The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling


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Review: King’s Daughter, Soo Baek Hyang

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Despite being dressed in regular sageuk robes, and possessing a political context that is key to its narrative, King’s Daughter manages to remain engaging and accessible to the average viewer.

On the downside, production values are on the lower side, the writing is slow at times, and the acting prowess across the ensemble cast is patchy in spots. Look past those flaws, however, and there are some pretty wonderful characters and relationships, delivered with so much heart and finesse, that it really does make it all worthwhile.

An engaging and pretty easy watch, despite its length.

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Review: Bad Guys

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Slick, dark, and appropriately fierce, Bad Guys is a short little series that packs a pretty big punch.

Everything is carefully and beautifully filmed, and for the most part, Bad Guys manages to hit that sweet spot where the writing is complex enough to be interesting, yet simple enough to be accessible to the average viewer. Add a pretty excellent cast to flesh out the interesting premise, and Show is a winner in almost every checkbox.

My beef with the show is that it gets too melodramatic at parts, which detracts from its unique brand of cool, and instead places it closer to standard kdrama fare than it needs to be. The cinematography also feels less deliberate as we get into the later episodes. Despite its shortcomings, though, Show remains an interesting and engaging watch.

Gritty and disturbing at times, yet heartening and uplifting at others, Bad Guys manages to be badass with heart.

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Review: Dating Agency Cyrano

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Breezy, light, and just a little bit quirky, Dating Agency Cyrano is a fun little show for when you’re in the mood for a bit of mindless fluff.

Plot logic regularly requires some suspension of disbelief, but there are enough plus points in this show to still make it an enjoyable watch. More than the overarching story, and more than the cases of the day, it’s the characters and their warmth that wormed their way into my heart, then resonated and lingered with me.

Far from cracktastic, but still a good dose of fun.

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51 Comments

Year In Review: 2014

If there’s one thing that everyone seems to be able to agree on, it’s that time is flying. Like, seriously. Where has 2014 gone?

I can hardly believe that 2015 is almost here, promising/threatening gifts of dramas chock-full of vampires, multiple personalities, and other psychological disorders goodies.

Before 2014 makes her exit, though, I wanted to come out and give credit where it’s due. Coz as much as so many of my friends in dramaland have been talking about a meh drama year, I feel like I had a pretty good drama year, actually.

I know. How did that happen, right?

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Review: High School King

THE SHORT VERDICT:

High School King is definitely a drama that is better in concept than in execution.

While the idea of a high schooler going successfully undercover as a sharp-suited corporate warrior is intriguing, the hijinks unfortunately come off as more try-hard than amusing. Characters are treated in broad strokes for the most part, and we get a lot more campy and theatrical than layered and nuanced.

There are definitely some moments of heart, but you’d need to be patient to find them in the midst of the comedic intent, which sometimes feels like it’s on steroids.

On the upside, Seo In Guk looks great in a sharp suit.

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Review: The Three Musketeers

THE SHORT VERDICT:

More often brisk and breezy than not, more often engaging and fun than not, and more often interesting and entertaining than not, The Three Musketeers is more than your average fusion sageuk.

This drama is a pretty bold attempt to adapt an age-old tale across mediums (novel to drama) and across cultures (French to Korean), while doing its best to retain the optimum crack ingredients that would appeal to a kdrama-loving audience.

Possibly due to its ambition, pacing across the show can be a little uneven, and logic gets sacrificed on more occasions than one might expect. Put on some generous Logic Blinders, though, and there are likely to be enough goodies in this one to make it worth your while.

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22 Comments

Review: It’s Okay It’s Love

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A quirky confection that is as sweet as it is strange, It’s Okay serves up an oddball-flavored 3-in-1 love package exploring romance, friendship and family, with a big dose of dysfunction and dramaland psychiatry on the side.

Show is not always big on the logic nor on the medical accuracy, but its characters and relationships are consistently delivered with heart and nuance, helping us to buy into and believe in its world, no matter how surreal things sometimes get. Excellent performances by our leads as well as many of the secondary characters, together with some very sparky OTP chemistry, help to sweeten the deal.

At its heart, It’s Okay’s charm is that it’s an imperfect show peopled by imperfect characters, to appeal to an imperfect audience.

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Review: Feelings [Neukkim]

THE SHORT VERDICT:

One of the original trendies that helped to start it all, Feelings is as much of a nostalgic treat for seasoned viewers, as it is a novel peek into Hallyu’s beginnings for newer viewers.

An easy breezy story with a timeless appeal, Feelings follows a group of young people as they navigate the journey to adulthood, wrestling with classic questions of evolving identity and purpose. Of course, youthful impulsiveness, angst & good ol’ hormones intensify and amplify their emotions to a distracting degree. Because honestly, at that age, isn’t it really all about feeeelings?

The show’s 20-year vintage shows; the drama’s production values, writing and acting all veer on the side of earnest and a little clumsy. But the retro awesome, from early 90s hair and fashion, to the novelty of seeing established stars in their early years, makes up for it all.

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Review: Fated to Love You

THE SHORT VERDICT:

A drama that’s fantastically cracky in its first half, but unfortunately meanders into Sad Angstville in its later episodes and never quite recovers fully from its detour.

Fated To Love You is extremely easy to fall for in its early episodes. Fabulously committed and nuanced deliveries by Jang Hyuk and Jang Na Ra not only bring the funny, but also land the emotional beats extremely well. Their lovely, very believable chemistry as our OTP is also a big draw. All of this, combined with a story that clocks a brisk pace, and finds time to serve up a variety of cheeky meta, makes Early Show one deliciously addictive package that charmingly sweeps us off our feet as it engages us in its confident, off-beat dance.

Unfortunately, the brisk pace slows to a crawl in the show’s last stretch, and it feels like our story gets weary from doing time on a Going Nowhere treadmill. On the upside, The Cute eventually comes back; Show’s just not quite as cracky at its end as compared to its glorious beginnings.

Depending on your love &/or patience levels, your mileage with this show as a whole is likely to vary.

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Review: One Warm Word

THE SHORT VERDICT:

This is that rare breed of melodrama that doesn’t lay on the angst for the sake of angst, or pain for the sake of pain, but instead approaches its chosen premise with thoughtful sensitivity.

Populated with characters and relationships that are drawn and delivered with care and complexity, One Warm Word manages to ask many thought-provoking questions and raise several important themes, all while remaining a genuinely rich and engaging watch. There are some stretches which are angstier – and therefore harder to get through – but viewers who press through those times will be rewarded with a thought-provoking, ultimately warm watch.

Also, the show is a LOT prettier than the admittedly odd artistic sentiment expressed in its posters and OST covers. And I’m not even talking about the show’s very handsome men (yet).

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