This is one of those times when a show isn’t bad per se, but just isn’t working for me personally.
In fact, with the glowing reactions and high scores that most viewers were giving this show on both Viki and MyDramaList, I had gone into this one with cheerful expectations of enjoying it as much as everyone else.
Alas, ’twas not to be. Just 7 episodes in, I find myself ready to drop this one.
STUFF I LIKED
To be clear, Show’s got stuff going for it; stuff that I personally enjoyed quite well too.
For one thing, I love the bright Spring palette. It just feels so happy; everything on my screen feels extra lit-up and pretty – especially since I was watching in ultra HD. Add on the cheerful breezy OST and polished cinematography, and there really wasn’t a lot more my eyes could ask for, as far as Pretty went.
Show does go one up on the Pretty, though. This drama world is peopled with lots of healthy, strong young sportsmen, who just happen to have to spend a lot of time shirtless, being on the swim team and all. Add on a chirpy, friendly female lead (Tan Song Yun) who’s earnestly working to be the best rookie reporter she can be, and you’ve got a nice recipe for a light rom-com with a sports focus, which is Not Bad At All. I mean, I uber loved Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, as most of you guys know.
From the get-go, I found the pacing and tone nice and breezy. We get the OTP meet-cute right away in episode 1, and the context is set up efficiently. Show didn’t feel too intense that it disqualified itself as a drama nightcap (which is what I was looking for); neither did it feel too slow that it became frustrating to watch. As a bonus, the Mandarin dialogue was pitched just right for me to hone the Chinese-speaking part of my brain without everything becoming too difficult.
All very promising things, right? It’s just too bad that relatively quickly, Show stopped working so well for me.
STUFF THAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME
Basically, with each episode of this show that I watched, my interest dipped a little further.
First of all, I quickly realized that a lot of the acting leaned on the.. limited side. I generally don’t find it too hard to forgive wooden acting when it’s among the supporting cast. In this case, though, I found pretty much all the male leads rather flat – and sometimes rather stilted, even – in their delivery.
At the same time, all the swimming rivalry stuff quickly got way too serious for my taste. I mean, I get that many shows make their profession of focus a Very Huge Deal (like the life-changing, almost magical baking that went on in 2010’s Baker King Kim Tak Gu, for instance), but I just couldn’t get into it here. The more the North and South swim teams clashed, the more the guys looked like petty schoolboys to my eyes.
To make matters worse, the more dramatic these clashes were, the more the boys’ acting chops were called upon – and the more those acting chops were shown to be lacking. Seriously, the more I saw of the 3 main actors Dylan Xiong, Huang Sheng Chi and Pang Han Chen, the harder I found it to engage with their characters’ concerns. It honestly felt like mountains were being made of relative molehills, and I found that I just couldn’t get on board.
On top of it all, Show’s rather Disney-esque sense of humor didn’t help, and I quite quickly found myself bored instead of amused at the random spots of Intended Funny that were served up.
At the episode 6 mark, I thought, maybe it’s coz this isn’t drama nightcap material; maybe I need to be more alert and awake in order to enjoy this one. And so today I watched episode 7 while sitting at my desk, and found that – alas – it didn’t help one bit. I just couldn’t see myself sitting through 30(!) more episodes of this show, and that’s why I’m dropping out now.
I’m sorry, Show. Lots of folks seem to like you a great deal, so maybe it’s not you per se.. Guess you and I just don’t jive, is all.