June Premieres: Episode One Chopping Block

After a pretty disappointing batch of spring dramas, I was more than ready to check out the summer line up, though my expectations going in were pretty low across the board. I decided to avoid Dr. Jin and A Gentleman’s Dignity completely since neither seemed like my cup of tea, but I’ll be weighing in on all of the Wednesday/Thursday dramas, and should have seen Big by the time I post this. But judging from what I’ve seen so far, I’ve got a feeling that this summer will shape up to be pretty memorable drama-wise.

Bridal Mask (Gakistal)

Maybe it’s a matter of taste, but I was really not that impressed by the first episode of Bridal Mask. I found the tone shifts jarring and the action music cheesy. Also, I’ve never seen Joo Won outside of 1N2D, but his screaming fits didn’t exactly make me a fan of his acting. I’ll admit, my eyes weren’t glued to the screen (I was actually doing my nails at the time), so maybe that’s why I found the story a bit too choppy to follow. But on the upside, the established world is wonderfully rich, and there’s endless character development just ripe for the picking. It’s such a great time period to explore with so many layers of right versus wrong that there really shouldn’t be any lags in pacing.

My favorite premiere of a drama is hands down Padam Padam, which was engrossing, dramatic, and episodic (in that it told a full story in the course of its allotted hour) while still leaving me gasping at the edge of my seat hungry for more. So on a scale of one to Padam Padam, I’d give Bridal Mask a seven and a half. There’s room for improvement, but the fundamentals like cinematography, complex characters, and a layered plot, are all there. I just hope that the music improves during the fight sequences, that Joo Won can be intense without blowing my eardrums, and that the drama can find a smoother transition between action and moody character scenes. Pretty please, drama?

Verdict: Yeah, I’ll probably watch it since it’s sure to be an end-of-the-year-review darling.

Ghost

I don’t always watch crime procedurals, but when I do, I want them to be engrossing and suspenseful while plucking at my heartstrings with touching backstories and dark humor. Ghost had maybe one of the four. The main leads were so bland that I wanted to shake some personality into them. In fact, I was ready to call it quits for good until Daniel Choi’s character brought a bit of charisma to the show. And despite my better judgement, I did get reeled into the murder mystery enough to want to pick up the next episode right away.

I still think the show takes itself way too seriously. I know it’s a moody crime drama, but does it have to feel like the life’s been sucked out of every scene? The supporting players do liven up the proceedings a bit with their cute quirks, but if my leads only have one facial expression the entire hour, what am I supposed to do? I will be tuning in for the next episode, if only to find out whodunnit, but the jury’s out on the rest of series. The show just needs some spice. A pun or two, some self-deprecating humor – that’s all I ask.

[Update after episode two: HOLY SHIT. This drama is crack. The Phantom of the Opera has never been so creepy, and these plot twists? Hot damn, they’re good. If episode one was like meh, episode two was like a bucket of awesome poured on top of a sandwich of interesting. And I’m so excited that I can’t even think of a decent metaphor.]

Verdict: Hell, yeah, I’m sticking around! But I have my doubts about So Ji Sub’s ability to emote. . .

I Do, I Do

Ah. I Do, I Do is like a breath of fresh air after the intensity of the other Wednesday/Thursday dramas. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the first episode. I found the tone breezy and refreshing, and the plot was cute with enough heart to make the characters relatable. I haven’t enjoyed Kim Sun Ah this much since Kim Sam Soon, and I totally bought the noona-dongsaeng pairing because their connection stemmed from a very sincere place. My only problem with noona-killer relationships is that I always end up rooting for the age-appropriate second lead, and sure enough, blind-date guy charmed the pants off of me hook, line, and sinker.

I think I’m in for the long haul, though I’ve seen enough romcoms go off the rail to not make any promises that I’ll regret having to keep. But I have a good feeling about this one. *Knocks on wood.* During the motorcycle-angry-dad scene and all throughout the adorable rain-huge-umbrella bit, I got My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho vibes, which is always a good sign in my book since I adored that drama. I’d love to see this premise not go makjang because I think there’s a lot of organic storytelling that can be done in an unexpected pregnancy story without relying on overused tropes.

Verdict: I may not watch all the way until the finale, but for now, it’s light enough to keep me interested and entertained.

Big

It’s weird. I’m used to loving the trademark witty dialogue, ridiculous situations, and wacky characters that are staples of Hong sisters dramas, but Big had very little of what I expected. The first episode was surprisingly laid-back and melo, and the tone was much more low key than normal. Also, there was a distinct lack of blaring K-Pop OST music, which I appreciated. It’s not that I didn’t like the drama, it just wasn’t what I thought I would be getting.

I knew from the drama stills that Shin Won Ho was going to be adorable, but I didn’t realize how much I was going to enjoy his performance. The scene of him cooking alone in his house just killed me, and though he does have room to improve, I was duly impressed by his Kang Kyung Joon. As much as I’m going to love seeing Gong Yoo as a man-child, I’m really going to miss Shin Won Ho, the teenager. Lee Min Jung’s Gil Da Ran isn’t really doing much for me yet, but hopefully she’s a character that grows more endearing with time.

Plot-wise, I’m interested to see where this drama is headed. Now that it’s set-up as a noona-dongsaeng body switching romance, I’m not sure what exactly happily ever after entails, and knowing Hong sisters and their mythos, there’s sure to be some pesky supernatural laws that’ll muck up the works. And here’s ten dollars on the naked flying babies swooping in as the deus ex machina to save the day.

Verdict: I’m definitely in. If it’s Hong sisters, I’m there through thick or thin.

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