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While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 11 & 12

TL;DR: Oh my god, our leads are genre savvy! \o/

I am absolutely delighted that our heroes have realized that their dreams are not just a way to observe the future—they can use them to deliberately convey crucial information to their present selves. I’m crossing my fingers that this means we can really start playing with timelines and possibilities, especially since this has a huge chance of creating ripple effects where the contents of their dreams change or they have more conflicting dreams with less obvious cause and effects than the domestic abuse case. Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 11 & 12”

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Queen In-hyun’s Man, Episode 5

TL;DR: Would you look at all that cute.

When I say that QIHM is one of my all-time favorite romances, this episode is one (of many) that serves as evidence. Too often speculative fiction crashes and burns when it forgets about its characters and their relationships for the sake of being flashy and clever and smug, but QIHM never loses sight of the fact that the heart of the story is getting Hee-jin and Boong-do together. Now that they’ve become intertwined in each other’s lives, their desire to see and be near one another—and all of the forces working to keep them apart—is what drives the story. Continue reading “Queen In-hyun’s Man, Episode 5”

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While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 9 & 10

TL;DR: This was a very nice reveal of the heroine’s backstory and likely the hook into the ultimate overarching storyline.

I’ve spent the last few episodes worried about Hong-joo’s emotional distance from the plot and the risk of her getting sidelined, but now I’m hopeful that she is, in fact, the heart of the show. I hadn’t thought to question Hong-joo working at her mother’s restaurant—it’s a family business, and they’re all that each other has left. Plus, it would be pretty convenient to have her mother as a boss in case Hong-joo ever needed to run out of work on account of a dream. The actual answer is far more complicated and infinitely more satisfying: Hong-joo dreamed she would die as a reporter. Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 9 & 10”

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5 reasons to watch Circle: Two Worlds Connected

While Circle wasn’t a perfect show, I’ve got to admit that it’s one of the stronger sci-fi kdramas I’ve run across. And as such, I do think it’s worth your time if you’ve got it to spare. Just remember you’re probably going to need to take a break every now and then—things can get intense.

1. It’s only twelve episodes.

The worst tragedy is watching a story desperately over-expand to try to fill up the space it really just isn’t meant to take. Or worse, endlessly recycle plot points or going off the rails because they have to use up every single one of their weeks because the next show literally hasn’t started filming yet. The writer, director, network, and anyone else involved in calling the shots on the length for this show made an excellent decision to limit it to just twelve episodes. Any further, and it would have required pointless plot twists or lumbering B-plots to take up air time. Circle knew where it wanted to go, and it went there in a timely fashion, for the most part. Continue reading “5 reasons to watch Circle: Two Worlds Connected”

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While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 7 & 8

TL;DR: How am I supposed to be objective about the progression of the romance when the cinematography is so pretty?

While I am extremely happy that our dreaming trio has been able to change their dreams, I am also feeling a little disappointed by it. This show kickstarted with a fiery ball of death and the dramatic proclamation that Hong-joo has never changed a single one of her dreams, and now we’re a quarter of the way into the show and all three of them are changing their dreams with just the smallest amount of effort. I feel like a lot of the dramatic tension has been undermined, especially now that they’re even dreaming separate outcomes and can make informed changes to get the exact result that they want. Where did all the life-or-death tension go?

(Or is this supposed to be a sign that the three of them have to be together/connected/around one another in order to change things? Now that could be clever…) Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 7 & 8”

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While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 5 & 6

TL;DR: We have three dreamers now, and surprisingly, it lessens the sting of there being a second one. (Also, more domestic violence in this one.)

If you’ll recall, I was rather concerned when Jae-chan began having his prophetic dreams. I was concerned that Jae-chan would take over the narrative, and while my fears haven’t entirely been assuaged on that front (see: his plot and emotional turmoil being entirely front and center in these episodes), the reveal of a third dreamer means that I’m feeling more confident that Jae-chan won’t be able to shove everyone else out of the spotlight. Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 5 & 6”

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5 reasons to watch Splash Splash Love

Despite the high praise of basically all of my mutuals, I didn’t get around to watching Splash Splash Love until this year. I’m so glad I finally did, because this drama special is funny, heartfelt, and just two hours long. You should definitely put it on your list this fall/winter, for when you need a little pick-me-up. Here are five reasons why I gave this drama special my highest rating category:

1. It focuses on the heroine’s personal journey.

Splash Splash Love is all the better for the fact that the heroine’s good ending is mostly focused on her personal growth and return home than it is its youthful romance (though more on that one later). It’s always refreshing to see a heroine who has a life independent of her romantic relationship with the hero, and it isn’t often that a heroine chooses home and family over a life that would have probably been good for her but wouldn’t have been able to assuage her homesickness.

On top of that, Dan-bi’s happiness couldn’t be achieved until after she had conquered her own trial: building up her confidence and skills in math. Not the most common of goals, but fulfilling that point really is what makes our heroine fit a lot of the old Hero’s Journey milestones (complete with death threats if she can’t math well enough). I’ll never get tired of ladies leveling up and doing things that once were hard for them. Continue reading “5 reasons to watch Splash Splash Love”

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5 reasons to watch Naked Fireman

Don’t lie now—you know that the title of this drama special totally caught your attention. I originally went into this show expecting the absurd. And while I got that in spades, I also got a heaping dose of believable romance, found families, and an exciting thriller. Here are five reasons you should watch Naked Fireman the next time you have a spot open on your to-watch list:

1. The prickly, jaded heroine and innocent hero fall in love.

I love it when prickly ladies fall in love and are loved in return without having to completely wipe and rewrite their personalities. Jin-ah is blunt, clever, and utterly determined to solve the mystery of her parents’ murders. Even though she is still very traumatized over the whole thing (and is receiving treatment for it, and not shamed for needing it!), she throws herself headfirst into investigating based on the clue she recently remembered via therapy. And while she goes from distrusting Cheol-soo to being deeply in love with him in just four episodes, the incremental thawing of her heart and budding belief in his innocence is magnificent.

Cheol-soo, in the meantime, is a comedic slacker, who isn’t always quick on the uptake but nonetheless has a good heart and more courage than he probably should. Yes, he’ll trust his con artist and thief of a friend with basically everything up to in and including his life, and he’ll also put himself in embarrassing situations to help his father figure receive life-saving medical treatment. He’s the hero with a heart of gold who rises to the occasion and falls head-over-heels for the rich woman who is only supposed to be spending time with him to draw him shirtless. Continue reading “5 reasons to watch Naked Fireman”

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While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 3 & 4

TL;DR: And I am suddenly reminded of  how much I hate workplace dramas. (You guessed it—more on that later.)

Writer Park Hye-ryun is doing a masterful job of interweaving her A and B and even C stories together to the point that I was feeling smug about correctly predicting a reveal, only to be blindsided by one I never saw coming. What a delight it is to be surprised (in a good way) by a writer, especially when you realize she was answering a question you had only just started to ask. Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 3 & 4”

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While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 1 & 2

TL;DR: I am both delighted and terrified by how much I loved this premier. (Also, this mini-episode count thing is going to throw me off at some point.)

One of the best things about the premier was just how narratively cohesive it was. We had clear character introductions, foreboding dreams, interpersonal conflict,  tragedy, a series of plot twists, and a conclusion that took us right back to where we started—but with a new understanding of exactly what had happened. If the rest of the writing can be as good as the opening episodes, this is going to be an amazing drama. That said, I still have some reservations about it. (But more on that later.) Continue reading “While You Were Sleeping, Episodes 1 & 2”