Thursday, June 30, 2016

"Master - God of Noodles" rated 8.2%

"Master - God of Noodles" ended in success.
According to Nielsen Korea, KBS 2TV drama "Master - God of Noodles" rated 8.2%. It over passed MBC "Lucky Romance" (7.7%) and SBS "Wanted" (7.6%).
The sixteenth episode of "Master - God of Noodles" rated 9% on the 16th. "Master - God of Noodles" is about two men who tangled up with revenge starring Cheon Jeong-myeong, Jo Jae-hyeon, Lee Sang-yeob and others.
Source : www.tenasia.co.kr/arc...
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"Master - God of Noodles" Episode 19 recap

It is a time of revenge, realization and loss in the penultimate episode of "Master - God of Noodles". Gil-do is faced with the mistakes he has made and the lives he has ruined when a bigger evil than him exercises control he himself never had. Myeong's successes make him dangerously greedy and blind him to the dangers around him as they did Gil-do. There are always victims in games of power and those are rarely the ones who play these games.
Congressman So Tae-seop (Kim Byeong-gi) has always been sly and selfish, but he has turned into the true monster of the series. Gil-do (Jo Jae-hyeon) is evil, but he is pure, chaotic evil. He is the creation of a cruel society. A misguided freak lacking empathy and control. It is the self-made, privileged evil which is far worse, however and Gil-do finally discovers this. He has been hurting people and making enemies without considering the gravity of his actions.
Tae-seopGil-do
This moment of realization as he attempts to exit the studio is exactly the reason why he needs to be stopped. In his mind he has lived a sensible life doing what he feels is normal. He grew up in a world accepting his lies, enabling him and rewarding him for them. Aside from the pain he has caused directly, provoking a monster worse than him means the only two people he remotely cares about are the ones to unfairly suffer.
Da-hae (Gong Seung-yeon) has to live as the daughter of a murderer and Tae-ha (Lee Sang-yeob) is probably dead because he refused to become like Gil-do. His apparent death is sad, but not surprising. The younger characters have been fighting to correct the mistakes of the older ones. Tae-ha's childhood is similar to Gil-do's and his character is similar to Do-kkoo's (Jo Hee-bong), but without the cowardice that kept the latter silent for so long. Tae-ha's sacrifice is his legacy.
Tae-ha and MyeongMyeong and Gil-do
At the same time, the way his fate plays out is a bit silly. Perhaps we are to understand that he essentially commits suicide by keeping the document on him and not securing his life first, but his death was still avoidable in this particular scenario and it therefore feels forced. The series suffers when it tries to conform to Korean drama norms, but it has resisted them quite well.
In an odd turn of events, it might be Gil-do and his uncontrollable rage who come to save the day in the show's finale. I doubt Congressman So will let those who know of his secret document be. I just hope our makeshift family's reunion and Tae-ha's death will wake Myeong (Cheon Jeong-myeong) up as well. He needs to end this and not just for his revenge.
"Master - God of Noodles" is directed by Kim Jong-yeon and Lim Se-joon, written by Chae Seung-dae and features Cheon Jeong-myeong, Jo Jae-hyeon, Jeong Yoo-mi and Lee Sang-yeob.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
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"Lucky Romance" Episode 12 recap

Bonnie's constant rejection of Soo-ho has gotten to be rather tiring, so it's with relief that I write that this episode they actually finally start dating. Yes that's a bit of a spoiler but I don't care at this point- it's taken so long for "Lucky Romance" to get to any actual fun standard romantic comedy material that see Bonnie and Soo-ho is event worthy of some celebration. If only it could have happened without the using of so much clumsy game company gossip.
To date Soo-ho has mostly been comic relief (weird, given that he's the lead), so it's nice to see his relationship being precipitated by some rather sweet flashbacks indicating how he was being considerate to Bonnie more for the sake of niceness than any expectation of reward. Strictly speaking what Soo-ho did was kind of creepy, but it's the sentiment that counts. Not to mention the simple logic. Bonnie's obsession with superstition has prevented her from doing the normal things people with sick family members do.
Namely, continue to try to live life. Don't forget, but don't fall into constant self-flagellation either. It's always been fairly clearly implied that Goo-sin's bizarre tiger instructions were actually an inducement to get Bonnie together with Soo-ho. The main outstanding questions are whether Goo-sin did so deliberately, whether it really was legitimate religious guidance, or if the whole thing was just contrived plotting all along.
Elsewhere Dal-nim's appearance is ruined, as was to be expected, although the jokes resulting from her makeover are funny enough to warrant forgiveness. Ryang-ha is just so completely terrified of what he's done it's easy to laugh at his misery. Another aspect I like is how Dal-nim has obviously gone too far- sure heels are sexy, but they're also hard to walk in for someone who's not used to it, so of course she's horribly clumsy.
That's where the focus is right now- exaggerated character traits, and the acknowledgment thereof. Now that Bonnie is seriously talking to Soo-ho in a non-crazy context, there is room in the dialogue for her to acknowledgment simple facts like how Soo-ho lacks any kind of respectful gravitas even though he is a successful businessperson in his thirties. And more importantly, that's OK. Once the superstitions are removed Bonnie and Soo-ho can connect pretty easily, and I'm glad she was able to finally figure that out without Goo-sin explicitly leading her on.
Review by William Schwartz
"Lucky Romance" is directed by Kim Kyeong-hee-II, written by Choi Yoon-gyo and features Hwang Jeong-eum, Ryu Jun-yeol, Lee Cheong-ah and Lee Soo-hyeok.
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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

"Lucky Romance" rated 8.4%

"Lucky Romance" is doing well.
According to Nielsen Korea, the MBC drama "Lucky Romance" rated 8.4%. This is 0.4% more than the previous episode.
Je Soo-ho (Ryu Jun-yeol) poured affection of Bonnie Sim (Hwang Jeong-eum). Je Soo-ho pretended to help her but kissed her instead. Bonnie was shy and said he was prohibited, then he replied, "It's not like this is our first kiss".
Meanwhile, KBS 2TV "Master - God of Noodles" rated 7.5% and "Wanted" 6.7%.
Source : star.mbn.co.kr/view.p...
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"Wanted" Episode 3 recap

"Wanted" could have easily relied on suspense over a stock kidnapping story, but it is refreshing to see how bold its creators are in touching delicate social subjects through it. This time around domestic violence and its treatment by the law and press become a topic. We also find out more about our characters, including Seung-in and his presumably painful past. With the second mission being handed and Hyeon-woo's status being unconfirmed, Hye-in has a lot to deal with.
The domestic violence case is tough to watch, but it is another reminder of how much and how little trial by media matters. Justice is blind, but its hands are often open to the highest bidder and media does not change this. What media does is provide us with an illusion of power. Masses follow trends. We fight for causes when something is turned into a spectacle. Then we leave the true fighters behind and move on to the next Twitter hashtag which makes us feel relevant.
Domestic violence victimWoo-sin and Dong-wook
This false sense of importance and causing change in the world is inflated by the media which benefit from it. Seeing Bo-yeon (Hyosung) crack a smile when she sees her precious work gaining popularity is a blood-chilling scene. Seeing the team discuss how they should use the trending name for the kidnapper shows just how much their work depends on getting the masses to feel included and in control.
Dong-wook (Eom Tae-woong) knows his greed for these reactions, giving us a little hint of self-awareness and therefore kindness, when he tells Yeon Woo-sin (Park Hyo-joo) that he needs someone nice to keep him in grounded. Seung-in (Ji Hyeon-woo) gives us his own moments of sincerity when he shows emotional connection to the domestic abuse case. Perhaps he and his mother suffered a similar fate. This will help him empathize, but it can potentially cloud his judgement.
Han-sol, his mum and Seung-inJeong-ho
The list of suspects is not getting smaller and the creators of "Wanted" are clearly determined to mess with viewers. Hye-in's (Kim Ah-joong) manager, Kwon Kyeong-hoon (Bae Yoo-ram) could be obsessed with her, but I do not see him as the culprit. Jeong-ho (Park Hae-joon) is a jerk, but he could be hiding affection and worry for Hyeon-woo (Park Min-soo). That would be the more interesting twist.
Few works would kill a child, but Hyeon-woo's fate worries me and I want to see everyone's reactions to the photograph. If his cries have been recordings, anything but a video indicating the current date and time could be a lie. The photograph could be manipulated or Hyeon-woo could be dead in it. I hope the series gives at least one character the same doubt, which is a reasonable one to have and which needs addressing if it is not the big twist.
"Wanted" is directed by Park Yong-soon, written by Han Ji-wan-I and features Kim Ah-joong, Ji Hyeon-woo, Eom Tae-woong and Park Hae-joon.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'

"Lucky Romance" Episode 11 recap

So after that huge climactic kiss last episode Bonnie...is still looking for excuses to avoid the plot. Agh! Already I miss "Oh Hae-Young Again", with its characters always making a mutual effort to keep their romance alive. Bonnie is practically the living personification of all the reasons Soo-ho has to not like dating, because she insists on making everything so hard for reasons she won't explain. Bonnie is long overdue for a discussion with Goo-sin, since the shaman is pretty much the only character who can make Bonnie explain herself.
Bonnie's behavior makes me uncomfortable because she's practically forcing the male leads to stalk her, that being the only way to move the story forward. I feel bad for Geon-wook especially, because Bonnie's coy attitude has the effect of making it genuinely ambiguous what he should be doing right now. Admittedly, if I had a talking refrigerator I'd probably look for excuses to use it all the time too.
Outside the product placement "Lucky Romance" has other distinctive visual elements. There's the whole "line dividing the house into two halves" sitcom gag that up until now I've only seen used in parodies, not as an actual plot. And there's also the red string of fate, which is a pretty patently bizarre visual image considering how Bonnie keeps resisting Soo-ho. Surely she's aware of the symbolic significance of connecting herself to Soo-ho with a red string?
The humor in "Lucky Romance" is not all that bad, once these factors are taken into account, since strange visuals can dovetail pretty well with comedy. The best sequence is when Soo-ho panics over the possibility that another character will see his wall chart. An honorable mention goes to Ryang-ha and his confetti. But I am going be very upset if he actually succeeds in altering Dal-nim's appearance and ruining her goofy charm.
Because that's the main thing "Lucky Romance" has going for it- goofy charm. The erratic pacing makes it difficult to engage with the story, which is too predictable to benefit from extended runtime. Even if we end up getting a curveball in regards to the obvious twist regarding Soo-ho's parentage, there's not going to be much of an impact because Soo-ho's relationship to his parents is only tangentially related to his more interesting character traits. Really, Soo-ho's inability to care much about anything except his job and Bonnie is one of his more amusing quirks, and "Lucky Romance" does well when it focuses on that.
Review by William Schwartz
"Lucky Romance" is directed by Kim Kyeong-hee-II, written by Choi Yoon-gyo and features Hwang Jeong-eum, Ryu Jun-yeol, Lee Cheong-ah and Lee Soo-hyeok.
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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"Oh Hae-Young Again" rated over 8%

Two tvN dramas are coming to an end and they are "Oh Hae-Young Again" and "Dear My Friends".
"Oh Hae-Young Again" is popular for its romance and mystery elements. It rated over 8%.
"Oh Hae-Young Again" is claimed to have opened a new page for romantic comedies through the leading female character. Seo Hyeon-jin unveiled her innocent image and became a 'straight forward lover' in this drama.
Her sweet and longing love for Eric Moon who is cold on the outside but warm on the inside, gave tears and laughter to the viewers. Her honest and bold image was enough to give catharsis.
There were also unique materials in this drama. Eric Moon has a gift of seeing the near future. He's had a taste of happiness and misfortune thanks to this. He was able to fall in love with Seo Hyeon-jin and he was able to avoid death at one point.
"Dear My Friends", the story of senior life and romance, didn't really have a comedy code. However, the performance of the cast was enough to bring out sympathy.
Kim Hye-ja, Nah Moon-hee, Yoon Yeo-jeong, Park Won-sook, Ko Doo-sim and other veteran actors acted out things that could possibly happen in our lives and made viewers cry with every episode. Hee-ja (Kim Hye-ja) currently has Alzheimer's and Nan-hee (Ko Doo-sim) has cancer.
Coming up next are "Bring It On, Ghost" and "The Good Wife".
Source : www.tvreport.co.kr/?c...
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"Beautiful Gong Shim" Episode 14 recap

The conflict in "Beautiful Gong Shim" is quite contrived. Circumstances are such that the show should have a constant thread of tension weaving in and out of scenes and character development, but the tension flags and wanes on such a regular basis that it is no longer compelling.

The main source of this tension, or the lack of it, is Dan-tae's childhood kidnapping and the family members involved. Pacing is slow in order to stretch out the mystery, but there isn't enough material to span the next six episodes and so Dan-tae's and Joon-soo's investigations inch along, hitting small pebbles of discovery along the way that are neither satisfying or significant.
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That said, the distrust flaming between the cousins may be the most interesting aspect of the show at this point. Dan-tae realizes Joon-soo is hiding something, and vice versa, but neither can bring himself to disclose the truth. These sorts of secrets are a staple of K-drama and are used when the plot can't sustain itself as this one cannot. In this case, it isn't a total copout; Joon-soo is trying to protect his mother and his silence (temporarily) buys her innocence. This misunderstanding bourn of silence is no less frustrating, but at least it is understandable.

As I say every review, the villains are a joke. The uncle now didn't "mean" to kidnap young Joon-pyo. He was under duress - blah, blah, blah. The Joon-soo's mom is "only" guilty of silence. Gong Mi is "only" worried about her love life. These people are so selfish and one dimensional that they are insufferable. A villain with no depth is a villainous cutout, not a full-fledged character.
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It would be amiss of me to neglect to mention the lovely chemistry between Gong Shim and Dan-tae. They make a lovely, quirky couple who understand each other. Dan-tae should open up and confide in her. Love is a partnership and he should treat her that way.
Written by: Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'
"Beautiful Gong Shim" is directed by Baek Soo-chan, written by Lee Hee-myeong, and features Namgoong Min, Minah, Oh Joo-wan, Seo Hyo-rim, Oh Hyun-kyeong, and Woo Hyeon.

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"Oh Hae-Young Again" Episode 18 Final recap

I got the distinct impression for most of the last episode of "Oh Hae-Young Again" that writer Park Hae-young (yes, that is her real name) never really had a plan for finishing any of the drama's storylines. She just had these really great characters, and the interesting hook of the mysterious visions, and figured the rest would come naturally. Well, two extra episodes and an extended finale weren't enough. The ending of "Oh Hae-Young Again" is sloppy, coming up with new conflicts while only clumsily resolving the old ones.
For all these obvious critical failures, though, I still can't really get mad at "Oh Hae-Young Again" because if any drama has ever emphasized the whole "journey rather than the destination" philosophy, "Oh Hae-Young Again" is it. Because Hae-young and Do-kyeong have never really had their eyes on the end point. The main conflict was not the content of the visions, but rather Do-kyeong coming to appreciate that there's little point in worrying too much about the future.
All the storylines have integrated this theme somehow- some better than others. Jin-sang still does not appear to have any idea how to intentionally come on to Soo-kyeong barring a crisis situation, and their relationship has pretty much turned into a permanent compromise that they will try to figure something out that does not involve Soo-kyeong moving overseas or Jin-sang drinking himself to death out of personal shame. It's funny watching them try, but mostly, it's just relieving knowing that they're willing to keep trying.
The other relationships are a tad more perplexing. Ji-an never really did anything of relevance except be a terrible mother, and Anna never moved past being Hoon's frightfully exuberant younger girlfriend. Hae-young's parents...well, they were relatively uncomplicated people to begin with, actually. Of course Deok-yi is stubborn and prideful, because her daughter is the same way. It's a generational cycle, after all.
And that's where "Oh Hae-Young Again" leaves off emotionally. Life will move on, solutions will fall into place, you can always count on the support of loved ones...all those nice mental reassurances that really make "Oh Hae-Young Again" a great drama even after a really difficult day. Even if the narrative doesn't tie up very well, that flaw too works well in context of the drama's greater messaging. It's all right to mess up and look foolish as long as everyone is having a good time and mutual compassion is not an issue. I'm OK with that.
Review by William Schwartz
"Oh Hae-Young Again" is directed by Song Hyeon-wook, written by Park Hae-yeong and features Eric Moon, Seo Hyeon-jin, Jeon Hye-bin, Ye Ji-won, Kim Ji-seok-I, and Heo Jeong-min
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"Doctors" Episode 4 recap

Upon closer examination, it turns out that Hye-jeong has gotten a tad bitter over the timeskip. Her temperament is as bad as it ever was, but now she has the excuse of being a medical professional. It's one thing for Hye-jeong to mouth off against belligerent gangsters. Fellow doctors are a different matter. Yoon-do (played by Yoon Gyoon-sang) is clearly doing the best he can, and it's not fair for Hye-jeong to have such a huge superiority complex.
"Doctors" is skirting dangerously close to wish fulfillment territory, although as of yet it's not clear where Hye-jeong's professional personality falls on the line between quirk and flaw. The shiny, sunny Hye-jeong is still very much a character, it's just we only ever see her that way with Soon-hee, who isn't a doctor. Hye-jeong also condescends somewhat to the more junior doctors on staff. Cute as these scenes are they're clearly indicative of a lack of mutual respect.
Which brings the story back around to Ji-hong, who is unchanged by experience. I do not consider this a good thing. Ji-hong's brand of teacherly condescencion is annoying in its own way- he treats Seo-woo and Hye-jeong like they're still his students, without really acknowledging that since they last met Seo-woo and Hye-jeong have become well established medical professionals. This, too, straddles the line between flaw and quirk, to the extent that I'm not really sure which way we're supposed to be interpreting it.
These creative choices puzzle me. I don't especially want to harp on the whole creepy teacher/student dynamic since that's all in the past, but it's pretty hard to forget about that when Ji-hong insists on acting like he's still Hye-jeong's teacher. Practically the minute Ji-hong steps off the helicopter he comes on to Hye-jeong and I'm just thinking, uh, do you really want to start off your tenure here by creating possible grounds for a sexual harassment lawsuit? Later on he even manages to attack her.
I don't want to sound too negative because really, "Doctors" is generally well made and enjoyable to watch. The actual hospital work is very dynamic and tense- I like how the patients come off more as problems to be solved then people, because that is in fact how the doctors see them. This in turn informs each doctor's professional philosophy, which are all defendable in their own ways. I want to see more legitimate struggle between these ideas. I don't want to see Hye-jeong always be right simply because she's the main character.
Review by William Schwartz
"Doctors" is directed by Oh Choong-hwan, written by Ha Myeong-hee and features Kim Rae-won, Park Shin-hye, Yoon Gyoon-sang, Lee Seong-kyeong, Kim Yeong-ae and Jeong Hae-gyoon.

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"Doctors" Episode 3 recap

Upon further consideration Ji-hong is...really not a very good teacher. Sure, he's cool and hip. But the man's advice is frequently filled with mutually incompatible platitudes rather than anything useful. Most importantly, though, Ji-hong is really bad when it comes to the idea of taking responsibility. Most of his screentime here is spent trying to obfuscate or avoid acknowledging any kind of personal error. That's not setting a good example, although fortunately the female characters in "Doctors" are able to manage all right on their own.
Hye-jeong is, as expected, a real trooper. Having already determined to live a virtuous life, Hye-jeong takes the rap for the big accident last cliffhanger knowing full well that of the three girls she bears the least responsibility for what happened. This is more of the same selfless behavior we saw Hye-jeong exploring last episode, and given how generally fearless the girl is, the attitude suits her well. The way Soon-hee and Seo-woo react to Hye-jeong's act of sacrifice is also telling of their characters, revealing the awkward place they stand between familial obligation and personal responsibility.
In fact, personal responsibility is so thoroughly explored here that I'm pretty sure this is going to be the main overall narrative arc, although not always for the better. Events this episode imply that a sick person can make themselves well at least partially through willpower, and that it's sensible to hold a doctor personally responsible for failure if surgery doesn't work. This is really not at all a fair assumption to make, and it only makes sense because we witness events that Hye-jeong does not.
A lot of this is because the production team is setting up some characters as clear villains. While this is understandable it's also a little disappointing. I was impressed that "Doctors" did not make Seo-woo into a clear-cut antagonist even though that's the most obvious direction to take her character. Evidently Lee Seong-kyeong has fairly good range.
Overall "Doctors" is shaping up up to be fairly strong if somewhat flawed exploration of ethical issues in doctoring, with the widely diverging life stories of the main characters being the main focal point. It's an interesting contrast to be sure- Ji-hong being forced out of job he wants to do so that he can instead do the one he's better at, while Hye-jeong defies destiny with powerful screen presence. There are a lot of ways this story can end up moving.
Review by William Schwartz
"Doctors" is directed by Oh Choong-hwan, written by Ha Myeong-hee and features Kim Rae-won, Park Shin-hye, Yoon Gyoon-sang, Lee Seong-kyeong, Kim Yeong-ae and Jeong Hae-gyoon.
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"Beautiful Gong Shim" Episode 13 recap

This episode answered many of the questions I have been posing, but in strange bursts of emotional exposition and flashbacks. Rather than work linearly, the show has chosen to reveal answers as strangely placed afterthoughts. This plot structure isn't the problem; it's the fact that the use of it made a lot of character behavior for the past two episodes completely baffling.

Dan-tae has revealed himself to his grandmother, which explains his distinct lack of emotional response to finding his long lost family after he discovered his identity. This was an oversight and needed to happen earlier. It made Dan-tae seem to have gone through a strange personality shift. This also includes his reasons for ignoring Gong Shim that he confided to his grandmother. They were easy to guess, but as a viewer, I don't want to guess such things. I want to be shown a good, juicy character developing throughout the drama.
Characters like Joon-soo and Gong Mi are getting the short end of the writing stick. Joon-soo is purely reactionary as he trails three steps behind Dan-tae's search for the real culprit behind the incident. I appreciate the emotional impact of the situation on the character and would love to see more of it. He was shafted this episode. So was Gong Mi, though I'm a bit happier about her. She literally only appears to moon over Joon-soo. She's become a sort of non-entity after all of the antics she's pulled. I wonder when production will come around to addressing her role in Gong Shim's troubles and in addressing how she deals with the lying and trickery in her life.
What was wonderful about this episode was that we got the lovely, bubbly chemistry between Dan-tae and Gong Shim back. Minah is so charming as a Gong Shim in love. The character has chosen to be bolder in love and reacts well to her new opportunities in life. I'm anxious to get her looped into Dan-tae's story, but there is still some time for that. Until then, we can watch her moon adorably over Dan-tae, and he her. The return of his goofy personality after the month time skip is quite welcome, especially now that we can see into his thought process.
The villains of this show are still completely negligent, and that's just sad. They're useless. That needs to be fixed. Until then, let's just enjoy the cute.
Written by: Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'
"Beautiful Gong Shim" is directed by Baek Soo-chan, written by Lee Hee-myeong, and features Namgoong Min, Minah, Oh Joo-wan, Seo Hyo-rim, Oh Hyun-kyeong, and Woo Hyeon.
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"Oh Hae-Young Again" Episode 17 recap

While "Oh Hae-Young Again" continues to mostly be filler, at this point it's surprisingly comforting filler. I like watching Do-kyeong and Hae-young be happy. Eric Moon and Seo Hyeon-jin have really good cute chemistry. I like how Hae-young is most of the things that Do-kyeong is not, that she is loud and proud while he is quiet and loyal. Do-kyeong engages in an act of explicit heroism this episode and doesn't even bother to stick around and take credit.
Which leads me to the main character arc that's been easy to forget about- Tae-jin. While the other Hae-young has been defined by inherently fraudulent personal relationships, Tae-jin has been defined by inherently fraudulent professional relationships. This is actually really bad- like, even worse than it sounds, because Tae-jin has been led to believe that Do-kyeong is the bogeyman who ruined his life. In reality it's the people Tae-jin has thought he could trust that betrayed him, and encouraged Tae-jin to think otherwise.
From this light even Tae-jin's possessive behavior regarding Hae-young is somewhat sympathetic, because she was the only person he could have talked to about this. Key word there being "was". Considering how attentive Hae-young is regarding Do-kyeong's problems here, I think it's safe to say that Hae-young may well have been able to rescue Tae-jin too if only he had realized relationships were a two-way street. It's not just that he protects her. She has to protect him, too.
Elsewhere the Soo-kyeong/Jin-sang storyline winds down in a rather more clichéd fashion than I was expecting. I would complain except that the whole elevator sequence is so funny it's hard to wish for it not to have happened. The plotline also manages the impressive feat of giving Hoon something useful to do. And of course, there's Jin-sang's heartfelt sadness about the emptiness of the party life now that he can't hang out with his best friends on the off nights.
Those are the real common, best core values that define "Oh Hae-Young Again"- friendship and general compassion, even when it comes to the little stuff like scenes between co-workers where they express genuine personal interest and enjoyment regarding each other's happiness. Compared to that, I've never really been all that invested in Do-kyeong's visions and I'm still not at all sure on a logical level what they're even supposed to be. But they work on the metaphorical level, and that's what's more important anyway.
Review by William Schwartz
"Oh Hae-Young Again" is directed by Song Hyeon-wook, written by Park Hae-yeong and features Eric Moon, Seo Hyeon-jin, Jeon Hye-bin, Ye Ji-won, Kim Ji-seok-I, and Heo Jeong-min
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Monday, June 27, 2016

"The Flower in Prison" rated 18.3%

"Beautiful Gong Shim" is catching up quickly with "The Flower in Prison" which is in first place.
According to Nielsen Korea, the seventeenth episode of the MBC drama "The Flower in Prison" rated 18.3%.
This is 1.1% more than the previous episode.
"Beautiful Gong Shim" is right behind "The Flower in Prison". The fourteenth episode increased by 1.9% to 14.2%.
Meanwhile, KBS 2TV "Gag Concert" and "Docu 3 Days" rated 9.7% and 5.8%.
Source : news.nate.com/view/20...
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"Mirror of the Witch" Episode 14 recap

Now that the jar has been destroyed Hong-joo is forced to switch gears to her previous plan to maintain power- King Seonjo's physical illness. Which kind of begs the question of why Hong-joo ever even needed two plans in the first place. King Seonjo mostly liked Hong-joo back when he first invited her to the palace. Now he doesn't, thanks to all the politicking involved with Hong-joo's second plan. We can go back even further than that and wonder why Hong-joo needed to kill the crown prince at all since making him sick would have been a lot more efficient.
But whatever questionable twisty road led "Mirror of the Witch" to this point, one fact we now know for sure- it's up to Jun to save the day. The extent to which the supporting cast tends to be superfluous at best and outright antagonistic at worst is one of the usual frustrating spots of "Mirror of the Witch". Poong-yeon has somehow managed to not learn anything over the course of the drama's entire runtime, so we just have to hope he doesn't ruin things by being a complete idiot.
What's particularly uncanny is that Jun is the one forced to make political inroads with people who Poong-yeon actually knows personally. That Jun is the one who has to persuade Sol-gae to reconsider her allegiances is just plain weird. It also takes a quite a bit of luck and effort on Jun's part in order to hold council with King Seonjo, whereas Poong-yeon, who speaks to the regent regularly, just comes up with more bad ideas.
And he's not the only one. It's perplexing how Hyeon-seo is clearly at least partially in control of his own body, yet is unable to take proper counter-measures against Hong-joo's magic or even properly warn other people that he might randomly lose his own mind. Yo-gwang seems completely incapable of figuring out what to on his own, and is only helpful when following Jun's orders.
All in all Heo-ok is actually a more effective good guy than most of the actual good guys, because he's too incompetent to be of much use to the villains. Of course at this point his role in the story is equally as pointless, so that's not much in the way of praise. At least the story's winding down, but it really is discouraging to see Jun solve problems in mere minutes that other characters have failed to tackle for the entire course of the drama.
Review by William Schwartz
"Mirror of the Witch" is directed by Jo Hyeon-tak, written by Yang Hyeok-moon and features Yoon Si-yoon, Kim Sae-ron, Lee Seong-jae, Yeom Jeong-ah, Kwak Si-yang and Jang Hee-jin.
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Saturday, June 25, 2016

"Mirror of the Witch" Episode 13 recap

A tussel over the jar containing the spirit of Yeon-hee's departed brother defines the main conflict this this around, making it fairly easy to keep track of the story. But strictly speaking the only character with any particular reason to care about what happens to the jar is Queen Dowager Sim. Hong-joo only cares because she can use the jar as emotional leverage against Queen Dowager Sim, and everyone else only cares because they can use the jar to break Hong-joo's grip on power.
Ever since Hong-joo's flashback last episode I've been having trouble squaring her actions with her motivation. If Hong-joo's main objective were to survive, then why are almost all of her actions practically custom designed to antagonize powerful people? From the very beginning Hong-joo's decision to kill Yeon-hee's brother and steal his spirit seemed like a fairly questionable one. That one action on her part is the only reason people have been threatening to kill her so much lately.
Elsewhere, Jun manages to smooth over a lot of problems and help Yeon-hee out mostly by not being an idiot and actually telling potential allies what's happening instead of keeping secrets for no good reason. That's always the qualifier I seem to end up with when it comes to "Mirror of the Witch"- no good reason. There are almost always fairly clearly defined reasons for why certain characters act the way that they do, it's just that these reasons make them look pretty dumb, since they've been making the same mistakes throughout the drama's entire run.
It's completely counter-intuitive, for example, that Jun is Yeon-hee's best ally when he has by far the least knowledge concerning all the dark wizardy about which the plot revolves. But everyone else is too blinded by sentiment to even acknowledge past mistakes, let alone correct and learn from them. This sentiment is the only reason Hong-joo has been at all effective, because it lets her predict everyone else's actions.
...Put like that I guess that actually sounds like a pretty good theme. But "Mirror of the Witch" continues to annoy me on minor inconsistencies too. Jun is improbably good at fighting here considering that up until now he was mediocre at best. But hey, at least the costumes are nice. Yeon-hee's princess suit looks great. Oh, and a final word of warning- don't watch the preview. As far as I can tell it gives away every single plot twist of the next episode.
Review by William Schwartz
"Mirror of the Witch" is directed by Jo Hyeon-tak, written by Yang Hyeok-moon and features Yoon Si-yoon, Kim Sae-ron, Lee Seong-jae, Yeom Jeong-ah, Kwak Si-yang and Jang Hee-jin.
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"Master - God of Noodles" Episode 18 recap

"Master - God of Noodles" has often proved my doubts misplaced and it is the mark of a solid work when the viewer loves being wrong. Gil-do witnesses his lifelines being severed one by one and those who abandon him are about to discover how lacking they are in taming this beast. The time has come for Myeong to confront it, but this confrontation is anticlimactic. Thankfully the series has enough strong characters and a large web of revenge making an impact when Myeong's personal story fails to.
I have branded Do-kkoo (Jo Hee-bong) a dead man for a long time and this makes his survival very satisfying. The end is not here yet, but he has avoided the type of death I was expecting. Do-kkoo has been given good development and he is the protector our heroes need. He also brings back a welcome friend. The general rule for any fictional death is "No body, no party". Seong-rok's (Kim Joo-wan) reappearance will be the catalyst for the end.
Seong-rokYeo-gyeong and Do-kkoo
Another main worry of mine has been extinguished in the ashtray Gil-do (Jo Jae-hyeon) reunites with for a repetition of his sordid past. I am glad that he remains consistent, but we also get a glimpse of true humanity from him for the first time. His need for human contact with Tae-ha (Lee Sang-yeob) makes the beast in him look pathetic. It layers his character and makes his final choice feel avoidable and therefore more painful to watch.
The writing has managed to give Gil-do substance while maintaining his existence as a force of nature. This is what makes those around him so dangerous. Those who believe his lies suffer and those who do not believe them try to use him without having real control over him. This creates even more pain and suffering. Mi-ja (Seo I-sook) makes the choice to let a wolf tend to her sheep and So Tae-seop (Kim Byeong-gi) forgets what poking a beast results in.
MyeongTae-seop and Gil-do
The revelation of Myeong (Cheon Jeong-myeong) as Choi Soon-seok was inevitable, but the big confrontation is lacking. Myeong's story and development have felt very secondary for a long time. The creators backed themselves into a corner by making him a typical revenge-thirsty lead and not making his moral struggle more central to the story. Regardless, they are smart enough to focus on the drama's strengths without sacrificing their main revenge line.
There are still issues left to be addressed in "Master - God of Noodles". Characters like Myeong's spy in Goongrakwon and Gil-yong (Kim Jae-young) have been underused and I am not sure if explanations and closure will be given on all open topics. I do not expect a lot, but the series has been good with giving me more than I expect. I hope next week will bring everything full circle with an intense finale.
"Master - God of Noodles" is directed by Kim Jong-yeon and Lim Se-joon, written by Chae Seung-dae and features Cheon Jeong-myeong, Jo Jae-hyeon, Jeong Yoo-mi and Lee Sang-yeob.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
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Thursday, June 23, 2016

"Wanted" rated 7.8%

MBC drama "Lucky Romance" came in first while SBS "Wanted" and KBS 2TV "Master - God of Noodles" caught up quickly.
According to Nielsen Korea, "Lucky Romance" rated 8.0% while "Wanted 7.8% and "Master - God of Noodles" rated 7.2%. The gap between the first and third place is only 0.8%.
"Wanted" started off on the 22nd with 5.9% but increased by 1.9%. "Lucky Romance" has only six episodes more to go.
Source : www.osen.co.kr/articl...
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"Wanted" Episode 2 recap

Hye-in is carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders as "Wanted", the show within this show kicks off. Everyone has a motive to keep the camera rolling and Hye-in knows full well that she has no true allies in this media circus. The first task has been given and there are casualties, increasing the involvement of the police. The drama takes advantage of its premise for some apt social commentary, making its imaginary world too close to ours for comfort.
Our characters get some development as we get comfy in the series' world and Hye-in (Kim Ah-joong) is naturally the one who is the most transparent. The lady is not a superheroine. She loses her composure, she falters, but she keeps going forward no matter what. Despite the presence of people around who want to participate and help, she carries her pain alone. This makes her a promising character and it makes sense in the story, as her true helpers are few.
Hye-in and Dong-wookHyeon-woo, Jeong-ho and Hye-in
Jeong-ho (Park Hae-joon) is trying to cover up his own transgressions and seems exceptionally indifferent to the fate of a boy he is essentially the father of. Good acting and directing give us moments of doubt, however. Dong-wook (Eom Tae-woong) is the same. He tries to keep Hye-in going, but I cannot tell whether it is for Hyeon-woo (Park Min-soo) or for his show. I cannot tell who is an ally with a lousy personality and who is an enemy playing nice, which keeps me invested.
Every major player here is cynical and self-serving. They are so used to lies in their line of work that nothing feels real to them. It gives viewers food for thought about the desensitization of a society constantly bombarded with information and encouraged to focus on the ephemeral appeal of trending events, rather than the substance of them. The kidnapper uses disturbed and helpless individuals to feed that buzz, which is a whole nasty topic in and of itself.
Dong-wook, Bo-yeon and Jin-woongHye-in and Seung-in
Entertainment news reporting does not escape the drama's criticism either. It is no secret that the related "news" we receive from Korea are often little more than rumors, netizen assumptions and social media noise with little to no research behind it. Disrespect for serious topics over popularity seems to be a theme here. Dong-wook says that a happy ending is good for the show and for Hyeon-woo. Guess which one would be the afterthought for many.
Detective Cha Seung-in (Ji Hyeon-woo) is one of the few people who seems in touch with reality. He is as much a suspect as everyone in stories like this, but at least he keeps things leveled. The child in the trunk is clearly not Hyeon-woo and the kidnapper's network of culprits and victims seems big. I wonder if all the pawns are related, but I am sure Hye-in and her new detective partner will find out.
"Wanted" is directed by Park Yong-soon, written by Han Ji-wan-I and features Kim Ah-joong, Ji Hyeon-woo, Eom Tae-woong and Park Hae-joon.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'

"Lucky Romance" Episode 10 recap

One advantage of slow pacing is that when characters finally act dynamically to move the plot forward, it comes off as a genuine surprise. I was about as bewildered as Bonnie when apropos of nothing a love confession pops up, and had as little idea about what the proper response should be. Granted, her weirdly uncommunicative stance immediately afterwards was a little annoying, although Bonnie is so bad about communication in general that this isn't exactly a new character trait.
By and large, though, this episode takes place from Soo-ho's point of view. And for once Ryu Jun-yeol's one man show is fairly appropriate, because of course everyone has had that experience- waiting in increased panic for a clear response while superficially acting like we don't care. Soo-ho is pretending to be an attractive person, which is pretty inherently funny considering the episode started out with Bonnie explicitly stating which personality traits he has that she likes, and none of them were at all standoffish.
Which makes sense when we consider Soo-ho's past experience. While Soo-ho's lack of experience is the main obvious culprit, I'm more inclined to point the finger at Seol-hee. Where Bonnie acts nice yet fails to verbalize, Seol-hee is constantly giving Soo-ho verbal false hope while privately still planning to leave the country on her previously decided timetable. I don't think Seol-hee is doing this out of maliciousness- she just hasn't caught on to the fact that her ideas of acceptable behavior are completely incompatible with Soo-ho's.
While the romantic material is fairly strong, the main characters' other plot points remain fairly weak. The production team isn't even pretending to care about the video game development anymore, and my eyes glaze over pretty much any time parental issues are discussed. Although this may be more a relative problem. "Oh Hae-Young Again" is so good at dealing with parental issues anything else is going to come off as substandard by comparison.
The secondary characters do pretty well, though. Lee Cho-hee is disproportionately adorable compared to her character's actual importance in the story. I like how Dal-nim jumps from being in complete freak-out mode to being romantically lovey-dovey at the drop of a hat. Once Dal-nim loses control of one emotion, it's like the others sense an opportunity and start dogpiling. What keeps this from getting annoying is that the main character to bear the brunt of this inconvenience is Ryang-ha, who's just barely unlikable enough to deserve it.
Review by William Schwartz
"Lucky Romance" is directed by Kim Kyeong-hee-II, written by Choi Yoon-gyo and features Hwang Jeong-eum, Ryu Jun-yeol, Lee Cheong-ah and Lee Soo-hyeok.
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"Wanted" Episode 1 recap

If you have already watched the first episode of "Wanted", please have a glass of water. If you have not, put the snacks down. There will not be any time for them. The series waits for no one and we are thrown in at the deep end right away. The kidnapping takes place and the show within the show is about to begin. There are a few issues with the writing and character introductions, but the atmosphere and suspense are spot on.
Creating an intense and fast-paced premiere episode might cause problems with the flow later on, but it also works for the genre of a thriller. After all, if the thrills are not in place to hook audiences, why would anyone return? The opening ratings for "Wanted" are pretty bad, but this decision can still be good for the story. Initiating the action early on is a good call if the goal is to develop the plot in tandem with the characters.
Hye-inDong-wook and Joon-goo
We do not get a lot on these characters in the first episode, but the relationship dynamics are well established. Jeong  Hye-in (Kim Ah-joong) is a loving mother. Song Jeong-ho (Park Hae-joon) is a lousy husband who uses her and does not care about a child who is not his own. Her other two partners, Choi Joon-goo (Lee Moon-sik) and Sin  Dong-wook (Eom Tae-woong) do not have the best relationship with her either. She feels isolated and this makes her plight all the more sad.
The almost inhuman nonchalance of the people in Hye-in's life over the news of Hyeon-woo's (Park Min-soo) kidnapping is unnerving and it also evokes suspicion in the mind of the viewer. Every important character could be the culprit, because Hye-in stepping out of the spotlight is bad business for some and a reality show at this crucial time is good business for everyone. I do feel the series pushes this lack of empathy to unrealistic extremes, however.
Seung-in and Yeong-gwanHye-in and Hyeon-woo
Everyone is too calm for the severity of the situation and the reality show is being created in the same manner. The legal implications of covering a kidnapping are not discussed, the complicated process of production happens too fast and despite everyone's transparency, nothing leaks out until Hye-in announces it. For a show promising to be the most realistic thriller, it demands quite the suspension of disbelief.
This extends to the culprits. There is clearly a mastermind behind the scarred kidnapper, but they are already making grave errors. The pawns are exposed, they leave evidence behind and they have traceable connections. I hope this simply means the villain is too secure to care. Detective Cha Seung-in (Ji Hyeon-woo) is hopefully the smart and kind ally Hye-in needs to catch them.
"Wanted" is directed by Park Yong-soon, written by Han Ji-wan-I and features Kim Ah-joong, Ji Hyeon-woo, Eom Tae-woong and Park Hae-joon.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'

"Master - God of Noodles" Episode 17 recap

People tend to reveal different sides of them when placed at extremes. A person with nothing to lose or one who feels like they own the world will let their guard down and charge blindly forward. This behavior puts our heroes at risk and it brings out the worst in those who will crush others for their goals. At this point in "Master - God of Noodles", anything goes. Lives might be lost and all truths will be revealed as we enter the final stretch.
Do-kkoo (Jo Hee-bong) is the man of the hour and he delivers more in this episode than satisfying punches. I cannot call the murderer of Yeo-gyeong's (Jeong Yoo-mi) parents a secret, as I do not feel we were truly expected to believe it was Congressman So (Kim Byeong-gi). Regardless, the impact of the revelation is solid, because it is important to our beloved characters. Given Do-kkoo's knowledge and the closing scene, I do not feel confident about his survival.
Do-kkoo and Yeo-gyeongYeo-gyeong and Prosecutor Ahn
Losing him will be sad, but his character's entire development has been written in a way which emphasizes his loyalty, good heart and his willingness to pay for past sins. The plot also needs protectors of the past to help our heroes in the present and with Yeo-gyeong and Tae-ha (Lee Sang-yeob) being so determined and endangered, it is a necessary relief to see that someone wiser and older has their back.
Making sure that neither the heroes or villains are overpowered is a challenging task and the writer of "Master - God of Noodles" cleverly maintains a good balance. So Tae-seop has unsurprisingly let go of Yeo-gyeong, and Mi-ja (Seo I-sook) might be joining him by Gil-do's (Jo Jae-hyeon) side soon, but Do-kkoo and Prosecutor Ahn (Choi Byeong-mo) provide enough support to give our heroes a fighting chance. The antagonists are more powerful, however, which means that suspense is maintained.
Myeong and Da-haeDa-hae and Gil-do
Luckily, our heroes are smart and pure enough to also hold onto one another. When the series was about to begin airing, the creators mentioned "growth" as a concept. Tae-ha and Yeo-gyeong love each other despite their parents' ill fate and this is starting to manifest in Myeong (Cheon Jeong-myeong) and Da-hae's (Gong Seung-yeon) relationship as well. A sad past does not necessarily beget a sad future.
This is a lesson Da-hae is hoping to teach Gil-do as well. It might be tempting to call her naive for it, but her nature is one of hope and she has not experienced Gil-do's worst side directly. Some Korean dramas succumb to the temptation of a happy ending and force redemption on their villains, but I will follow Da-hae's example on this and hope that we get a powerful and realistic ending.
"Master - God of Noodles" is directed by Kim Jong-yeon and Lim Se-joon, written by Chae Seung-dae and features Cheon Jeong-myeong, Jo Jae-hyeon, Jeong Yoo-mi and Lee Sang-yeob.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'