Hello everyone! Sincerest apologies for my unannounced, and unintended, two-month-long absence. I had a lot going on in my personal life, (as usual) …but…I don’t want to bog you down with a whole slew of explanations, so—if you’re unbearably curious, you can refer to the announcements tab for an extremely brief summary. Anyway, Happy New Year to all of my lovely followers and readers!!!! I hope 2018 becomes a year full of success and happiness for you!!! 💕🎊🎉🎀🎈🍾🍷❤️ I did not get to watch as many k-dramas as I would have liked this year, but I still thought it would be fun to summarize the shows I did get to experience.
Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People — In my opinion, the ONLY good sageuk to come out of 2017. Most sageuks this year (if not all, aside from this one) were an utter disaster, but even the mediocre ones pale in comparison to this magnificent, well-executed production. A solid show from start to finish, the story never loses traction and maintains viewer attention with its competent cast, exquisite cinematography, and alluring soundtrack. Probably my top pick of 2017.
Tunnel — Aside from a few small blunders, Tunnel proved to be my favorite OCN project this year. While many networks dappled in the crime genre, Tunnel was unique with its quirky but heartfelt take on detective work. Shifting the focus toward the victims’ surviving family members made this show unique and authentic. Tunnel reminds us never to forget the victims, their families, nor their stories. Great performances by the cast, an engaging storyline, and a thoughtful soundtrack come together to provide a charming and unforgettable piece.
Save Me — Save Me proved to be a wild ride from start to finish. I ranked this drama a slot below excellent because, in retrospect, the show had a few draggy episodes in between, where suspense was lost and the storyline wasn’t quite as succinct as I would have preferred it to be. Flaws aside, the performances by the triad of veterans, Jo Jae Yun, Cho Seung Ha, and Park Ji Young, will leave you chilled to the core. I appreciated this piece for its unique topic dealing with religious cults and felt the show succeeded in telling the story it set out to share with viewers. Very dark, depressing, and downright creepy, Save Me is a work that any crime or thriller fanatic won’t want to miss.
Voice — Voice was one of the very first dramas I watched this year, and as a fan of gritty horror, it did not disappoint. If you can get past Jang Hyuk’s constant barking, Lee Ha Na’s somewhat wooden performance, and some overwhelmingly blunderous police work, there is a lot to appreciate about this production. I personally felt the show’s strengths lied in the thoughtful, gripping, and well-knitted cases which all focused on and gave voice to, marginalized peoples. This really made the show stand out and compelled viewers to empathize with these victims on a whole new level. Kim Jae Wook turns a run-of-the-mill villain into something much more, while the drama’s refusal to shy away from the grotesque and bloody elements of crime kick it up a notch compared to some of its lackluster competitors of the same genre.
Ruler: Master of the Mask — A show which looked beautiful, but lacked substance, Ruler: Master of the Mask proved to be a big disappointment for a sageuk fan such as myself. The production boasts compelling side characters, but undermines itself with a pair of drab, one-dimensional leads. It was frustrating to watch Yoo Seung Ho and Kim So Hyun struggle to make more out of the superficial roles they were given. The story itself tried to accomplish way too much in a short amount of time and should have toned down the complexity in order to deliver a few coherent arcs. Aside from its setbacks, Ruler managed to showcase some breathtaking cinematography, eye-catching costumes, and two extremely badass female side characters. Whether it’s worth your time is up to you!
Missing 9 — Missing 9 was like the wind. While some episodes blew me away, others left a lot to be desired. The show ultimately crashed and burned in its final episode, which took any ounce of common sense and flushed it down the toilet, resulting in one of the most unfathomably disastrous drama endings I’ve ever had the terror of witnessing. Jung Kyung Ho is absolute comedic gold in this show, which is one of the few reasons I held on as tightly as I did. The show also turned out to have more thrill in it than I was originally expecting, which was also a nice surprise, however, the balance between comedy and thriller sometimes made for a confusing mix and left the audience wondering what exactly was trying to be accomplished.
Ssam My Way — Ssam My Way is one of those “you get what you see” kind of shows. It’s a low key, romantic comedy that makes for a simple, easy watch. The plot is extremely straightforward with few twists and turns, and the vibe is very lighthearted on the whole. Kim Ji Won and Park Seo Joon are not amazing actors by any stretch of the imagination, but their quirky and heartfelt performances were exactly what a show like this needed to keep viewers interested. I think the pair are both very well suited to the romcom genre. The two definitely exhibited a nice chemistry and I am a fan of them both as individuals, so I managed to get through the whole series despite my distaste for romcoms, and failure to find the show anything to write home about. It’s very plain, even boring at times, but it never promised to be anything more than what it was.
Hwarang — The posters for Hwarang alone should have been enough to scare me off, but as I stated above, I am a fan of sageuks, Park Seo Joon, and Seo Ye Ji. And so… I ended up giving this mess a much undeserved chance. I stayed mostly for Kim Won Hae, Sung Dong Il, and Kim Kwang Kyu. Sadly, Lee Kwangsoo’s cameo was probably the show’s peak moment, and it was quite literally the storyline that provided the show’s backbone. From piss poor acting courtesy of Go Ara and Kim Ji Soo, to low budget costumes, and a plot with more holes in it than swiss cheese, there was many a bone to pick with this circus of a production. The cinematography was almost nonexistent, which was pretty upsetting considering this was a period piece, and the soundtrack was pretty ho-hum as well. I’d avoid this one if I had a chance to go back in time.
Criminal Minds — My blood pressure is going up as I begin to type this. There is too much I could say here. I’m already angry. I urge you to read my full review of Criminal Minds, because I feel so passionately about just how dirty they did the cast, viewers, and original show. I’ll keep things brief. This was hands down the worst drama of 2017 (for me), and the worst drama I’ve seen in a long ass time. Lee Jun Ki and Moon Chae Won’s talents were atrociously underutilized and the producers could not put together a coherent story if their life depended on it. The editing felt like it was done by some thirteen year old youtuber on iMovie. An offensive, thoughtless, and bedraggled mess. Avoid at all costs if you’re not a diehard JG fan.
Strong Woman Do Bong Soon — Probably the cruelest joke of the year, Strong Woman Do Bong Soon provided enough problematic and offensive filler material to last a few lifetimes and then some. I still ask myself why I even continued to watch this when the show’s comedy relied on making domestic abuse, queer bating, and homophobia (just to name a few) the butt of its jokes. What was supposed to be a lighthearted romcom turned out to be a clusterfuck of various irrelevant clips that fit a number of different genres and made absolutely no sense when joined together. Had the show stuck to being a simple romcom and deleted its plethora of insensitive material, it could have been a lot better than it ended up. This one completely missed the mark. Don’t waste your time.
This Year’s Stats:
Total Dramas Completed: 10
Criminal Minds, Hwarang, Missing 9, Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People, Ruler: Master of the Mask, Save Me, Ssam My Way, Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, Tunnel, Voice
Total Dramas Dropped: 21
[ Below I’ve highlighted a few recommendations that seemed solid despite my choice to drop them. ]
Avengers Social Club, Black, Chicago Typewriter, Defendant, Doubtful Victory, Duel, Goblin, I Am Not a Robot, Live Up to Your Name, Lookout, Mad Dog, Man to Man, Manhole, Meloholic, My Sassy Girl, Secret Forest, Seven Day Queen, Suspicious Partner, Whisper, Wise Prison Life, Witch’s Court
Plan to Watch/Currently Watching:
Argon, Circle, Falsify, Money Flower, Queen of Mystery, The King Loves
Kim Sang Joong, Honey Lee, Kim Ji Suk, Park Jun Gyu, Kim Byung Ok — Rebel: Thief who Stole the People
Lee Yoo Young, Choi Jin Hyuk, Yoon Hyun Min, Jo Hee Bong, Heo Sung Tae, Kim Min Sang — Tunnel
Jo Jae Yun, Cho Seung Ha, Park Ji Young, Seo Ye Ji — Save Me
Kim Roe Ha, Kim Jae Wook, Baek Sung Hyun — Voice
Heo Jun Ho, Park Chul Min, Kim Sun Kyung — Ruler: Master of the Mask
Lee Jun Ki, Moon Chae Won — Criminal Minds
Yoo Seung Ho, Kim So Hyun — Ruler: Master of the Mask
This year was pretty underwhelming on the whole for me. While there were a ton of dramas put out, a lot of them felt extremely mediocre, uninteresting or too similar to one another. Around spring, there were four or five sageuks out, but only one was worthy of watching. There was also a huge spike in law dramas from Falsify, to Secret Forest, Witch’s Court, Defendant, Whisper, and many others…to the point where I just felt turned off to watching them. Crime also became popular, but fortunately, a few of them managed to really impress and satisfy me. What surprised me was the lack of sageuks toward the latter half of the year, which was super disappointing. Hopefully 2018 will have its fair share of them.
What were your top picks for 2017? Were you disappointed by any dramas you watched? Feel free to comment below!