Thursday, June 28, 2012

K-Drama Review: Big, Episodes 7-8

Read episode reviews for:

Big--Episodes 1-2
Big--Episodes 3-4
Big--Episodes 5-6
Big--Episodes 7-8
Big--Episodes 9-10
Big--Episodes 11-12
Big--Episodes 13-14
Big--Episodes 15-16

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 7-8

Oh my, I don't recall the last time I was this jazzed over a new pair of episodes. I am terribly, terribly worried that something will happen to ruin my favorite K-drama, so let's see what's going on!

Now our stalkerina Mari knows that teenage Kyungjoon has been soulswapped into the body of grown-up doctor Yoonjae, so now she's going to stick to him like glue. Where Kyungjoon goes, Mari goes! And where Mari goes, Da-Ran's younger brother Choongshik is not far behind. He comes looking for her and is really sad to see Mari in Yoonjae's house, randomly ranting about Kyungjoon (who is supposed to be in a coma), plus, Choonshik's mad at his sister Da-Ran for seeing Yoonjae (the fiance who supposedly dumped her) again.

Stop Confusing Choongshik, You Guys!

Da-Ran now says she wants to go through with Kyungjoon's plan to pretend to be his fiancee again. He chivalrously says that to spare her feelings so she won't fall in love with Yoonjae's face again, he'll be sure to never treat her nicely. Teehee.

After Da-Ran leaves the house, keeping Mari at arms' length is hard for Kyungjoon, not because he likes Mari but because Mari is like sand in your swimsuit--persistent and impossible to get rid of. Mari tries to work some Frog Prince magic on Kyungjoon by leaning in for a smooch. I would have called this the awkwardest kiss ever, but I watch K-dramas, so I've seen a lot worse.

Though This is Still Pretty Bad.

Nothing changes of course, and Mari asks if Kyungjoon himself really likes Da-Ran. He says yes he does, but he got rejected by her.

I've just noticed that Choongshik is practicing his English a lot lately. And he has no talent for it, but still. Awww. Mari is now ignoring Choongshik just when he thought he could give her his love confession, and he wonders if she'll have no use for him now that he's paid back his pizza debt. He asks his mom to send him to America, so he can follow Mari if she goes home.

It's Like the Never-Ending Chain of Adorably Harmless Stalkers.

New info: Kyungjoon's Uncle used to love Da-Ran's Mom, and I hope this does not affect the plot in any noticeable way. I don't want a lost-love subplot clogging up my bodyswapping romantic dramedy. 'Cause that would be weird.

Kyungjoon is spending a lot of time trying to put together the puzzle of Yoonjae (as many of us are)--he found a pricey ring that Yoonjae bought for Da-Ran, and now Seyoung admits that Yoonjae never dated her, so...then...what was his deal? Anyhow, Kyungjoon puts the ring on Da-ran's finger and says that as long as she wears it, he will never fall in love with her. Essentially because Da-Ran belongs to Yoonjae, who was probably a decent person.

Saddest Engagement Ring-Giving, Ever.

And then Kyungjoon says, again, that they should just get married since Yoonjae was already planning to marry her anyway, and this ring proves his intentions were true. But...if Da-Ran marries Kyungjoon now, won't she be stuck married to the awkward, unfathomable Yoonjae when the two inevitably switch back?

In a pair of hilarious mental fantasies, Da-Ran imagines how Yoonjae will feel if he comes back to his body and finds that he has married her already. Will he be thrilled at her perceptiveness? Furious at her obtuseness? She probably shouldn't do this. (Side note, I looove how Gong Yoo plays Dream Yoonjae so robotically. He's a total Stepford husband!) Da-Ran wonders what she truly wants in this scenario. It's hard to figure things out when she's wearing a ring bought by Yoonjae but given by Kyungjoon.

Exactly Who Has Put a Ring On It?

Choongshik asks Mari if he means anything at all to her--she says nope. Kyungjoon has 100% of her heart, and Choongshik's a big fat zero. Then heartbroken Choongshik runs away from home, like a hurt kindergartener! And he takes his piggy bank with him. BWAHAAA. Teacher Na and Kyungjoon square off over who has the right to search for Choongshik, so they both look. Teacher Na has this cutely weird CSI-Mission Impossible sequence while looking for evidence, and Kyungjoon just calls up Mari to do his work for him.

Guess Who Wins.

Kyungjoon finds Choongshik and advises him to keep his rebellions short and less dramatic because you never know when you'll lose the chance to make up with your parents. This is cool advice because it's like big brother-in-law advice, but it's also man to man, since Kyungjoon and Choongshik are really the same age.

Soon we get a flashback to the past, with Mari remembering the night Kyungjoon's mother was shot and killed, then Kyungjoon remembering the same event.

Not The Happiest of Memories.

The significant moments keep coming as we find out that the Miracle angels picture (that both Yoonjae and Kyungjoon have) comes from a book Yoonjae's dad wrote about one child saving another child, who saves still another child. Kind of a cycle of sacrifice.

Sounds Familiar.

Da-Ran says she still likes Yoonjae, without a doubt (No!), but she offers to marry Kyungjoon for one year, to take care of him until he's 20, which is legal adult age in Korea. So it's not a marriage but an odd guardianship that doesn't sound logical at all. Kyungjoon doesn't need anyone to take care of him anymore bcause he's been living as Yoonjae for a year. And no one can force them to marry, so it's not like outside circumstances require the marriage. So basically this wedding is only happening because the plot needs it to happen. Meh.

We don't see the wedding because it's a plot device and doesn't matter for its own sake. Da-Ran prepares to go to China for a solo honeymoon, while Kyungjoon gets to twiddle his thumbs at home. But Da-Ran forgets her passport in the car, and Kyungjoon holds onto it until she misses her flight and is stuck with him. Then they decide to book a new flight and go on vacation together. Kyungjoon almost faints at the airport, then a shot from the hospital shows Kyungjoon's body convulsing, and a soul rising from it? Kyungjoon says to Da-Ran, "I think I just went to my own body and came back. It looks like Yoonjae is returning."

Noooo, no Yoonjae return. Do not want! But hey, he had to come back sooner or later so we could get this mystery solved.

Is This Charade At An End?

Things I Loved:

1. Product Placement. I know, reviewers are supposed to complain about product placement on television, but I really like these super bright shoes that Big is pushing on us. In a previous episode, Mari was shopping and trying on pairs of shoes that looked a little like Ice Creams, and now even gym teacher Na is wearing them, to further cement them in our minds as something everyone wants to buy. I just think it's cool to play Spot The Product Endorsement in various scenes.

The Offending Footwear, Arrowed and Circled for Your Convenience.

2. Mari. With her bull-in-a-china-shop attitude and her princess dresses and jaunty little hats and bows, Mari is a manga/manhwa character come to life. I've never considered her presence a real threat to the people or the pairing that I like best, so she's just a fun person to have thrown in the mix.

And She Can Be Held Off With Just One Finger.

3. Choongshik. He and Mari make this show so much better. They're my favorite secondary characters ever, after Jason and Pilsook from Dream High. One of my favorite scenes with them is when Mari prepares for the wedding in her own version of a bride's dress, which Choongshik cautions her against.

Not That She Listens.

4. The Funny. The situational comedy almost never ends, though Kyungjoon is responsible for less and less of it as time goes by. Whether it's Da-Ran eating expired squid (Expired. Squid.) or Kyungjoon surrounded by a whole flock of clingy toddlers at the hospital, there are comedic moments aplenty.


1. Seyoung. I really would be fine with never seeing her again. She's a villain with the claws removed, and though she presents no threat to anyone, we keep revisiting her character as if she did. By now, she shouldn't be in the story at all unless they're planning to revive that cheating issue.

Demoted to Extra.


Growing Up: Da-Ran says that even if looking at Yoonjae's face causes her pain, she'll have to be a grownup about it since she wants to help Kyungjoon. And when she's about to meet Yoonjae's mom again, Da-Ran says she was usure of her herself the first time she met this woman, and she doesn't want to be like that again. Growth for our heroine! Hurrah!

Consoling Others: Kyungjoon consoles Mari when she cries. Da-Ran hugs Kyungjoon as he talks about losing his mom. Everyone supports everyone, really.

Theories: Yoonjae and Kyungjoon are first cousins. From the photo Yoonjae's dad has, it now looks like Yoonjae's mom was Kyungjoon's mom's sister. Or something.

Kyungjoon is going to die (or almost die) saving someone else. Makes sense. The angels book is supposedly about one kid's life getting saved so that he can save another significant life, and Yoonjae sacrificed his consciousness to save Kyungjoon, so soon it'll be Kyungjoon's turn to do the same.

Watch Big here on DramaFever

Episode Evaluations: Still my favorite show this summer! There are some shaky and repetitive parts, like Da-Ran waffling back and forth about wearing the engagement ring and constantly asking Seyoung the same old questions, but overall Big is just super. Gong Yoo's acting, the themes about growing up and taking responsibility, the side characters--yeah, this one's just beautifully addictive, and only gets more interesting with every twist.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

K-Drama Review: A Gentleman's Dignity, Episodes 9-10

Read Episode reviews for:

A Gentleman's Dignity--Episodes 1-2
A Gentleman's Dignity--Episodes 3-4
A Gentleman's Dignity--Epsiodes 5-6
A Gentleman's Dignity--Epsiodes 7-8

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 9-10

The show flips back to the last conversation we heard between Taesan and Do-Jin, where Taesan says of Yisoo, "If I knew she was interested, I would have found her attractive." Um. But anyway, Do-Jin's not threatened because Taesan says he still picks Sera over Yisoo. So this question is resolved. Again.

There's a big construction project going on at Sera and Yisoo's apartment, and Do-Jin sends the workers home so he can do it all by himself. Yisoo volunteers to help him, so he'll finish sooner and go away! But working together is an even bigger prize for Do-Jin, and he turns selecting nails for the wall into an excuse to hold her hand. Dawww.

Construction-Site Wooing, Step 1.

But there's something wrong with the direction given in these scenes. Do-Jin is looking like a happy puppy, just grateful for any chance to snuggle up to Yisoo, while Yisoo is looking like she's smelled rancid meat. It's just not working in the way it ought to be, and I'm pretty sure that Do-Jin is not intended to look like a creeper in this scene, but he does because of Yisoo's eww-leave-me-alone reaction to him.

Construction-Site Wooing, Step 2.

Also, these romantic maneuvers should probably not be conducted near a hammer, nails, and electric screwdrivers. Somebody's going to lose a finger. But Do-Jin's efforts eventually pay off, and twinkly romantic piano music starts to play for Yisoo as she looks at him. Someone's finally falling in love! And at episode 9, it's not a moment too soon.

Me Ahri's out at lunch with Colin when she grouses over seeing Yoon having lunch with his female work colleague (as Juniel's "Illa Illa" plays in the background). Me Ahri's always making scenes around Yoon, and I'm liking her less as time wears on. She even whines when Colin distracts her from watching Yoon leave the building. Sheesh.

Might Be Time to Move On, Honey.

Yisoo  appears to make a conscious decision to move on in her love life. She even outright admits that she liked Taesan in front of Taesan, Sera, and Do-Jin. Rock on! She says "that was a long time ago, though. Now Do-Jin's all I need. We're dating." she really happy and liberated of the old feelings, or is she just using Do-Jin? Ah, yep. Just as it looked, she's not serious about this declaration.

Used Like a Secondhand Car.

Do-Jin's feelings are hurt, like you'd expect. He tells her, "Just because I like you, doesn't give you the right to use me." Amen, brother. But to be honest, Do-Jin's been a heartbreaker all his life, so although Yisoo did him wrong, this kind of thing still might help him grow as a person. He tells her to stay away from him, and when Yisoo's alone at home, she breaks down crying and realizes that she does care for him.

Now That It's Too Late.

Sera and Yisoo make up, yay! I've never really felt like their friendship was real, but I love it when girlfriends aren't tearing each other down. Elsewhere, Yoon and Do-Jin are thinking about getting old, which is about as close as this show gets to philosophizing.

After a lot more blustering and storming away, Do-Jin and Yisoo finally connect at the coffee shop where they first saw each other. It's clear from the context that they've both forgiven each other and they're ready to be together, for real this time.

Things I Loved:

1. Yisoo Falling for Do-Jin. This love story has been one-sided for long enough.

2. Teaching. Yisoo's having trouble with her favorite student Donghyeop who is acting in an unprincipled manner, which is awkward since it's an Ethics class that Yisoo teaches. Her favorite kid is learning nothing about Ethics, and is instead getting others to do his work for him. I'd like to see more of this side plot of Yisoo trying to help mold an aimless kid into a cool person who can fulfill his potential.

But We Probably Won't Get Much Of It.


1. People Standing Around Thinking About Their Feelings. Like, all the time. At work, at coffeeshops, on the street, at home...

Even When They're Beside Cool Glitter-Horned Deer.

2. Me Ahri. She gets so excited to see Yoon, she runs across four lanes of busy traffic. Uhhh.

Wae Irae? 왜 이래?

Watch A Gentleman's Dignity HERE on DramaFever.

Episode Evaluations: It's slow-paced, but decent. I'm hopeful that Yisoo and Do-Jin will be an official couple by the next episode, and that the new relationship will bring some freshness to the show.

Monday, June 25, 2012

K-Drama Review: A Gentleman's Dignity, Episodes 7-8

Read Episode reviews for:

A Gentleman's Dignity--Episodes 1-2
A Gentleman's Dignity--Episodes 3-4
A Gentleman's Dignity--Epsiodes 5-6

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 7-8

Well, Yisoo's not admitting that she's developing feelings for stubborn architect Do-Jin, but she sure does spend an awful lot of time thinking about him.

Like Most Women, She Does Her Deep Thinking While Wearing A Towel Hat.

Finally, Do-Jin's habit of recording everything that happens to him is explained to the audience--he has some weird mental condition where stress makes him lose his short-term memory. His sound-recording pen helps him remember the lost time, and I predict that this will play a bigger role in future episodes. He'll probably lose his memory of Yisoo entirely, just as she falls in love with him, like in Secret Garden.  Apparently, having an unrequited attachment to Yisoo is short-circuiting his brain quite a bit. Do-Jin needs to resolve this love issue quickly.

The Doctor Prescribes Love Potion Number 9. No, Not Really.

Yisoo's roommate Sera is still fussy because Yisoo likes Taesan. This conflict also needs to resolve itself soon, because it's not leading anywhere new. Me Ahri's buddy Colin is still around, trying to locate his birth father and making no headway. Jungrok is still getting into trouble with his wife and barely bothering to cover his tracks. Yoon and Me Ahri take a step forward, then back again as Yoon briefly mans up and asserts his interest, then back away again.

Sadly, This Moment Was Too Good to Last.

Me Ahri's got a lot to think about and so does Yisoo, so the two ladies go to the sauna to talk out their relationship issues. I'm a big fan of the jimjilbang setting in K-dramas--like noraebang and pojangmacha, it's a bit of cultural color that's not quite duplicated anywhere else.

Note: Same Jimjilbang (찜질방)Uniforms as in Rooftop Prince.

Do-Jin tries again to persuade Yisoo to give him a chance, and I really can't recall why she's still saying no, partly because I don't have a really good sense of Yisoo as a person or an idea of why she does what she does. She has many admirable qualities (excellent teacher, good mentor, supportive friend), but these just feel like an amalgamation of characteristics, rather than aspects of a real person's attitude.

Likable, but Missing Some 3-Dimensionality.

Do-Jin and Taesan are having trouble with their construction business, just to prove that there are non-lovey plotlines going on in A Gentleman's Dignity. But the business issues are shuffled pretty far to the background. Maybe the show would've been better if the audience could have gotten more invested in Yisoo and Do-Jin's lives apart from each other and the other characters? Just thinking.

Conference Time, Boys.

Episode 8 does manage to end on a slight cliffhanger when Taesan addresses the elephant in the room between himself and Do-Jin, and suggests that he (Taesan) might not be so indifferent to Yisoo's feelings for him after all.

Finally, He Gets It!

Things I Loved:

1. Yoon Staying With Do-Jin. It's because he's on the run from his own sad life, but Yoon has been living with various friends and family members for a long time even though he can afford his own place several times over. It's a tiny part of the episodes, but it's so sweet that Yoon slips into the nurturing role when living with Do-Jin.

Housekeeper, Complete With Apron.

2. F44. This show was ostensibly about all five guy friends and about their bond, but in actuality it seems more like a collection of love stories tied together by everyone being acquainted with each other. But it's still nice to get scenes of all of them just hanging out and supporting each other.

The Dudes, Just Being Dudes.

3. Brother/Sister Relationship. Taesan and Me Ahri have a few brief serious convos, and you realize that Taesan adores his kid sister and wants the best for her, but he's also willing to crush her heart by sending her back to America in order to "protect" her from her feelings for Yoon. Eh, his methods are high-handed, but his heart's in the right place.

But Baby Sisters Need Love, Too.


1. Stalled Love Story. I know Do-Jin and Yisoo will end up together, but the things keeping them apart aren't really good obstacles. In real life "I just don't want to date him" is a perfectly fine excuse, and once a woman decides she doesn't like a guy, that's the end of the story. But with Yisoo, I feel like she's just flouncing and avoiding the inevitable. Though perhaps that's just because I already know the endgame, here.

Watch A Gentleman's Dignity HERE on DramaFever.

Episode Evaluations: These episodes were okay. Nothing too new and nothing terribly frustrating; I'm expecting some big plot shakeup to happen next week. Please?

K-Drama Review: A Gentleman's Dignity, Episodes 5-6

Read Episode reviews for:

A Gentleman's Dignity--Episodes 1-2
A Gentleman's Dignity--Episodes 3-4

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 5-6

Our F44, four guyfriends who are over forty, are gathered together in their favorite coffee shop discussing a matter of great importance: which member of the kpop girl group Girls Generation is the best. *headdesk* Do-Jin insists that it's Taeyeon (the best singer), Taesan insists that it's Yuri (the curviest), while Jungrok stubbornly holds out that Tiffany is the best (incidentally, Tiffany is my favorite member, too).

Yoon stares at them all and mumbles his disapproval of their silliness. Until they all spot Sooyoung of Girls Generation at the counter and Yoon goes running up to her, salivating and begging for an autograph, even stooping so low as to do a little dance in imitation of the song "Genie".

Let Us Never Speak of This Moment Again.

But this throwaway intro scene does serve nicely to remind us that despite the title of the show, these gentleman have very little dignity. They're little boys who got taller and entered the workforce is all.

In the lovey-dovey plots, Sera, our heroine Yisoo's roommate, is jealous over Yisoo liking her boyfriend Taesan. But c'mon, now! Taesan doesn't like Yisoo and he's made it clear that he never will, plus Yisoo's not the man-stealing type. So Sera's passive aggressive verbal jabs at Yisoo are kind of pointless and outright mean. You won Sera, you got the guy--you don't have to rub your friend's face in it.

Taesan's little sister Me Ahri has a few connections besides Yoon going on now. She teams up with Do-Jin to help him a little bit with his pursuit of Yisoo. Then we find out that she's friends with Jungrok's dragon lady wife, so the web of connections thickens. Me Ahri is also the one to send Yisoo a daring, fetchingly red dress.

First Time She Has Really Smiled, This Episode.

In a series of misunderstandings and hijinks, Yisoo puts on the dress and winds up stranded in the middle of the city with no cab fare and a dying cellphone battery. She calls up Do-Jin to rescue her (yeah, that's sending a mixed message, when she's been trying to get him to leave her alone). Do-Jin says he won't come, but then does. And he gets so angry at finding her in her party dress, laughing at someone sitting in a car, he rams his own car into the back of their vehicle.

Ehh. It's supposed to be an example of his devotion toward Yisoo since Do-Jin normally treats his car with kid gloves, but there's an important distinction for me: Do-Jin isn't crashing his car to save Yisoo from anything. He's crashing it to cut short her potentially flirtatious conversation and to express his displeasure! That action is in the same category with guys who punch a wall to show a girl just how ticked they are.

My Destruction of Property Indicates My Seriousness.

So Do-Jin takes Yisoo with him (girl, why are you getting into a car with a man who just intentionally smashed his fender in a fit of temper?), and they have a few more romantically charged moments, but nothing really changes between them.

The only real plot complication shown in these episodes is Colin, a 20-year-old guy who is looking for his birth father. Colin has made appearances in other episodes, but nothing has really been done with his character yet. Now he's getting closer to the F44 and he's still not sure which one of them is his papa.

It's probably not Taesan, since that wouldn't make for much drama, and probably not Yoon, since that would be creepy (as Colin is Me Ahri's friend). If it's Jungrok, I hope that the father-son connection will bring some depth to Jungrok's character, and if it's Do-Jin, that'll make for good tension, too. Colin's not an exciting character, but he could bring about some big changes and as a bonus he is played by the cute one from CN BLUE.

Pictured: The Cute One From CN BLUE.

There's more drama and sadness with Yisoo mooning over Taesan, but then Do-Jin whisks her away for a moonlight stroll, which ends in this:


Which is such a sweet and tender moment, it makes one wonder why Do-Jin can't be considerably less creepy all the time. Could we just stay in the non-creep zone, if these are the results?  제발?

Things I Loved:

1. Guest appearance by Sooyoung. It was only for 30 seconds, and it caused one of the silliest scenes ever, but it was good to see her adorable smiling face in the show.

Sooyoung, Hwaiting! (화이팅!)

2. Yoon. He's precious, and so innocent for a grown-up, successful lawyer. He's trying to do right by Me Ahri, and I'd probably be supporting them as a couple if Me Ahri were more mature. I tend to wish Yoon could be paired with someone more dignified.

But Any Couple He's Part of Will Be A Sweet Couple.

3. Do-Jin. He's still a stubborn mule, but less jerkish now that we know he's stopped dating other women while pursuing Yisoo. It's adorable that he starts bumbling around her, doing really stupid things as if he were an awkward teenager. It's nice to see him being less than totally self-assured.

At His Best When He's At His Worst, If You Will.


1. Sera/Taesan. I don't care if they stay together or break up, so any subplot involving their potential to stay together or break up has me checking out. Taesan is nice but not nice enough that I want to save him from Sera, and Sera is mean but not mean enough that I want her to get some comeuppance. So. We have a couple that induces no emotional attachment of any kind for me.

Pointless Bickering Gets Dreary at Some Point.

2. Sad Yisoo. The girl needs to find some joy in life and stop slumping. Taesan not liking Yisoo makes her sad, and Do-Jin liking her makes her sad, and most everything makes her cringe and fret and worry. For me to love her again, she'll need to start enjoying her world more.

"Seo Yisoo, Here's the Song That I'm Singing--C'Mon, Get Happy!"

Watch A Gentleman's Dignity HERE on DramaFever.

Episode Evaluations: Despite their flaws, I like Yisoo and love Do-Jin, and they're currently the only reasons I'm watching A Gentleman's Dignity. I'm just not invested in what happens to the other three couples, and that's a shame because it means that I'm only really cued into about 25 minutes of screentime per episode.