We’ve got dramas of different genres in this edition of First Impressions. The common denominator? All three serve as comeback projects of some of Korea’s biggest names: Hwang Jung-eum, Rain, and Chae Si-ra. Are they any good? I’ll tell you in the reviews.
Genre: Romantic comedy
No. of Episodes: 32 episodes (35 mins)
As one of the most anticipated dramas this season, the pilot episode of The Undateables proved to be a huge disappointment. We know that the story about a woman burned by love and a man who doesn’t want to be in a commitment, meeting together and falling in love already sounded cliche on paper, but somehow you’re still expecting special from it because of the very fact versatile actors Hwang Jung-eum and Namgoong Min are leading the cast. But I guess, that’s also where the big chunk of dismay is coming from. The drama is decent in its own right and can actually generate big laughs and giggles but when you’ve got veteran actors who are known for their excellent projects in the past as the main characters, you sort of anticipated a meatier story. The characters are no different from others we’ve seen in dramaland: an unlucky but hardworking woman and a handsome but love-phobic gentleman. Its comedy also has a tendency to go over-the-top with those silly visual effects and exaggerated slapsticks. It’s reeking of stereotype and a stellar cast won’t be enough to salvage it. However, I do have a feeling that should they cast newbies for the leads, then this drama might have worked.
Verdict: Don’t get me wrong. The Undateables is quite good. The comedy is there. The chemistry between the leads is undeniable. It could have been a promising rom-com only if it’s aired in the early 2000s.
Genre: Action, Fantasy
No. of Episodes: 16 episodes (60 mins)
If there’s a lot of hype about The Undateables, Sketch seemed to have flown under the radar despite starring some of Hallyu Wave’s finest leading men, Rain and Lee Dong-gun. The lack of hype could be mainly attributed to its genre which has been overdone in recent times. We’ve got a death-foreseeing female lead like Black‘s Kang Ha-ram and a very skillful and determined cop hero like Voice‘s Moon Jin-hyuk teaming up to take down the bad guys. BUT, having dramas like Sketch is why I believe we should be careful not to overlook the importance of directing. A lot of dramas may sound similar in premise but an excellent execution could go a long way to make one stand out. I’m really digging the sharply choreographed action scenes involving Rain and the actor himself for outstandingly pulling them off. This guy’s created for action stuff, isn’t he? Rising actress Lee Sun-bin is also no short of being great in her portrayal of a good-natured cop who’s driven to prevent crimes from happening. I was initially worried about Lee Sun-bin’s casting because she looks too ‘pretty’ for the role aside from the fact that she’s relatively new. But hey, this girl could transform in any role she wants. We’ve also got a glimpse of Lee Dong-gun in the first episode, and that’s it. But what I enjoyed the most about this drama is the element of adrenaline. The characters being put under time pressure to prevent an undesirable incident from happening with scarce clues is the one that will definitely hook you.
Verdict: The drama rates excellently in its directing but I have concerns about the lack of an overarching conflict that the protagonists will ultimately solve at the end of the story. It could lead the drama into a trap where it will become episodic where they have to resolve a case after another. Maybe, it’s introduced later in the show?
Goodbye to Goodbye
No. of Episodes: 40 episodes (35 mins)
If there’s a drama no one was aware is coming (well, at least for the majority of the international audiences), that would be melodrama Goodbye to Goodbye. The new SBS offering stars veteran Chae Si-ra and promising actress Jo Bo-ah as two women who came to live together following the betrayals of their partners. Curious? Well, Chae Si-ra’s character Seo Young-hee is a woman who began living like a hermit after finding out her husband is having an affair. She refused to agree on a divorce for practical reasons. Jo Bo-ah’s Jung Hyo, on the other hand, is a girl impregnated by Young-hee’s womanizer-son Han Min-soo (played by Jun). She has decided to move into Young-hee’s house so Min-soo won’t be able to get rid of her. The drama tackles a heavy subject but it was not difficult to watch. It’s melancholy but it’s not sluggish. The first episode illustrated vividly the two women’s plight which is finding themselves in the middle of a sweet relationship turned sour and angsty. It ended with the meeting of the two female protagonists leaving me curious as to how the two will form an unlikely friendship. And will they avenge themselves or will they embrace a new life with the past behind them?
Verdict: I think the drama wants to ask us whether staying in an unhealthy relationship is a demonstration of strength or getting out of it despite the uncertainty of the results is the real symbol of courage. If you’re tired of fantasy-infused dramas, then Goodbye to Goodbye could be a perfect break to take.
Busy Ahjussi’s Ranking:
- Goodbye to Goodbye
- The Undateables
Following any of these at the moment? Let me know!