19 April 2016

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Dramaworld - Episodes 1 & 2 (Recap)

Posted by JoAnne on April 19, 2016
JoAnne: Well here we are! Who hasn't been looking forward to this? The teaser looked well-done and I know at least one of us here at PotUp has actually met the lead, Sean Dulake (although I think he was still Sean Richard, back then - why did he change his name?!) so we've certainly been anticipating this! I was only half wishing for a repeat of the glorious disaster that was the American version of Boys Over Flowers, I swear. Anyway, I'm all in. I hope the next one is a noona romance, Viki. I have some ideas to share...
kakashi: Well, I for my part was full-out hoping for a disaster so that I could get my snark-bulldozer out. But, alas! As we suspected after seeing the trailer, it's kinda cutish-okayish. Not good, no, but also not exactly bad. I guess it's also way too short to really be bad. Being mean to this would be just like being mean to your little sister when you were 10 and she was 5. It's something that just doesn't feel right, even if you repeatedly catch yourself thinking about it.    
Cookie: I have no such issue. My little sis was a terror and always wanted to wear my clothes. However, this show isn't that bad. The main girl is actually quite a good actor. Everybody else is mentally trying to remember their lines.

Episode 1

We open with the drama-within-the-drama, Taste of Love. As Episode 12 begins, we get the montage that tell us everything we need to know, seasoned viewers that we are. We've got a handsome-but-grumpy foodie for our male lead, The Unhappily Corporate Chaebol Heir. Well, his family owns a frozen foods company (but it's gourmet!) and (maybe) a restaurant (he's definitely a chef). Sort of a lower rent chaebol. Maybe just wealthy. His love interest will be The Plucky Young Thing whose dream is to work in that very restaurant, of course. There's a Bitchy Second Lead, naturally, and the mysterious death of his father, and - yes, you get the picture.
Taste of Love is the kind of KDrama I'd utterly hate. Haha. Full of stupid tropes and bad lines. I fear it kinda reflects the image of Kdrama-viewers platforms such as viki and Dramaflu are tailoring their services to, but! there's tongue-in-cheek here too. It's like we know they know that we know that they know that stuff is BAD, but we still watch it because it's like sugar, hence addicting.  
I was super confused for a second thinking I'd hit the wrong button and was watching a horrible drama. I was not surprised to see the SBC logo lemmi tell you. 
Your basic melo, nothing fancy, the current obsession of Claire Duncan (Liv Hewson), our spirit animal. She's college-aged, American, and hooked on dramas in general and this guy's dramas (name: Joon Park, though it's unclear whether that is a character name or an actor's name) in particular. Claire also works in her dad's sandwich shop, but it seems that this happens only when she can't hide somewhere and watch dramas. None of you would ever shirk responsibilities just to watch a show, though, so maybe she isn't our spirit animal, after all. (Ha. If there's ten of us in a room, eight of us have definitely called in sick after staying up all night to marathon something.)
Oh, have you ever done that?? I haven't! (I can neither admit or deny this allegation). Maybe I should? I'm totally intrigued by this idea. 
Anyway, notice the parallels? Food business and all. Important, of course. Also, I'm fascinated by Claire's asymmetrical haircut. Is that fashionable right now?
In a word, no.  
When not watching dramas, Claire spends her time at work focusing on the often thankless task of sharing the joy of KDrama with others. This time, her target is a guy about her age who wants a turkey sandwich and totally does not understand how unnerving it is that it's Episode 12 and the OTP has not had The First Kiss. Basic rookie mistake, Claire. You won't snag this one unless you go the 1N2D route and play up the similarities to Jackass and that weird Japanese obstacle course show. He's not going to care about Taste of Love. Which, by the way, I would totally watch.
You would, wouldn't you, lol. This scene was a bit stupid though. I would claim that KDrama obsessions are actually rather secret obsessions for most of us. We are all very careful about whom we attempt to addict. Most of us also have several social media profiles. Openly KDrama-obsessed vs. the other life ones. 
Yeah...nobody goes around broadcasting their love for kdrama. 
The first rule of Dramaclub...
It seems that Dad has been on the receiving end of Claire's outreach program a few times, too, and he's concerned that she is spending too much time on her shows. (Listen, Dad. She's showered and her clothes are clean and she showed up to work. I think you're worrying over nothing.) Dad reminds her that she has school, and work, and a life to live, not spend on her phone. (When he told her to look at the door I was expecting a big reveal like she was claustrophobic or something...I think somebody just wanted to use the zoom/shiny blur feature in the editing software). When he grabs it from her, it falls and the screen cracks. He's immediately contrite because he's not a Bad Dad, he's a Hardworking Middle Class Dad Who Just Wants What's Best for His Child. (I may have to abbreviate that to HwMCDWJWWBfHC. Or maybe just leave it at Dad?) It's clear the argument is familiar to them both as Claire heads out for class. Dad insists she return in the evening to close, and tells her 'no dramas!'
This scene was too long and Dad overacted badly. He is nice though.  I would fire anyone who would watch Kdrama on the job (*realizes she's on the work computer* OUPS) - especially if it affected her work. And it clearly affects hers. I would potentially consider therapy for her, too - she seems much too much obsessed. I mean ... I know obsessed. I am constantly thinking about Shin Hakyun these days, but I still manage to view job applications, write meeting minutes and even read texts with words such as syntagmatic and metonymic and synecdochal in them. Is this humblebragging? I don't want to do that. I just want to say that Claire's work-attitude SUCKS. 
It's coz it's her Dad's business. But yeah she has a few issues and is probably using kdrama as an avoidance mechanism. Poor chikadee. 
Later that evening, Claire is indeed back at work and studiously avoiding her phone, but there's no one in the restaurant and it beeps at her (viki, announcing the next episode is ready :) cute PPL) ~ it's just unrealistic to think she wouldn't watch a little. Because she is a good girl, she watches while mopping the floor. Between the headphones and her impassioned pleas to the lead NOT to take that love shot with the wrong woman, she totally misses the fact that she's no longer alone in the restaurant.
You can't mop the floor and watch your phone at the same time >.<. Be glad it's your dad who employs you. Is it possible we're seeing the infamous millennial-attitude at work here?
Company has arrived in the form of a chubby, nervous burglar. Her shouts have unnerved him further, and in his haste to get away he knocks over her bucket of water. Which of course she slips in, falling to the floor while exclaiming 'I have to stop this!' at her cell screen. She hits the ground and disappears as her cell phone gives off blue sparkly magic lights. The freaked-out burglar takes off (with quite a bit of money, I think?), and a second later the cell phone winks out of this plane with one final twinkle of blue.
I would have giffed this if it were another show. Just imagine the pictures below are moving. Maybe if you quickly alternate closing the right and the left eye?
I tried that and now my eyes hurt. Thanks Kakashi. The burglar was a nice bit of comic relief...utterly unnecessary but quite chuckle worthy.
This restaurant is now empty, but in Taste of Love, the restaurant gains a visitor - Claire! She appears so suddenly that she interrupts a kiss with her face, which is confusing for everyone. But hey, that's one way of stopping Joon Park from kissing the Bitchy Second Lead! It's all very overwhelming of course, and she faints dead away while Joon Park and BSL stand there dumbfounded.
Before Claire got electrocuted and teletransported by her broken phone, she was panicking about this impending kiss. Rightly so! No kisses with BSL allowed in KDrama! Clearly, the KDrama goddess must be looking out for her flock to do something increeeedible like this. 
I think this is the first time the Kdrama Gods have actually listened to a fan. Maybe the rest of us arent obsessed enough? 

Episode 2

The faint doesn't last long and Claire climbs to her feet a bit unsteadily, and perhaps too soon. She faints again after taking a look at her companions. It's possibly worth noting that this swoon is much more graceful and lands her in the arms of Joon Park. (Kdrama effect? like gravity, maybe?)
Aaaaaand ... we know how this story will turn out. Lost in Austen is waving over there, hi! 
A uniformed waiter runs in through the front door, apologizing profusely for her having gotten in. He claims her as his adopted little sister (bwahaha she was adopted) and says they were supposed to meet out front. Joon Park doesn't know who this guy is, but our little sous chef, Plucky Girl, says that this is 'Seth', their waiter (Justin Chon). Was he always in the drama? Why doesn't Joon Park know him, then? If he wasn't, how does Plucky know him? Plucky has a name, too - Seo Yoon (Bae Noo-ri). Seth and Seo Yoon know each other? Just in the drama, though, right, Viki? Hmm.
He's totally crushing on Seo Yoon. And what was that look Joon gave Claire? 
I'm not yet convinced this "world" makes much sense. But let's just go with it
Joon Park is clearly intrigued by Claire's sudden appearance but asks no questions as he tells Seth to take his little sister and go. Left alone, BSL makes obligatory noises at Seo Yoon to shoo back into the kitchen while Joon practices his puzzled look.
((am I allowed to say that Sean Dulake could improve on his acting or do we like him too much to be critical?))
Nope. We'll critique out of love coz I'm really not sure if he's intrigued or confused by Claire...or if his tummy hurts or he's trying to remember where he parked his car. He must have gone to the same acting school as Oh Ji-Ho.
Plus, at this point I'm not certain if he's a good actor playing a bad actor (or maybe even just a stereotypical broody, silent lead), or just, you know, not that great.


Once outside, Claire regains some steadiness - but as they walk to the end of the block, she looks around and realizes that she's looking at familiar streets, building facades, and character types. She turns to Seth in puzzlement, who proudly welcomes her to Dramaworld. Apparently all the dramas are happening all at once, so I imagine that gets tricky with those 4 or 5 houses they like to use. And the actors who appear in more than one show at a time, how does that work? Split personalities?
See, this is where I THINK the writers didn't really, well ... think too much? We all know that there are actors impersonating characters, so are we to believe that here, in this world, we only find the characters? All of them at once? What happens when a drama stops airing, do the characters continue to live in Dramaworld? Or do they just disappear? 
It's all explained in the rule book. What I want to know is how does he know this is Dramaland? 
Claire is pleased to discover that Seth speaks English, and he's happy to explain to her that this is Dramaworld, as opposed to the Real World. Seth's from the Real World, too. They grab a cab and Claire's thrilled to learn that she can understand the cabbie because, as Seth explains, 'Everything here is subtitled. After a while you won't even notice it, and it'll be like you understand Korean.' She proceeds to state 'I can understand Korean now!' in English, while halting Korean subtitles appear below her face. Ohhh, Viki...the SHADE. (For those DotS fans among us, the cabbie was the LTC at HQ in Urk. - oh, the one who overacted so badly?! Yes! It's him!)
This scene was cute. And quite clever, because we don't need to worry about language in the upcoming eps. Claire's enthusiasm also felt quite real and it was about here that I decided I wouldn't be mean.  
Back at his apartment, Seth explains to Claire that there is no such thing as coincidence in Dramaworld. 'It's always us,' he says 'The facilitators.' Claire wonders why her and confesses that she's not even the main character in her own life, but Seth has no answers.
Actually, he thinks that makes her perfect

What he does have, carefully stored in a safe, is The Book of KDrama Laws (did he steal that from Rimbutt mary?!). This is the facilitator's guide and it contains all the laws, characters, plots (check that) and tropes of KDrama. He cracks it open and begins to read:  
  • Law #1: A drama ends with true love's kiss - defined as a kiss between leading man and leading lady. (that's bullshit, writers. Should have researched a bit better. There's hardly ANY drama that ends with a kiss and a million that don't. Duh) Yup. Besides the first kiss is usually between ep 10-14. 
  • Law #2: A leading man must always embody the traits of a leading man; confident, handsome, arrogant, but always with the leading lady's interests at heart. Everything is for her. (that's bullshit again!)
  • Law #3: The leading man will take a hot, steamy shower - Claire squeals and Seth responds with resignation that ALL the girls like that one. Yes we do, Seth. Yes we do. (I'm despairing though..... There are TONS of dramas with no shower scene! Believe me, I know!) (Rules are meant to be broken?)
  • Law #4: There can be bumps and detours but every twist is actually leading toward true love. (have they heard about melos?!) As a melo avoiding fan...this rings true. This is more a Pasta type drama than an innocent man.
  • Law #5: Upon true love being achieved, every drama will be reset. Character's memories are wiped clean in preparation for their next drama so that they can fall in love for the first time again, and again, and again. (Indeed, when looking at photos on Seth's walls, we see that the actors playing Joon Park and Seo Yoon have been paired up many times, and that Seth has been a minor figure in each, playing his part in bringing the two together.) (Okay, so in Dramaworld, characters have memories? There's avatars of actors running around who get inprinted with characters? When does the life of a character end? When the drama has stopped airing? But what about all the viewers who watch dramas after they'd aired? No, clearly, I don't get the logic of this world) That's Marathonland kakashi where everything happens over the course of 12-24 hours. 
  • Law #6: If by the last episode the leading man has not kissed the leading lady and true love is not achieved, Dramaworld will cease to exist. (Boo-hoo, so scary. Which means that all the cool crime shows like TEN and Pied Piper et al. have destroyed Dramaworld ten times over) That's Cableland kakashi. The rule there is probably if the lead dies or something the land dies too. 
This possibility is shocking to Claire and upsetting to Seth as well. After all, if Dramaworld ceased to exist, he would lose the one thing he cared about. He asks her to stay and help but initially she demurs; she's worried her father will be even more angry than he already is. Seth helpfully explains that time passes differently in Dramaworld. It could be weeks, months, years there, but only the length of an episode will have passed in the real world. If she stays to help Seth right Taste of Love, it will only take the remaining 8 episodes - 8 hours back home. Her father wouldn't even have time to miss her. With that, Claire agrees to stay.
Conveeenient. Don't get on my nerves, dongsaeng, or I might be mean after all
Seo Yoon is walking home after work and is greeted affectionately by a (very, very cute!) boy we know only as Oppa for now. Hmm. I immediately prefer him with Seo Yoon, not that I think Claire looks any better with Joon than Seo Yoon does. I wonder how hard they had to work to find a guy we'd IMMEDIATELY ship? Like, within 2 seconds of seeing him? That's just ridiculous. Dammit, Viki, you got me.
It's clearly because they're going the Lost in Austen way and this will make it so much easier. 
Second lead!!! so of course you have to love him Jo. That's what second lead syndrome is all about. 
Probably around the same time, Claire is out wandering the streets and comes across the exterior of the restaurant in Taste of Love. Just as we saw in the opening montage with Seo Yoon and Joon Park, Claire steps up to the window and peers in, and then Joon Park comes along and demands to know what she's doing.
They recognize each other from earlier, and Claire is thrilled to discover that Joon speaks English. Of course he does - as well as French, Spanish, Nihongo, and a few words of Malagasy. Of course. Just as our heroine does in Taste of Love, Claire asks for a job... and then Joon cries out that she's bleeding. It's nothing major, just a bumped nose from the startle earlier - but still. Viki, are you setting us up? Everyone knows the heroine is the only one who can get a bloody nose. Will Claire steal Joon from Seo Yoon and destroy Dramaworld?
Sadly.... I wouldn't mind. Just destroy it.
I cackled so hard when she had the nose bleed. 
As the episode ends, we realize that someone's watching Joon and Claire... someone dressed suspiciously, all in black, just like the person who pushed Joon's father off the roof in the opening montage. I'll go out on a limb and say that facilitators might have to do some harsh things, too, and maybe this mystery figure is...SETH.
I hope it's the Pied Piper! 
I was expecting some creepy type music. Maybe there's an evil facilitator who's totally over kdrama and wants to go home but the only way they can is by killing Dramaworld. Oh! oh! or even better, a failed facilitator who destroyed the previous Dramaworld and as punishment wasn't allowed to go home and has now grown bitter from the experience.
I wonder if at some point in the future we'll start murmuring 'Facilitator' the way we do 'Scheduler' or 'Conductor.'

Comments

Thank God the Eng-lang actors speak in normal cadence. Overall, not bad. Not bad at all. Going in, I figured that the drama would be about saving the drama, and that along the way Claire and the waiter who turned out to be Seth would fall for each other - they do both come from the Real World, after all. But now I wonder if maybe there won't be a few swaps coming up.
It's a 100% Lost in Austen set-up, I hope they won't get sued! Yes, so, it's not bad. But it becomes worse the more you think and write about it, which is unfortunate. I think it's just not clever enough. There was a lot of nonsense sprouted about Kdrama, which, yeah, was probably meant to be funny, but if you come up with "laws" then at least make sure they make sense and are accurate. 
Viki needs Mary.
It's definately better than the BoF debacle but I don't understand why they can't get better actors? Like...there are a bajillion actor wannabes surely they can find somebody good...no? It's not like this is an indie production by student directors. Viki is owned by a LARGE corporation. Pay up for some good actors!!!  
Joon is totally going to fall in love with Claire (even tho she looks twelve), Seth will finally reveal his crush on Seo Yoon and the big bad in the car will try to kill somebody

The episodes are very short, which I didn't know going in. Yay! Recapping is HARD, yo.
Best thing about this show: the short episodes.
Agreed. Short enough so they don't mess it up completely. Over all I'd give it a B.
I'm going with C+, maybe a B-.

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