan) came running.
Sim Kang-myeong asked his students if they were alright and Han Soo-ji told them, "It's not fair to pick on one person when there's three of you". Sim Kang-kyeong asked who she was and tried to call the police.
Han Soo-ji took away his phone and said, "Don't do that or I'll be very angry. And you girls, don't ever do that again or I'll have you".
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