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.
THE LONG VERDICT:
To be honest, this drama had been languishing on my watch list for a long time, mainly because dramaland kept rolling out newer and shinier dramas, and also partly because I knew that Gong Yoo’s cameo in it is super blink-and-you-miss-it brief.
Which means I have my recently acquired soft spot for Hong Jong Hyun to thank, for motivating me to finally check out this drama.
And I’m glad that I took the time to check it out, coz in spite of its flaws, this show turned out to be a fun little watch with more pluses than minuses.
QUICK LIST OF FLAWS
For the record, here’s a quick list of the main beefs that I had with this drama. While not huge, they did dampen the show somewhat, and I could’ve done with a lot less – or none – of these issues.
1. Plausibility and believability is definitely a Thing that you’d need to get past, in order to enjoy this show. Viewers of this show need to suspend disbelief on a regular basis over the elaborate dating set-ups, flawless timing over things that are out of our characters’ control, and even character motivations. Thinking of this as a manhwa-esque sort of world helps, though.
2. Uneven pacing is also an issue. The balance between the Case of the Day and the overarching story of our characters isn’t always well handled. On top of that, some cases drag for too long, &/or aren’t as interesting as others.
3. Contrived plot devices are sometimes employed, with the biggest offender being [SPOILER ALERT] the kidnapping arc at the end of the drama, which doesn’t make a whole lot of narrative sense, yet conveniently pushes our OTP together. [END SPOILER]
4. Uneven acting. With an ensemble cast, it’s always hard to achieve a cohesive tone across everyone’s varying degrees of acting prowess, and in this ensemble cast, that unevenness definitely shows.
THINGS THAT BROUGHT THE HAPPY
1. Sooyoung is quite the revelation in this drama.
She made Gong Min Young earnest, warm and likable, and was all-around a wonderful ray of sunshine in this drama. She managed the more emotional scenes with as much dexterity as the cheerful sunny scenes, and I was impressed.
Being the kpop noob that I am, I didn’t even realize she’s an idol actor, until I stumbled on the information by accident. Sooyoung’s definitely got potential to do well as an actress, I think.
2. Lee Jong Hyuk is pitch perfect as the grumbly, gruff Seo Byung Hoon, owner of Agency Cyrano, and as expected, imbues his character with very nice flashes of nuance and depth to balance out the grumpy.
3. Lee Chun Hee is quite lovely as the mysterious Master next door. Master had relatively less screen time, but Lee Chun Hee made every scene count. He gave Master dimension and depth with the minor shifts in his expressions and the inflections of his gaze, and was basically a pleasure to watch.
I’ve consistently liked Lee Chun Hee in pretty much every role that I’ve seen him in, and I totally think he should do more dramas. The fact that I think he’s eye candy too is mere coincidence, I swears!
The set-up allows for lots of cameos, and Show doesn’t stinge on them at all. I found several of the cameos particularly entertaining, so here’s a quick shout-out to some of my favorites.
I found it highly amusing to see Ji Jin Hee as a dorky loser, Lee Yoon Ji as a neurotic librarian, and Lee Kwang Soo as a dorky baker. And then of course, there’s Gong Yoo, for whom I have an enduring fangirl love.
5. Hong Jong Hyun brings the broody handsome.
To be sure, Hong Jong Hyun is pretty stiff in this role, and there is definitely room for him to have done more with the character of Moo Jin. There were definitely times when I felt that he was too stiff, despite the fact that Moo Jin is supposed to be a wooden type of character.
Still, Hong Jong Hyun fulfilled the need for robotic, mysterious, hot hacker guy quite nicely. I was highly amused that in Episode 1, he basically only needed to say, “Stahp” a couple of times. I also found his loveline with Ha Yun Joo rather cute.
THOUGHTS ON THE OTP
While some viewers might have found the age gap (both reel and real) between Min Young and Byung Hoon on the large side, I actually found myself coming around to their pairing.
To the show’s credit, the romance isn’t shoved to front and center of the narrative. Instead, the show spends most of its time dealing with the cases of the day, along with the overarching mystery of Byung Hoon’s and Master’s backstories.
The romance is introduced very slowly, as Min Young and Byung Hoon gradually develop feelings for each other and wrestle with those feelings. In that sense, I found the treatment of the romance quite organic and believable. By the time both of our characters had come around to those romantic feelings, so had I.
By series’ end, I was properly on board with the OTP, and found the kiss that Byung Hoon planted on Min Young in the final scene of the drama, quite swoony indeed.
To be honest, I was never fully invested in the overarching backstories of Byung Hoon and Master and everything else that went with it. My interest levels with the cases of the day also varied; I liked some arcs more than others. So in a pretty big way, it was the characters themselves – along with their personalities and quirks – that eventually captured my heart enough for me to want to stay through to the end.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Light and harmless, and with a spot of heart, despite its flaws.
FINAL GRADE: B-