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Kairos: When You Have Time

Spoilers ahead, matey.

Writing involving time travel, even if the characters are not actually traveling through time, can be tricky. I admire any writer who makes the effort. Kairos is a very strong second to the more superior drama Signal from 2016, but I enjoyed and found it brought its own uniqueness to the genre.

Speaking of the genre, I’m not certain it has a name and have seen it primarily with Korean film and TV, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t used elsewhere. For my purposes, I will call it Time Interchange, a genre that involves time travel without the characters actually traveling through time. The “traveling” part is usually done by some medium or device of communication, as in a mailbox or cell phone or walkie-talkie. The characters on either end are separated by time, weeks, years, or months, one ahead, one behind. I first encountered this genre with The Lake House with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. Later in a random book thrift in Tallahasee, I came across the original movie, a Korean one call Il Mare. I quite liked the original and found the acting much better than The Lake House. Although the plots can get confusing due to the time differences, time interchange is a perfect genre for suspense and mystery.

Kairos begins with an extremely heart-wrenching episode. I had to grab a tissue several times as the plot was just brutal. Kim Seo Jin, an executive for a powerful construction company, loses everything precious to him in quick succession. Actor Shin Sung Rok (The Last Empress) is an impressive lead here, and his acting is off the charts. He is well matched by Lee Se Young (Memorist), who plays convenience store worker Han Ae Ri who has a cell phone with very unique capabilities: At 10:33pm each night, she is able to call Kim’s phone for exactly one minute. Not so remarkable in itself, until the two figure out that Han Ae Re is in the past, a month behind when Kim Seo Jin is living!

Although, as always, a little slow for my tastes, Kairos delivers. The word kairos means opportunity and is fitting as the characters are given a fantastical opportunity to change their destinies and that of those around them. A shout out to Park Seung Woo and whoever he hired to be cinematographer, as the cinematography and the shote are unique and top notch. So many episodes have the feel of a movie, not a show. And the camera shots and angles clearly are an effort to move the story along. The music was also spot on and there was almost an 80s, early 90s feel to the show at times.

One of the biggest themes in the show is loyalty. Han Ae Ri has probably the most loyal pair of friends in the world, aside from stolen money, but, hey, it’s just money. Kim Seo Jin quickly finds that no one is loyal to him and soon relies heavily on the loyalty of these strangers from the past. The minor villains played by Ahn Bo Hyun from Yumi’s Cells, and Nam Gyu-Ri from Heartless City end up being a perfect pair for each other and it’s infuriating how the writers especially give Ahn’s character so many chances to continue messing things up for our leads. Both actors had great, great moments, but there is something about them that is missing that star quality, that X factor of most leading actors. I think it is screen presence. Both are very good looking, but in a generic, Abercrombie and Fitch kind of way, if that makes sense.

What Kairos brings to time interchange, is a butterfly effect. When things change in the past, the future–or present, depending on how one looks at it–Kim Seo Jin starts to remember those events, and even events that get redrawn or rewritten due to Han Ae Ri’s efforts. It’s trippy and fun. In the latter efforts, the writing gets very intense as they scenes start constantly flipping back and forth between to the two time periods. It’s all stamped on the screen for the viewing audience, so in that way is easy to keep track, but because we are dealing with two Kim Seo Jins at that point, it’s tricky to keep track of what’s going on. As a whole, the show uses the time difference to great suspense, but never really found a solid groove with that. Many episodes had a lot of boringness with some excitement. Pacing in any show is difficult and even more so with this type of genre. Signal has better pacing and overall suspense than Kairos, but, like I said, Kairos is a very close second. An easy pacing fix would have been to make the show only twelve episodes instead of sixteen. I look forward to what both leads do in the future, Shin Sung Rok, especially. He was definitely the standout performance and carried the show well.

Another show that involves actual time travel that is outstanding is Tunnel starring Choi Jin Hyuk (Zombie Detective) and Yoon Hyun Min (Witch’s Court).

Kdrama partial Review: Yumi’s Cells

What is really going on in people’s heads, especially men and women, and especially when it comes to romance? Kdrama Yumi’s Cells takes this literally, showing in animation the feelings and thoughts the main characters are experiencing. It is quite entertaining, to say the least, but the drama is only six episodes in, so I’m a little worried the writers won’t be able to sustain the awesome momentum they have going on.

Fortunately, Yumi’s Cells is based on a webtoon, so has a solid source to play off of and use. Starring drama It Girl, Kim Go-Eun (Goblin, Eternal Monarch) and handsome Ahn Bo-Hyun (Kairos), the story follows a slightly boring and depressed Kim Yu-Mi as she searches for love once again. Despite her depression and fear, Yumi is really not afraid to keep trying, and that hope is ultimately great to see. Kim nails her acting as usual. Ahn’s acting is a bit expressionless at times, but he plays his character well, a smart dude who needs a push from a friend to jump into dating. After that he’s all for it, and although I think I’ve grown past the Shaggy, Scooby-Doo look since college, his long hair has grown on me over the episodes. The chemistry between the two is great and both know how to kiss onscreen, always a plus.

The X factor with this show are the cells, computer animations of what Yumi and other characters are thinking and feeling. At first they just seemed like annoying decoration, but over the story I’ve come to really like them and they are super funny. Important note: These are not cartoons for kids. The show isn’t super smutty or anything–at least not presently–but it is clearly a drama and animation for adults, not children. One will either love or hate the cells, and if you find yourself hating them, this show will not be for you. It’s certainly not a new concept, but probably something that hasn’t been done in an entire TV show before.

The humor in the show is pretty spot on as it deals largely with romance and the different approaches men and women have, as well as the misunderstandings. These are things most of us can relate to, especially the embarrassing parts, and makes for an addictive watch. So far the minor characters aren’t really standouts to me, any passible actor could play them, but I like the soundtrack, the writing, and the flip-flopping between the drama and the animation. The fact that Yumi and her love are kinda boring on the outside actually works great with the fireworks going on in their insides. Wonderful contrast, and, again, relatable for a lot of people, especially us emotion-filled women. Looking forward to seeing where it’s going and hoping the show can keep up the good momentum. Only on viki.com.

Witch’s Court: A Character Piece

Although I’m disappointed this show isn’t as much of a RomCom as I thought it would be, I am digging it, especially the main character. At about 75% through, Witch’s Court is still engaging because it’s more of a character piece than anything else. Yes, the main plot is important, too, but even if prosecutor Ma Yi Deum doesn’t get the justice she’s hoping for, the writing leaves no doubt that she’ll keep on trying no matter what happens.

Witch’s Court came out in 2017 and stars Jung Ryeo Won (The Lord of Dramas) and Yoon Hyun Min (Tunnel) as public prosecutors Ma Yi Deum and Yeo Jin Wook. Yi Deum, by demotion, and Jin Wook, by choice. both end up working in the Crimes against Girls department, a place Yi Deum assures Jin Wook no prosecutor actually wants to be.

Ma Yi Deum is a love her or hate her character, though most will probably begin by disliking her. She’s abrasive, mannish, and conniving to a fault–barely any empathy can she spare for her own sex. But she’s our heroine, so of course Yi Deum is doing more than just climbing up the government ladder. Her tragic past has everything to do with the Crimes against Girls department, for when she was a kid her mother disappeared suddenly and we, the audience, get to know that her mother had some very key information on a sexual abuse case against a powerful police officer. That officer is now a politician and running for mayor of the city. It fast becomes Yi Deum’s goal to bring the rapist to justice.

This show is mostly a procedural one, focused on the cases brought to the department, and it’s a little off-putting that these crimes against women, children, and also men, are not really given the gravity they deserve. Everything is presented in a near-campy way, and like the prosecutors in the department, it’s easy for us to forget the horrific, invasive nature of the crimes throughout the show. On the other hand, sex and abuse crimes are pretty awful to handle. A whole show treating them as seriously as possible would also be hard to watch. The emotional weight of what the team is dealing with largely is shown to the audience through the actions of their stoic leader, Min Ji Sook, played excellently by Kim Yeo Jin (Man to Man), and the aforementioned Jin Wook, who really, really wants to be there.

Yi Deum and Jin Wook make an excellent team. The latter is far too emotional and empathetic, while the former is focused almost solely on winning the cases. Both make up for what the other lacks, and both are smart in different ways. Although there is clear attraction between the two, romance is a small part of the show. Yi Deum is a very masculine behaving woman and Jin Wook a man very in touch with his feminine side. This makes for a fun and funny dynamic, and the RomCom tables are turned a bit here, as it’s usually the guy who’s the jerk in the beginning.

Add to that a powerful soundtrack, great minor characters, and plenty of heartbreaking and frustrating cases, and Witch’s Court is a good, solid watch. Jung Ryeo Won is great as Yi Deum, and as annoying as she is, I really do like the character. Yoon Hyun Min, who is necessarily easy on the eyes, taps into his wonderful emotive acting that I first saw in the awesome show Tunnel. His Jin Wook is just a bit too much, too caring, too wanting to do the right thing. By the second episode it’s clear why both leads are still single.

Witch’s Court is a fun watch that rests heavily on the character of Yi Deum and her interactions with her opposite, Jin Wook. It stops short of being great, but hits all the points of a good RomCom without actually technically being a RomCom. This is a procedural drama with low-key comedy running throughout. I am excited to see how it ends.

2 Kdrama partial reviews: That Kiss!

Backstreet Rookie

Beautiful people can be funny, too. Backstreet Rookie starring Ji Chang Wook (The K2) and Kim Yoo Jung (Clean with Passion for Now) is a crazy comedy that reminds me of something Stephen Chow of Kung Fu Hustle fame would come up with. Sadly, I’m not digging it for now, but both Ji and Kim are pretty funny. Kim’s character’s violence is over the top and not meant to be serious, yet it just made me uneasy while watching. Beating people up when you don’t get your way isn’t really funny, no matter how it’s portrayed. What’s fascinating to me is the setting: Ji’s character owns a 24-hour convenience store, and even though I only watched a couple episodes, it was interesting to see him struggle with keeping the store running. He’s a hard worker sort of at the top of his game, but with serious self-confidence issues who lets a girl much his junior run circles around him. Thus, the comedy. Might give it another try later on to see if both characters improve.

Forest

Although this one isn’t a fairy tale, being set in a forest gives the show a fairy tale quality. Forest stars the handsome Park Hae Jin (Cheese in the Trap) and Jo Bo Ah (Tale of the Nine-Tailed) and is about a rescue worker and a doctor who end up as roommates in a remote forest village. The acting is great in this, both leads are their characters and have great screen presence and amazing chemistry. I take back what I said about Jo needing to work on her acting. She didn’t really have chemistry with the other leads I’ve seen her with. Here, the chemistry is blinding obvious. Park is spectacular and although his character is somewhat of a bad boy, he’s still likable and quite funny to boot. That reminds me, I never finished watching Man to Man that he was in… The second lead, No Gwang Sik is fun to watch, too. This is his first drama and he looks comfortable and great on screen. His looks bring to mind Peter Pan or Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The forest setting is refreshing and the cinematographer did an amazing job. Every shot looks magical. The plot, however, is all over the place, at least up until episode 13 (there are 32 episodes), and I really think this is one show that does not benefit from half-hour episodes. Because the setting itself is more relaxed than the usual city setting, it would have made more sense to put Forest into one-hour episodes. The timing is often too rushed and throws things off. As far as where the show is going, I’m not sure if we’re to suddenly find out this is a magical forest of some kind or merely that the leads have a childhood trauma they experienced there. Or is this a morality tale about corporations infringing on nature, a la Ferngully? We’ll see.

The romance is fun and the banter hilarious, but at times it is just bicker, bicker, bicker. Always thought it would be kind of fun to have a romance where you tease each other and fake fight all day, but now I’m not sure. Peace is probably a lot better, and more relaxing. But, wow, when they finally kiss is it worth it: all that pent up passion. Probably one of the best kisses I’ve seen in kdramas, and I’ve watched a lot. The key is that she really kisses him back, which doesn’t happen often on these shows. Did I mention their chemistry is off the charts?

Intrigued to see where the story goes and if Park’s character actually turns out being a good guy for both the forest and the girl. He keeps telling her she has a confidence problem, and it’s true. Both characters have psychological issues to deal with, but Jo’s character, the doctor, has deeper problems than just panic attacks. Her character and Ji Chang Wook’s character from Backstreet Rookie should get together to form a self-help club. Despite also having bouts of mental trauma resurfacing, Park’s character has perhaps too much confidence in himself. However, I think it would be sad to see him fall, as his character is so smart. It would be nice to see him win at the game he’s playing, and hopefully, that would end up being a win for all of them. Despite its flaws, Forest is definitely a show worth watching.

You’re My Pet: Oddballs Find Each Other

Kim Wa Petto, or You’re My Pet is my second Japanese drama. Although I didn’t love it like Pretty Proofreader, the frustrating characters make one think, and it ends happily, which is always best case scenario with a RomCom. This one is the 2017 version by Fuji TV starring Noriko Iriyama and Jun Shison.

Sumire Iwaya (Iriyama) is a reporter with beauty and smarts who struggles at life and is basically her own worst enemy. One night she gets very drunk and mistakes a young man hiding in a cardboard box for a puppy she had as a kid named Momo. Takeshi Goda (Shison) carries her home and ends up staying…as Sumire’s pet! If that wasn’t weird enough, there is an age gap of ten years. Takeshi, or “Momo” is 20 and Sumire about to turn 30. The pet thing is strange on its own, but made worse by the fact that Momo easily could pass for a teenager.

Despite all of that, I liked the main relationship and romance and wanted to see more of it. Here, chemistry is a key factor. The two leads are an instant family, though the specifics of their relationship get worked out over time. In contrast to that, we watch Sumire suffer miserably through a relationship that can never work. Sometimes chemistry just doesn’t develop, even with time.

It was tedious and also horrifying to watch as Sumire fails time and again to simply be herself with a man she was once in love with. Shigehito Hasumi, played by the handsome Terunosuke Takezai, is unfortunately equally clueless. Both are not comfortable with each other, but persist and persist, as if loveless sex can simply cover over the problem. It was so irritating it made me want to tear my hair out, but sometimes it takes people forever to realize the truth, and, more importantly, to act on it. Later on Hasumi gets a “pet,” too, and it is actually those humans that help the two finally understand that their relationship is just not going to work.

Takeshi says he likes Sumire in part because she’s not a fighter, she won’t compete for him or run after him or anything. That kinda makes sense because usually the men like to do the chasing, but he is truly blessed with a patience for her as she stumbles through a personal life filled with insecurity and lack of self-confidence. The pet thing begins as a sort of joke, Sumire is really trying to get Takeshi to leave and is surprised when he agrees to be her pet, or, rather agrees to make her his Sugar Momma. We find later that on the first night she kissed him, and perhaps it is that which is still keeping him around. But the only satisfying explanation is that they have instant chemistry and get each other in a way no one else does.

As for Takeshi, we get to know him in his profession as a dancer–a profession in which he excels–however he seriously lacks screen time compared to Hasumi. Incidentally, we don’t really get to know Hasumi, either, but despite being overbearing in his attentions to Sumire and failing to notice how uncomfortable she is, he’s a good guy. He’s sadly such a good guy that he lets a scheming receptionist in his company seduce him. Well, sort of. In the end, the two are a good match and seem to actually like each other, if not love each other.

By the end of the show, I found it to have been a tedious watch. Good, peppy intro song, but not nearly as funny as I thought it would be. Sumire is agonizingly slow to realize she’s fallen in love with Takeshi, and it’s sad that her character has such low self-esteem that she can’t simply break off her relationship with Hasumi. It was great when both finally happened, but it should have happened about ten episodes before that. Hasumi perhaps has a similar insecurity, which is why he didn’t break it off, either. The manga this was based on and the other TV/movie versions of this story are hopefully better.

The pet thing was weird, but I kinda get it, it’s a role play, a way or excuse to care for and love someone in ways that would normally not be accepted unless one is dating the person. Sumire and Takeshi are instantly physically close due to this role play, and it was really the age difference that was holding Sumire back. Holding her back, perhaps, because although she’s a decade older, she’s not nearly as mature as him. A large age gap with the woman as the older one is kind of a new subgenre in RomComs. Probably A, because there’s a ton of older women who are single and alone, B, youth is attractive, C, young men are often still more eager to please the women than many of their older counterparts. It’s difficult to imagine Hasumi, for example agreeing to be a pet to a woman. He’s just too old for it, and once Takeshi finally decides to stop playing around, he’s the same. The age gap works here because Sumire is immature for her age and Takeshi is mature for his, although it may not seem so at first.

It’s unclear how many Sugar Mommas Takeshi has had in the past, but Sumire with her insecurity helps him leave that lifestyle behind, taking on manliness and the leadership and willingness to provide that comes with it. In turn, Sumire truly learns to rely and trust another person. She can completely be herself with him, and sometimes I think that is an aspect that really defines love. Yes, there is uncomfortableness sometimes due to chemistry and sexual attraction, or even just misunderstandings, but at some point that wall is broken down if the relationship is real and going to last. The worst aspect about Sumire’s forced relationship with Hasumi was that neither tried ways of making it better. They just continued on hoping things would change. That’s not love. Love deals with things, really deals with them. Lovers shouldn’t brush problems under the rug, but seriously examine them. If what you have can’t pass that test, then what you have may not be love! All the time, Takeshi was trying to help the two, especially to get Sumire to open up to Hasumi. I think if she’d been able to do that, and able to rely on Hasumi and let him help her with things, the two would have made it, but it would have taken ages before either felt like family with the other.

You’re My Pet was a show of oddballs, and the biggest ones all ended up together. If America did this show, it would have been…way kinky. This story was portrayed largely very innocently, and although it did involve some sex, it clearly showed that simply having sex doesn’t and can’t make one happy. A good lesson. Love is really the thing to pursue. On the whole, the show was neither funny nor romantic, yet somehow it’s still a RomCom. Both leads did a great job acting, especially Iriyama as Sumire. She’s a difficult character on so many levels. Not a show I would watch again, but perhaps will someday check out some of the other remakes.

Awaken: Sci-Fi Awesomeness (spoilers)

This was one of the most well-written shows I’ve ever watched. Awaken by Shin Yoo Dam, is a mystery revolving around events that happened 20-some years ago at an orphanage called White Night Village. If you haven’t yet seen this show, I would recommend watching it while knowing little about the plot or characters, much better that way. I was confused at what was going on the first few episodes, but it kept me watching, so props to writer Shin.

The first episode gives a little teaser into what happened at White Night Village, but then we are soon introduced to our police investigation team led by Do Jung Woo, played by Namkoong Min (The Undateables). Haven’t seen Min in a lot, but he’s a cutie, and he’s my age, so yay for 1978! He is so totally awesome in this role and I can’t see anyone else playing Do. An FBI agent from the US enters the scene as she’s been called to help with the strange serial killer case they working, a case in which people appear to kill themselves for no reason–A Study in Scarlet, anyone? Jamie Leighton is no Sherlock, but she’s dogged in her work and gets along well with the team. And her backpack is almost its own character. Jamie is played by the beautiful Lee Chung Ah, and I know her best from that crazy movie The Temptation of Wolves.

Also on the investigation team is Kang Hye Won, played by Seon Hyun (Orange Marmalade), and although she’s an awesome fighter, she had way too many anger management issues at first, so that it took me a bit to warm up to her. The team tech guy is Yoon Seok Pil (Choi Dae Chul, Vagabond) and the new recruit is Jang Ji Wan (Lee Sin Young, Crash Landing on You).

Throughout their investigation, the team gets drawn into a deep, dark web, I’m sorry of which to say probably has some basis in reality. We all know of child trafficking in the world, and we all know that key rich people are the ones doing it and that awful things are done to the children. We all know scientists exist who care only for their experiments and little for humanity. Awaken puts both things together. The bad guys are truly villains, even the ones we don’t get to see much of, and it is their lack of remorse that is truly chilling. Aside from Min, the other standout actors were Yoon Sun Woo as an abused young man and later a villain, and An Si Ha who’s beauty makes her character all the more frightening.

Some watchers will probably get frustrated that little is explained in much of the first half of the show, but as the explanations unfold, their clockwork intricacies turn the story into a true morality tale. And the ending was poignant and spot on. Truly great characterizations and great writing. Can’t say much for the soundtrack as I barely noticed it, and if you’re looking for romance, keep looking. Love is there, though, and that’s more important.

As for the big spoilers, ah, I don’t really want to give them now. It’s so, so much better if you don’t know what’s coming. Kinda like life, really. However, I will never think of lollipops in quite the same way. Awaken is both a great police procedural and an old school sci-fi story. In some respects it’s a slow burn, but the payoff is satisfying. Did I mention the writing was great? Looking forward to what writer Shin does in the future. This would also make a great book.

Touch Your Heart: A True RomCom

Why it took me so long to watch Touch Your Heart, which came out in 2019 is this: One, it looked boring. Two, I wasn’t confident in the acting skills of either of the leads. Despite how good they were in Goblin, in much of their previous works I found both Lee Dong Wook and Yoo In Na rather boring and without good screen presence. However, as they’ve aged, they have improved much, and Goblin showcased that. Lee was especially good as the lead in Tale of the Nine-Tailed, so I thought I’d give him another chance.

Coming close on the heels of the successful romance fantasy Goblin aka Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, Touch Your Heart snapped up the second lead couple in that drama to star in this one. I don’t know how Lee and Yoo relate to each other in real life, but on screen they are gold. And gold is gold. Both could have continued success simply starring together in romances from here on out. Chemistry like that cannot be bought or manufactured. They are actors that bring out the best in each other. They also seem to not age, which is a plus in their industry.

Despite how many romantic comedies exist, it’s rare to actually find a movie or show that is fully romantic and comedic. Touch Your Heart was both, but I was very glad for the comedy because the romance was almost too perfect and promotes unrealistic expectations–no one is that caring for the other person, right? Based off a web novel, the story follows a down-and-out actress Oh Yoon Seo (Yoo), who dearly needs a break. When reluctantly offered the lead in a courtroom romcom, Yoon Seo eagerly accepts, promising to work at a law firm for a few months as research for her role. Fortunately her agency boss is BFFs with a CEO of the law firm Always, and the CEO is an embarrassingly big fan of hers. Yoon Seo is assigned to apprentice as secretary with lawyer Kwon Jung Rok (Lee) and immediately her bright and bubbly personality clashes with Jung Rok’s prickly introvert style.

As the main characters begin to fall for each other, the minor characters come out to play, and they are hilarious! They seamlessly replace the comedy of the leads as the leads take over the romance part. The biggest standout is Oh Jung Se (It’s Okay to Not Be Okay) as the CEO, who has great and sarcastic deadpan humor. The second lead couple are also amazing, and as in Goblin, they nearly upstage the main couple. Lawyer Choi and Lawyer Dan could easily headline their own show. Choi, played by the almost too good-looking Shim Hyung Tak (Melting Me Softly), and Dan, played by Park Kyung Hae (Goblin), seem an unlikely fit at first, but by the end they’ve convinced us (and themselves) they have something together that they couldn’t have with anyone else. Shim really needs to star in his own show, already. He’s stuck on comedy, but clearly has the presence and skills to do much more. He is definitely my latest Kdrama crush.

Props to whoever chose the opening song in the first episode, which became an instant addiction for me: “Strike Up the Band” by The Kinnardlys. It’s peppy and talks about living well and sincerely, a good fit for the story we are about to watch. Both leads live life to the fullest no matter what they are doing and have solid hearts and characters. Props also to the sound effects people! They had to do a lot of work in this one, but every weird sound makes it all more hilarious. They did a great job.

If you’re looking for a satisfying and heartfelt RomCom, check out Touch Your Heart. It won’t disappoint, the lead actors are gold together, it delivers unexpected thrills, and it is satisfying both romantically and comedically.

Doom at Your Service: No Action Figures Here

Doom at Your Service is the latest in a recent slew of paranormal romance TV shows out of South Korea. And because it stars excellent actor Seo in Guk (The Smile Has Left Your Eyes) and Park Bo Young (Strong Woman Do Bong Soo) I really, really wanted to like it, but it just ended up being a meh story for me.

Make no mistake, Doom has everything going for it, a unique paranormal figure and world, a fascinating dilemma our heroine faces, good music, great acting and very pretty actors. Almost too pretty, like, how could they possibly be real people? I joke, I joke.

So, what went wrong? After a few episodes, the main couple and storyline began to suffer from lack of action. Doom, or Sa Ram (Seo), is a cool looking dude who really doesn’t do much physically. He doesn’t get into many or even any fights, and although he visits doom on the people of the world, we really don’t get to see how it plays out very often. A symbol of this would be Sa Ram’s smoking. He never actually smokes, but only puts a cigarette in his mouth. Even at the end of the romance, I found the payoff to be very lackluster, especially compared to the recent Tail of the Nine-Tailed, which is very action packed, having the benefit of a clear villain.

The biggest sign for me that something was amiss with the writing was that I became way more interested in the secondary love triangle plot, to the point that I actually forgot about the other storyline and had to continually remind myself of the show I was watching. The triangle, too, started to suffer from lack of action, though. Sometimes a passionate kiss is necessary. Instead, we got quite a lot of talking. Sometimes you can have to much talking–and I like to talk–a lot.

To the writer’s great credit: All of the characters in the entire show had change and growth. I don’t think a one of them was missed, and that is a feat to be proud of, so if the action problem is fixed, I look forward to whatever he or she writes in the future.

One interesting takeaway: Okay, so if you’ve followed my blog enough you know I like to puzzle out how men and women interact together. With the love triangle, the woman is talking to her friend about the guy she used to like. She used to want to kill him. That sounds bad, but she didn’t really want to kill him, it was just frustration because she’s so attracted to him. Then they start talking about the new guy and she can’t figure out which one she likes. Her friend says, “Ah, so this new guy is the one you want to kill now?” Problem solved, now she knows which one she really likes, which one gets her all hot and bothered. Don’t know why, but I can say for at least some women we find the men we like to also be the people who irritate us the most. Probably just attraction and sexual tension or something, but men will probably find these women are easy for them to tease and to get a reaction out of. It’s kinda similar to when Hitch (the movie with Will Smith) tells his clients that hitting is a good thing. It’s not really hitting, it’s about the women being attracted to the man.

To some it up, although Doom at Your Service is a solid show with stellar acting and some great interactions with the characters, the severe lack of action and catharsis had me bored. The main romance would have worked much better as a shorter story, I think, and the secondary love triangle story, as well as the whole world of editors and writers, could have simply been its own show and entertaining in its own right.

6 Quick Drama Reviews

Tale of the Nine-Tailed

Starring Lee Dong Wook (Goblin) and Jo Bo Ah (Shut Up Flower Boy Band). 2021.

Enjoying it a lot more the second time. The characters are all great.

The Devotion of Suspect X

This one’s a Chinese movie from 2017. Starring Wang Kai (When a Snail Falls in Love) and Zhang Lu Yi. Directed by Alec Su.

Although I really liked a lot of the shots and the silence of the movie, it just wasn’t compelling. It’s a murder mystery that’s too easy to figure out, and although the friendship of the main two men is interesting, the story just isn’t thrilling in the way it could have been. The movie is based on a book and there are some other adaptations, so might check those out sometime.

One Page Love

Starring Hashimoto Kanna. 2019 Japanese drama directed by Keita Motohashi. Not having much luck with the Jdramas. This one I will maybe finish eventually, but I find the main character boring. And three love interests in a little much for only a few episodes.

The Divine Fury

Korean movie from 2019. Although I love me some Park Seo Joon (What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?), this was too scary for me. And the theology was certain to bother me before long, so I gave up.

Touch Your Heart

2019 Kdrama starring the much beloved second lead couple from Goblin: Lee Dong Wook and Yoo In Na. Am only on episode 2, but it’s pretty funny, the kind of romcom women love to watch and probably most men hate to watch. Both main characters are simultaneously lovable and annoying. Whatever youth serum the two leads are ingesting, I want some! They look great.

Doom at Your Service

This one is 2021 and currently on air. Starring Seo In Guk (The Smile Has Left Your Eyes) and Park Bo Young (Strong Women Do Bong Soon), it is a slow-burn supernatural romance with fantastic acting, an odd world in which the god of it is pictured as a young women who must continually die for the world. Definitely not as powerful as Jesus. He only had to die once for all time. There’s a lot to like – the acting and chemistry between the leads is awesome. The soundtrack’s pretty good, and the love triangle subplot with the minor characters is unexpected and interesting on its own. Still, the show is a bit slow for me and muddled. The world isn’t so far (I’m on episode 10) explained well to my satisfaction and I would prefer more action. No real villain so far, except for Doom himself, and the god girl who sometimes seems good, sometimes malicious. As it’s got SIG in it, I may do a longer review when I finish it.

Updates

I’m getting so, so close to finally finishing my initial draft of TfD, Season 3. It would help if I actually wrote from time to time…but, there’s so many distracting–look, a squirrel! As I’ve committed to a book fair this fall, I’ve got to start to be on the ball, already. Fighting!

As for reading, I am now on Prince Caspian in the Narnia series and am just going to write a blog post once I’m done with the whole series. Have lately to find a Regency Romance that I like enough to actually finish to review. Nonfiction reading: Dr. Mütter’s Marvels by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, and then The Story of Japanese Tea by Tyas Sosen (I don’t know how to make the line above the o). Thriller reading: The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong, and then the second book in the Bowers Files series.

Breaking the Third Wall: Extra-Ordinary You

Although I pay for the Plus subscription on Viki, I don’t often watch shows in this category. Extra-Ordinary You is worth paying extra for. It has some flaws, which I’ll address, but overall was a great watch with a good script and good acting. Based on a web comic by Moo Ryoo, it is well suited to half-hour episodes, and although as usual the latter half of the show dragged a bit, I was excited to keep watching.

Extra-Ordinary You is first of all a take off of high school romcoms like Boys over Flowers. In fact, there are many references and nods to that show throughout this one, and although the shows are ten years apart, 2019 and 2009, the standard plot formula still works, although here we get a completely different take on it. Eun Dan Oh (Kim Hye Yoon Come and Hug Me) is a popular girl at high school, vivacious, with plenty of friends, and also some potential boyfriends. But something is amiss in her world as she suddenly begins to have amnesia and appears to be skipping parts of her life. Soon, she starts to realize that she is not behaving as she used to and is also starting to see strange things. She realizes the kitchen help, an older hottie that everyone calls “Dried Squid,” can see these things too, and goes to him for answers. Jinmiche, played by Lee Tae Ri (Tale of the Nine-Tailed and also whose real name is Lee Min Ho, sharing a name with the star of BoF and other dramas), and an interesting encounter with a book in the library, reveals to her that she is a character in a comic book. That is why she skips parts her life.

Eun Dan Oh finds this unbelievable at first, but she then embraces it, thinking how awesome it is to be the lead in a high school romcom comic book. But soon, she is quickly confronted with the reality that she is actually not the main character, but a supporting one with a rather pitiful back story in which she has a ticking clock heart condition and dating a boy who just doesn’t love her. To the horror of Dried Squid, who we find has been through this waking up of characters before, Dan Oh decides to change her plot line and defy the writer, causing all sorts of trouble.

The conduit for change in Eun Dan Oh’s story is a nameless almost characterless character that she eventually names Ha Roo (Ro Woon Where Stars Land). For much of the beginning of the show Ha Roo stays in the background, then becomes more and more prominent as his character gets filled in by the attention Eun Dan Oh shows him. After awhile it seems that Ha Roo may be the only one who can change any of the story, but why is unclear. The show is a bit trippy and reminded me of the Scream movie series in which the characters also talk like they are aware they are characters in a production. Eun Dan Oh alternates between explanation and frustration at herself and her friends acting just the way the writer wants. We never get to meet the writer, who is a stand in for the Creator God. Eun Dan Oh’s plight is instantly relatable. Who of us doesn’t think God has put us on paths from which we cannot divert? Who of us doesn’t have something plaguing us in our life, either a physical, mental, or historical affliction that we just can’t shake? Who of us doesn’t also want to change our story in some way, more than that, who of us doesn’t rely heavily on the idea of a hero to do that for us, to save us?

Although Extra-Ordinary You is often tedious and repetitive, it is also a refreshing take on the Kdrama high school romance genre. The acting is great, especially because a few of the characters are supposed to be bland, suiting the actors in the show who are maybe new to acting, or just not that good at it yet. Like in BoF, the teachers of the school are much in the background, as are the parents, and Dried Squid is really the only one who comes across as the adult in charge, though he never really takes charge, as he can’t. Although the show is a romance, the episodes focused mostly on that were s-l-o-w, and I was really glad they were only about thirty minutes by that point. I also really got tired of hearing the names Eun Dan Oh and Ha Roo, or, rather Ha Roo Ya. I think Ha Roo Ya was said more times than Goo Yun Pyo in BoF.

Other things it has going for it: The spoofing of the leads in the comic book versus the leads in the show, the soundtrack, all of the really tall guys–seriously they all appear well over six feet, but then Eun Dan Oh is very short. The scene stealers: Definitely Lee Tae Ri, or Dried Squid, who has a hard-to-miss screen presence, and Lee Do Hwa (Oh My Baby) who is definitely leading man material with his emotive eyes and expressions. Lee Na Eun as the stereotypical heroine in the comic also shows promise, but perhaps as a villain. Not everyone can play a villain well, but her acting got a thousand times more interesting when her character stopped being so nice. Someday it would be fun to read the web comic this has been based on.