I’m beginning to think that my fangirl love isn’t a very resilient thing, heh.
I had every intention of finishing web drama The Secret Message. To begin with, I didn’t expect very much from it, and therefore, to finish watching it seemed like a reasonable goal in my head; easy, even. I mean, we’re talking short little 15-minute episodes, which the teasers all indicated would be prettily shot, featuring the very handsome TOP in a cute romance. What could possibly be hard about that, right?
So here’s the thing. I made it about halfway into episode 10, and then realized that I really wasn’t having a good time. In fact, I have to admit that I hadn’t been having a good time, from the beginning.
I felt more like I was hanging in there – enduring the watch, even – and that really shouldn’t be how one watches drama, in my books.
Why was I hanging in there?
The things that kept me going were pretty much the same things I mentioned earlier:
- The episodes were short, so whatever meh I felt while watching was short-lived and therefore relatively easy to bear.
- TOP’s in this. I thought this show would be worth the eye candy alone.
- Beyond the pretty, I was also very impressed with TOP in 71: Into The Fire. I hoped that he’d blow me away here too.
- Yoo In Na and Lee Jae Yoon are in this too, and I like them both.
- The cinematography is pretty good. At least some of the time, I found prettily-framed and -conceived shots to admire.
Why wasn’t I having a good time?
You know that initial portion of any drama, where set-up is in progress? That’s when stuff doesn’t make a lot of sense yet, when characters and relationships are still being established, and when we hang in there in good faith, waiting for everything to come together more cohesively.
We wait for that click, that moment, when we can begin to feel engaged with the characters and their stories.
10 episodes into this drama’s 18, I still hadn’t felt it.
It’s true that 10 episodes of this little web drama only make up two and a half regular hour-long episodes. Still, given that at 10 episodes, we’re past the show’s halfway mark, I would have expected the I-get-it-and-I-care-about-you moment to have long occurred by this point.
Unfortunately, 10 episodes in, everything still felt relatively random and fractured. The supposed OTP still barely knew each other, and hadn’t even been in the same place together at the same time. The constant PPL didn’t help either. In some ways, it felt like Show was purposefully keeping the OTP apart so that they’d have to keep contacting each other on LINE.
In case you were wondering, no, TOP’s acting wasn’t impressive like it was in 71: Into The Fire. In theory, that still left me with Pretty to hold on to, right? Sadly, I didn’t find TOP very dreamy in this show. I think it’s part styling, part characterization and part acting. It just didn’t work for me.
The breaking point for me, though, was when Show introduced weird ghostly hints (episode 9) and OTT gag-comedy-type touches (episode 10). Those jarring changes in tone basically ignited my Fast Forward reflex, which in turn woke me up to just how much I wasn’t feeling this show, to need to fast forward through such short little bite-sized episodes.
That’s when I decided that it was time for good-bye.
I realize that essentially, I was hanging in there because I was waiting for Show to get better. Instead of becoming more interesting, though, Show managed to make it such that each new episode actually left me feeling more bored. That really shouldn’t be how you do drama, Show. Just sayin’.