17 July 2016

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Uncontrollably Fond - Episodes 1-4

Posted by JoAnne on July 17, 2016
JoAnne: I'm already in love with this show. I don't know if there'll be recaps going forward, (and you probably shouldn't call this a recap either since it's very high-level) but I need to love on my baby a little bit and there's just not enough space in RAWR for that. If there are typos it's because I'm already crying over what's coming, dammit.
kakashi: I'm very sorry, but it seems nobody wants to comment for you TT_____TT. This almost makes me cry myself. Well, let me select a few very pretty pictures for you at least. Oups, and maybe I snark a little. 
There's still time. Maybe another glutton for punishment will creep out of the shadows.  UPDATE: Guess not...
Episode 1 opens on what we eventually will learn is a movie set. Our hero, actor Shin Joon Young (Kim Woo Bin) is supposed to die tragically of a bullet wound in front of his bride on their wedding day, but Joon Young has other plans at the last minute. He refuses to die, demands a script change, and stalks off set.
Clearly a genius director. He did not need to take a single second take!
Sorry, what? Woobs is hurt. Can't hear you.
It's a huge mess because this scene is the big finale, supposed to air tonight - the script writer is refusing to make a change and Joon Young has disappeared. Where is he? At the hospital, demanding that his doctor change his fatal diagnosis. We don't know what it is, but there are x-rays of brains all over and that's NEVER a good sign. Joon Young is adamant, though. What would happen if he just flat out refused to die? Because that's what he intends to do.
I like his attitude. More people should do it like this. "I'm terminally ill? Yeah, fuck you. I refuse to comply." Problem solved!
Can we also program our brains to refuse to allow extra calories to count?
Now that we know the detail behind what everyone else assumes to be a spoiled star's tantrum, it's particularly poignant when Joon Young gets a call from his director later that evening, begging him just to die, just this once, please just give in and die and he won't ever have to die again. Poor Woobs. I'm already a bit teary at the thought.
The beauty of a single tear falling from a single actor's eye.
He's not single, he's dating Shin Min-oh, I get it.
Elsewhere in the dramaverse, a young woman lies hidden in a rain-soaked field, ready to film industrial waste being illegally dumped. This is No Eul (Suzy), our heroine. She's easily caught, probably because she was also on the phone with her room-mate who was distraught over a drama death - coincidentally that of Shin Joon Young. I guess he decided to play nice after all. When the room-mate wails that Joon Young died, it's clear from No Eul's response that she knows Joon Young and that this news is painful for that brief moment when she thinks it's real.
In case you were confused about the genre (happens), I'm guessing this one is a tearjerker.
Maybe we should just put a big box of tissues as the photo above the cut.
No Eul turns out to be an eminently practical young woman. When the dumpers offer money for her silence, she accepts without much quibbling - and doesn't even bother to deny it at work the next day when her colleagues take her to task. Stung, she defends herself and points out that they haven't exactly been immune to the temptation themselves. It doesn't keep her from being fired, but I do like that she's not sneaky even if she is corrupt. And all that money? Goes to loan sharks, except for the last bill which is donated to a charity. Awwww. Since we learn that she was chased off by loan sharks as a student when her father died, we're left to wonder if she's still trying to pay off that debt or if this is new.
If she does this often and is fired for it often too, she has great skills! Respect! 
It's the one really weird note for me so far - she accepts bribes so openly, yet as we'll see later one of her missions in life is to expose the corruption of a particular politician. OH well. I suppose I'll be watching this with my mental airbrush fully engaged.
These two, of course, are our romantic leads. Now that he's dying, Joon Young wants to find her and learn about her life, although he says he doesn't intend to meet up with her. He does find her, by accident, but they both pretend not to know each other for a while.
Oh look, Lin Shu lives with Woobs!
You made me laugh really hard... but wouldn't this instead be one of Nie Feng's descendants? (Nirvana in Fire reference, for those of you not into Chinese historical drama. Even if you aren't, that's a good one.)
No, he had a relapse!
In slowly unfolding flashbacks over the course of the initial episodes we learn that they knew each other in high school, that they each liked the other but neither knew that, and that their 'relationship', such as it was, was tempestuous for many reasons - chief among them a star-crossed fate involving their fathers and their own fiery tempers. In an oddly funny little thread running throughout the episodes, it also seems that Joon Young has the bad luck of having his pranks go horribly wrong either by making horrible situations worse for her or by almost killing her. More than anything, it seems his own bad behavior is the catalyst for his interest and concern for her well-being, and affection grows from that. We've yet to learn how they lost contact for these past several years.
In the genre of "tearjerker" you always have the fated YouWish-Lovers. 
It's hard to get super emotional about long, happy relationships.
He's silent on the subject of his feelings for her and covers them with a typically bratty attitude even in the present day, but to himself he admits that he'll do anything to keep her nearby even if it means making her life miserable. By the time the four episode expository arc has concluded, he's actively suffering (in secret) from whatever is killing him, and only has three months to live. He's agreed to do a documentary with her as PD, and when he learns that the subject is 'the beauty of life, as shown through the joys of a bucket list' he seizes on the opportunity and asks her to date him for three months, so they can go through his list together for the docunentary.
Hear the death-clock ticking? And oh look! It's Woob's angry face! 
Not to be mistaken with his 'do you smell that?' face.
I know. I'm already crying. He's going to live out his secret dream of being with the woman he's loved since his school days, by pretending to live out his bucket list with her while they fake-date for the camera. (It won't be the first time they've fake-dated, either.) This is going to be incredibly heart-wrenching, isn't it? When is she going to find out he's dying? Ughhhhhhh.
What will Lin Shu say to this though?
Woof!
Agony awaits us, friends. But there are compensations.
He looks pumped up! He also clearly likes himself, which is a good thing if you're about to die.
How could you NOT like having that stare back at you from the mirror? (Unless you were a girl. That would be weird and a little frightening.) I very much appreciate that Woobs has grown from that odd looking skinny boy to this delicious man. In case anyone was in doubt.
Rounding out the cast are his estranged mother - she disowned him when he became an actor, but he keeps going around, hoping to wear her down. He's got an honorary uncle, too, and that uncle's son is his manager. The uncle is played by the always-awesome Choi Moo Sung, and he's been secretly in love with Joon Young's mom for years. Assemblyman Choi, Joon Young's secret father and all around asshole, also has a wife and two acknowledged children - Haru the daughter is the head of one of Joon Young's most fervent fan clubs, and his son Ji Tae (Im Joo Hwan) leads a double life as rich son and poor friend of No Eul and her younger brother Oh Jik. Don't ask. It's so complicated and twisty you have to see it to believe it. Im Joo Eun completes the main players (so far) as the daughter of Choi's mentor, family-ordained fiancee to Ji Tae (who loves No Eul), AND the woman who ran over No Eul's father and caused his death. Got all that?
No.
You didn't even TRY.

COMMENTS

The drama is gorgeous. The settings and scenery, the camera angles, the quality of light, all of it is as beautiful as Suzy and as visually arresting as Woo Bin. Some scenes might even rise to the level of film quality - I'm thinking of the whole sequence on the snowy road, early on. There are visuals you won't easily forget, that's for sure.
It took me a while to realize, but this is (at least partially) pre-produced, ne? (Guess how I know)
Entirely pre-produced. As we've learned, though, that doesn't always mean that the drama doesn't go horribly awry.
Suzy is more animated than usual and this is exactly the kind of role that Woobs is good at - outwardly assy, inwardly mushy. All of the secondary roles are played by really solid character actors, which helps to support leads who may have star quality charisma but don't necessarily have top notch acting skills. If you're one who just doesn't care for Suzy or Woo Bin, I don't know if this drama will change your mind or not, but I can tell you that the acting here isn't really a problem and if you like a good cry, this is probably going to work for you. I feel confident that Woo Bin can handle the complexity of emotion he'll be called upon to demonstrate, and I guess we'll just have to see about Suzy. She's fine being cute, sly, charming, or angry. I'm curious to see how she handles the sadder end of things.
From what I've seen while ffwarding for pictures she's not worse than others. I won't name names, but others currently on the screen. 
I think he might be a little better than her. I never mind either of them, though.

There are some quality issues here, I won't deny that, but they're minor. The editing can be difficult to follow at first, although eventually rough transitions become clear. She's deathly allergic to dogs but when she suffers a serious attack the doctor doesn't insist she leave the house where the dog is. That kind of thing.
:D  He is secretly a superhero. Look!
I really need a cleaning superhero. I think that's the Dyson that our friend Enz is practically swooning over, too.
I am 100 percent on board for Suzy as the good-natured girl who's learned that she needs to grab what she can while she can in order to take care of her brother, and for Woobs as the hot-tempered, good-hearted guy who's facing a terrible fate. I want them to be in love, to be happy, and to both be alive. I know I'm probably only going to get one of those things, and I'm okay with that.
Ah, you know, sometimes they pull a miraculous recovery! Don't be disheartened!
One of them dies. Of this I am absolutely convinced. 

Overall the drama has a really old-school, classic tearjerker feel. You want to get me in my heart and wreck me forever? It's going to be Love Story, or An Affair to Remember, or A Love to Kill, something like that. Yes, I see them dying in the snow. That could happen. I want my heart to break right along with the leads. I want to suffer like we did for Coffee Prince, or Goong. This is totally in line.  I am prepared for the ending to wreck me, and I am prepared to die a thousand happily miserable deaths along the way.
Thank you for the lovely pictures and GIFs, Kakashi

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