4 kdramas that deserve a do-over

AKA the shows that had so much potential but ended up falling short of greatness. Look, I won’t pretend to know why each of these shows face-planted (though I’m certain that the liveshoot system played into several of the failures), but I’m always going to be sad that they did. If I had the chance, these are the four dramas I would grant a do-over:

#1 – Faith

What was great: The cast was wonderful, and I adored the romance between the leads (and the second leads). The heroine was also one of the few female time-travelers in dramaland, and she was a delight. It was a fun look into a less-common drama period, too.

What went wrong: The show needed to be four to eight episodes shorter than it was as it ended up going in circles toward the end. Magical abilities were inconsistently applied and a real-life injury forced the abrupt departure of one of the supporting cast members. The finale wasn’t foreshadowed well.

How to fix it: Cut the show down to 16 or 20 episodes and either figure out consistent magic rules or entirely scrap all magic except the time travel portal. Give us a better heads up for the ending. Continue reading “4 kdramas that deserve a do-over”

Wanted, Episode 16 (END)

TL;DR: What does it take for someone to call the police on a wanted man, huh? No, seriously.

Wanted_16_car

On the one hand, I understand why it is important, from a character perspective, for Joon-goo to end up on that rooftop with Seung-in, to be arrested, and to be forced to atone for all the shit he’s done by living. And it might take some persuasion, but I can kind-of- if-I-squint-a-lot see why maybe some members of the broadcast team needed to arrive at some sort of closure with Joon-goo’s betrayal—

But oh my god, you guys, three of you let him go without calling the police and provided varying degrees of assistance. He kidnapped and traumatized a child for ten days! Whether or not he did any of actual murdering, he definitely recruited, fostered, and abetted at least one murderer, and he’s out running around on his own, entirely unprotected from SG Group, who almost killed him a couple times in this episode. Why couldn’t any one of you have done the sensible thing and called the cop you trusted to take him into custody? Like, even if Seung-in hadn’t been able to capture him prior to the scene on the roof, I would have had so much more respect for you if any of you had even tried.

But no. Three of you just let him go on his merry way so you can focus on your individual emotional journeys and a lackluster final broadcast. Continue reading “Wanted, Episode 16 (END)”

Wanted, Episode 15

TL;DR: The show and I disagree over what constitutes a sin, and shoddy policework makes me roll my eyes. But hey, at least they found Hyeon-woo, right?

Wanted_15_reunion

The crowning moment of heartwarming in this episode is definitely the tearful reunion between Hye-in and Hyeon-woo. While there are a few points about the sequence that irked me (really? some random guy can identify Hyeon-woo by just his eyes?), the actual crushing-hugs-crying reunion was great. I actually got a bit misty-eyed, which is quite the feat considering that this drama hasn’t often engaged my heart. Seung-in’s gallant defense and the broadcast team swooping in to record everything was a nice cherry on top, too.

While the pace of this episode slowed down in order to maneuver some of the last pieces into place for the final episode, I do appreciate that they took the time to show Hye-in being protective of and concerned for Hyeon-woo. She hugged him, soothed him, held his hand, made sure to explain to him why he was safe, etc. Now please begin interviewing some psychologists with extensive experience in childhood trauma, please, because cuddles can only do so much healing. Continue reading “Wanted, Episode 15”

Wanted, Episode 14

TL;DR: To my everlasting surprise, the show saved the woman and killed the man instead. Will wonders never cease?

Wanted_14_rescue

I am so relieved that Ji-eun made it out of this episode alive. (Seung-in, you did an excellent job of running around everywhere and kicking ass. Please continue this in the last two episodes.) Of everyone on Team Kidnapping, she was the one I was worried about most. A pretty young woman in a thriller aligned with one of the bad guys?—the odds of her surviving were pretty low, especially after SG group beat up two other cops to get to her and fuel the hero’s “now it’s personal” final form of vengeance. Continue reading “Wanted, Episode 14”

Wanted, Episode 13

TL;DR: We got a lot of the backstory, with very few surprises, a couple good things, and some standard irritations.

Wanted_13_family

Just as a heads up: I’m never happy with fridging, but I am especially over pregnant women getting fridged. Because it’s not enough for a woman to die, nah, she’s not tragic enough on her own, we’ve got to make sure she’s expecting. Then we can have maximum fridging in order to properly fuel a man’s descent into anti-hero territory/start of villain status. As if it weren’t already dangerous enough for a female character in a thriller, gotta make sure to hit all the angst checkboxes with her demise.

(*takes a moment to hiss at Missing Noir M for doing this TWICE*)

Continue reading “Wanted, Episode 13”

Wanted, Episodes 11 & 12

TL;DR: If you’ve been paying attention, the reveal of the mastermind isn’t going to be too much of a shock. It does mean that we have officially hit the final act of the show: with just four episodes left, they’ve got to save a kid, uncover a mystery, and apprehend all the evil-doers. Best of luck to you.

Wanted_12_murderface

But first, an aside. I really loved this week’s episodes because of all of the interactions between Hye-in, Ji-eun and Mi-ok. Thrillers in general have a pretty shitty track record when it comes to having female characters, let alone allowing those female characters to pass the Bechdel Test. But Wanted upped those odds by having a surprising number of women: three on the broadcast team, one on the police team, and one on the villain team. The first half of the show was a little shaky, only passing the Bechdel Test roughly every other episode, and frequently on just thirty-second exchanges. Last week and this week, though, the ladies have been granted much longer scenes with more in-depth conversations.

(I particularly enjoyed the touchback to Woo-shin and Bo-yeon’s staircase conversation and how Bo-yeon referenced it in her decision to come back to the team after her harrowing experience. I also liked that she is showing increasing independence and making her own decisions about what she should share and whom she should share it with.) Continue reading “Wanted, Episodes 11 & 12”

Wanted, Episodes 9 & 10

TL;DR: In a surprising comeback, the reporter has clawed his way back to the top of my shit list! If he ends up walking away from this show with everything he wanted, I’m going to be very angry.

Wanted_09_dig

Several characters have become increasingly uncomfortable with just how far the Wanted show has gone, and this pair of episodes ratcheted that up several notches. Discovering that the kidnapper has a fanclub and that children are playing let’s reenact gruesome murder mysteries is one thing—but having people inspired to commit copycat crimes? That’s a whole new terrifying level of Do Not Want, especially when Seung-in so calmly pointed out that the man who orchestrated Bo-yeon’s kidnapping and burial was just an everyman who wanted to become special.

How many other people want a chance to be special? Continue reading “Wanted, Episodes 9 & 10”

Wanted, Episodes 7 & 8

TL;DR: My dilemma over who I hate more (reporter vs. husband round) has been solved! Answer: definitely, totally, 100% the husband. I am really hoping he’s dead after this cliffhanger, but the show is unlikely to be that kind to me.

Wanted_08_smirk

Is the Wanted broadcast team doing the right thing? Everyone in the show continues to ask themselves and others this question, and they’re all coming up with contradictory answers. For Hye-in, the answer continues to be simple: whatever it takes to bring her son home safely, that’s what she’ll do. She’ll use whatever business information, tricks, and emotional blackmail she has at her disposal to get the job done, whether that’s reach out to her stalker/manager for information, lie to a locksmith, allow her husband to portray himself as the good guy stuck in a moral dilemma on national television, or coat an investment demand in enough positive PR points and business savvy to get her former brother-in-law to throw billions of won at a media company on life support. She’ll even use gentle (but still emotionally frought) persuasion when that looks like it will work best.

Continue reading “Wanted, Episodes 7 & 8”

Wanted, Episodes 5 & 6

TL;DR: Is it too pretentious for me to declare a theme for these two episodes? —when has that ever stopped me before? This week’s theme: the boundary between observation and voyeurism.

Wanted_06_horror

Hye-in’s life was already pretty awful at this point, by every objective measure—and yet it managed to outdo itself this time. Turns out that her manager of several years, who is so intimately close with her family that he has his own locked bedroom/suite in her house, also is scarily obsessed with her. He had an entire hidden drawer filled with her(?) bras and DVDs labeled things like sleeping and shower.

I just—I can’t wrap my mind around how awful that had to be. When Hye-in was working, I’m betting she easily spent more time with Kyung-hoon than her own family son. He already shared so much of her life by virtue of being her manager, and he smashed the remaining boundaries between them with this gross violation of her privacy. How many of his cameras are left in the house? We had a glimpse of him beating one of Hye-in’s stalkers—could he have turned violent to Hye-in, too?

Continue reading “Wanted, Episodes 5 & 6”

Wanted, Episode 3 & 4

TL;DR: Hye-in is willing to do anything to save her son. I mean, I know she said that earlier, but she reiterated the point both in action and words in these episodes, and I’m conflicted by this. (Also, trigger warning for domestic violence and violence against women.)

Wanted_04_blackdress

Episode three and four were all about ethics, and watching characters decide where they fell on the spectrum of “the ends justify the means” was fascinating. Hye-in’s entire moral compass now centers on “whatever it takes to save Hyun-woo,” and she means it. She’ll out two victims of domestic violence on live national television if she thinks it will get her the >20% ratings she needs to keep her son safe. Sure, she had a brief scene with the battered wife and son after the cameras stopped rolling (and gave away her coat), but that seems like a paltry apology or compensation for yanking on the wife’s clothes to show off her bruises. And after that, Hye-in is done with them—they are irrelevant to her life because she has to gear up for the kidnapper’s next mission.

Continue reading “Wanted, Episode 3 & 4”