Rants and Weekly Raves #81 (RAWR)

kakashi: Here's an interesting question for you guys to ponder... why is DotS so popular in Korea and China (and elsewhere, I guess)? Is it really just Song Joong-ki (I doubt that, personally), is it the romance, is it the story, is it Kim Eun-sook? All of this? I find it an interesting phenomenon if certain dramas become insanely popular and I often ask myself what exactly triggered it. 
JoAnne: Sometimes things just hit the collective in that perfect way, I guess? I don't think there's any one thing about this drama or any of the others that hit it big that really justifies the mania. Sometimes a show comes along and just really hits the spot for folks. This one has a number of points in its favor: people waited a long time for SGK's comeback; we've got two well-loved stars heading things up and supported by recognizable, likable, capable actors in the second lead roles; big budget filming in an 'exotic' setting; humor, even excitement from time to time.  
Jaehyus: Pffft at "even excitement from time to time."
I think the fact that it's a 'sexy' portrayal of the military probably plays to an undercurrent in a society with mandatory service, and I've wondered if there's an element of national pride in seeing themselves portrayed as a key player in a UN effort. 
Very good point, I also thought about that. 
We already know that K-Ent isn't concerned with technical accuracy, so the military/medical/physics questions are a non-issue for them. Apparently that's true for China, too, at least this time
Jaehyus: I think it's that the world is pretty much entirely at war, and so a war story with well-loved actors in a known war zone (Urk is Afghanistan, right?) is just hitting the spot. And, also, in a weird way, this story is making East Asia feel a part of what's happening in Central Asia and the Middle East.  
Anyway - if you count to three and turn in a circle while chanting 'technical, schmecknical' to remove that pesky detail, the story is a straightforward romance with some thriller details that moves fast and looks great. What's not to love? (But yeah, I do think the public service warnings in China are nuts.)
My two cents: After the popularity of My Love From the Stars, I think China was ready for another Korean drama. Song Joong Ki really does have universal appeal, and Song Hye Kyo has appeared in at least one Chinese film and is a world renowned beauty. This has always been promoted as a romance, and I would imagine the majority of viewers are women who are enjoying watching two lovely people struggle to find their way in their relationship. The military theme is different, there is enough action to keep (most) people interested, and it is a beautifully shot drama. And honestly, I bet Song Joong Ki is responsible for 80% of the viewers tuning in. 
bcook: *slides in to give a little rawr* Its the good pacing. You don't notice the time going by so you want more and more. Good pacing and good acting can make a drama great. 


Jackpot (New)

After episode 1 - wow. Gorgeous visuals, Choi Min Soo is his growly perfect self as the King...and he's just one of a dozen solid performances from actors who are reliably strong. I hope this keeps up. Man, I hope this keeps up.
Hmmmmm... I was so NOT planning on watching this... But people are raving! 
It is beautiful. I had my sageuk-nerd gripes, like a married woman would not be a palace maid because all women within the palace belong to the king and are thus married to him, whether he notices them or not. Then this scene happened
Guess I'm sticking with it despite some of the horrible things that happen with the baby in ep 2.
Also, there are these robot eunuch twins that are just fascinating! I will take two for one, please.

Monster (New)

Another wow. You might not be able to tell just from the font, probably, but that was a very, very different wow. Here's the outline: Rich family fights over money; add a rainy night+cliffs+white truck of doom+bad brakes and you get a orphan who's blind but has super hearing; give him unlikable relatives, thieving house help, and lawyers at every corner, then add a spying secretary (but we like her) and - yes - a chicken delivery girl. Throw in a bastard of a guy trying to buy the blind guy's hospital for nefarious reasons, probably because he didn't get enough love from Daddy.
Ah, the orphan boy. He's paranoid (with reason) he's rude (yeah, gotta let him slide on this one, too) and he's HOT. Of course. Ah, the chicken delivery girl. She's cute, she's plucky, and she's outspoken. Of course. Naturally, her dad works for him, her brother has a rare disease plus is mentally challenged, and her mother is either dead or has abandoned them. Brother scares the bejesus out of the blind guy, who loses his shit and fires the dad, which means Chicken Girl needs to take on an extra job. This, of course, turns out to be as Orphan Boy's 'maid', which basically means she dresses him. (I haven't seen her do anything else.) 
It's fun for now. (I'm laughing at you, Show, not with you.)

Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho (New)

I like this.  I'm not at all familiar with Park Shin Yang but everyone else in the drama is someone I know and enjoy watching (they even have Number Two from Last!) and I like a good David and Goliath story, too.

Vampire Detective (New)

I've really been looking forward to this - vampires, plus Lee Joon, Oh Jung Se and Lee Se Young, all of whom I like quite a bit? Yes! Well, it was a serviceable opening. Nothing spectacular - but like I said, I like the actors. So we'll see.
I kinda liked it. I thought it would be vampire prosecutor lite and was ready to sneer but I like that he's going to learn his powers through the show. Also they stayed true (kinda) to basic vampire canon!!! How often can you say that? I'm kinda sad it's just one episode a week but maybe that'll build anticipation...or give you enough time to forget the bad. 

Page Turner (New)

Nicely done! All three kids have depth and this does look promising - may it turn out to be the 'heartwarming drama of youth' that the promos declare it to be.  I know I laughed and was moved by each character in turns, and it's only 3 episodes so it must move quickly.

My Little Baby (Damn it, why did I even look?)

Apart from being irritated that they'd even hope we could think Oh Ji Ho and Kim Min Jae were the same age, this is kinda cute. You'll recognize a lot of faces, and it's not so taxing that Oh Ji Ho can't handle it. The babies are adorable and I like the neighborhood ahjummas. Viki's got the first 6 episodes up but only the first one is anywhere near ready to watch with subs. Plus: Episodes are a half hour.
I did not even realize Kim Min Jae was supposed to be the same age! I thought he was just a former hoobae who quit the police because he wasn't suited to it. I like this show a lot and hope it gets subbed quickly.  I was waiting for it because I like both leads and Kim Min Jae was a bonus.  Plus, it's got 4Minute's Nam Jihyun, one of my kpop biases.
This man should never act again. 

Refresh Man

Continues to be cute, continues to be swoony whenever Aaron is on screen.  He alternates between teasing her (in the exact ways she teased him in school) and showing her how to up her game as an employee, but it's always clear to us that he's just as puppy-eyed over her as he was in high school.  How she had no clue is beyond me, but I guess when the boy in question is always pulling your pig tails, after a while you just figure he likes to hear you yell.
He's not always pulling pigtails...sometimes, he tugs hearts

Click Your Heart

I finished the seven episodes and surprisingly, really liked all four alternate paths quite a bit. You'd sort of expect this to be completely terrible, given what it is, but it wasn't. My favorite boy remained my favorite boy all the way through, but my favorite story changed. Give it a shot, it's fun!
I wrote about this last week, and I'd say give it a shot. It realy helped me through getting my budget done. It will help you, too. There was also a plot twist that surprised me, and dramas rarely surprise me now.
Don't remember names...know them as My Choice, Best Story, Never Had a Chance, Second Choice

Five Children

I am really loving this drama. I'm not caught up yet, but it has some really funny moments and the kids are cute. The in-laws are hilarious instead of being horrible, which is a nice change. I always love the opportunity to laugh.
Me too, Lafer!  It's so good-natured, you know?  Without being too unrealistic (barring some moments with the ex's new family, but even then...)  It's just people living their lives.  No one is evil, no one is completely stupid or a genius, no one is saintly. Sometimes they're ANNOYING...but in general I'd say these little events every week are true to life (with a little license for comedy) and I'd say the EMOTIONS are right on point at every step of the way.  People do good things and people do dumb things.  But every action is built off someone caring about someone else, if you think about it. It's refreshingly easy to watch.
Love all the storylines. Looking forward to the romance moving along next week. 

Marriage Contract

Does someone have a spare plane ticket to Korea lying around? I just want to go hug our poor little fake family! Ji Hoon's dad is bound to be revealed later to have a reason for being so cold - like, he totally loved Ji Hoon's mother and had to give her up because of his business and his family or something - but I feel NO sympathy for him and don't see that changing. He screwed up two families and given the chance he'll screw up the next generation, too. And the brother? What a piece of trash.
Just take my heart and rip it into little tiny shreds. I'm even overcoming my dislike for Uee and pretending that she's thin as a rail because she's playing a cancer patient. The kiss was off the charts but the story is so gripping and tragic. Yes, we're going into noble idiocy territory, and honestly I'm not sure why, now that she knows he loves her, she wouldn't stay married so she'd be assured of someone for her daughter. I'm hoping we don't go through marriage plans with Na Yoon now, that is until he finds out the truth. Show, you are killing me!


I don't think anybody of us squeecappers is really watching this, but hey, these pictures are cute.  

Pied Piper

I'm so happy I started this!!! Wow, simply love it (up till now). Characterization, plot, directing, the suspense, the sense of threat. None of my usual pet-peeves have made an appearance yet and would you believe it! Even the female police woman is utterly capable (though a bit naive and idealistic for the time being). And yes, sorry Signal lovers, I like this much more than Signal. Anyway, so we're doing recaps. 

Descended from the Sun

Song Joong Ki meets Healer. We're all gonna die.  
Wow, KBS gets to recycle one of their favorite outfits! Well done
What's interesting to me is that many times this show does not engage me, nor do I feel the emotion from any characters but the OTP. Onew can cry his heart out and I'm like, meh, and I just don't feel the emotion from Jin Goo and Kim Ji Woon. I can't quite figure it out. But the OTP gets it so right, and this week I thought was exceptional with the rescue and him putting his hands over her eyes, and then her watching him cry and getting a better understanding of how he really feels about things, and realizing that he does have remorse about what he must do at times. There is no doubt I love this drama for other things than the storyline, lol.
I resisted this drama for the longest time then watched 12 episodes in 24 hours. I'm officially team DotS!!! I dunno what it is that makes me love it so much. Maybe Onew's horrifying but fascinating and very incomprehensible bouts of crying? Or like the women I'm entranced by the early morning shirtless jogs? All I know is Friday (by then both episodes are fully subbed) can't come fast enough.

Come Back, Ahjussi

Pound for pound, this is the best show airing right now. It has heart and humor and a cast of talented people who are totally committed to giving us everything they've got, and I so wish that more people were watching this. It deserves better ratings. It probably deserves the ratings DotS is getting.
I love them. I love them I love them I love them
This scene was worth giffing.  
This show just gets better and better! And while I've been distracted by Honey Lee and Oh Yeon Seo's hilariousness, this time Lee MinJung just got to me, she's so pretty! 
She's radiant, I've always thought that.  Did you watch this week's episodes yet?  There are two twists.  One I've anticipated, but when it arrived it still caught me by surprise because it was different from what I had been expecting and SO MUCH better.  Another completely blew me away. COMPLETELY. I'm telling you, this show should be getting ratings in the 20s at least. It never got better than 10% and goes down every week - definitely the effect of DotS.  I feel really bad for the actors and writer and director.
It may just get more popular once it's being rerun.  Yes, the two twists blew me away.  Okay, the first one wasn't too surprising, but it certainly tugged at my heart strings.  The second one, wow!  Let's see what happens.  

Goodbye Mr. Black

Very lacklustre, huh. Is there anybody out there excited about this one? 
I've only seen two episodes so far, but it did leave me kind of 'meh.'  Nothing bad, but nothing to get excited over, either.

Ms. Temper and Nam Jung Mi

I love the main character. She's not one to kneel or beg or take being slapped like other kdrama characters. She fights back, maintains self-respect and encourages, in fact, expects it in all her colleagues. Amusingly, we got two new expressions from her this week, a smile for Nam Jung Mi's son who raised his own self expectations and went from a score of 30 to 60 on his spelling test,
and near tears
after her ex-mother-in-law hit her at her office. Okay, so she did take being slapped that one time because from an elder, but she still verbally defended herself as opposed to just shutting up and not saying anything ever , which always annoys me in other dramas. 

I also love how she insists on sincerity in the people around, refusing to accept empty apologies, or apologies on behalf of other people, and most of all, refusing to accept a worker-bee attitude from her colleagues. She gets her team dedicated to their work, and they, grudgingly, accept and respect her. In fact, Nam Jung Mi, who is totally aware of his own timidity, goes to picket a large corporation when they steal his company's serum formula. Before he met and worked with Ms. Temper, he wouldn't have dared, and just accepted that company's theft, but now he's out and fighting.


Of Kings and Prophets

What, you haven't heard of this show (ABC)?! Haha, no surprise, because it was cancelled after only TWO EPISODES! (a third one has since aired, but it seems unclear what will happen to the rest) The show is inspired by the life of King David from the Bible's Old Testament, but it seems that some religious groups did object to the, hm, somewhat graphic sex and violence scenes. Hehe. Of course, I HAD to wach it. 
Of course, I heard about it. I had no desire to check it out but now that I've heard how terrible it is, I pretty much have to watch it. Where's that goddamn list...
So ... well, there are some obvious casting mistakes (the accents!), the costumes and the hair !!, a rather bad and quite boring script, some sketchy editing ... but apart from that? It's definitely not the worst I've seen this year. What exactly didn't people like? Is it only the blood and the sex with the Biblical content? Do people think they had no sex back then? That is a strange notion because COME ON, how many kids did Gideon have? (Judges 8:30-31)


Ha, I didn't drop it after all :) And I'm glad, because this episode was a lot of fun. The show is still not going anywhere even remotely interesting, but it was entertaining enough for a mindless end to a stressful day. 
I didn't think you would... there were only two episodes left!

Daredevil (Season 1)

Thanks, JoAnne, for putting this here. I understood it as invitation to re-watch Season 1, so I did. 
The whole thing? Already? I haven't even started!
Ha! No. But when I wrote this, I suspected I would have by the time we post this. And I have, since, indeed.
Watching episode 1. Foggy is fun.
I wonder whether you like it. But I can't imagine somebody not liking it (well, unless you're of the squeamish sort)! Wait until you get to episode 10 for some extremely awesome/heartbreaking Foggy-ness... 9 and 10 are SO GOOOOD (Here's an article about some of the Special Effects used on Daredevil). These people are so human, including the villain! And every time our hero gets his ass kicked until he almost dies, I can't help but love him more. He really is my favorite superhero (followed by Spiderman). An idiot, of sorts, for putting this above and beyond his friends and himself, but a noble idiot ... and a religious one at that. I love that he is religious.
Oh, I like it.  I definitely like it. I'm on episode 5 as of last night.
I also watched this the other day and thought there was some really interesting stuff discussed about the series, including what it means to act in something on Netflix (spoilers for Season 1 but none at all for Season 2): "The cast of the Netflix Original Series Marvel's "Daredevil" | Talks at Google":

The Magicians

Is it weird how relieved I am that Julia and the religious witch turned out to be genuine, and not secretly evil? I mean, it could still go wrong in a big way, but at this point I at least believe their mission is sincere. Last night it dawned on me that the Q-Gang and the Beowulf witches need to get together to fight Martin, who continues to be absofuckinglutely terrifying. Leave my Penny alone, you bastard!
I like many things about this show (like ... everything?) but in particular, I am amazed every week by how much the show is able to surprise me with things I NEVER saw coming. It's entirely unpredictable in a VERY good way. Like that scene when you tweeted "it must be a dream". Of course it had to be something, but hey, there was part of me that reasoned that in this show? This could also be the reality.

Jane the Virgin

Who here really thinks the wedding will happen? Not Alba's. Of course that won't. But Jane and Michael.
They are so cute ....... don't hurt my babies! But of course... this cannot really happen, can it? I still very much enjoy watching this show, but I also know that I will grow tired of it in Season 3. They're already bringing in new people to not run out of stories, but I see a limit to that. Like Raphael's brother: the character isn't interesting enough. We already had the big monster hunt with Rose, and this whole Mutter thing is just boring. You also just said it ... how many times can they mess up Jane's love-life? How many times can she break up with Michael? I just don't think that I can tolerate many more similar-but-not-quite-the-same situations like this. 
This week I was feeling a bit unexcited, so I know what you mean.


DAMN. Amnesia! Hello there, old friend, didn't expect to see you here. This is the penultimate episode and anything could happen. What's with the weird time glitches? What's with the hat-man? And why are they not any more guilty over what happened to Bill??? And because I haven't mentioned it yet but always wanted to ... the guy who plays Oswald (Daniel Webber) is fabulous. So well cast! And so well played!


OMG SO CUTE :D This moment was worth watching hours of incredibly bad TV beforehand. 
So... DotS with magic?
I like Shadowhunters much more than DotS. And that should tell you something about what I think of DotS :) The scripts are probably equally bad, but Shadowhunters has Alec and Magnus or #Malec and that just beats DotS by the factor 10000. Look at this kiss! Matthew Daddario is such a sweetheart cutie, I want to adopt him. In all honesty, Shadowhunters doesn't do many things right, but it does deserve special mention for how it treats Alec's "coming out" (to himself and everyone around him)
Awww look at that puppy face :)  It was well done in the book, also.

Special postscript from bcook. Guys! Guys! Don't forget that viki's new, awesome *cackle* crossover show Dramaworld is premiering soon (April 17th). I'll be watching with bated breath.