Saturday, September 28, 2013

Background Boy Meets Girl: Scene-Stealing Couples

Prince Charming & Cinderella?

Who has time for them? You're busy watching the palace maid flirt with the royal bodyguard in the background.

Has anyone else ever been captivated by the side couple? So much that it even overshadows the One True Pairing you're supposed to be watching? Here are a few of my favorite scene-stealers:

1. The Bodyguard Couple (The King 2 Hearts)

No words to describe the earnest soldier supporting the plucky, wheelchair-bound princess and forcing her to face life again. Just buckets and buckets of tears that they didn't get a happily ever after. But their journey was so beautiful, I still love them.

2. The Milky Couple (Dream High)

There's something so realistic about Pilsuk's battle to lose weight, going through a beauty makeover, hitting it big, and then gaining most of the weight back. The beautiful part is she's still happy. The chubby duckling turns into a swan . . . and then back into a slightly-less-chubby duckling. And Jason adores her all three ways. Who wouldn't root for them!

3. The Right Now Couple (Flower Boy Next Door)

These two crack me up. She's a workaholic editor who refuses to sleep more than four hours a night and has bags under her eyes the size of the Grand Canyon. He moonlights as a designated driver and has to support his sick family, all while trying to fulfill his own dream of becoming a cartoonist. It's telling that their most romantic gesture is when she co-signs a debt for him. No hearts and rainbows for this couple. They've got real life to deal with, but at least they've got someone on their side while they do it. Plus you gotta love a guy who says her panda eyes are her best feature.

4. The Spoiled Brat Couple (Protect the Boss)

Self-involved, pampered, and kinda disloyal (at least at first). She likes his cousin. Then she likes him. Then he likes her and she likes his cousin again. Then she likes him and he likes his cousin's secretary. And on and on it goes. When their hearts finally get in the same place at the same time it's practically a miracle. They may be spoiled, but their chemistry was red hot.

5. The Monday Couple (Running Man)

Okay, technically Running Man isn't a drama, and Gary and Jihyo aren't a side couple, but who doesn't wait with baited breath to see what kind of flirty, pranks they'll play on each other every Sunday, in between ripping off each other's nametags.

So who did I miss? Since I'm still a drama rookie, I'm sure there's a fun, focus-stealing pair that I just haven't gotten around to, yet. If you know a good one, please fill me in.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Master's Sun'll come out . . . tomorrow

I felt a little like Joongwon when I finished this episode. There’s still something missing.

So many things went right, including Master regaining his memory. But I still felt a little hollow when the credits rolled. It leaves me staring at my empty hand wondering, what did this show used to have that it doesn’t anymore? As I try to process, here are five impressions it left behind when all was said and done:

1. Award for Best Surprise Guest Goes to . . .
It’s a regular Cyrano Dating Agency reunion up in here. First Lee Jong Hyuk guest stars and now Lee Chun Hee. Did anyone else do a double take? Apparently Chunderella, or whatever character he’s playing this time, can also see spirits. Is somehow involved with Taeyang’s accident. And may have even sent Coffee Ghost as a spy to keep an eye on her. Now THIS is an interesting twist. Too bad it only lasted about 30 seconds. More, please!

2. Award for Best Apology does NOT Go to . . .
Poor Twin Ghost. I’m still not sure which name to call her (although I’m betting on Hanna). She spends all this time protecting her wretched sister, who basically shrugs and says, “Oops. Sorry.” Let me see. Would that be an apology for usurping your twin’s place? Trying to steal her boyfriend? Kidnapping and torturing him? Or maybe, leaving her to burn alive in the car while you hightailed it with a fortune in jewelry? There aren’t enough Hallmark cards in the world to make up for that kind of backstabbing.

So far, the actress playing the evil twin has had two main expressions: smirky and extra smirky. But I really liked how she played the sun necklace scene when Joongwon verbally smacked her down. You could just read the inner monologue on her face: He’s staring at the necklace. I’ve got him now! Wait, my clever little con didn’t work? Did he just call me a counterfeit? This can NOT be happening again! First my sister, and now this cleaning lady!!! Where’s my black hoodie and sunglasses? It’s payback time.

The way she reacted really confirms the whole theory about Joongwon being in love with the other sister, and this one resenting it, and changing places with the sweet, wealthy Hanna. I’m pretty sure this girl belongs in a mental ward.

3. Uncle – Fighting!
This guy just gets better and better. His faulty memory of the Vase Confrontation was too funny, with a gangster version of Gong Shil pointing a threatening finger at him. But in spite of this, he’s still on her side. Whenever his wife wasn’t looking, he was planting a bug in Master’s ear.

I don’t think there’s any serious advantage to him if Joongwon remembers, but he keeps plugging away. The last conversation he had at the fancy shindig was hilarious: Did you know Tae Gong Shil is here? Oh, you don’t want to see her. My bad. But if you did want to see her, I’d mention that the creepy lady in black has some sort of hold over her. SOMEBODY should do something about that.

4. What’s with the flashbacks?
It’s not even the finale, yet. Didn’t we have at least four flashback sequences? The writers even got extra time because of the Chuseok-One Episode week. That being said, I don’t remember the scene they showed from the banquet where Master and Taeyang are in their own little, flirty world. How cute was their laughing and poking?

5. Where has our Sunny gone?
This is the point in the drama cycle I dread. All the fun evaporates like a coma ghost while the angst builds to a fever pitch. The episode itself had quite a few light, entertaining moments, but what has happened to our Ms. Sunny? She’s like a shell of the vibrant, affectionate, extra touchy girl we’ve come to know and love. I understand her guilt over Joongwon’s accident and wanting to protect him, but how long do we have to put up with this horrible of all Drama Tropes – Noble Idiocy?

We’re getting close to the finish line. The amnesia detour made me nervous, but it came and went without too much pain. And I really loved that the fake necklace was not a major stumbling block for our clever Master. Whenever he looked at Hanna Brown, it was either with confusion, annoyance, or “Oh, are you still here?”

Still some unanswered questions, but at least we don’t have to wait seven long days for the answers, unlike last week. To quote that beloved, kids musical Annie, “Tomorrow. Tomorrow. I love ya, Tomorrow. You’re only a day away.”

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sugar is Sweet & So are U

Sweet. Supportive. And head-over-heels for the heroine. No, I’m not talking about the Second Lead. Although, you’d be forgiven for thinking so. What is it with K-dramas and their cold, standoffish men?

But there are a few characters that broke the Arrogant Broody Hero mold, and I do mean a few. If we’re talking Nice Guys that started out nice, didn’t take any hard revenge left turns in the middle of the story, and maintained their decency throughout the whole plot, the pickings are slim. Honestly, it was hard to come up with five, but here are the candy-coated winners: 

Hyperactive Sweetheart: Enrique Geum in Flower Boy Next Door

A panda hat never looked so good. Enrique Geum spends every moment of his day spreading sunshine like butter on toast. But when he meets his neighbor, Go Dokmi, an emotionally scarred loner who hides in her apartment and avoids human contact like the plague, he makes it his personal mission to drag her back into the land of the living. His hyperactive, outgoing personality and ten-second attention span throws Dokmi for a loop in the beginning, but his soft smile and stubborn heart finally coaxes her out of her low-rent, ivory tower. In any other drama, Enrique would be the too-good-to-be-true second lead who fixes the heroine so she can ride off into the sunset with the rich, chaebol jerk, but not Flower Boy Next Door. Our heroine is smart enough to recognize the solid-gold sugar she’s found (or perhaps I should say that found her) and she knows he’s worth hanging on to.

Savant Sweetheart: Park Si On in Good Doctor

Every day is another slap in the face for Park Si On, a pediatric doctor who suffers from Autism and the prejudice he faces because of it. Despite these challenges, he’s a certified genius and can spit out medical jargon like the lyrics to “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. When Si On develops a crush on his Noona Sunbae, the way he looks at her and tells her she has a beautiful heart just makes a viewer go all gooey inside. This show is still going, so I don’t know where our Darling Doctor is gonna end up. But wherever it is, I bet he will still be the same awkward, but caring sweetie who tells his tiny patients that he loves them and talks about his pet bunny on a daily basis.

Mamma’s Boy Sweetheart: Kang Hyeon Su in Smile, You

Before Jung Kyung Ho played an undercover fighting machine in Cruel City, he was the car-designing, yes ma’am-ing, Beta Male on Smile You. If you missed Lee Min Jung chasing him around like he’s her own personal catnip, you should check it out. The one time he tried the assertive hand-on-the-wall-while-leaning-in-for-a-kiss-technique, his heroine broke into a fit of giggles. Although he might not be the personality powerhouse in the relationship, he steps up when necessary: defending his girl from his stereotypical meddling mother, and telling the persistent ex-boyfriend to get lost.

Small Town Sweetheart: Song Sam Dong in Dream High

Sam Dong doesn’t have a chance when the big-city, beauty Hye Mi blows into his backwater town. You can understand why she doesn’t recognize his potential in the beginning, considering he’s wearing a feed-bag like a poncho. But, by the end of the drama, she’s dumping the hot, motorcycle riding Taecyeon for the one who’s been there backing her up since the first moment they met. Admittedly, Sam Dong does get a little angsty in the middle of the story, but he gets a pass since he was going deaf and about to lose his dream. Even that handicap can’t stop him, however, and he gets the girl, the glory, and his dream in the end.

Scholar Sweetheart: Kim Boong Do in Queen Inhyun's Man

Kim Boong Do is about as Atypical as a Kdrama hero can get. He’s restrained. He’s polite. He likes to read - for fun! This time traveling guy knows how to treat a lady, no matter what the century. Even the crazy, sageuk clothes that I normally hate can’t stop his hotness from shining through. And our heroine takes full advantage of him, making up all sorts of crazy excuses to pull him in for another kiss. The best part is that Boong Do knows she’s full of it, but plays along because he likes the smooches as much as her. Who wouldn’t love a guy like that?

It’s sad how hard it was to come up with five men for this list. As you can tell from a previous post, I love the haughty, Mr. Darcy type as much as the next girl. But there’s a whole other personality spectrum that’s going virtually untapped in the hero market. Nice guys shouldn’t finish last – in the real world or Dramaland.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Looking on the Bright Side of Master's Sun

Amnesia? *Sigh*

As if the evil twins weren't enough of a cliche. I guess we should have seen this coming, and I think some of the commenters on Dramabeans actually predicted it weeks ago. If you read the synopsis for One Stormy Night on Wikipedia, the wolf gets amnesia and only regains his memory when the goat repeats a special phrase that was a code between the two of them. I'm taking bets now that the magic phrase that snaps Joongwon out of his mental fog is "Get Lost!"

But until that sunny day, here are 5 reasons why the Amnesia Arc won't ruin our show. *Fingers crossed*

1.  Joongwon is NOT Gu Junpyo

One of the things I really hate about Boys Over Flowers (Am I the only K-drama fan that didn't like that show?) was the 11th hour amnesia. It seemed ludicrous that the guy would transfer his affections to a total stranger over a stinkin' lunchbox! (I know, I know, I'm over-simplifying it. But that was the gist.) Even though the evil twin in Master's Son is trying to lure our hero in with necklaces and children's books, he only seems captivated by the objects not the girl. Not once has he looked at her with anything other than curiosity.

2.  People have to pick a side

Who else is loving the Uncle more and more? I adored his previous "Bangshil, Fighting!" cheer. And now his wife has to grind his foot into the ground to keep him from spilling the beans.

And who would have thought Little Sun would promote our main couple's romance? Granted, she did it to keep Tae Gongshil away from Kang Candy, but who cares what her motives were. She helped!

3. More Conflict Means More Story

Admit it. Before the amnesia, there was very little story left to tell. What the big accident Taeyang experienced was and when Joongwon would come face to face with his past were about it. It wasn't much plot to fill four more episodes (or maybe five with the extension *grumble*). Now we not only have Joowong's lost memory to regain, there's also that uber-creepy ghost wedding lady that Taeyang owes a favor to. That lady is one of the scariest things on the show to me.

4. Munchkin Matchmakers

I wonder how many of us were clapping our hands and gasping "The Kids! The Kids!" when they appeared in Joongwon's office. After a whole episode of the labotomized adults staying mum, while our CEO insisted something was missing over and over. Even our beloved Secretary Ahjusshi wouldn't help. So the sight of those two darling meddlers clutching their new toys felt a little like Christmas morning to a frustrated viewer. Nobody bothered to tell them they were supposed to bury the truth like it was a national secret.  They stood there stoically and not only told our poor, confused Master that he's a special person to someone, they gave him her name, and place of residence. Bless their wide-eyed little, innocent faces.

5. Who Doesn't Wanna See Master Fall Hard TWICE

He may not even fight it this time. I've never seen a K-drama character so captivated by the back of someone's head. And he was the one pointing out the spark when he touched Taeyang at the restaurant. Total reversal from their first meeting that rainy night in his car. This love story may go even quicker the second time around!

If I hated the amnesia in Boys Over Flowers, I LOVED it in Secret Garden. I'm one of those suckers that relishes the idea that you're meant to be with one special person, and if you were given the chance, you'd fall in love with them all over again. As long as they don't make Hana/Heejoo-whichever-one-she-is a genuine rival for Joongwon's affections, and he spends all of Episode 14 following Tae Gongshil around, and making up lame excuses to see her again, I'll be a happy camper.

My stomach felt a little tight as I watched this last episode play out. It's not that I don't trust Joongwon. Why in the world would he fall for a cold, fake woman like the twin when he was so adept at avoiding romance until he met the force that is Taeyang? Even if he can't remember the Sun's warmth, I think his heart will automatically seek it out.

The ones I don't trust are the writers. How many dramas have we seen where we're left shouting at the screen, "Why are you acting this way!!!!!" as the writers try to drag out the story by making their characters do illogical, infuriating things? Let's not bother to catalog them, it would take too long.

This list of five reasons I made is as much for myself as anybody. I want to look on the bright side. Master's Sun has been really good up until now, so we just need to have a little faith. Repeat after me. It's gonna be okay. It's gonna be okay. (Please, Hong Sisters. Don't screw it up!)