THE SHORT VERDICT:
This was bad. As much as Dream High was DA BOMB, this was simply, A BOMB.
Dream High 2 was comprised of a lackluster script, poorly drawn characters, a cast who could manage only very, very average acting, and random musical numbers which went on.. & on.. & on..
The only bright(ish) spot was Jung Jin Woon, who ironically delivered a better performance than the only actor-actor of the bunch, Kang So Ra.
A very strong contender for worst drama I have ever seen. And I have seen a LOT of dramas.
THE LONG VERDICT:
I checked this out due to my love for Dream High. I’d loved the first season both times that I watched it, and despite rumblings in the drama-verse about how bad this was, I decided to check it out anyway. Plus, I’d found Park Jin Young awesomely hilarious in Dream High, and was curious to see what he did with his character in DH2.
Sadly, it was a resounding let-down on all fronts. Even without comparing it to Shut Up (which is daebak!) or the first Dream High (which is very good), or even What’s Up (which is pretty good) it’s not a good drama. At all.
I rarely employ my Fast Forward button the first time I watch a drama. It’s my way of giving the show a fair chance. And I usually stick to that self-imposed rule in a pretty stubborn way. All in the name of fairness, y’know.
DH2 managed to convince stubborn me to employ my Fast Forward button almost right away, in episode 2. Shocking.
So what was it that broke my resolve? The unending musical song & dance numbers that just. would. not. end.
The worst thing about the musical numbers was, they weren’t very good to begin with. And they seemed randomly shoved in to fill up screen time. They didn’t seem to serve a real narrative purpose. But I’m like, ok, this is a musical drama, let’s see where they go with this.
And then, just as the musical number seemed like it was going to end, they changed it up, and it carried on. And on. And on. It was like a cockroach that refused to die.
After my trusty Fast Forward button saved me from watching the entire number, I did a calculation to figure out just how long that number was, and I was stunned to find that it was almost 8 minutes long. EIGHT WHOLE MINUTES. That may not look like much written down, but it felt like f-o-r-e-v-e-r to watch.
To make things worse, this wasn’t the only out-of-place, random musical number in the show. There were more. Shudder.
Yes, I was rather taken with his shirtless scene, which the show served up almost immediately, to y’know, draw the fangirls in. And like any bona fide fangirl, I appreciated the pretty. He showed excellent definition, nice bulk and some wonderful pecs.
Plus, Javabeans pointed out that he has a Park Shi Hoo-ian appeal, which I dig. I do love me some Park Shi Hoo, and having a mini Park Shi Hoo on screen was definitely not a bad thing.
[MINOR SPOILER ALERT]
I found it amusing and rather adorable that his character had a penchant for sleeping shirtless, never mind that he was crashing at his teacher’s place. Unannounced.
And yes, this shirtless sleeping habit of his does offer us fairly regular glimpses of his pecs, at least for the first few episodes. 1 point in Jung Jin Woon’s favor 😉
[END MINOR SPOILER]
Besides the shirtless eye candy, though, I also found him to be the most interesting character and actor of the bunch.
He has a number of scenes within the first few episodes where he sings and plays the guitar, and he’s really quite good. Out of curiosity I looked him up on wiki and he’s listed as being able to play quite a few instruments. I like talent when I see it, especially music talent.
That’s 2 more points for Jung Jin Woon: one for singing, and the other for playing.
I found him interesting to watch, and he wasn’t a dead fish like JB, the other male lead. He was fairly natural (though that is really relative), and had a nice range of expression. 1 more point.
All in all, Dream High 2 scored 4 points with me, and they’re all from Jung Jin Woon.
Sadly, JYP’s character Yang Jin Man is written as too one-dimensional, and all we get from him is pretty much slapstick comedy. I was hopeful that he would get to show more range as the show progressed, but that didn’t happen.
In Dream High, JYP’s Jin Man was awesome, ridiculous and OTT in the best ways.
In DH2, though, he somehow comes off as rather pathetic and desperate instead, and that just wasn’t any fun to watch.
The actor-actor of the bunch, Kang Sora, is alright, but nothing to shout about. I’d expected more from the only real actor among the ensemble cast, since everyone else is basically an idol-actor.
In Dream High, Kim Soo Hyun blew it out of the water as the only real actor among his peers. Kang Sora, on the other hand, was too exaggerated in her role. She’s not very natural at all, and if I had to pick the one character that I most prefer to watch, I’d have to say Jung Jin Woon, and that’s not counting his shirtless scenes.
Considering that she’s the only actor-actor of the bunch, I’d have expected her to at least do a decent job of the acting. I was really disappointed with her performance here.
To be honest, the idols among the cast are quite bad at acting, with the exception of Jung Jin Woon, who is serviceable. I found them to be generally quite a bit worse than the idols in Dream High. It almost feels like they went back and got all those who didn’t make the cut in Dream High to make Dream High 2.
Still, I usually cut idol-actors some slack, since acting isn’t their primary skill, and most of them are trying it for the very first time.
The bigger culprit of DH2 was actually the writing.
There is no consistency in this drama. Also, there are very few explanations for things. They just are. Like, why is Kang Sora’s character so determined to be a star even though she has no talent? She just is. Why does Jung Jin Woon’s character like hers? He just does.
The connections from plot point to plot point are flimsy at best, and at other times, non-existent.
Why do they suddenly want to do a street performance? Because Jung Jin Woon’s character wants to raise $7000. That’s just ridiculous and unrealistic. Even if they say they are going to charge for tickets. And seriously, how do you charge for tickets to a street performance?
Even more unrealistic is the fact that he ropes in his classmates, who mostly haven’t shown much musical talent. And why do they take to the streets earlier than planned? Because there’s no time to spare, and this will be considered a rehearsal.
Not. Making. Sense. At. All.
To top it off, all this ridiculous stuff was laced with dramatic music to cue me in to the fact that I was supposed to care.
Well. It didn’t work. I didn’t give two hoots what happened to the characters, and I was more keenly aware of the suffering I was putting myself through by continuing to watch this show.
I couldn’t buy into the conflict that DH2 set up, and in the end, DH2 never even resolved its own conflicts in a satisfying manner. The ending seemed strange and hollow, and left a bad taste in my mouth.
I can totally see why people who watched this concurrently with Shut Up could not tolerate this drama’s nonsensical approach and dropped it like a hot potato. It’s like putting a gold standard next to a dud and expecting them to perform equally. To make it worse, DH2 had an earlier time slot on network on the exact same day that Shut Up showed later in the night on cable. So people who were following both shows live would be comparing them episode for episode, with DH2 followed by Shut Up on the same night. Way to magnify all the good in Shut Up, and all the bad in DH2 😛
THE FINAL VERDICT:
A couple of bright spots, but mostly, just really terrible.
FINAL GRADE: D+
For a musical drama, I had expected – ok, hoped, anyway – that the music would at least be good. But I honestly don’t really like any of the songs from the drama, except for this performance by (who else?) Jung Jin Woon in episode 15. Besides the fact that he has good stage presence, this performance has added meaning because this is his character’s apology to his long-estranged mother. It’s pretty heartfelt and charged with emotion. This was the only performance in the entire drama that resonated with me on any level.
Check it out here: