The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Dropped: Radio Romance

30 Comments

In the spirit of making better use of my drama hours – and making better use of time in general – I’m calling it quits earlier on this show than I would, normally. Usually, if I can make it past the first episode or two of a show, I like to give it another couple of episodes at least, y’know, to give Show a chance to pull me into its story properly.

Lately, though, my drama hours have been much more limited than before, because I’ve been in the thick of getting ready to move (houses, not countries). And, I’ve also learned a lesson with the moving; when you have very little space to accommodate all your stuff, you quickly learn to set the bar a lot higher, and become a lot more ruthless about culling stuff. Turns out it works the exact same way with drama hours; because my drama hours are so much fewer now, I find myself setting the bar a lot higher, and becoming a lot more ruthless about dropping dramas.

Who knew, that moving house would teach me such an important lesson about managing my drama hours, and honing my Dropping Reflex? Heh.

FIRST, THE POSITIVES

I don’t have that many positives to share in this section, unfortunately. Maybe it’s because I only watched 2 episodes out of Show’s 16, and therefore didn’t stick around long enough to actually get to know Show’s upsides. Here’s what I’ve got, after watching 2 episodes.

1. I liked the hints of vulnerability that peek out under Soo Ho’s (Doo Joon) cold and prickly armor, and I wanted to see more of that.

2. Although I had some trouble getting used to Kim So Hyun in this role, by the end of episode 1, I did feel like there was more to Geu Rim’s character than going to the ends of the earth to snag her DJ or her radio show guest, and I felt like I wouldn’t mind sticking around to learn more about what made her tick.

3. I thought Geu Rim’s scene with Mom (Kim Ye Ryeong), snuggling under the covers while listening to the radio, was sweet.

STUFF THAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME

For the record, it took me two separate attempts to get through episode 1, which means that pretty much right away, I wasn’t feeling this one. In my head, this also means that I did give Show a second chance, since I eventually ended up finishing episode 1, and even went on to episode 2.

Unfortunately, my foray into episode 2 only turned up more downsides. Here’s the quick rundown:

1. It feels formulaic

Generally speaking, this show feels rather formulaic to me, with a lot of kdrama rom-com shorthand being thrown about: Geu Rim’s name (which sounds like picture/painting in Korean), and her desire to paint pictures with her words (I do like the backstory for why, even though it’s a little cliched that she’d have a blind mom who can only see through hearing); her talent, which is dismissed as rubbish by the head writer; Geu Rim’s messy hair, which hints at how her life is kind of messed up; a curt male lead who acts cold, but is nursing a crush on the female lead, from years back; a picture-perfect family for the male lead, which is but a facade.

I know that this is pretty standard kdrama stuff, but somehow, to my eyes, everything felt overly cliched and nothing really felt organic.

2. The general aesthetic didn’t look good to me

To make matters worse, all the copper hair and orangey lips on everyone just looks bad. Almost every character with any sort of narrative significance sports hair that is dyed a shade of red, copper or something in-between. I don’t know.. that aesthetic just didn’t work for me, and it felt weird to be in a world that had such an.. orange bent to it.

On top of that, Doo Joon’s eyes look bloodshot, all the time. I usually like Doo Joon a lot (loved him so much, in Let’s Eat and Let’s Eat 2!), but I literally found it hard, to watch him. Something felt off to me, like he was uncomfortable in the role or something. Also, every time I saw his bloodshot eyes, I wanted to offer him eye drops, and also, urge him to see an eye doctor, immediately.

3. Geu Rim’s behavior

I didn’t think it was reasonable of Geu Rim to insist on pushing the issue in episode 2, when Soo Ho declined the offer to come on her radio show. I mean, if the guy has made it clear that he doesn’t want to be on the radio, it’s unseemly and unreasonable, to me, to force the issue, even if he has said some unpleasant things. I felt that Geu Rim – or any reasonable person in her place – should have backed off from Soo Ho, instead of coming up with new ways to snag him for her show.

Yes, I know that basically makes up the entire premise of our story, but really, doesn’t Geu Rim’s persistence come off as dense and aggressive, when the other party has clearly said no?

4. A lot of stuff feels staged and try-hard

There were quite a few things in these two episodes that struck me as try-hard. Here are 3 examples.

Exhibit A: Director Lee Kang’s character (Yoon Park), all weirdly togged out in a mishmash of Indian clothes and hiking gear in episode 1, spewing “Namaste” at everyone. This all just gave me bad fake Indian monk vibes a la Strong Woman Do Bong Soon. I cringed every single time Director Lee appeared in his strange outfit and serenely piped “Namaste.”

Exhibit B: The addition of the live-in psychiatrist (Kwak Dong Yun) also feels very stagey and try-hard. His copper hair, fashionable duds and so-called witty lines did nothing to endear him to me, and I just wanted him to disappear from my screen, every time he appeared. Which is really sad, because I have a lot of affection for Kwak Dong Yun from his wonderful turn in Moonlight Drawn By Clouds. Unfortunately, his character here just really rubbed me the wrong way.

Exhibit C: The staged show-family thing also did not sit well with me. I think Show intends for the staged family thing to come across as edgy, dark and dysfunctional. But to me, it just felt.. staged and try-hard, and therefore not very interesting at all.

DECIDING ON GOODBYE

The thing is, despite ALLL of the stuff that wasn’t working for me in this show, when Soo Ho shows up and swoops in to save the day at the end of episode 2, my heart wobbled a bit, and I felt like I might be able to hang in there with this show, just a little longer.

Pfft. How very shallow of me, eh? But, I also had the distinct feeling that if I did hang in there with this show, that it wouldn’t magically turn into an excellent watch, and also, that Future Me wasn’t going to be at all impressed with Past Me’s decision-making. And so, keeping my eye on the goal – which is to make better use of my limited drama hours, and to generally have as enjoyable a drama journey as I possibly can – I decided that it was time for goodbye, with this one.

I’m sorry, Doo Joon. I love you, but I guess I just don’t love you enough. 😛

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

30 thoughts on “Dropped: Radio Romance

  1. Hahaha, I stuck with this till the end but frequently wondered why. Maybe because it has the odd hint of a much better-drama waiting to get out? In the end, it was televisual fairy floss that I forgot almost as soon as I finished it. Kim So Hyun was very good and her character actually develops into a wonderfully-original kdrama female lead: mature, calm, rational, kind and unflappable. But everything else was one giant trope-fest with a side order of cliche.

    I could have written an essay on how a show about cutting through facades was in the end just a facade, but I couldn’t be bothered expending the energy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh my, how poetic you are, Dame Holly! “televisual fairy floss” – love it! 😀 Lol. Yes, I’m sure you could’ve written an essay about that, but I can totally understand why you couldn’t be bothered. I mean, I couldn’t even be bothered to keep watching, after the initial eps! 😛 I guess I’m losing some patience with dramas – or becoming more jaded as a drama viewer. Although, I like to reframe that as being becoming more discerning, ha. 😉

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  2. Oh well…. I was watching the entire series live while typing my dissertation like crazy (the deadline is literally digging its claws to my back and growl its threat every now and then sooo…. yeah, real life is cruel hahah), it served more like some kind of backdrop so that my working nights were not as lonely hahaha…. and I don’t even understand korean, which means that without subs, I couldn’t have understood almost nothing. Amazingly, I still can follow the story, so that is almost a statement in itself that it is a very very formulaic drama from start to end.

    So yeah, I can understand your decision, and if time is the last thing you have in life, it’s definitely not worth it. It was not terrible. It just was not good enough. Off to another drama! (tvN is airing Voice, and Jang Hyuk is MY man! hahahaha)

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    • What a great way to put it, Widya!! “It was not terrible. It just was not good enough.” Exactly that! I just don’t have the time for mediocre right now, and unless there’s something specific to pull me through an average drama, then I’m better off checking out something else! 🙂

      I haven’t seen Voice, but oh my, Jang Hyuk is SO lovely. 😍😍😍 Enjoy your watch!

      PS: I hope you’re done with your dissertation now! ❤

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  3. Now, may I suggest just watching the last two episodes so you see what you didn’t miss? It’s like reading the back of the book to make sure you’ll enjoy the ending before you start, because the ending was palatable and sweet. Nothing really earth-shattering, but if you love Doo-joon, it’s satisfying all the same! But I agree, the psychiatrist character was weak and undeveloped, as well as most of the other characters too. There were some really poignant moments when they actually had guests on their show, like the Su-ho (Doo-joon) mini-me and little children singing to save their school and the girl with cancer whose “first love” was her father who worked constantly to pay for her treatment—-I cried buckets that episode. I wished for more of those vignettes. It was a light watch and though formula-driven, I ended up not minding the 16 hours it took away from my life. The OTP carried the show and did well.

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    • I did take your advice and watched the last episode of the drama (I couldn’t convince myself to watch 2 eps and so I settled for 1), and it was definitely better than the initial episodes I watched. I didn’t enjoy it enough to want to go back and watch the rest of the drama, but it did lift my general feeling towards this show at least a little, so that’s a plus! 🙂

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  4. Whatever you chose to do with the time you saved by dropping this show was a better use of your time. I however, stuck with it to the end. It did not improve. Which made it all the more frustrating. You will be happy to hear that at some point they heard our complaints and darkened his hair to brown and gave him some eye drops (it drove me batty too!). She gets a hair straightning and the PD starts to dress much better. Truth be told Yoon Park is the only reason I stayed. I just love that boy. The doctor that lives with him was the worst fail of all and the actor, I am sorry to say, did not help the situation. In fact, when he apologizes at the end (for mentally torturing his friend I might add) it is the most disingenuous apology ever and the scene left me cold. But I agree with Dame Holly Has a Hat – Kim So Hyun’s character turns out to be a real winner – calm, rational, caring, loyal, smart, a really lovely and not your normal k-drama female lead.

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    • That orange hair was horrible, but when they put him in his period costume …..

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      • I thought it very strange that they would give him orange hair when his character was acting in a sageuk – I thought at the very least, they would’ve taken that into consideration? Coz nobody in sageuks should have orange hair, let alone a prince character! 😆

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    • Aw, I’m sorry you stuck with this one, seeing as how you felt meh about it all the way through! I enjoy Yoon Park very much, but the episodes I watched weren’t doing him any favors, and I fled, partly because I was afraid Show would drain me of too much Yoon Park (and Doo Joon!) loyalty. I mean, Uncontrollably Fond managed to drain me of a LOT of Woob loyalty, which I haven’t quite recovered from yet, ha!

      I took Ally’s advice (above) and took time out to watch the last episode. I saw that apology you mentioned, and yeah, it didn’t really work for me either. Granted, I didn’t have a whole lot of context to work with!

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  5. I watched to the end, I really liked the leads, but totally get this. Looking back on it was a very light show with a lot of elements that could of been cut out and not missed. But I did enjoy the leads and the OTP.
    The red eyes is because he has chronic insomnia but the orange hair……i have no idea, thankfully that changes halfway through.
    Watching Tempted as it airs and am curious as to what I will think when it ends, but am having fun with it for what it is.
    Looking for the courage to press play on My Ahjussi. Maybe tonight after I finish my few days of marathoning Reply 1997. This show is just what I needed. Like Healer I can see why so many love it, even if I need the Dramabeans recaps to get some of the jokes and for general insights.

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    • About the red eyes.. I did try to rationalize it as being because of the insomnia, but it was hard to really believe it, because I know people who suffer from chronic insomnia, and they tell me that it’s dark circles they get, and not red eyes. 😛 Whatever the case, I’m relieved to know the red eyes (and the orange hair) get fixed partway through the show! 🙂

      I’m watching Tempted (just done E10), and while it was fun at first, I’m losing interest, and fast. I.. might post a Dropped post sometime soonish, methinks. 😛 Yay that you’re enjoying R1997 though. I liked that one too, though like you, I had to depend on others for cultural context and insights 🙂

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      • With Tempted I’m still sticking with it, but not in love with it. Like the young actors, but agree with others that the pacing seems off. Also still need to watch the last 2 eps so do not have that anticipation for it. I do now understand more the buzz around Woo Do-hwan as I’d never watched him before.

        My Ahjussi though? Gah. Just so into it. Slow pacing but the build up to wherever it takes us is just perfect. Usually I don’t mind spoilers but I’m glad with this one I do not know what to expect.

        R1997 was just fun. I have a few of R1994 downloaded to watch.

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        • I totally get what you mean about Tempted.. the pacing seems off, and the handling of the characters feels rather haphazard to me as well. I was quite impressed with Woo Do Hwan in the initial eps when he showed a lot of presence and also, chemistry with Moon Ga Young in certain scenes, but I’m finding his character less and less compelling as I go. I think it’s partly the writing, and partly his youth. Si Hyun just doesn’t come across as much of a seducer, heh.

          Yay that you’re planning to check out R1994! I really liked that one, even though a lot of folks were frustrated with it. If you’re on the right ship, and away from the fan wars, then I think R94 is a lovely watch. The sense of found family is great too. ❤

          Good to hear that My Ahjusshi is working so well for you! I was going to avoid it coz it looks so heavy, but with all the glowing reactions, I think I need to at least dip a toe in, to see for myself whether I like it 🙂

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  6. In contrast to, ah, every other commenter (lol), I thought it did improve. I really loved it by the end, but it took more than the first week to really pull me in. They actually end up developing a beautiful relationship and fight through things together, which was wonderful to see. But hey, not every drama will be for every person. I will quite happily keep this one for myself 😉

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    • Aw, that’s great actually, that this one worked out for you. 🙂 I never begrudge anyone their love for a drama, even if I may not love the drama myself. Happy to hear this one improved so much that you loved it by the end!

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  7. I also dropped it after ep 4.

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  8. Well, I knew right off that this wasn’t one for me, so I didn’t even bother to take a peek. 🙂 My drama watching time is so limited these days that I have to be really ruthless with my choises. Worked just fine whant there wasn’t much that interested me but now… too many dramas that look promising! I’m hoping some of them will turn out to be duds, LOL!

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    • HAHA. That is so ironic, that you’d be hoping for some of the promising dramas to turn out to be duds! 😆 Although, I really don’t think you need to worry about that. It’s so rare that Dramaland would churn out a great drama, let alone several great ones at once! Even Misty took a turn for the worse in the finale (I read a spoiler, but I’m still watching).

      Also, I had no doubt that this one wasn’t ever on your watch list – it’s so not your kind of thing, haha! 😉

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      • Yep, some of the ones I’ve had time to check out DID turn out to be duds. ☺

        Not that I got far with the list as my sister fell in love with Buam Dong Revenge Club, so I’ve spent several hours rewatching that with her.^^ And then I fell in the rabbit hole that is UNB (the kpop group formed of the top 9 contestants of idol reboting show The Unit). I’m obsessed, help!!! 😂

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        • Lol! See, I didn’t even NEED to know which dramas you were considering, to know that not all of them would turn out to be great! 😂 Which is kind of sad too, but oh well.

          Yay that you’re watching drama with your sister! That is so much fun. I started my kdrama journey with my sister when she brought home a Goong box set and announced we were going to watch it. Fast forward 11 years, and she doesn’t watch dramas anymore, while I’m blogging about ’em. How ironic!

          It’s so cute to see you obsessed with anything or anyone, Timescout! 😀 I say enjoy it, it isn’t often that something grabs you this hard! ❤

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          • How funny! I was begged by my BFF to watch this ‘little Korean show” with her back in 2006 – it was called My Name Is Kim Sam Soon. She has never watched another drama since. I have watched nothing but Non-American shows since. Life is funny.

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            • HAHA! REALLY!! That is so crazy! So we both started watching dramas at around the same era, not of our own volition – and here we are, still watching, while the people who dragged us into this have long moved on? 😂😂😂 Hilarious! But hey – that’s how we found each other, and I love that. 😘

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          • My sis is a sort of casual kdrama watcher. She has a pretty similar taste to mine, though I don’t think she’s as easily annoyed as I am. *g*

            Yeah, it’s not often I get the “squee!” on these days but when I do, it’s generally heavy duty, LOL! Kpop these days tends to be pretty much like kdrama, same old sameold, so it IS nice when a group truly catches my fancy. I’m in love with both of UNB’s title songs and the choreos are also lovely, sort of lyrical. Ok, I’ll shut up now. 😀

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  9. This one ended up working for me flaws and all because I was in the mood for romance romance romance and what does k-dramaland give me: Mother and Misty. Yes, I know they are supposed to be super awesome but so not in the mood. This drama does improve specifically in regards to the family facade. It was played up in an over the top way in the early episodes but the reality of the situation is really the crux of the drama. Thus the red hair and such is a part of that facade and goes away when Doo Joon decides to break down the facade and live a life. The drama is about how he does that through this girl and radio.

    I do like that Geu Rim ended up being a rather well adjusted normal young woman, the second male lead was kind of a hoot (and leaves the guru stuff behind pretty quickly), the second female lead is a piece of work but not in the way we normally see in k-dramas. The same for the mom who would normally be a big ole meanie with no nuance but the drama and actress did well showing her side of living the facade as well. Also, one of the few times that a childhood connection actually works for me.

    I absolutely totally agree about Jason; it was a total misfire. I suspect they planned for some dramatic theme with this character and ended up dropping it because he was totally wasted. Most fans that stuck through seemed to agree that they wanted radio to be more of the story than it ended up being and that was probably the biggest complaint I saw repeated by viewers.

    Anyway, this drama is like a frothy dessert; it didn’t really stick with me but I was fine while I was partaking of it.

    I am still staying away from Mother (ugh abused kid) but I think I might be ready for some meat and potatoes so now that Misty has completed its run, I’m jumping in. Good luck with your unpacking and hope you enjoy your new place.

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    • Oh, I forgot the red eyes. I thought it was supposed to be because of the character’s insomnia but I actually think the actor just has issues with that. I also watched the actresses hands get red and chapped as the drama went on to the point I wanted to send her some hand cream. Filming k-dramas in the winter in Korea ain’t for sissies.

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      • Yes, I’ve noticed that some actors have this red eye issue, sometimes. I can’t think of names off the top of my head, but this isn’t the first time I’ve noticed it. I do think it was pretty bad this time, though. Which is why I felt so bad for Doo Joon, he really looked like he needed an eye doctor 😛

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    • Oh yes, mood definitely counts for a lot, in terms of how well we get into a show – or how well we manage to look past its faults 😉 I feel ya, I’ve also noticed that Dramaland’s been churning out a lot of heavier themed dramas this year, and we’re seeing a lot fewer of rom-coms that used to be such a trademark of kdramas.

      It’s great to know that the family facade thing is managed meaningfully, and that Geu Rim turns out to be such a well-adjusted female lead. Similar to what you said, I’ve heard that this one can be pretty sweet, but is overall rather forgettable. Which is the main reason I didn’t try too hard to stick with it, when the early eps didn’t land so well with me.

      I’m currently watching Misty, and it’s pretty solid. I read a spoiler about the ending, and that is definitely affecting my watch.. I’m still deciding how to approach my watch, based on my spoiler knowledge.

      Would you believe it, I haven’t moved yet? I’ve been packing like crazy, and moving smaller items over, but the actual move is a week away. Soon!!! 😀

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